People ask me about my hair all the time. What they don’t see (and my family has had to deal with) is all the time it took me to figure out how to keep it in check. I am here to help you stop spinning your wheels with the perpetual searching and end your frustration by showing you how to determine your hair type and understand how to treat it properly. You’ll stop thinking, I hate my hair – 1 Step to End Your Frustration.
The best way to read this post if you are in a hurry is: 1) read the first couple bulleted characteristics of hair types to get a general idea, 2) complete a quick hair stand test and 3) move to treatments.
This is my own experience and the steps below helped me stop hating my hair. Hopefully you can find some useful information to help you stop thinking, I hate my hair. Also, there are no affiliates links in this post.
I Hate My Hair – 1 Step to End Your Frustration
Continue reading if you are thinking any of the following:
- I hate my hair
- I can’t stand the way my hair looks, but I can’t figure out how to make it look better no matter how much money I spend
- If I ask you what your hair porosity type is you don’t know (or haven’t heard of porosity hair types)
- Constant state of buying products and failing to achieve healthy looking hair
Listen Linda, everyone hates their hair when they don’t get it. Guaranteed.
Guarantee number two: the person giving you hair advice does not understand your hair or you wouldn’t still be frustrated.
As you are getting on the right track to care for your hair type think of it like this: you have a space in your house that you just don’t like being around. You can live with it in frustration (current status) or apply a few coats of paint, some great feng shui, along with your favorite scent and turn that unliked space into an oasis. A little research is involved to get what you want, so you’re off to a good start! By the time you’re done reading the tips it should end your thinking, I hate my hair.
You’re going to learn what to do with your hair by:
- Testing your hair type
- Understanding your hair type
- Figuring out how to improve your hair according to its type (e.g., when to apply product, what type of products to use)
Is your hair low, high or normal porosity? Let’s do a test to find out.
Testing Your Hair Type
There are two easy, unscientific home methods to determine your hair type. One is with water and the other is feeling the hair strand. These test should be done on clean, dry hair. >>>Hair with product will not test accurately. <<<
The water test can be done two different ways: 1) float test or 2) spray bottle test. You can wash your hair, pull the strand and style your hair as usual if you want to do the test after the pulled strands dry. If you are going to use the float test you will need a clear glass and water. Use a water bottle with water and something to isolate the hair (e.g., rubber band/clips) for the second test. >>>Use room temperature water. Cold water closes the cuticle.<<<
- Fill a clear glass with water about half way.
- Pull out a couple strand of clean hair.
- Test for three outcomes with in 2-4 minutes if the hair:
sinks = high porosity
floats after several minutes = low porosity (hair with oil on it will make it float) and
sinks slowly = normal porosity
Spray Bottle Test
- Isolate some hair with a rubber band and pull the other hair out of the way.
- Spray the isolated, clean hair, with room temperature water – just a mist, not saturation
- Look for one of three outcomes:
Quick Absorption = high porosity
Water Beads Up/Sits on Top = low porosity
Sits on the hair for several minutes and absorbs = normal porosity
This is a matter of using your fingers as your eyes to exam the hair. This test works best for low/high porosity hair types.
- Grab some strands of hair
- Slide the hair between your fingers from end to root
- If it is:
Not smooth/bumpy = high porosity
Smooth = low porosity
Porosity Hair Types
Porosity hair types determine how your hair absorbs/retains moisture and effects your hairs interaction with products. Knowing your hair porosity type can help you better understand how to treat your hair and for how long.
Low Porosity Characteristics
- People often refer to this hair type as a “ratty” looking (no offense to rats of course), straw like, or dry/brittle
- Takes a long time to dry, no matter the length
- Water “sits” on the cuticle longer then most types
- Products are not easily absorbed into the hair
- Scalp may be dry and/or oily; not normal
- May look good, but lacks volume/bounce and loses the effects of a curling iron easily
- May have dandruff, but your hair/scalp feel dirty
- Nothing in the natural hair care community works for your hair
High Porosity Characteristics
- Dries fast
- Feels and looks extremely dry/damaged
- Attracts moisture, but can’t hold onto it
- Often referred to as frizzy/split
Normal Porosity Characteristics
- Does not struggle with moisture
- Looks healthy/”alive”, has bounce/volume and shine
- Generally provokes envy in people with low/high porosity hair
Okay, moving on…
Now that you are armed with some data, let’s get into the how! How do you treat your hair type?
