Email #2 - Porosity

Hair porosity is a term that’s been thrown around with very little explanation for entirely too long. What does it mean?! My hair has pores?! Short answer: yes.
At Belle Bar, we believe knowing your porosity is the foundation of good hair care. Building a regimen that actually works comes down to your hair’s porosity, and picking the right products and ingredients based on it. Your regimen should be informed by your hair’s porosity and the goals you want to achieve (is it length retention, moisture, or just maintaining healthy hair?). If you don’t know your hair’s porosity, take our quiz here to find out. For 15% off al our individual products, use code ‘RESPECTMYCROWN’.

For different porosity levels, your regimen will be slightly different, so read on to find out what ingredients will work wonders for your hair based on your porosity. 

What is hair porosity?

The porosity of your hair determines how well moisture is able to pass through and be retained. The outer layer of the hair, also known as the cuticle, is what allows moisture in and out. Sometimes, the cuticle is so open that moisture slides right through, leaving nothing but a trace of its existence behind. Other times, it’s so closed that moisture can’t even get in, let alone get out.

High Porosity

High porosity hair has both its pros and challenges. If your hair is high porosity it means that the cuticle of your hair is too open, allowing moisture out too easily. So as easily as moisture can go in (which is a great thing!), it lets that moisture out quickly (which is where the challenge comes in!). The issue is going to be keeping moisture locked into the hair. It has no problem getting in, but it’s a whole different game keeping it inside. The challenge here is to strike that perfect balance of closing the cuticle just enough that moisture stays put. The reasons for high porosity hair range from everything from genetics to heat damage and chemical damage. 

What is protein and why does high porosity hair need it? 

Our hair is mostly made up of a protein called keratin. When the hair is damaged, it loses the strength the protein gives it, leading to split ends, breakage, and brittleness. Protein strengthens hair, and helps to fill the gaps in the cuticle – which is essential for giving high porosity hair the strength it needs. Deep conditioning is a great way to get moisture into your hair, and if your hair is high porosity, we also recommend that you do protein treatments once or twice a month depending on the state of your hair. 

Protein treatments help replenish weak, brittle hair and go hand in hand with deep conditioners when it comes to hair masking. However, it’s important not to do them too often (such as weekly) since too much protein can cause the hair to break as well! There is definitely such a thing as protein overload and the hair being too strong – which also leads to breakage. 

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Low/Medium/Combination Porosity

Being a low porosity girl has both its pros and cons. The great thing is that once moisture does seep into our hair, it’s able to retain it for longer – the issue is, getting that moisture in. Another thing with low porosity hair is that it’s protein sensitive. This isn’t a good or bad thing in itself, it just means that we have to watch and monitor how much protein we put into our hair to prevent it from becoming dry, brittle and weak. 

The difference is that high porosity gals need the protein as there are gaps in their hair stubble which allows the hair to absorb moisture quickly, but let it out just as quick. Whereas with low porosity gals, our hair cuticle is more closed, and has less gaps, meaning that it takes time for moisture to penetrate the hair properly. Oftentimes if you’re low porosity, you will probably be sensitive to protein. Let’s talk about it!

What is protein sensitivity? 

It’s been said that there are people out there with protein sensitive hair, meaning that their hair is easily overloaded with protein, leading to dry, brittle strands and in some cases, an irritated scalp. Why does this happen if our hair is made mostly of protein, some of which depletes with time and constant manipulation? Experts have weighed in on the issue stating that it may not be a sensitivity at all, but that you’re probably just overloading your hair with protein.

The reason behind this is using too many products with protein, too often. When there’s too much protein, the hair becomes stiff and easily prone to breakage. Pay attention to the labels on your products and use trial and error to figure out which ones contain proteins and if you’re using them too often.

How do I avoid protein overload? 

There are a few rules to follow in your regimen and haircare if your hair is protein sensitive, and we got you!  

Give your hair time to recover

One of the ways to recover from a protein overload is by temporarily avoiding all products that contain protein. This will give the hair a break from any extra protein and a chance to let the protein that’s already present break down a bit more. You can do this by reading the ingredient list! If you see things like wheat protein, hydrolyzed collagen, soy protein, rice protein, silk protein, keratin, or amino acids, avoid it! 

Do moisturizing deep treatments 

Since you’re avoiding protein, it’s important to focus on moisture, so be sure to apply your moisturizing products properly and use oils to seal everything in. Now is a good time to deep condition more often too! Once you see that your hair is less brittle and isn’t breaking as easily, you can slowly start to incorporate proteins back into your routine. There is definitely such a thing as having too much of a good thing and while protein is necessary for healthy hair, having too much of it can create an adverse effect.  

Beware of hidden proteins

Proteins are a substance consisting of amino acids, hydrogen and more – it can be found in the human body (our hair is made of a form of protein called keratin), food and many other things. Proteins come in different forms and it can be hard to tell when there’s a hidden protein in a product. As you know, we recommend a protein treatment every 4-6 weeks for low porosity hair, and no more than twice a month for high porosity hair, so being mindful of the protein in your overall regimen is a key to helping us retain the growth we want. Keep an eye out for these hidden ingredients in products as they are all various forms of protein:

  • Keratin
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Hydrolyzed oat flour
  • Variations of hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Hydrolyzed silk protein
  • Variations of hydrolyzed collagen
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