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How to identify your hair porosity type (and properly care for it)

When it comes to establishing a healthy and beneficial hair care routine, it might not be enough to determine whether you have dry or oily hair and scalp to then simply pick your hair-care products accordingly. Proper care should be based on a deeper factor: your hair’s porosity level.

None of the barbers, even with the most professional hairdressing scissors sets, will be able to make your hair look good if you do not know how to maintain your hair condition once you’ve stepped outside the salon. If you are not familiar with the term, porosity refers to your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture in the outermost layer of your hair called the cuticle. To stay healthy, your hair needs to stay hydrated. To penetrate the hair, oils, moisturising products, and water need to get through the cuticles. Hair porosity determines how easy it is for these elements to do so.

Below, you will find essential information to figure out your hair porosity type as well as how to care for different hair types. Let’s get started!

Testing your hair porosity

Using a simple glass of water, you can quickly and easily determine your hair porosity. Here are three simple steps:

1. Pour a glass of water.
2. Take a strand of your hair and put it in the glass. But make sure to wash your hair thoroughly before doing this, so there are no remains of hair care or styling products on it.
3. Observe if the strand of hair sinks to the bottom of the glass or sits on top of the water.

And here is the key to interpreting what you see. If the strand floats on top, this means you have low porosity hair. On the other hand, if the hair quickly sinks to the bottom, you have high porosity hair. If the hair floats in the middle of the glass, you most likely have medium porosity hair (or normal porosity).

Low porosity

Low porosity hair is generally considered healthy. It is shiny, not easily electrified, and dense. However, the cuticles are closely spaced, which makes the hair resistant to styling and not great at absorbing moisture. Curls usually fall apart quickly for this type of hair.

Low porosity hair is difficult to wet—in high humidity, it remains normal. This type of hair also tends to accumulate protein-rich hair care products on its surface, which makes it straw-like and heavy. Therefore, it is essential to use very light products with moisturising components that contain almost no proteins, so that they do not make the hair look greasy.

To get more from your hair care routine, you can slightly warm up your hair right after applying a mask or conditioner or simply try a deep-conditioning method.

Normal (or medium) porosity

Medium porosity hair has a slightly loose cuticle layer, which allows it to retain only the necessary amount of moisture. Thus, it keeps hair clear of both excess evaporation and the strong accumulation of moisture. Normal porosity hair, as a rule, keeps styling well and can be chemically curled and coloured with predictable results. It does not require special hairdressing treatments and solutions, but over time, these procedures may damage the hair and increase its porosity.

It is recommended to give normal porosity hair the occasional treatment of restorative deep penetrating conditioners with proteins that bring tangible benefits. Bear in mind that proteins should not be applied in daily hair care as they can also have a negative cumulative effect.

High porosity

High porosity hair is generally dry, brittle, and fragile. It is usually the result of previous aggressive chemical treatments, excessive heat styling, lack of proper care, environmental damage, or its genetic property (for example, curly hair). When taking care of highly porous hair, it is necessary to use special products (mainly silicone-based), which prevent the absorption of too much moisture. It is even more important in a climate with high temperature and humidity. This will help seal the cuticle and prevent porous hair from absorbing moisture from the air.

Due to its high porosity, this hair type can also easily lose moisture, so it is essential to implement leave-in moisturising conditioners in your hair care routine. These products will help to maintain the necessary level of moisture in your hair. You can also use products rich in protein to help fill in the damage in the cuticle layer and protect the high porosity hair types from losing a large amount of moisture in the long run.

All in all, hair porosity is one of the decisive factors when choosing suitable products for your hair. It is determined genetically, but with the lack of proper care, your hair’s condition may also alter your hair porosity. Things that negatively affect porosity are overwashing, blow-drying and straightening, frequent colouring, and ultraviolet exposure. It is better to avoid such harsh treatments and damaging products to ensure your hair gets enough—but not too much—moisture to keep it healthy.


What did Emily Ratajkowski’s hairy armpits really do for all women?