Treating Your Hair Porosity Type
Because your hair absorbs moisture in a certain way it is going to react to products and processes in a specific fashion too. For all hair types I recommend regular deep conditioning, air drying 75-80% of your hair before blow drying whenever possible, only using a hair pick/wide tooth comb on wet hair and limit how often you wash your hair – utilizing dry shampoos when possible.
Low Porosity Hair Treatments
This cuticle is flat and tight and has trouble absorbing moisture, but does not have the damaged cuticle of high porosity hair. Your challenge is to open the cuticle to get product in. Think of a manicure. Generally, a nail technician will soak your hands in warm/hot water before pushing your cuticles back. You want to open your hair up with heat so the product can get in.
- Treat your hair weekly with a hair mask. Let sit for 30-1 hour and shampoo and condition as usual. Your results will be more effective if the treatments are combined with a hot towel, shower cap, or using a hair dryer. You don’t have to use a dryer. You can use hot oil treatments; I avoid them because of the hair coloring products I use.
- Use light products like argan, grapeseed or nan (review) oil for flyaways.
- Avoid build up to eliminate barriers to moisture. That might look like periodically using an apple cider vinegar (ACV) treatment to help close the cuticle, which is temporary, or clarifying shampoo. Use a good conditioner after any clarifying process.
- Avoid products with low pH (acid), a-lot of proteins and thick products that are hard to absorb.
- Use a Microfiber towel/t-shirt.
- Use rice water rinses – the benefits are vast!
High Porosity Hair Treatments
The damage is done and you need to proceed accordingly. Your challenge is to get your cuticles to lay down and stop being pissed off. High porosity cuticle layers are dry, cracking and peeling, which leads to them to break away. Protein is your friend. Good practices for this hair type is to wash/clarify in sections, deep condition, moisturize and seal before styling. Keep the Liquid, Oil, Cream (LOC) steps in mind.
- Egg washes have awesome protein benefits and help slow down cuticle damage. Moderation is the key with anything, so don’t go crazy or your hair will become stiff and susceptible to breakage.
- Apple cider vinegar (ACV) and aloe vera help balance the pH balance of high porosity hair.
- Coconut oil as a prewash, before your regular shampoo and conditioning routine to help limit the hair shaft from swelling. Rinse with cold water to seal the cuticle and reduce frizz.
- Seal your hair with oils to hold onto moisture and avoid breakage using oils like: argan, almond, olive and jojoba.
- Use heavy water based creams and leave-in products and help reduce volume.
- Consider co-washing.
- Best to air dry whenever possible and use a Microfiber towel/t-shirt.
Normal Porosity Hair Treatments
Little will be covered on this hair type. Normal porosity is not guaranteed over the life of your hair. Preventative maintenance is just as important for this hair type to keep low/high porosity hair at bay. Just like with all porosity hair types, hair coloring, ultra violet light, aging and clarifying techniques will tax your hair.
- Regularly use deep conditioning treatments, especially after a hair coloring or using clarifying shampoos.
- Limit repeated damage with flat irons and other heat tools.
- Don’t over wash/wash hair every two to three days and use dry shampoo when possible.
These are the best practices for the applicable hair types to keep them healthy and happy. And if you are anything like me, I am a visual learner. Below are some great tutorials and tips from YouTube, so be sure to check them out at your leisure!
Great Hair Video Tutorials
My Low Porosity Hair Routine (mine)
Elle Bangs (just going to link her whole rabbit hole)
Bouncy Natural Curl Routine (my fav)
How to Get BIG Straight Hair (Texas Hair Peeplze)
Curl Talk (bear with the quality; great tips)
That’s it. Hopefully you are not in a panic after some serious hair faux pas and can read this enjoyably. If that is not the case, I hope you have found some useful tips to understand your hair type and treat it accordingly! After learning I had low porosity hair, I started treating it much differently and the results came. I now know how to strip stubborn purple toner from hair, that hair color doesn’t develop on my hair as quickly as others, what bleach to use with my hair type, how to use the LOC system above and what products work best on my hair. I attack my hair with curiosity instead of chasing closure. That is what I want for you too. If you did not find the answers you needed here, let me know! It may be a matter of clarification.
Remember: the only dumb question is the unasked one.
Best wishes to all you ladies who are willing to be mad at yourself for free – if you haven’t found your hair mate yet!