Welcome to Relaxed Redefined ~ a better, healthier way to care for chemically relaxed hair. This is a personal hair journal created to share easy, do-at-home tips and techniques that have made my hair stronger and longer. I hope you'll learn something here that will enhance your healthy hair journey or better yet insprire you to start one. Happy Hair Growting!

5.31.2011

Porosity and Relaxed Hair

I think I finally solved the mystery of my thinned ends, and it all leads back to porosity. Textured hair has a natural tendency to be porous and relaxed hair is even more porous because the relaxer process makes it that way by compromising the hair cuticle as it straightens. From NaturallyCurly.com "Porosity is the term used in the science of hair car to describe how easily water and other matter can diffuse back and forth through the cuticle layer and into or out of the cortex. Hair is much like a sponge, capable of absorbing water and other substances from the environment, and also susceptible to losing precious moisture and lipids to the environment."

For a long time I believed my hair was naturally dry, because it seemed no matter how much moisturizer I used, it would still "dry out" again relatively soon after. What I've realized is what I thought was regular dryness was actually hair with very high porosity. There are 3 different porosity levels, and I've learned that my hair falls into the most critical category.


"Hair with low porosity is considered "resistant" hair. Low porosity is when the cuticle of the hair shaft is too compact and does not permit moisture to enter or leave the hair shaft. Hair with low porosity is much more difficult to process, is resistant to chemical services, and has a tendency to repel product rather than absorb it. Chemical services performed on hair with low porosity require a more alkaline solution than those on hair with high porosity, to raise the cuticle and permit uniform saturation and penetration.
Hair with average porosity is considered "normal" hair. With normal porosity, the cuticle is compact and inhibits moisture from leaving or entering the hair shaft; however, it allows for normal processing when a chemical service is performed -- according to the texture -- and will readily absorb and retain product properly formulated for this hair type.

Hair with high porosity is considered "overly porous" and is the result of previous overprocessing. Other factors that can also affect porosity include heat damage, chlorine/hard water/mineral saturation, sun damage, or use of harsh ingredients. Overly porous hair is damaged in some way, and is dry, fragile and brittle. It has an open cuticle that both absorbs and releases moisture easily; it processes very quickly and can be easily damaged even further if extreme care is not taken when a chemical service is performed. Although overly porous hair absorbs product quickly, it is often dry as the open cuticle does not allow for product retention within the hair shaft. Chemical services performed on overly porous hair require less alkaline solutions with a lower pH, which will help to prevent further overprocessing." --LiveCurlyLiveFree.Blogspot.com

The ends I had removed during "the hair cut" suffered from extreme porosity which caused dryness and left them thin and fragile and ultimately let to breakage. A great way to combat porosity is to use an acidic conditioner like Roux Porosity Control or an acidic rinse such as Apple Cider Vinegar. Over the past few weeks I have been using a combination of both (together and separately) and I've really seen a difference in the moisture retention of my ends. Up until a few month ago I had been using an ACV rinse to finish nearly every wash, but I stopped because I thought the acidity was contributing to my dry scalp issues. I'm pretty sure that once I stopped using the rinse regularly (sometime after the start of the year) is when my ends started to decline rapidly because they were too porous to hold any moisture and stay flexible--so they snapped, leaving me with the sparse mess that only scissors could correct. It was a hard lesson to learn, but now that I have learned it I will not be making the same mistake twice.

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