In our previous blog post we explained the difference between hair texture and hair type, and why both of those are not as important as you might think to understanding your hair. The 3 characteristics of your hair that are most important are porosity, density, and thickness. Knowing these 3 characteristics about your hair are much more helpful for your natural hair journey and learning how to care for your strands.
In this blog we are going to go into more details about porosity, density, and thickness, and how these 3 things relate to your hair texture. To recap from our previous blog, hair texture refers to the thickness of your individual hair strands. Hair texture can be fine, medium, or thick. Hair type refers to the shape of your hair. Hair shape can be straight, wavy, curly, or coily. Hair type tells us the general shape of our hair while hair texture tells us how thick our hair strands are.
Knowing the porosity of your hair is important for knowing how to properly moisturize your hair and what products to use. Moisturized hair is less prone to breakage which improves length retention. Properly moisturized hair also allows your curl pattern to be visible.
There are three types of porosity: normal (also known as medium), low, and high porosity. Porosity is measured by how much water your hair can absorb and maintain over time. Your hair’s porosity is determined by the position of your cuticles.
Normal, or medium porosity hair has cuticles that are not too close together, and not too open or raised. Normal porosity hair absorbs water at an even rate, holds styles easily, and maintains moisture for several days at a time.
Low porosity hair has cuticles that are very tightly pressed together and flat. Low porosity hair takes a long time to get wet since it cannot absorb water or products very easily due to the closed flat cuticles. Once low porosity hair gets wet, it takes a very long time to dry since the flat cuticles trap the water inside the hair shaft longer than other porosities. People with low porosity hair often complain about products “sitting on top” of their hair, and struggle with keeping their strands moisturized throughout the week. People with low porosity hair often prefer hair products that are creamy lotions or thinner liquids or sprays and usually stay away from heavy, thick creams and butters.
High porosity hair has raised, open cuticles. High porosity hair absorbs water and gets wet very easily, but it also loses water just as quickly due to the raised cuticles. High porosity hair is more prone to frizz and tangles since the raise cuticles can easily “catch” on each other. High porosity hair also absorbs hair products easily and air dries much quicker than low or normal porosity hair. High porosity hair is often thought to be the result of damage to the hair, but the truth is that some people can be genetically predisposed to having high porosity hair. Those with high porosity hair usually prefer hair products that are whipped and creamy or have thicker consistencies.
It is important for us to note two things here.
- You can have more than one porosity in your head of hair
- Your hair type does NOT determine Porosity. You can have low Porosity and be a type 3 and you can have high Porosity and be a type 4
Density refers to how many strands of hair grow per square inch of your scalp. The standard method to determine density is to take pictures of your scalp using a phototrichogram. The easy way to determine your hair density at home is to stand in the mirror with all your hair down and then look to see how much of your scalp is visible. If you can some or several parts of your scalp without moving your hair, your hair density is likely low. If you need to move your hair slightly to see sections of your scalp, your density is probably somewhere in the middle. If it is difficult to see your scalp without adjust your hair, your density is likely high.
Hair density helps you decide how to part and style your hair. For example, fine, thin strands and low density hair mean that a lot of your scalp will be visible at any given time, so you may prefer styles that will give you as much volume as possible.
To tie this all together, porosity tells you the ability of your hair to absorb water and products. Hair texture tells you the thickness and diameter of your hair strands. Finally, density tells you how many strands of hair you have growing per square inch on your scalp.
For hair care purposes, you need to be aware of all three of these things to know the best styling products to choose, the best way to hydrate and moisturize your hair, and the best way to style your hair. Shop now!