Understanding Hair Porosity in Medical Cosmetology: A Comprehensive Guide


Hair porosity is a term that is increasingly gaining attention in both the haircare industry and medical cosmetology. Despite its importance, it remains misunderstood or neglected by many. A thorough understanding of hair porosity can drastically improve the diagnosis, treatment, and overall health of hair. This article aims to offer a comprehensive overview of hair porosity, how to measure it, and its relevance in medical cosmetology.

Understanding Hair Porosity in Medical Cosmetology

What is Hair Porosity?

Hair porosity refers to the ability of hair to absorb and retain moisture. The cuticle layer of the hair, which consists of tiny, protective scales, plays a significant role in determining hair porosity. Based on the condition of the cuticle layer, hair can be classified into three primary categories:

Low Porosity

Low Hair Porosity
Low Hair Porosity
  • Characteristics: The cuticle scales lie flat, indicating healthy hair.
  • Chemical Services: Requires more alkaline solutions to open the cuticle for uniform saturation and processing.

Average Porosity

Average Hair Porosity
Average Hair Porosity
  • Characteristics: Some cuticle scales may be raised but the hair generally remains healthy.
  • Chemical Services: Processes as expected with most chemicals.

High Porosity

High Hair Porosity
High Hair Porosity
  • Characteristics: Raised cuticle scales often resulting from overprocessing. Hair is usually dry, fragile, and brittle.
  • Chemical Services: Requires less alkaline solutions with lower pH to prevent further damage.

How to Measure Hair Porosity

You can check hair porosity by conducting a “Slide Test” on dry hair. Take strands from different areas of the head (front hairline, temple, crown, and nape). Slide your thumb and forefinger from the end to the scalp. If it feels smooth, the hair has low porosity; if slightly rough, it has average porosity; and if it feels dry or breaks, it has high porosity.

Porosity Across Different Hair Textures

Hair porosity isn’t limited to a specific hair texture; it can vary across all hair types. It’s also possible for an individual to have different porosities in different regions of their scalp, complicating the task of haircare professionals.

Implications in Medical Cosmetology

Individualized Treatment Plans

Understanding porosity allows medical cosmetologists to customize treatments for each client. Low porosity hair may require higher alkalinity to facilitate chemical services, while high porosity hair would need a gentler approach to avoid further damage.

Monitoring Hair Health

Porosity can serve as an indicator of overall hair health. High porosity often suggests that the hair has undergone excessive chemical treatments or has been exposed to environmental damage, signaling the need for restorative treatments.

Product Selection

Porosity plays a crucial role in product selection. Low porosity hair benefits from lighter, liquid-based products, while high porosity hair may need heavier, cream-based products to lock in moisture.

Color and Chemical Treatments

For hair coloring or chemical straightening, porosity determines how the hair will absorb and retain the chemicals. With high porosity hair, there’s a risk of over-absorption, leading to over-processing and subsequent damage.


Hair porosity is a critical yet often overlooked factor in medical cosmetology that has broad implications for treatment and maintenance. A nuanced understanding of porosity helps in formulating individualized treatment plans, choosing the right products, and avoiding potential complications in color and chemical treatments. By paying attention to this crucial element, practitioners can significantly improve the effectiveness of their services and the satisfaction of their clients.

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