The Porosity Test: How To Find Out Your Porosity Status And What To Do About It

African American woman holding a glass of waterI am a strainer, at least I used to be. In practical terms that meant that I would add tons of moisture to my hair just for it to leave my strands with the same speed that it was applied. It was as if moisture was allergic to my hair!

Scientifically that meant that the cuticle layers of my hair had pores, holes and gaps in them virtually rendering my hair weak and prone to breakage.

Porosity determines your hair’s ability to absorb moisture and knowing where on the porosity scale your hair falls makes all the difference in how you tailor your healthy hair regimen.

Here is the bad news, if you have naturally curly hair or relaxed hair, your hair is generally considered porous. For the curly girls, the very structure of your hair, the bends, the twists and turns do not allow for a smooth surface so some of the cuticle layers are naturally raised up because they cannot physically all lie flat.

For our relaxed ladies, chemical relaxers essentially raise the cuticle layers so that the chemicals can be deposited to the hair to break the bonds thereby making it straight. In so doing, there is generally a loss of protein (as some cuticles chip off) leaving the hair more porous than before.

The good news is, we can help our situation by focusing on hair porosity treatments but one of the first steps is conducting a simple water glass test.

The Test

The porosity test has been around for years, the main premise is to see how water flows through your hair strand to determine just how many pores or holes your hair has in its surface.

Let me start by saying that there really isn’t much scientific backing for this test but like with many things, the practical application and results is what matters most. To conduct the test, all you need is a bowl or glass of water and a few strands of your hair.

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About Petra

Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.


  1. 1
    4btexlaxed says:

    I’m Taking A MoMent To Say Thank You For Sharing Your Knowledge. Your Site Had Helped Me Tremendously On My Journey To Healthy Texlaxed Hair.
    Thank You

  2. 3

    I’m high porosity and I have recently started deep conditioning weekly. How long will it take my hair to become normal?

    • 4
      Emily Cottontop says:

      Alisha, its hard to say because everybody’s hair is different. For me it took 4 weeks of consistent deep conditioning for me to see a difference in my hair. That doesn’t mean it took that long though. If you do a hard core protein treatment like Aphogee where hydrolyzed proteins are able to penetrate the hair strands, you should have immediate results because the proteins go to work as soon as you are done. The thing is how much damage do you have and how many treatments will you need. So it depends..

  3. 5
    Michelle C. Carvajal says:

    According to this test (I only used one strand of hair) I think I have normal to low porosity hair. I’m a bit confused since some parts stayed floating and some parts sunk a bit.

    • 6

      Hi Michelle. It’s common to have strands that exhibit different porosity. Remember that the ends are older so have been through more styling, combing and generally more drama than the roots. At least you know know that you have to keep on top of your regimen in order to maintain normal porosity, can’t let standards slip IYKWIM

  4. 7
    Natasha B says:

    I am fully natural for 2 years now and I love my hair’s progress but I notice I have a lot of split ends and there are like little knots on my some of my strands. What can I do for spilt ends and those knots???

    • 8

      Hi Natasha. Split ends are caused by hair breakage, actually I wrote about it in a recent article here

      I would suggest a light micro trim to get rid of the splits. In terms of preventing them recurring you really need to look at your manipulation. How often and how much of it because if it is causing splits then it may not be the best long term regimen for healthy hair.

      For the single strand knots, this is a pet peeve that many of us naturals share and in a way, the price that we pay for enjoying our natural strands. Some ladies have been able to reduce their recurrence by keeping their hair ends moisturized and well lubricated with oils but this is hit and miss at best.

      Truthfully you cannot completely get rid of them so just smile and accept them as a part of the charm of natural hair!

  5. 9

    I am low porosity. I have always used heat for deep conditioning and warm to hot water so when I use a rinse out conditioner my hair can capture nutrients and moisture from my wash. I also apply my DC and use heat to help with Deep conditioning. I allow my hair to partly dry after my wash routine in order to allow some water to escape, so my hair does not swell and proceed with my LOC method.

  6. 10

    This is a very informative article and I enjoyed reading it. Thank you!

  7. 11

    Hello, I’m new to the world of hair care, decided to start my hair journey. I did the porosity test but I’m confused as my strands sank then floated a minute after does this mean I’m high porosity or low?

  8. 12

    Due to the fact that the majority of African-Americans have multi DNA we have so many different types of hair in our heads we go from non poros to high porosity on one head of hair so the treatment can be tricky. The best thing that I have learned the more natural and milder the ingredients in the product the better. To harsh is too bad. I have been natural for over 45 years and love it! At sixty will a full head of hair no bald spots!

  9. 13

    Hello. When I did the test my hair was in and out the water,but it stayed mostly flowing on top. What is my hair Porosity?

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