We assure you that measuring your hair's porosity is not a frivolous exercise!
In our previous porosity post, we explained the reasons for consumers' newfound interest porosity. Porosity measures how much your hair absorbs water and products. Having an accurate understanding of your hair's absorbency plays an important role in determining which hair care products you should use and how you should apply them.
Along with a shift towards more conscious consumerism, we've also noticed increasing enthusiasm for DIY projects. And well, duh, the pandemic has had us all confined to our homes and bored out of our minds. And while we love that people are taking all kinds of things into their own hands and learning new skills, we've grown a little leery of some of the "expertise" floating around out there as it relates to hair care.
Of course, we're psyched that people are taking a more scientific approach to hair care and really pushing for more information. Porosity has garnered a great deal of attention at the intersection of these two trends. Not only are hair care enthusiasts researching the topic, they're trying to figure out how to test their hair's porosity at home. Now, don't get us wrong; we're positively THRILLED that porosity is even getting airtime! As hair care enthusiasts and scientists, though, we feel it's our responsibility to set the record straight on the topic and share what our years of research have taught us.
After exhaustive research, we're confident that the most accurate and the only surefire way to measure your hair's porosity one strand at a time is with a surface tensiometer.
First off, it’s actually really difficult to test porosity at home. Many blogs and people on forums will tell you to conduct a float test, whereby you simply put a few strands of your hair in water and observe how your hair responds (if your hair floats, you have low porosity; if it sinks, high porosity). Sounds too easy to be true, and indeed it is. The float test can’t help you conclusively understand porosity because so many factors can skew the results. Some blogs also recommend watching how quickly your hair dries, but that is a. subjective, and b. can be impacted by factors such as humidity and your hair's density. Further, some claim that looking at your hair through a microscope can help to explain porosity. That solution, though, fails to give you the whole picture, offering no indication of hydrophobicity. Not to mention, most people don't have a professional grade microscope in their homes.
We’re not just listing the drawbacks of DIY porosity testing to sell our service. We've conducted countless at-home experiments over the course of the last two years, trying to achieve reliable results and understand porosity precisely. But we kept falling short. After exhaustive research, we're confident that the most accurate and the only surefire way to measure your hair's porosity one strand at a time is with a surface tensiometer.
The Sigma Force Tensiometer 701 from Nano Science Instruments
The Surface Tensiometer works by dipping a stand of hair into water while measuring the force applied to the hair. As you put the hair in the water, it experiences tension. The lower the porosity, the higher the tension, and vice versa. Tensiometers are used mostly in fancy R&D labs for the purpose of measuring the surface tension of coatings and adhesives. They are expensive but highly accurate.
You might be thinking to yourself: this seems a little extra—Do I really need to have my hair tested on this crazy machine?
We assure you that measuring your hair's porosity is not a frivolous exercise! Knowing your hair's precise porosity will help you target your specific hair care needs, which will ultimately enable you to stop wasting money, time and energy on products and routines that aren't compatible with your hair.
Scientists have been working on creating water soluble silicones by attaching a molecule that likes water (water-soluble ingredients like polyethylene glycol or a protein) to one end of the silicone molecules. This makes it possible for one side of the silicone to like attaching to your hair and one side to like attaching to the water in your shower. These water soluble silicones are easier to rinse or clean off.