Why finding your curl pattern & porosity is essential for your hair routine
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.
Growing up with a hairdresser as a mom and spending many weekends in a salon, the importance of taking care of my hair was always emphasized to me. Talking about porosity and hair patterns was familiar to me but I had no idea what it really meant for my hair. I started paying attention at the beginning of college once my hair had become extremely damaged from years of straightening and bleaching. I needed to use a different routine and embrace my curly hair.
Finding out my curl pattern and porosity helped me find products and a routine to get my hair in a healthier place. Doing this also helped me start to love my hair again without straightening it, and the bouncy curls from my childhood came back. It can be hard to decide what is best to use for your hair or even where to start. We are constantly being told that we need this or this will save our hair, but it’s hard to tell what actually works. Hair, just like skin, is very personal and depends on a lot of factors. What works for one person’s hair won’t work for another. You don’t need to be a professional or do tons of research to learn more about your hair: a great place to start is finding your pattern and porosity.
The first step I took on my haircare journey was finding my curl pattern. I always described my hair as “curly” but there are so many different types of curly hair that need different things. Many people including myself also have varying textures in different sections of their hair. The hair surrounding my face and underneath tend to have tighter curls than the rest of my head. The curl patterns use different letters and numbers to describe your curl pattern and was created by hair stylist Andre Walker. Type one being straight, type two wavy, type three curly, and type four coily. Letters A through C show the range in tightness of the curl within each number category.
Knowing your curl pattern is not just important for knowing what your hair looks like, but also your hair routines. It can also sometimes tell you about how thick your hair is and how often it needs to be washed. It is especially important to see what products are best for your hair. What somebody with type 1A needs to use in their hair is different from someone with 4C hair. Of course hair is also determined by other personal factors besides this and finding your curl pattern may not tell you exactly what you need to do for your hair but it can point you in the right direction. I also like knowing this when looking for hair inspiration and styles. Different hairstyles and colors look very different depending on your curl pattern. Whenever I look on Pinterest especially for hair color and cut ideas, there is an option to click straight, wavy, curly or coily. It gives me much better hair inspiration and new ideas on styles that suit my hair best.
Getting in more detail about what I needed in my routine led me to learning about my hair porosity. I had an idea from my mom doing my hair for years and telling me I had low porosity, but there are multiple tests to see what your hair porosity is. The most commonly used test is the float test. To do this you need to drop a piece of clean hair into water. If it sinks you have high porosity and if it floats you have low porosity. The hair staying in the middle is a sign of medium porosity. You can also try the slip test where you feel a strand of hair between your fingers. Smooth hair indicates low porosity, bumpy hair shows high, and somewhere in between is medium.
Finding your hair porosity tells you your hair’s ability to hold moisture. Low porosity hair means your cuticles are tight and it’s hard for your hair to absorb moisture. This also means that it takes longer for your hair to dry and products can sit on the hair but not get to the cuticle. Medium porosity is considered is not tight or broken and can be lower maintenance. High porosity means your cuticle is wide and easy to absorb moisture. Hair tends to dry quickly, but this means it can lose moisture quickly too. This is because high porosity hair has cracks in the cuticle that can be caused by genetics, coloring hair, heat damage, and perms.
Learning the properties of each type of porosity can help you find what products are best to use. Primarily for finding those that help with issues of dryness and breakage. If you have low porosity hair you should use light liquid based hydrating and deep conditioning products. It’s also important to apply products to wet hair because it helps the hair absorb the moisture from products better. Low porosity hair also does not absorb heavy butters and oils as well. Medium porosity is the most flexible with types of products and how they are applied. The only thing you may want to avoid is very heavy oil products. High porosity hair on the other hand benefits from heavier products with oils and butters because of its tendency to lose moisture. Products with proteins also can help strengthen the hair. It is also important to try to reduce damage from hair treatments and heat if your porosity is high.
Hair is extremely personal and finding out what works for your hair is a process. Learning about your curl patterns and porosity is a great place to start and find the types of products that work best for your hair and how they should be applied. This prevented me from spending money on products that didn’t work for me. You still may find products that are good for your hair that do not align with your porosity or curl type. I have low porosity hair and I still do use oils and butters occasionally, but learning about my hair sparked me to use lighter products more frequently. Having a good routine also allowed me to fall in love with my hair again. I spent most of my middle and high school years trying to get my hair as straight as possible. Repairing my damaged hair allowed me to get excited about my hair type instead of hating it. I hope you learned something about your hair and gave you some ideas of new products and techniques to try!
Article written by Elysia Rudman for hercampus.com