If you’ve found yourself doing the same routine every washday but getting different results each time, then it may be time to start digging deeper into what your hair actually needs. Because our hair is affected by so many external factors (humidity, sun, sea, temperature etc.), repeating one successful wash day does not automatically mean that you’re going to get good results the next time around.
In this blog post, we’re going to show you how you can “read” your hair to find out what it needs (more moisture, or more protein), so that you can:
- Pick the right products each wash day
- Tailor your routine to your hair needs
- Get consistent results each time
To understand what your hair needs, it’s important to understand the structure of your hair, and to do that, we need to discuss “hair porosity” and elasticity.
Part 1: Porosity: Understanding your hair
Hair porosity refers to your hair's ability to absorb & retain moisture. Generally, hair is defined as having 3 types of porosity:
Generally, people who have low porosity hair have a hard time getting their hair wet and feel like products just sit on their hair without being absorbed.
With low porosity hair cuticles are compact and lie flat, making it hard for moisture to get in or out. People with low hair porosity are likely to need a lot of moisture in their routine (regular deep conditioning treatments, heavier creams etc.).
Bonus tip: If you have low porosity hair, try to use steam in the shower to help open up your cuticles before applying your deep conditioner and then put your hair in a shower cap to ensure your hair sucks up all the moisture.
People who have high porosity tend to feel like their hair sucks up a lot of product, but almost never feels hydrated.
Hair that has been damaged in any way from straightening, dyeing, or just sun exposure - is usually high porosity.
WIth this hair type, the hair cuticles are highly-raised and absorb and lose moisture quickly and easily. People with high porosity also need a lot of moisture, but they need to incorporate protein into their routine. Protein acts as a “filler” - it fills in the empty space where the cuticles are highly-raised which in turn allows the hair strand to absorb and retain moisture.
The easiest of all porosities; if you have medium porosity, your hair tends to absorb products well and retain moisture. In this case, you need a good balance of both moisture and protein in your routine.
The Porosity Spectrum
Have you ever noticed that the top part of your hair is frizzy and doesn’t curl well, but the bottom part near your neck is super curly and healthy? That’s because the top part of your hair is exposed to external factors, like the sun, wind and sea, which increases your hair porosity in that area.
We all have multiple hair porosities on our head and your hair porosity can change over time. To really determine what porosity you have, you need to observe how your hair reacts. You can also do this quick quiz to help you get started.
Part 2: Moisture (& Elasticity) & Protein: Unlocking the secrets
We’ve talked a lot about moisture and protein, but what exactly are they and how can you determine what you need by observing your hair?
Moisture essentially comes from water. Moisturising ingredients work by bringing additional water to your hair and keeping it there. It’s especially important for curly hair, because curly hair by nature is prone to dryness, which makes it more susceptible to breakage.
Moisturising ingredients are found in almost all curly hair products, but if you want to add extra moisture to your hair, you can deep condition or use a primer like a Leave-In Conditioner before applying your other styling products.
Some signs that your hair needs additional moisture are:
- Your hair feels dry or rough
- Your hair is dull
- Your hair breaks and tangles easily
Elasticity is also directly related to moisture and can be a great way to find out if your hair needs more or less moisture. Elasticity refers to how much your hair stretches out and bounces back.
To test your hair elasticity (and therefore your moisture requirements), take a strand of your hair and gently pull. As you let go, notice how your hair reacts.
- Does it bounce back? Great, that means your hair is well moisturised!
- Does it have little bounce or break? This is a sign that you need more moisture in your routine.
- Does it stay stretched out? This is a sign that you have too much moisture in your routine.
Hair is made up of a protein called keratin, because of this, protein gives your hair structure and helps with your curl pattern. Protein also gives your hair strength and shine and reduces breakage.
As we saw earlier, protein works by filling the empty space in raised hair cuticles and allows the hair strand to better absorb and retain moisture. So, sometimes when hair is really dehydrated, it actually needs some help from protein treatments in order to then be able to absorb moisture from a deep conditioning treatment.
Some signs that your hair needs protein are:
- Your hair feels mushy / sticky
- Your hair is stretched out and doesn’t bounce back
- You have a lot of frizz when your hair is wet
What your hair needs according to how it feels:
Finding a balance between moisture and protein will be the key to unlocking your hair’s full potential.
You can use the below chart to figure out what your hair needs, according to how it feels:
If you’re unsure what you need and how often you should be incorporating each into your routine, send us a message and we’ll be happy to help you out!