What is the strand test for Natural Hair?

A few weeks ago, on a guest post, a naturalista mentioned that she thought it was imperative to do a strand test and know what type of hair you have. A commenter refuted, saying that it was unnecessary, and that moisturizing your hair should be the point.

Well, I had heard about the Strand Test before, but never tried to find out more. I'm one of the lazier naturalistas. Give me minimal information to keep my hair healthy, and I'm good to go. But I'm trying to turn a new leaf - especially after I became part of the AN Team - so now I try to learn more about our hair.

What is the Strand Test?
Typically, a strand test is a preliminary test done using your hair strands, before coloring your hair. It is necessary to determine the makeup and balance of your hair, before using harsh coloring chemicals on your hair. In naturalista world though, a strand test is done to determine the porosity of your hair.

What is Porosity?
Porosity simply refers to the ability to absorb, retain AND lose water/moisture/products.

Different Types of Porosity

HIGH porosity - This means that your hair easily absorbs moisture (which is good), but also loses it quickly (which is bad). In this case, your hair cuticles don't lay flat and are raised, which makes for the easy entry/exit of products. This kind of hair is more damaged than other porosity types. Avoid heat as much as possible!
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NORMAL porosity - This means that your hair absorbs moisture (which is good), and retains moisture (also good). In this case, your hair cuticles are slightly raised and allow moisture/product to enter and leave without too much fuss.
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LOW porosity - This means that it's hard for your hair to absorb moisture (which is bad), but once it's in, the moisture's retained really well (which is good). In this case, your hair cuticles are laid really flat and tight.
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Does it matter?

Well, determining your hair's porosity would help you understand how your hair reacts to moisture/products. This, in turn, would help you better manage your hair care regimen and make minor tweaks, if necessary. HIGH porosity hair types would need heavier oils/butters in their regimen to keep the moisture locked in. In addition, protein treatments are more recommended, to help keep the cuticles tighter. LOW porosity hair types on the other hand, would need more moisturizing products (e.g. glycerin) to help retain moisture that gets in. Using indirect heat (steaming, or hooded dryers) would help lift the cuticles, so that the hair absorbs moisture much more easily.

How do I determine my hair porosity?

This is where the Strand Test comes in. Take a couple strands of hair (clean hair) and place in a glass of water (cold is fine). If your hair strands sink quickly (within a couple of minutes), it means your hair has HIGH porosity. It sank quickly because it absorbed water easily, making it heavy. If your hair strands stay floating, then your hair has LOW porosity. It stays floating because it's taking its time to absorb the water, so it stays light.

I did the strand test and turns out my hair has low porosity. Which means I shall be ordering AN's Glycerin shortly :). Hopefully, I'll see a difference in my hair.

Have you ever done the strand test? Do you know your hair porosity? Do you think it matters or just complicates things? What's worked for you, or not? Please share!



  1. Just found out i'm low porosity as well. But what to do? Heat does not like my hair either (tendency to get heat damaged easily)


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