Curl Porosity 101

Are your curls high-, low-, or medium-porosity?

What is Porosity?

If you have curls, you’ve probably heard the word “porosity”. But what does it really mean? We consulted with Ouidad Artistic Educator, Genevieve Rosemary, to find out.

In short porosity is your hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture—and it affects how your hair responds to every product you use. It's one of the reasons that, no matter how many moisturizing treatments you throw on your curls, if it’s not compatible with your hair’s porosity level, your hair can still feel dry. The right products for you will impart moisture to your curls and help to seal it in.

We measure porosity in three different categories:

High Porosity: Your hair absorbs moisture readily but likely doesn't retain it easily.

Medium Porosity: Your hair absorbs moisture at a steady rate and maintains it well.

Low Porosity: Your hair has difficulty absorbing moisture, but once it's in there, it holds.

What's My Porosity?

The easiest way to find your hair's porosity is to try a Float Test. The method is simple.

  1. Fill a glass with water.
  2. Drop a few strands of your hair into the glass of water.
  3. Observe the strands for 1-2 minutes. 
  • High Porosity: Your hair sinks quickly.
  • Medium Porosity: Your hair sinks slowly.
  • Low Porosity: Your hair floats.Are your curls high-, low-, or medium-porosity?

What if my hair is high in porosity?

While some hair is naturally high in porosity, it can also be caused by damage from chemical processing, excess heat, or the environment. Your cuticle likely has gaps or holes which makes it vulnerable to more damage, so be extra gentle while cleansing, detangling, and styling. While high porosity hair absorbs moisture easily, it also loses moisture easily, too. Incorporating a balance of either moisture or protein into every step of your routine—from shampoo to styling—will aid in closing the cuticle to prevent future damage and moisture loss.

Our high porosity product picks:

Cleanse with Ultra-Nourishing Cleansing Oil

Condition using Ultra-Nourishing Intense Hydrating Mask

Detangle knots and tangles with Advanced Climate Control® Detangling Spray

Prime using Moisture Lock™ Leave-In Conditioner

Style using Advanced Climate Control Featherlight Styling Cream (for a softer, more lived-in look), Advanced Climate Control® Heat & Humidity Gel (for medium hold, defined style), orAdvanced Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel Stronger Hold (for a stronger, defined, longer-lasting style).

Finish with Mongongo Oil for the perfect finish.

Apply Curl Therapy Lightweight Protein Foam Treatment twice a month or as needed to replenish lost moisture and nutrients.

What if my hair is medium in porosity?

Medium porosity hair has a more uniform, pliable cuticle that allows it to absorb the right amount of moisture and retain it. Reminder: Repeated chemical treatments can cause porosity to increase. Medium porosity hair needs balanced moisture (without too much protein) and gentle products that protect from heat, UV, and chemical damage.  

Our medium porosity product picks:

Cleanse with VitalCurl™+ Clear & Gentle Shampoo

Condition with VitalCurl™+ Balancing Rinse Conditioner

Prime using Curl Reboot Strengthen + Nourish Leave-in Mask for Fine or Thick curls depending on hair type.

Style using VitalCurl™+ Define & Shine Styling Gel-Cream.

Finish your style with Mongongo Oil Multi-Use Curl Treatment for a boost of lightweight moisture and added shine.

Use Ultra-Nourishing Intense Hydrating Mask twice a month.

What if my hair is low in porosity?

Hair with low porosity has a tightly packed cuticle that is compact and lays flat. Your hair is generally shiny and tends to repel water. Low porosity hair may be more prone to build-up on strands and your scalp because it resists penetration and struggles to retain moisture. Low porosity hair needs clarifying regularly to prevent and remove excess build-up and moisturizing products that will soften and allow moisture to penetrate the cuticle.

Our low porosity product picks:

First cleanse with Ready, Set, Clean™ Scalp + Hair Rinse as a “pre-poo” to remove build-up.

Follow with Coil Infusion™ Like New Gentle Clarifying Shampoo to open the cuticle and allow moisture to penetrate deeply.

Condition with Coil Infusion™ Triple Treat Deep Conditioner, now that you’ve removed build-up and your cuticle is open and ready to absorb moisture. To really indulge in a spa-like treatment in the comfort of your own home, apply a cap and turn your bathroom into a steam room—the heat will help the oils in the formula to penetrate more deeply.

Prime using Get Hydrated Ultra-Hydrating Splash Mask to continue to infuse lightweight moisture into hair that can penetrate low porosity hair, rather than heavier formulas that may sit on top of the cuticle.  

Style with Curl Quencher® Moisturizing Styling Gel or Curl Shaper™ Take Shape Plumping + Defining Cream depending on your curl type.

Finish with Mongongo Oil Multi-Use Curl Treatment for lightweight moisture and added shine.