Does your hair take a long time to wet and dry? Do your hair products tend to sit on your hair rather than soak in? You most likely have low porosity hair. If so, it’s important to use products that support your hair’s porosity and moisture retention levels – enter deep conditioning treatments. The question is: How often should you deep condition low porosity hair?
In this article, we are going to look at hair porosity. We will talk about the kinds of conditioning treatments you should be using for low porosity hair and how often you should be using them. We’ll also take a look at the widely popular ‘strand float test’.
If you’ve done this test and it’s the reason why you think you have low porosity hair, you’ll want to keep reading. There are some issues with the accuracy, but we’ll show you how to adapt the test to make it much more accurate.
Hair Cuticle And Porosity
Hair porosity is defined as the hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. Understanding the hair structure will help you better understand how porosity affects it.
The cuticle is the protective layer on the outside of the hair fiber. It’s made up of overlapping layers of flat, hard cells that cover the hair structure from root to tip, like little scales.
These cells are symmetrically aligned in straight hair fibers and a bit more haphazardly arranged in curlier strands.
The difference between a low porosity and a high porosity cuticle is kind of like the difference between a closed and an open pine cone.
The cuticle cells of low porosity hair are tightly packed together and lie flat, leaving no gaps for moisture to enter.
Whereas the cuticle cells of high porosity hair are much more open.
How Often Should You Deep Condition Low Porosity Hair?
If you have low porosity hair, it’s super important to do a deep conditioning treatment at least once a month.
Applying heat will give you even better results.
How Does Heat Help A Deep Conditioning Treatment?
The heat will lift the cuticle layers, allowing the deep conditioner to pass through and into the hair’s cortex.
Not only does most of your body heat escape through your head, but you are probably washing or wetting your hair with warm water. Simply placing a shower cap over your hair once you have washed it and applied a deep conditioner will trap that heat.
You can go a step further and use your blow dryer on a low heat setting over your cap for a minute or two. But don’t overdo it! The idea is to warm it up, not bake on your conditioner.
How long should you deep condition low porosity hair with heat?
After deep-conditioning and applying your shower cap, you can opt for the added heat of a blow dryer. But use the blow dryer to warm only for a minute or two, then let sit with the cap on for 15 minutes or so.
Read the instructions for the particular deep conditioning treatment you are using for the recommended time.
Leaving the deep conditioning treatment on for longer than recommended won’t achieve better results. The treatment needs to stay on long enough to penetrate your hair cuticle.
Once it’s in, it’s in. Leaving it in longer will not help.
Porosity Strand Float Test – How to Make It More Accurate
It’s only been fairly recently that hair porosity has become recognized as an important determining factor in what hair care products you choose.
In light of this revelation, everyone wants to know how porous their hair is. If only it were as easy as looking at a pinecone!
Unless you have an electron microscope handy and actually see your cuticle structure close up, it’s pretty hard to tell.
And voila – the ‘Hair Porosity Float Test’ was born and has since been making the rounds online.
If you are unfamiliar with the float test, it’s a fairly simple premise in which the buoyancy of your hair will determine how porous it is.
All you have to do is take a glass of water and drop in a hair.
If it sits on top of the water, you have low porosity hair. If it kind of floats in the middle of the glass, you have normal porosity hair. And if it sinks, then it’s because you have high porosity hair.
But it’s not very accurate! Here’s why:
Accuracy Issues With The Porosity Float Test
Besides the porosity of your hair, there are other factors that can make your hair sit on the surface, float or sink, that have nothing to do with the porosity of your hair.
- Hair generally floats due to natural oils in the hair
- Hair coated with conditioner or styling products will sink
- Surface tension of the water can cause objects that are denser than water to float
- The porosity of one strand may be different than other strands on your head
- Porosity can be affected by time – for very long hair, the porosity will be lower toward the ends and higher toward the scalp
Making The Float Test More Accurate
So if you’ve used the strand float test and it’s the only thing that’s convinced you that you have low porosity hair, then you will want to try the test again using the following tips:
- Use shampooed, clean, dry hair strands with no conditioner
- Test several hairs from different areas of your head, and bunch them together. Place them in the glass of water at the same time.
- Dunk the hair under the water to break the surface tension
- Leave it for a few minutes. Highly porous hair should sink right away. But if it doesn’t, it may take a few minutes to see whether your hair is normal to low porosity.
What Shampoo Ingredients Are Good For Low Porosity Hair?
If your hair takes a long time to wet and dry and your hair products tend to stay on the surface of your hair rather than being absorbed, you most likely have low porosity hair.
Using products that support your hair’s porosity will make sure the products you use work like they are supposed to. The result: healthier, stronger, shinier hair.
This is why it’s important to establish a hair care routine that focuses on intensely conditioning and nourishing products. These products will improve your hair’s hydration and help it effectively retain the moisture you are putting into it.
When looking for hair care products for low porosity hair, choose lightweight formulas that contain emollients that can easily penetrate the cuticle. Formulas that include honey, glycerin, aloe vera, flaxseed gel, and panthenol (Vitamin B5), are good. These ingredients will prevent buildup and residue from weighing down your hair.
Amino acids and proteins will help encourage water retention while repairing damage.
Things To Avoid For Low Porosity Hair
Here are a few products to stay away from if you’ve got low porosity hair. See our full article here for more information.
Avoid using a 2-in-1 shampoo + conditioner.
Sometimes called ‘cleansing conditioners’, these 2-in1 products are likely to cause build-up. Shampooing before using a conditioner helps to open up the cuticle for better absorption, so use a separate shampoo and conditioner.
Sulfates are harsh cleaning products often found in shampoos and other household cleaning products. It will for sure clean your hair, but it will also strip away natural oils. Opt for a sulfate-free shampoo with nourishing ingredients.
Avoid butters and heavy oils.
These products are very difficult to absorb and will just sit on top of the hair. Not only will they not provide you the benefits you were looking for (because they can’t be absorbed), you’ll end up with dull, limp, and lifeless hair because of the buildup.
Avoid skipping a deep conditioning treatment.
Establishing a regular deep conditioning treatment regime is essential for those with low porosity hair.