Why You Need To Test The Condition Of Hair

Why You Need To Test The Condition Of Hair by Aaron Dorn

“It is a basic fundamental of being a hairdresser to understand the current situation of the material that you work with.”

This statement can be used almost in any industry on the globe. From Farming to Construction. The first part of expertise comes with understanding of what reaction takes place with any action you carry out.

In our industry of Hair, condition rules exactly what you can and cannot do with hair from a creative point of view, as well as from a technical point of view.

For example A hairdresser has a client with dry or brittle hair, due to previous services like bleaching or over styling. They want to lighten their hair & to the inexperienced they would reach for the pre lightener or bleach and proceed with the colour service.

From a hairdresser’s point of view this is vital knowledge. That hair could potentially break or suffer irreversible consequences. Combine this with a paying customer and now not only would you be out of Pocket , you would in most cases lose this client. This is a LOSE / LOSE situation.

With experience you learn that It would be risky to use a peroxide/bleach on hair that is being dry & brittle.

How correctly to deal with this situation would be to impart your expertise / experience onto your client. By advising the potential consequences (breakage to the hair shaft) and highlighting the risks (excuse the pun) this lose / lose situation is avoided.

By recognizing the signs of bad hair condition you can advise the correct course of action for the client. In order to improve hair condition or to achieve the exact look or style they desire.

It’s important to remember that as a hairdresser you have to impart your expertise onto your client and therefore the adage of Client is King is incorrect. I like to think of it as Condition is King and by refining everybody’s knowledge we are more likely to have more Good Hair Days than Bad ones.

Consultation + Analysis + Condition = Confidence in Finish

Remember that The communication process, it can be just as an important part of hairdressing as the actual practical part. Its important to have the tools & understand the difference between a busy successful hairdresser and an quiet unsuccessful one.

How to Test the Condition of Hair

1. Porosity

Porosity refers to how well your hair is able to absorb and hold moisture. It is affected by the flexible outer hair layer called the cuticle, which determines how easily moisture and oils pass in and out of your hair. For most, porosity is genetic, but it can also be affected by external factors such as exposure, heat treatments and chemical processing. Knowing your hair’s porosity can help you choose the right products to keep your hair well-moisturized, supple, strong and shiny.

There are two methods you can use to find out how porous your hair is.

The Float Test: Take a couple of strands of hair from your comb or brush and drop them into a bowl of water. Let them sit a couple of minutes. If your hair floats, you have low porosity. If it sinks, you have high porosity.

The Slip’n’Slide Test: Take a strand of hair and slide your fingers up the shaft (toward the scalp). If you feel little bumps along the way, this means that your cuticle is lifted and that you have high porosity. If your fingers slip smoothly, then you have low porosity hair.

Result :


low porosity

Hair with low porosity has a tightly bound cuticle layer with overlapping scales that lay flat. This type of hair is usually considered healthy, and is often very shiny, especially when it’s dark in color. Low porosity hair repels moisture when you try to wet it and is hard to process since it resists penetration of chemicals.

Low porosity hair is also prone to build-up from protein-rich deep conditioning products, which can leave it feeling stiff and straw-like. Stick to protein-free, daily conditioners with humectants such as glycerin or honey. Use moderate heat with protein-free deep conditioning treatments to help open up the tightly bound cuticle.

Low porosity hair requires moisturizers rich in emollients such as shea butter, jojoba oil, coconut oil and mineral oil. It also benefits from humectants products, which attract and hold moisture to your hair. Choose lighter, liquid-based products such as hair milks that won’t sit on your hair and leave it oily or greasy.


medium porosity

Hair with medium porosity often requires the least amount of maintenance. The cuticle layer is looser, allowing just the right amount of moisture to enter while preventing too much from escaping. Hair with normal porosity tends to hold styles well, and can be permed and colored with predictable results. Over time, however, these processes can damage your hair and increase its porosity.

Occasional deep conditioning treatments with protein conditioners can benefit medium porosity hair, but proteins should not be included in your daily regimen.


high porosity

High porosity can be either an inherent property of hair or the result of damage from chemical processing, rough treatment or environmental damage. High porosity hair has gaps and holes in the cuticle, which let too much moisture into your hair and leave it prone to frizz and tangling in humid weather. Even simple acts such as bathing, swimming and shampooing can create more damage and breakage due to the sheer amount of moisture highly porous hair can absorb.

Be sure to use anti-humectants in climates with high heat and humidity. This will help seal your damaged cuticles and prevent them from absorbing excess moisture in the air.

Because highly porous hair can also lose moisture easily, it’s important to use leave-in conditioners, moisturizers and sealers. Layering these products will help your hair hold on to the moisture you’re giving it. You can even follow up with a heavy hair butter to help fill the gaps in your damaged cuticles and further protect your hair from losing too much moisture.


Hair Elasticity Test

Elasticity test
This is to test the internal strength of the hair (the cortex). Hair that has been damaged due to chemical treatments may have lost much of its natural strength. This type of hair may stretch over two-thirds of its original length and may even break off. It is important to carry out this test before perming. Hair that is in good condition will stretch and then return to its original length.

Take one strand of hair and hold each end firmly between the thumb and forefinger of each hand and gently pull. If the hair stretches more than half of its original length then it is over elastic and may snap or break during chemical processing.

You need to select strands of hair from four different areas on the head. Be sure the hair is wet. Hold the strand securely and stretch the hair. If the hair stretches and returns to its original length when released, then it has good elasticity. If the hair breaks or doesn’t return to its former shape, you have low elasticity.

Hair’s elasticity is the measure of how much the hair will stretch (and return to a normal state). Healthy hair, when wet, will stretch up to 50% of its original length and return to its normal shape without breaking, while dry hair will only stretch about 20%.

Elasticity is rated as being low, normal, or high. Hair’s elasticity comes from the side bonds in the hair shaft.

Hair with normal and high elasticity is easily styled with wet-roller sets, thermal styling tools, etc., while hair with low elasticity may prove hard to curl, or lose its curl quickly.

Collated by Aaron Dorn


One thought on “Why You Need To Test The Condition Of Hair

  1. Pingback: Damage Help! How Do I Know If I Have Low Porosity Hair? | Coily By Nature

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