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Natural Hair Porosity 101 - What You Need to Know Right Now

April 15, 2021

Natural Hair Porosity 101 - What You Need to Know Right Now

What Is It?

Porosity refers to how well your hair is able to absorb and hold on to moisture.   The outer hair layer called the cuticle,  determines how easily moisture and oils pass in and out of your hair. You typically inherit the porosity level you have but you can impact by how well your take care of your hair. High quality products that hydrate and moisturize well can help your hair retain moisture. 
At Urbanbella we like to use Silk Amino Acids, Protein, Coconut Oil and Honey Extracts to help boost your moisture and hydration.  We use a mix of these items across all of our products.

High Level Understanding:  Need to Know Info

  • There are varying degrees of porosity - High, Low and Medium are broad sweeping categories.
  • You can have multiple levels of porosity on your head. You probably won't notice that but you do.  Each strand can be different.
  • How you treat your hair matters.  Color treated or chemically treated hair has increased level of porosity. This makes the hair strand weaker and increases the amount of moisture and hydration hair needs.  Think about the dryness and breakage you experience once you have color if you don't take extra special care of your tresses.
  • Other factors impact your product selection --whether your porosity is high medium or low - like shrinkage and how many times your hair bends and curls along a strand.
  • You determine porosity when your hair is free of product and not styled.

Help Me Choose the Right Products for My Porosity Level:

Low Porosity

  • You need products that have ingredients with a low-molecular weight such as Silk Amino Acids, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil and Ucuuba Butter.
  • It's hard for ingredients to penetrate the outer layer of your hair and therefore it's more difficult for oils and other hair moisturizing ingredients to deliver what your hair needs.
  • Given minimal shrinkage and medium to large curl diameter you will find defining your curls to be relatively easy and have to be careful of products robbing you of moisture and quality hydration.  Quality meaning hydrating ingredients other than water like Honey extracts, panthenol and amino acid. These ingredients our found in our Neat Nourishing Conditioner and our Organic Coconut Cream Repair Mask.

Medium Porosity

  • Your can tell the difference between low-quality and high quality with your moisture level and how long your styles last. While cheap products may get you by for a while your hair will begin to dehydrate.  It's worth it i the long run to aim for higher quality.  You will notice the difference.
  • You will find it's easy to style with creams and get nice curl definition and minimum flaking.  If you neglect your hair with cheap products for too long you will begin to lose curl-definition.
  • Products that provide true moisture with oils will give you your best natural hair. 
  • Naturals with this characteristic will find it's easy to tell when their hair has not been well managed --- it can lose it's natural shine and curl defintion and take a few months to get it back to normal.

High Porosity

  • Avoid the cheap haircare products.  Period.  You need products that have a high amount of key ingredients to produce results.
  • Key ingredients (not water and the items that really perform) include things lik gelling agents, holding agents, protein/amino acids, oils tand humectants. Ingredients that benefit the hair by providing moisture, hydration, help you hold on to moisture. Oil.  You need more oil in your products.
  • Here's a tip....when the product is cheap it's just water and a wax of some kind.  These are cheap items to make products with.  When they cost more they have more of the good stuff in them. The good stuff is listed above and cost more to use.  But they deliver results.  
  • Here's a tip...if the product is watery and you have to use it 2x a day or everyday then highly porous hair will not respond well to it.
  • if you find you are using a product at a rapid pace - such as a moisturizer - then it's mostly water and not enough oil. It's because High Porosity hair is letting the water go quickly and you need to balance out the water loss with oil.
  • Pre-treating hair with oil on Wash-Day is very beneficial to reduce swelling..something common with highly porous hair.

How determine the porosity of your hair?

  1. First remember- you have multiple levels of porosity on your head
  2. Porosity changes per strand so the water test really does not work for this.
  3. We have tried the water test here at Urbanbella with all levels of porosity and we all got the same results.  So we decided this is not a true test to help you determine your porosity level.
  4. We determine porosity level by looking at your hair and then applying products and water - we see how your hair responds to these things


    Obviously running a natural hair salon for 16 years I have seen a lot of hair textures and porosity levels.  I can tell you that the way we do it is just really by looking at your hair and how it performs.  We have seen the porosity level of customers go up when they don't take good care of their hair and we have seen it go down by using the Urbanbella Natural Hair System.  This list is to give you an idea of where you stand on porosity.

    Low Porosity Hair

    Shiny when straightened without any added shine agents
    Long dry time
    Natural hair pulled into a bun looks very wavy and shiny
    hair can grow really long with ease
    It can sometimes be difficult to get an afro but that also is impacted by other factors
    can be difficult to increase the moisture level
    Styles do well with air drying
    Can be challenging to get the colors you want

      Medium Porosity

      Medium level shine
      Most significant aspect is hair can easily "fro-out" and be smoothed with ease
      Styles do well with air drying
      Can handle color well- it will take the color well without too much bleach needed and the hair shaft will not easily be damage. Especially true with blondes and reds

        High Porosity

        Very volumized hair styles 
        Difficult to get shine
        Hair takes on a lot of product
        Breaks easily with bright red and blonde colors
        Hair can dry quickly under a hood dryer
        Hair benefits greatly from hooded dryer


        Tell Me About You!

        I would love to hear from you in comments below. How do you choose your natural hair products?  Is porosity something you consider?  Please join me and the Urbanbella Tribe as we continue our discussion on Natural Hair Characterisitcs on Facebook Live and here on the Urbanbella Beautiful Life Blog.

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