Porosity is the measure of the hair's ability to absorb moisture. This is determined
by the condition of the hair's cuticle layer (the overlapping scales of the hair shaft), and
is rated as low, normal, and high. In normal, healthy hair, the cuticle is compact and
inhibits the penetration of the hair shaft by moisture - both moisture going in, and
moisture coming out. When the cuticle is overly compact and prevents the penetration
of the hair by moisture it has low porosity.
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Hair with low porosity is harder to process, and is resistant to haircolor and perms. Low porosity hair must usually be softened
prior to other chemical services. Hair with high porosity is hair whose cuticle layer is
open and the hair too-readily absorbs moisture. Overly-porous hair also releases
moisture easily and becomes dry and is easily damaged. Acid-balanced conditioning
treatments are used to contract the cuticle layer and lock-in moisture on overly-porous hair.
Extreme caution must be used when performing chemical services on overly porous
hair to prevent damage. Haircolor will take much more quickly and strongly in overly
porous hair (and semi-permanent and demi-permanent haircolors will fade much more
quickly). Perms and straighteners will process much faster in high-porosity hair as well.
To determine the porosity of your hair, simply feel it - both when wet and when
dry. If the hair feels straw-like and rough when dry, or if it feels gummy or slightly
rubbery when wet, then you probably have a problem with overly porous hair. Or you can carry out a hair porosity test.