Porosity, Length & You: How to Identify Your Hair’s Porosity and Encourage Length

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a natural hair guru that doesn’t mention porosity. That’s because understanding porosity will advance your hair care game by light-years. I’ve really come to appreciate my hair more now that I know my porosity, and it’s helped me to get my hair growing in ways that I didn’t think were possible. If you’re interested in gaining some length and knowledge on porosity, then you’re in the right place.

What is Porosity & Why it Matters?

Your porosity is measured by how well your hair absorbs and keeps moisture. The way that you keep moisture matters because it determined how often your hair needs to be washed and moisturised. Having healthy, hydrated hair promotes growth and helps with retention as well. Not to mention, if your hair is acting differently it’s easier to figure out why. Now that we’ve discussed why your porosity matters, we can get into identifying your porosity.

You’re low porosity if…

  • If it takes anywhere from 8-48 hours to dry your hair
  • When you wet your hair and it beads on the strand
  • Your hair loves oil but thick products make you feel greasy
  • Styling gels seem to sit on your hair
  • Your hair takes a long time to dye
  • Resistance to protein


You're medium/normal porosity if…

  • If your hair dries in 3 hours or less
  • When you wet your hair it’s absorbed
  • Your hair receives oil
  • You can use almost any styling gel
  • Your hair takes dyes well
  • You don’t need protein treatments


You're high porosity if…

  • If your hair dries in less than 1 hour.
  • When you wet your hair it’s quickly absorbed
  • Your hair repels oil
  • Your hair often tangles easily
  • You struggle with frizz
  • Your hair loves protein
  • You struggle with stringy hair



Even with all of these characteristics, there could still be a chance that you don’t know what your porosity level is. If that sounds like you, then here are a few tests that you can conduct to see what your porosity level is.

Hair Porosity Tests

Tests like the Cup Test, The Spray Test, and The Strand Test are great for determining what your porosity level is. There are three tests that many naturals use to determine the porosity level of their hair. If you have the time, I recommend conducting at least two of these tests to check your porosity for sure.

To conduct the cup test, you’ll need clean hair (with no product in it), a cup, and room temperature water. Make sure that’s the proper temperature, otherwise it can tamper with the results. If the water is too hot then the cuticle in the hair will open and if it’s too cold then they’ll close. Next, take a strand of hair from the back of your head and drop it in the water. Within 2 minutes you should see if your hair sinks, floats, or coasts. So what do the results mean?

  • Sinking hair means its high porosity
  • Floating hair means its low porosity
  • Coasting between sinking and floating means its medium porosity

To conduct the spray test, you’ll need clean hair (with no product in it) and a spray bottle. Section off a part of your hair that you can see the best, then spray your hair. Within thirty seconds you should see the results.

  • If the water is soaked immediately its high porosity
  • If the water is soaked eventually its medium porosity
  • If the water is beading on the hair its low porosity

To conduct the strand test, you’ll need dry, clean hair (with no product in it) and some fingers. Find a strand of hair on the side or the back of your head and hold it between your fingers. As you hold it, slide your fingers up and down your hair.

  • If the strand is bumpy its high porosity
  • If the strand is smooth its low porosity

You’ll only use the strand test as a tie-breaker if the other two tests are showing mixed signs. But overall, these tests are quite reliable.

Now that you’ve discovered your porosity level, it’s time to learn about how to gain and maintain your length.

Porosity and Hair Growth

If you have low porosity hair moisture is going to be the key to gaining length. Low porosity hair means that the cuticles on your hair strand are typically closed. They don’t like to invite new moisture in, so receiving moisture will be challenging. The good news is that once the moisture is in there, it’ll struggle to get out. When low porosity hair is well hydrated, you don’t have to worry about wetting it often. To grow your hair, make sure that you invest in hydrating shampoos and leave-in conditioners. You may have to use styling gels that have shea butter or mango butter infused in them rather than using mousses and gels. I also recommend making sure that you keep track of when your hair needs deep conditioning to help with length retention.

If you have medium porosity hair the key to length for you will be consistency. Though one type isn’t better than another, your hair is the ideal level of porosity to gain length. Try experimenting with different methods and products that encourage length. I would also encourage you to be very careful with protein treatments or over-hydration, as you can stress your hair and harm it. To gain length, make sure that you’re protecting your ends, trimming them as needed, and hydrating your hair consistently with water. Finally, be careful of colours and dyes because severe hair damage can alter your porosity and lead to you becoming high porosity.

If you have high porosity hair, you need to start investing in moisturisers which use lighter oils and avoid ones that will weigh your hair down. Mousses and gels will be your best friend, and you can keep your hair hydrated by sealing your hair with oils.

Now that you understand your porosity, you’re ready to gain the length you’ve always wanted. Let us know in the comments what your porosity is and how you've managed to encourage length.

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