You know moisture is important for healthy hair.
Yet your hair is exhibiting signs of being anything but healthy.
It’s dry. Frizzy. Brittle.
Wouldn’t it be great to get through one day without those judgmental looks. Or glances you just know are aimed at your distressed tresses. Awkward.
You may have low or high porosity hair. It may be helped by a rice water rinse. So let me ask you …
Does your hair take forever to dry?
Does it repel water like muskrat fur?
Does it tangle easily and seem to break off just by looking at it wrong?
Is it so frustrating you just want to scream?
How well, or not, your hair absorbs water goes a long way to helping you decide whether you have low or high porosity hair.
And knowing which you have is key. Because then you can get an idea of how to treat it. Or what products to use. Or how to simply co-exist with your seemingly tormented, tortured strands.
Needing help may be what led you to exploring rice water rinse. That and the fact you practically can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a video promoting it. Often extolling it’s benefits to the moon.
So whether you have low or high porosity hair you’re intrigued. Also hopeful. Thinking rice water might be the cure for what ails your locks.
You may also have questions about using rice water with low or high porosity hair. (If you’re wondering about recipes, how to ferment it or apply it you’ll definitely want to check out our comprehensive guide covering DIY rice water for hair.)
Otherwise to help with your rice water and porosity concerns we’ve attempted to address some.
Quick Section Navigation
- What Is Low And High Porosity Hair?
- How Do You Know If You Have Low Porosity Hair?
- How To Use Rice Water On Low Porosity Hair?
- How Often Should Those With Low Porosity Hair Use Rice Water?
- How Often Should Those With High Porosity Hair Use Rice Water?
- VIDEO: Which Sponge Sums Up Your Hair’s Porosity?
What Is Low And High Porosity Hair?
To answer this we need to get into the science of hair at least just a little.
As you know a strand of hair is made up of a cuticle, the cortex and with some hair types a medulla as shown in this diagram.
Simply put, the function of the cuticle is to both protect the cortex and allow water in and then out. It helps the cortex to get the moisture it needs or to release any it doesn’t.
In that sense healthy cuticles are like a protective stage mom. Working hard to keep your hair healthy.
Now some of us have cuticles that tend to be more open or lifted. Others were granted cuticles that tend to be more closed or clamped down.
It’s also likely that all of us typically have a blend of the two just to make things interesting. That is parts of our hair may be low porosity while elsewhere on our head it’s high.
Then there’s the cortex. It’s what’s behind the color of your hair, its strength, and overall health. To be vibrant and healthy it must have sufficient moisture and protein.
Now if you have low porosity hair, it means the structure of your hair doesn’t easily allow moisture to be absorbed into your hair shaft. In fact a tendency to practically repel water is one of the characteristics of low porosity hair.
While high porosity hair sucks in moisture like a dehumidifier in a damp basement.
It just needs to see water to get wet.
It is also slow to dry on its own because of how much water it retains.
Again the measure of hair porosity shouldn’t be about dry time or wet time. It’s about water absorption. Or how well your strands absorb and retain moisture. Period.
Oh and one more thing. It might be important. Having high porosity hair doesn’t mean your hair is damaged.
It can be if you have over indulged in excessive heat styling, coloring or other chemical treatments. In that case the cuticles on your hair may well be traumatized if not destroyed. Which exposes the cortex to the environment.
That result is not pretty. You’ll likely have extremely dry and possibly frizzy strands.
But for many it could just be you came about your high porosity hair naturally.
How Do You Know If You Have Low Porosity Hair?
You might have low porosity hair if your strands
- don’t absorb water well so they take a while to get wet
- allow for little conditioner penetration
- take forever to dry
- constantly seem to be suffering from product build up
So yeah. These are some things to watch for.
And since rice water can cause more trouble for those with low porosity strands let’s quickly touch on how to use it.
How To Use Rice Water On Low Porosity Hair?
The best advice is with caution and only after carefully testing to see how your hair reacts.
Because if you aren’t careful you can end up with a serious case of protein overload. That can take you to extreme dryness and damage faster than you might imagine. And that’s but one way rice water can damage your hair.
So do keep that in mind when asking…
How Often Should Those With Low Porosity Hair Use Rice Water?
There is no one size fits all answer here. Although the best one may be to stick a toe very carefully in rice water if you have low porosity hair.
Again the caution is advisable because your hair may be protein sensitive. And rice water is pretty much a protein treatment.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use it. But it does mean you don’t want to overuse it.
For some the best frequency might mean once or twice a month.
Others may find rinsing with rice water every 8-10 weeks works best.
Others still only want to soak their ends in it. Although I won’t go as far as some and tell you it will heal them. Because we both know the only true solution for splits ends it so snip them off.
Only through trial and error will you find out what works with your hair. Being forever mindful that it doesn’t always play nice with low porosity strands.
One other thing to probably avoid would be to use it as a leave in.
How Often Should Those With High Porosity Hair Use Rice Water?
On the other hand high porosity tresses may simply adore taking a regular dip in rice water.
It can help with moisture retention. When fermented it tends to become more acidic. So like say an ACV rinse it will help shut down the cuticles slowing the release of moisture by the cortex.
It can also help strengthen by coating the strand without overdoing it.
In that case maybe once a week works for you. For some twice.
Either way here’s what likely is NOT okay.
Have you seen those crazy 5 day, 7 day, you fill in the number of days Rice Water Challenges online? In my opinion that’s playing with fire. That much rice water can quickly escalate into protein overload. Or a situation that leaves you with hair that is stiff, dry and lifeless.
Does Low Porosity Hair Dry Fast?
To answer that first an explanation.
This article was written based on Stephanie Mero’s porosity insights. You may know her as the Curl Ninja on YouTube. She’s also a stylist who works exclusively with those blessed with curly hair.
And as we understand it she basically says …
- low porosity may dries much more quickly because it doesn’t absorb water well
- high porosity may dries more slowly because it’s acts like a sponge
Given that, we’d answer the question does low porosity hair dry fast with a yes.
Some may not agree. So to help clarify all the porosity confusion here’s a video clip from Stephanie explaining it using, wait for it, sponges.
Which Sponge Sums Up Your Hair’s Porosity?
Felt this was a clever way to demonstrate low, medium and high porosity hair.
She demonstrates each by using sponges – which are the stand in for the cortex of your hair. Perfect if you ask me.
Medium Porosity: A new, fresh sponge represents medium porosity. It’s soft. Pliable. Flexible. Unspoiled.
High Porosity: Next is the sponge example of high porosity. It is literally dripping wet. The water pouring out was retained inside the sponge. All that moisture leaves it much heavier than the medium porosity sponge.
It will also take a long time to dry because it’s retaining so much water.
The goal with high porosity hair to get rid of the excess water leaving only what it needs to be silky smooth, shiny, totally enticing.
Low Porosity: That brings us to the low porosity sponge. You can see there’s a big difference between the virgin sponge and this one that has been used to wash dishes.
It’s stiff. Prone to breakage. Sound familiar?
Low porosity hair is starved for moisture. The cuticles are less opened up. Which prevents moisture from getting in.
Why should you care?
Well, rice water rinses can only compound the problem. Especially if used excessively on low porosity hair.
The protein and starches can coat your strands making a bad situation worse. Because that coating will make it just that much harder for the moisture to penetrate to the cortex.
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