By Tahmina Begum

Dear hairy brown girls everywhere,

Putting us all under that one bushy umbrella may be a cliché thing to do, as we know being brown and hairy almost comes hand in hand, but being a hairy woman clearly isn’t spoken about enough. Recently, it started making headlines and Harper’s Bazaar paraded armpit hair like the latest accessory. This comes as no surprise from Harper’s Bazaar, a magazine that is trying to be both sexy for the male gaze and feminist at the same time. And who better to parade sexy feminism than Emily Ratajkowski? Because, of course, I forgot hair is only cool when shown off by a slim, white, hetero woman making it ‘fashun’ again.

In an open essay for the September Issue titled Emily Ratajkowski explores what it means to be hyper feminine, Ratajkowski wrote about feminism and choice, and the importance of women’s right to choose but more importantly how she dresses, what she posts, if she decides to shave or not. Hence the photo of her, arm raised, showing-off her armpit hair—in black and white no less, because she’s really serious about this.

But hairy girls everywhere, what was your reaction? Were you praiseful towards the model and activist for taking the hit for women everywhere (mind you, she did get archaic comments telling her to shave her hair for health and cleanliness) or did you, like me, roll your eyes so much your contacts nearly came off?

I am tired of white feminism and this is exactly why: Emily Ratajkowski showing-off her armpit hair for a mainstream magazine that caters mainly to her self-applauding white peers and saying it’s for all women, does nothing actually for all women.

Maybe I’m being harsh. Maybe someone out there is now looking at Ratajkowski and is inspired to not shave. But think about this, for Emily Ratajkowski and Harper’s Bazaar to have even made this image of feminism appealing to its readers, Ratajkowski had to sell her sex appeal at the same time, signaling that this, too, can be attractive (as long as you fit into Eurocentric standards of beauty and of, course, look like that in a bra).

And what kind of feminism does this even fall into? The actor’s message may be positive, and, yes, I agree that women can do whatever they want, but this doesn’t mean every time a woman does something in the name of women it’s automatically good for women and worthy of applause.

If Harper’s Bazaar were truly inclusive, they would have featured a range of women commenting on how they feel about their body hair. Women from all walks of life, not just in their sexuality, gender, religion, politics, and upbringing, but also their schools of thought and hair textures. Would Ratajkowski be their choice if her hair were curly, coarse, and looked like it was derived from an African ancestry? Would they have shown a veiled Muslim woman wearing the niqab and talking about her relationship with body hair even if she doesn’t show it?

Being a brown girl and growing up with dark thick hair is amazing. It’s strong. It takes well to oil and comes in textures that both tell our history and that show that we’re made from the sun. Yet, it’s also complicated. There are so many common threads between us, from those that literally shaped our eyebrows and moustaches and perhaps forced us into puberty faster (depending on how cool your mum was and what age she’d let you go to the salon), to stories about shaving from a very young age because being one of the only brown Muslim girls in class is hard enough and we don’t want to be the brown, Muslim, and hairy one on top. Memories of being told that “you must be a man” from boys who now dm you on Instagram. I haven’t even spoken about what it must be like for curvier women, and those who do not fit within the binaries of gender and sexuality.

The issue with Emily Ratajkowski or Harper’s Bazaar’s story isn’t actually about her armpit hair or her curated sex appeal designed to sell one version of what freedom looks like, it’s about how little white feminists have to do to be praised for helping all women.

As brown and black girls, we have to solve the issues surrounding female genital mutilation, child marriage, and the lack of representation in the media in order for us to be acknowledged for doing anything for our communities. And yes, I’m talking about our communities. When brown and black girls do anything for women, we’re boxed in for doing it for our women instead of all women, even if we’re the global majority, whereas Ratajkowski is now credited with representing all women.

But it’s not radical to show off your armpit hair—which is rumoured to be fake anyway as Ratajkowski has said to be lasered everywhere. It’s not revolutionary to be another white woman trying to be the face of feminism when it’s trendy and cool. If anything, it shows me how little work you have to do to be accepted both beneath the patriarchy and in the arms of women. If anything, this is all corny and boring. Next.

Signed with love,

Exhausted and hairy brown girl