Did you know that the most common curly hair complaints are usually caused by not caring for your hair type correctly? There's no one size fits all approach to curl care. Befriending your natural hair means understanding the unique texture, type, and movement of your curls. This allows you to nourish them with the right products and styling techniques. Of course, with so many terms to define curl patterns, it can be difficult to know where to begin. We recommend starting with your hair's porosity.
Gaining a better picture of how your hair absorbs product can transform the way you style your natural curls. Porosity can tell us a lot about our hair's texture, type, and overall health. Once we understand what our hair's natural porosity is, it becomes easier to track seasonal changes and monitor how well (or not so well) our hair reacts to different products and treatments.
So how do you determine your hair's porosity level? What are the different hair types and what does all of this mean for your daily curl care routine? Don't stress over the tangled details quite yet. RevAir has put together a quick, simple guide for befriending your curls, starting with how your hair responds to hydration. Get to know your hair a little better by determining your hair's porosity.
What Does Porosity Mean for Hair?
Let's start by defining what we mean when we talk about your hair's porosity. Porosity refers to how readily moisture is absorbed and retained by the hair. Our hair shaft has a distinct, complex pattern of cuticles that determine how easy it is for water and water-based products to penetrate. The density of the cuticles indicates how porous the hair is. Tightly packed cuticles result in low porosity hair, whereas cuticles that are a bit more spaced out can indicate a higher porosity with more room for water absorption.
So what exactly determines your hair's porosity? The biggest factor in natural hair porosity is genetics. You may have heard the general rule that denser curls are less porous and therefore require more moisturizing products. This is an easy visual indicator to keep in mind when assessing how your hair responds to hydration. However, other factors can also influence how porous your hair is. Chemical processing and high heat are disruptors of molecular bonds and can degrade the health of your hair over time. This often results in hair becoming less porous. If you've noticed that your hair isn't holding product the way it used to, this is a good indicator that you may have environmental factors influencing your curls' porosity.
One way to manage environmental damage to your hair's porosity level is by adopting a low-heat lifestyle. Many re making the switch from blow dryers and flat irons to devices designed for a wider variety of hair types, including Type 2-4 curly hair. Our amazing RevAir uses a revolutionary reverse air system to gently style, sculpt, and dry hair without the use of high heat. Learn more about how to use a RevAir device in your daily curl care routine.
How to Determine Your Hair's Porosity Level
Now that we have an understanding of what porosity means for your hair, let's dive into how to determine your hair's porosity level. There are a few simple tricks you can use to gauge porosity. The best at-home porosity test is the strand method. This simple check can tell you a lot about your hair's type and texture.
First, collect a single strand of hair. Run your fingers from the end to the root and notice the texture. Is the curl pattern wavy? Brittle? Smooth and fine? If the strand feels rough and bumpy -- or breaks -- this is an indicator of high porosity hair. If the strand feels sleeker, you may be working with medium porosity textured hair. Also, if the strand slides easily through your fingers and has a dense texture, this is likely low-porosity hair.
Next, put your guess to the test by dropping the hair in a glass of water. If the hair floats easily to the surface, it is low porosity and does not easily allow moisture penetration. If the hair sinks to the bottom, the hair is dense from moisture absorption and you are working with high-porosity hair. Hair that sits in the middle of the glass has a moderate porosity level.
Make note of your porosity and keep this in mind for your next hair appointment. Once you have a baseline, you can ask your stylist to further break down what texture and porosity you're working with.
What's Your Type? Understanding Hair Texture
Distinction sets each hair type apart from the crowd. Learning more about what hair type and texture you have can empower you to tailor your style routine to suit your unique hair needs. When it comes to working with curly hair, understanding the different hair types is especially important. Many curly hair products are generic and not targeted to a specific type of curl pattern. Once you know your hair type, nourishing your natural locks is much easier.
Let's explore the four main hair types and their subcategories.
Hair Type 1
Type 1 hair is naturally straight, smooth, and sleek. This hair type ranges from 1a, which is hair that cannot hold a curl and tends to lie flat at the root, to 1c which holds very subtle movement. Type 1 hair is the least porous and has a difficult time absorbing products. Common challenges for this hair type include a lack of volume and an "oily" texture due to poor absorption. Highlights for this hair type include an ultra-shiny appearance and a silky soft texture you can run your fingers through.
Hair Type 2
Type 2 hair is where we start to get more movement and shape. This hair type is defined by S-shaped curls and loose textured waves. The porosity is still on the lower end but becoming more moderate. Challenges for type 2 hair include frizz and struggles holding a curl pattern. The best parts of type 2 hair the effortless beachy waves, healthy medium moisture level, and brilliant shine.
Hair Type 3
Type 3 hair is one of the most common curl patterns. This curl pattern is the type most curly hair products were designed for! Type 3 curls range from 3a to 3c in terms of tightness. 3a curls tend to be springy and loose, while 3c are denser corkscrews. This hair type has moderate to high porosity and absorbs product easily. That means your hair is extra healthy, hydrated, and full of volume! Issues can arise in the form of build-up, product residue, and dry, itchy scalp.
Hair Type 4
Type 4 hair features some of the most magnificent curl patterns around. This hair type is unique in having dense coils that can appear seamless. Type 4 is voluminous, full of movement and depth, and has a rich texture that retains shine well. This hair type often has the highest porosity which means it can also lose moisture quickly. Dryness is a primary need for fostering radiance.
How to Pick Products Based on Your Hair Porosity and Type
You can use your hair porosity and type to select the right products. Key characteristics of low porosity hair include a tendency for products to sit on the hair rather than readily absorb, the hair is difficult to saturate when washed, and the hair takes a long time to dry after showering. For this hair type, leave-in conditioners and moisture masks can work wonders in strengthening the hair and promoting moisture retention. Frizz control products and dry shampoos are also excellent at keeping your hair fresh whenever needed. You'll also want to be especially mindful of heat exposure for low-porosity hair. Because this hair type takes longer to dry, it's easy to overexpose your hair to high heat. Opt for a healthier, low-heat device such as our fantastic RevAir that dries 3x faster than traditional high-heat styling tools instead.
High porosity hair absorbs water and product rapidly. This type of hair may be prone to breakage and dryness as it's easy for moisture to escape as well. Butter and oils work well for fostering a healthy shine in high-porosity hair. Experiment with different natural kinds of butter and oils to find the right formula for your curls. Deep conditioning treatments are a great way to fortify hair, as well as keratin-strengthening products to prevent breakage. Prioritizing scalp care is essential for high-porosity hair that tends to be at risk for residue and build-up. We recommend incorporating a scalp detox into your styling routine for optimal results.
Understanding your hair is the first step in becoming best friends with your curls. No more detangling battles. No more wanting to "chop it all off" due to stressful home hair care routines. Working with your hair's unique makeup is the best way to save time in your style routine and empower you in your healthy hair journey. We promise, once you get to know them, you'll love your curls even more.
Reach out to our team for more tips and tricks on working with your hair's natural porosity and how RevAir can simplify your wash days.