Knowing the 4 pillars of hair is the key to understanding your hair better. In this blog post, I go into detail discussing porosity, structure, density, and type. When you understand your hair, then you are able to make the best choices when it comes to products and how you should be applying them to your hair.
All curls are different, but structurally all hair is the same, having a medulla, cortex, and cuticle. However, hair can be classified as thin or thick, etc. Read further so you can get a better handle on your hair’s story.
Hair Porosity- 4 Pillars of Hair
Porosity is the most important of the 4 pillars of hair. Hair porosity simply means how easily water is able to get into your hair. You can test to find out your hair’s porosity by placing a shed strand of hair into a glass of water and watching to see if it floats or sinks. If your hair takes a long time to sink to the bottom, then you have low porosity hair. If it sinks to the bottom quickly, then it is high porosity and if it hangs out in the middle then sinks, it is medium porosity.
Everyone is born with either medium or low porosity. Through processing and manipulation, our hair’s strands become frayed and can become high porosity.
Hair structure and density.
Structure and density are the 2nd most important of the 4 pillars of hair. First, let’s discuss the difference between structure and density. Structure comes to mean the diameter of your hair and can be either fine, medium, or coarse. I remember when I was younger, my sister and I looked at our individual strands under a microscope. My sister’s strand was at least 3x as thick as mine. While you don’t need a microscope to look at your strands to determine how thick they are, there are other ways to figure it out: Fine hair: you can just look at a single strand in the light: if it’s translucent or hardly noticeable, then it’s fine. Medium hair: this hair tends to feel soft and cottony. Coarse hair: Coarse is usually more wiry and hard.
Density is all about how many strands you have per square inch. You can easily figure this out when you put your hair into a ponytail. Thin (less than 2 inches/5 centimeters) Normal (between 2-4 inches or 5-10 centimeters) Thick (more than 4 inches/10 centimeters).
What the heck is a hair type?
This was a classification system created by Andre Walker, Oprah’s hairstylist. He distinguished between straight, wavy, curly, and kinky textures. He then broke it down even further for the different types of curly & kinky hair. The pro to this method of classifying your hair is that it lets you look at how your strands curl. In my opinion, this is the least important of the 4 pillars of hair. While it helps with deciding on which hairstyles you’ll want to style your hair into and addresses shrinkage for type 4 hair, it doesn’t take into account the other 3 pillars of hair.
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