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Reader Q&A: CurlyNikki Explains Hair Porosity

CurlyNikki explains hair porosity and how it can affect how your strands stay moisturized.
Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you’re in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by tweeting them to @EssenceMag with the hashtag #AskCurlyNikki.

READER QUESTION: Nikki, my hair refuses to stay moisturized no matter what I do. A friend and natural guru told me she suspects my hair may be very porous. What does this mean and how can I fix it?

CURLYNIKKI’S RESPONSE: Highly or overly porous tresses are quite common among textured women. It comes from an open cuticle that allows moisture to not only easily enter, but also easily escape, resulting in dry, brittle, easily damaged hair. If you find that your hair is super moisturized and supple immediately following washday but then rapidly morphs into a fire hazard haystack, even after sealing and all that jazz, you may have a porosity issue. Although some suspect our hair tends to the ‘overly porous’ side naturally, it’s usually a sign of damage from chemical treatments, heat abuse, mechanical damage and the like.

Here’s how to tell if your hair is porous: Place a couple of hairs in a cup of water. If it sinks in less than a couple of minutes, you’ve got trouble. It means your hair is very porous and easily saturates with water.

I reached out to my friend Tiffany of The Curl Whisperer who shared another cool porosity test:

“You can check porosity on dry hair by taking a strand of several hairs from four different areas of the head (front hairline, temple, crown and nape). Slide the thumb and index finger of your other hand down each hair strand from end to scalp. If it is smooth, you have normal porosity. If your fingers move very fast up the hair strand and it feels exceptionally slick, dense and hard, you have low porosity. If your fingers “catch” going up the strand, feel like they are ruffling up the hair strand, or if the hair strand breaks, your hair is overly porous.”

So now what? To care for overly porous hair, step away from the flat iron and blow dryer, avoid color treatments, trim your ends regularly and apply weekly deep conditioning treatments (moisture and protein) with a gentle heat source (like a thermo heat cap). Some folks have tried ROUX Porosity Control with great success. You can find it at your local Sally Beauty Supply.

Good luck and happy hair growing!

Nikki “CurlyNikki” Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural haircare, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.