Hair texture and porosity
Posted on January 28 2021
C.H.E. = continuing hair education
In medicine, the only constant is constant change.
As a physician, I constantly have to educate myself, stay up with the science and data, and learn new things. Ongoing education is vital. We call it CME. It stands for Continuing Medical Education. So with your hair, same thing.
Welcome to your ongoing hair education.
So, where do we start? Or start over?
We all have to have an idea of how our hair responds to our conditions and to our past care. What data have we picked up along the way? No matter what has been the ongoing challenge with your curls, there is almost always a simple solution for it.
Start with figuring out your hair type, its density, porosity, and elasticity. For some of us, this may be a review or something you already know intimately.
Why is all this important? Because you need to understand your hair to take the best care of it.
Once you understand your hair, you can set up the best individual hair care routine for yourself and have the healthiest, best looking curls of your life.
And keep them that way. And love them.
The most commonly known and widely used system, the Texture Typing system, was initially crafted by stylist Andre Walker, and has evolved into what we see below:
Type 1 – straight
No discernible wave or curl
Type 2 – wavy
Loose S shaped curls that lie
Type 3 – curly
From big loose corkscrews,
Type 4 – coily
Very tight curl, ‘S’ shape, the
And oh yeah, most, if not all curlies have more than one hair type on their head, to make it extra hard!
This is always the typing system Many Ethnicities will use as reference.
There are other typing systems, the next most common being L.O.I.S. system which includes pattern and texture typing as follows:
L= BEND; hair has all bends, right angles and folds with little to no curves.O=CURL; strands are rolled into a ‘zero’ shape, like a spiral. I= STRAIGHT; pretty self-explanatory, no discernible curve or bend. S= WAVE; looks like a wavy line with hills and valleys.
THREADY, WIRY, COTTONY, SPONGY, SILKY; the different classifications refer to each hair type’s natural sheen, shine level when pulled taut , frizz tendency, and ease of wetting hair with water.
The cortex, largest inner layer of the hair, is covered by the cuticle, or outer protective layer of the hair shaft. (teaser - a light anatomy lesson coming in the near future as well).
Imagine the cuticle cells are something like roof shingles, protecting the inside of the house. When they are tightly closed, or packed, shielding the inner hair shaft layers, the hair is low porosity, ‘cause not much gets in.
Low porosity hair has a hard time absorbing moisture, chemicals, dyes. High porosity is the opposite, the cells, or shingles are loose and open, and moisture gets in with ease, but goes out again just as quickly! Your natural porosity can change, depending on so many factors, like age of the hair and exposure to chemical processing, and coloring treatments.
The quick and easy porosity tests are:
The float test: Put a clean air - dried strand of hair, with no product on it in a glass of water. Wait 2-5 minutes and observe.
The strand test: Run your thumb and index finger along a single strand of clean dry hair.
If it feels rough to the touch, or if your fingers meet some resistance, your cuticle cells are open and your hair is highly porous. If it feels smooth, the cuticle cells are tightly packed together and closed, low porosity.
Lastly, judge by your hair drying time on wash day. Without a dryer or diffuser, just air drying. If your hair dries quickly, less than 3 hours, it is high porosity. If it's still damp after 8 hours, it is low porosity, And in between, medium porosity.
Learning the characteristics of your hair, understanding and knowing your own hair will guide your routine and help you establish a fantastic regimen for yourself that ensures beautiful results every time.
Up next time: DENSITY and ELASTICITY and how to test for that, and a quick easy anatomy lesson.
See our upcoming posts at Many Ethnicities about how each of these affects how you approach your overall hair care.
And, to celebrate C.H.E., we’re are having a sale! Stay tuned later this week.