A few months back, a new range of Shea Moisture hair products landed on our radar, each one in the collection formulated for either low porosity or high porosity hair. Though familiar with the terms (porosity dictates your hair’s ability to absorb moisture) we admit that it’s not something we always take into account when addressing our own hair care needs. The product launch served as a reminder that perhaps it should be, and we reached out to Sheenon Olson, celebrity stylist and creative director of Miami’s Atma Beauty, to better understand why. According to Olson, this is what you should be taking into account.
The difference between low and high porosity hair
“Low porosity means that your hair doesn’t absorb moisture easily,” Olson says. “This is usually due to a tight hair cuticle, so the hair doesn’t loose moisture easily either.” High porosity, Oslon adds, is the exact opposite—hair that absorbs and loses moisture quickly. Highly porous hair can often mean it’s more damaged than it should be, whether it be from heat styling or lack of periodic trims.
One way to determine your hair’s porosity is to take a few strands from your comb and drop them into a glass of water. If your hair floats for several minutes, your hair’s porosity is likely low, as it’s not absorbing enough water to sink. If your hair falls to the middle or bottom of the glass, this indicates high porosity.
“The porosity of your hair will determine the best maintenance regimen for achieving not only healthier hair but also desired results,” Olson says, noting that hair can also be mixed porosity. “Someone who consistently ombre colors their hair may have high porosity ends that are dry and over processed, while the shaft of their hair may be a lower porosity.”
The best way to maintain low porosity hair
“Avoid products with protein, which will make your hair more brittle,” Olson says.”I also recommend light products so build up doesn’t become an issue.” Protein-free formulas include Shea Moisture Baobab and Tea Tree Oils Shampoo ($11, sheamoisture.com), Curl Junkie Curl Assurance Smoothing Daily Hair Conditioner ($20, curljunkie.com) and Olson’s go-to, pre-styling primer, Oribe Foundation Mist ($27, oribe.com).
The best way to maintain high porosity hair
“You want to use products that will not only add moisture but that will also close the cuticle,” Olson says. He recommends Goldwell Dualsenses Rich Repair Shampoo ($31, ulta.com) and Conditioner ($36, ulta.com), which work to balance hair pH—a crucial element of sealing the cuticle.