Many naturalistas at one time or another will experience hair that feels dry and moisture-deprived, despite their consistent usage of a good conditioner, avoidance of heat, and adherence with several other commandments from the natural hair community. Understanding the role your hair porosity may play in controlling the quality of your hair's moisture levels can make a world of difference in your next actions and potentially save you from the perils of unnecessary trial and error.
If you find yourself frequently going to battle with natural hair looks and feels dry, you may want to assess your hair porosity. It is possible that you may have low porosity hair.
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You may be wondering how to determine if you have low porosity hair. There are a few common themes that define the appearance of low porosity hair. While you might notice a few things about low porosity hair when you are staring at it in the mirror, the main thing you are looking for in assessing whether you have low porosity hair is how it responds to certain aspects of your hair care regimen.
For example, with low porosity hair:
There is a reason for each of these characteristics. Low porosity hair has a tightly closed cuticle layer, which in essence, encourages your hair to reject water. Thus, you may see beads of water or hair products sitting on top of your hair strands.
How do you know if you have low hair porosity? There are multiple ways to test for hair porosity. Our favorite is the float test. To test for hair porosity, simply get a glass of water. Then, place a clean strand of your hair at the top of the water in the glass.
Low porosity hair will float at the top of the glass of water for quite some time before sinking to the bottom. Conversely, hair that immediately falls to the bottom has high porosity and demonstrates hair that is highly receptive to water and moisture.
If you find that your hair floats somewhere in the middle for a period, you have normal or medium porosity hair.
Heat can open cuticles, and therefore, heat can prove to be an ally for someone who has low porosity under the right circumstances of use. Heat steamers or hooded dryers are two items you should keep on hand for moisturizing your hair. If you do not own either of these tools for infusing moisture into your hair, you can create your homemade heating cap.
To Create Your Heating Cap:
Don a shower or conditioning cap. Next, soak a towel that is large enough to wrap around your head in the water. Heat the same towel in the microwave for about two minutes until it is warm but not too hot. You don't want to burn yourself. Wring the towel off any excess water, and then wrap it around your head.
Try warming your conditioner before application as another mechanism to open your hair cuticles.
Humectants are another asset for low porosity hair. They are products that help to attract much-needed moisture from the air and stick to your hair. --Okay, maybe not a technical description of what happens, but you get the point. Low porosity hair needs help, and humectants give a much-needed assist. Products that contain natural glycerin, honey, coconut nectar, or products with these ingredients may also serve as an asset in caring for a low porosity hair care regimen. However, be careful in the winter months as humectants like glycerin may draw moisture away from your hair. Yikes!
Although many naturalistas swear by the no-poo method for wash day, you should not be thinking about ditching your shampoo any time soon if you have low porosity.
Here’s Why: Having hair with low porosity means your hair is prone to product build-up due to how products fail to permeate your hair strands. Sulfate-free shampoos like TGIN Rose Water Sulfate-Free Hydrating Shampoo, Shea Moisture Manuka Honey and Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo and Conditioner, and Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla Shampoo and Conditioner are excellent products for hair with low porosity. These are known as clarifying shampoos and conditioners, which can help remove build-up without compromising the structure of your hair.
Light oils like argan oil and olive oil are the way to go. Heavy oils and butter tend to leave build-up on natural hair with low porosity, and therefore, if you are one with low porosity, you should proceed with caution or avoid entirely. Choosing a lighter oil can help to ensure that you are using a substance that contains molecules that are small enough to enter the cuticle.
The baggy method is a simple moisturizing process that creates a humid environment for your hair from your body heat. All you need are a shower cap, conditioner cap, or plastic bag and a hat, towel, or scarf. To prepare your hair, moisturize it like you usually would, then cover it with a baggy, followed by a scarf or hat.
Some natural hair mavens will recommend you keep it on overnight. However, many experts will recommend that you not sleep in a cap, which could create further damage. Aim for a couple of hours at most but not six or eight. Ultimately, your goal is to achieve moisture-rich, soft hair.
Although protein treatments and products containing protein are safe, they should be done sparingly on hair with low porosity as it might cause the hair cuticles to be more closed. The reason for this action is because protein products tend to build up the hair. So instead, look for protein-free products. Some protein-free moisturizers you can try out are: As I Am Moisture Milk Daily Hair Revitalizer and Oyin Handmade Greg Juice.
In summary, the best way to care for low porosity hair is to avoid product build-up, open the cuticles when moisturizing, and take a deep breath, and relax; hair with low porosity isn't bad hair.
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