Want juicy locks? Here's how you can choose the right treatment for your hair type

Ebony Obsidian shows off her rich moisturised hair.
Ebony Obsidian shows off her rich moisturised hair.

Your hair’s porosity determines the best products and treatments suited to your individual needs for improved hair maintenance, growth and maximum hair happiness.

Hair porosity refers to your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. Each strand of hair has a flexible outer layer known as the hair cuticle that determines how easily moisture can pass in and out of it.

Porosity can be genetic, but external factors may also play a role. Chemical processing, heat treatments and environmental exposure may affect it.

Porosity is broken down into three categories: low, normal and high. Low porosity hair has cuticles that are very closely bound, allowing less moisture and oil to pass through and at a much slower rate. Normal or medium porosity hair has cuticles that are slightly less bound while high porosity hair has cuticles that are more widely spread out, allowing more moisture and oil to pass through.

How can you determine your hair’s porosity?

The most common way is by doing a float test. Take a few strands of hair from your hairbrush and drop them into a bowl of water. Wait for 2 to 4 minutes. If the hairs float, you have low porosity. If they sink, you have high porosity.

Low porosity

Because the cuticles are tightly bound together, it is harder for moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. Hair products may sit on the hair, causing build-up, and because they aren’t absorbed easily, it may be difficult for water to saturate your hair when shampooing and it may take longer for your hair to air dry. But just because your hair has low porosity, it doesn’t mean it’s not healthy, it just means that it may become very dry if it is not moisturised correctly.

1. Look for ingredients like honey, shea butter, jojoba oil and coconut oil in your hair care products. This makes them rich in emollients to penetrate the hair more easily, to leave dry, damaged and coarse hair softer, more manageable and more resilient.

2. Apply conditioner to wet hair, as it may be absorbed more easily if it’s a little diluted, to give your hair an intense moisture boost and leave your hair super soft.

3. Use a steamer or heat cap to apply heat when you condition your hair as this will help the product penetrate the hair shaft more easily.

Mereba wears stylish locks.
Mereba wears stylish locks.
Image: Amy Sussman / FilmMagic

Medium porosity

Medium porosity is the happy medium. The cuticles aren’t too open but not too tightly bound either. This means moisture can penetrate easily, and can also be retained for a longer time. If your hair has medium porosity, it should take colour well, be easily styled, is shiny and doesn’t take too long to air dry.

Medium porosity hair requires the least amount of maintenance. Occasional deep conditioning treatments will maintain the hair’s health and increase product absorption. Do hydrating repair masks every second week or whenever hair needs a bit of a boost, that will penetrate deep into the hair shaft for an intense treatment to repair, restore and strengthen dry, damaged hair.

High porosity

High porosity hair can absorb moisture, but cannot retain it due to the gaps in the cuticles. Hair tends to break easily, can be excessively dry and will struggle to hold colour.

1. Use products that contain ingredients like butters and oils, to help moisturise hair. Leave-in treatments with sunflower, coconut and castor oils will penetrate the hair to soften, strengthen and repair.

2. Another great option to seal the hair is Jamaican castor oil to help soften and moisturise the hair and skin, leaving it nourished and treated.

3. Avoid hot water when shampooing and conditioning, use lukewarm water instead. It’s also important to apply a heat protectant product before heat styling or blow-drying.

4. Invest in leave-in conditioners and sealers with argan oil and strengthening proteins to help improve hair strength, protect against damage, and add moisture and shine.