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A Complete Care Guide for High Porosity Hair

September 25, 2018

 by

Verna Meachum

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Last Updated on December 14, 2022 by Verna Meachum

Disclaimer: Not all high porosity hair types are created equal because it’s an infinite spectrum. Everyone’s hair is different and reacts differently, is on a different level/stage in their journey. This is only to be used a source of reference NOT a one size fits all.

Do you have high porosity hair? You’re not the only one! Many people struggle with this type of hair, which is why we’re here to provide information about it.

With high porosity hair, your strands are more porous than normal and so they absorb moisture from the air quickly. This means that they dry out quickly as well.

Now that you know what to expect, let’s talk about how to care for your hair so that it stays healthy and beautiful.

What is High Porosity Hair?

We can’t talk about high porosity hair without talking about porosity. Don’t determine your hair’s porosity based on someone else’s hair. Just because you have the same curl pattern doesn’t mean you have the same porosity.

Porosity literally means the state or quality of being porous. Porous means full of holes, permeable by water, air, etc.

All hair is porous and permeable to water by nature, although the degree of porosity varies considerably depending on the individual, as well as the condition and health of the hair’s cuticle layers.

Hair that is high porosity (also known as “highly-porous”) has many cuticles that are raised or lifted, which means it absorbs water easily but loses it quickly too.

Think of high porosity hair as a sponge; it soaks up everything around it, whether it be water or product. Thus, because of the numerous pores in the cuticle, porous hair will take on water and other chemicals readily.

When your hair is subjected to severe manipulation, such as bleach or chemical relaxing, the protein structure is attacked and the protective cuticle layer is damaged. The damaged cuticle layers have also resulted in moisture deficiency.

Hair that is porous will often feel dry, rough, swollen and puffy, and tangly and will be difficult to style. It may also be more prone to breakage.

The prevalent problem with porous hair is the issue of raised cuticles. If you can “smooth down” the cuticle layers, even a little, you will have solved a large portion of your porosity concerns.

We’ll talk more about how to do that later.

What causes porous hair?

High porosity can be an inherent property of hair. In other words, it can be a genetic trait.

On the other hand, you may have high porosity hair as the result of self-inflicted damage such as chemical processing, excessive mechanical abuse, hair dyes, excessive use of sulfates, etc.

The greater the amount of damage the cuticle has endured, the more porous or the greater the hair’s porosity.

Although highly porous hair absorbs more water, it loses it even more as it dries.

There are a few things that can cause porous hair:

  • Heat styling tools (curling/straightening irons, hot rollers, blow dryers on high heat)
  • Excessive direct UV ray exposure
  • Swimming in chlorinated water or saltwater
  • Bleaching or highlighting
  • Rough handling of hair
  • Daily wear and tear
  • Chemical relaxers or permanent waves
  • Harsh ingredients, such as sulfates (when used in excess)
  • Regularly wearing tight bands/ponytail holders, which can shear away pieces of cuticle or entire scales
  • The friction of a cotton towel/pillowcase can also shear off cuticles

High Porosity Hair Characteristics

  • Absorbs product quickly
  • Absorbs moisture quickly from the air
  • The cuticles are raised
  • Can appear dull and lackluster
  • You’ll also notice after wetting hair, it dries quickly- in a matter of minutes and that’s because it has thinner, missing, or lifted cuticle layers that can’t block water from escaping.
  • You may notice that hair tangles easily—that’s because lifted or missing cuticle layers create an uneven surface throughout your hair. So rather than smoothly gliding by each other, the strands easily latch on to each other to create tangles.

“Characteristics is something you learn from studying your hair by running your fingers over a hair strand, observing shine or reflectivity, how hydrated your hair feels on a daily basis, and your hair’s response to products. Learn by studying…Yes, this is sensory and multi-faceted. You are the best judge of your hair’s porosity.”

According to Science-y Hair Blog

How to Improve Porosity in High Porosity Hair

Once hair is damaged there’s really not much you can do to reverse it, and to cut it off is often the only way to start over. However, these are some ways to help keep your hair hydrated while increasing elasticity, managing porous hair, and protecting it from further damage.

The most you can do is establish a healthy hair regimen that protects your hair’s cuticles on a consistent basis.

But first, some advice. Always pay close attention to how your hair reacts to what you apply to it. Nothing is more critical for your hair than keeping a close eye on how it reacts to products and treatments.

Always let your hair be your guide!

Deep condition

You’ll need a hair regimen that maintains your hair’s strength and provides it with regular moisturizing. One of the best ways to improve porosity in high porosity hair is to use a moisturizing deep conditioner every week.

This will temporarily “seal” the hair cuticle, helping to reduce porosity in high porosity hair for several washes.

It’s important to know that people with porous hair usually need plenty of “slip” in conditioners to reduce friction.

Protein treatments

Protein will temporarily fill in the holes and gaps in the cuticle layers, which adhere to these damaged areas. Proteins will also act as a film-former that acts as a barrier to excessive water loss. Choose a protein that appeals to your hair and give it a shot.

It’s worth noting that not all high porosity hair needs protein, but only if it has been damaged by the things mentioned above.

Pre-poo oil treatment

One of my best-kept secrets! Oils on dry hair will help prevent excess water uptake to prevent swelling of hair in the water. Coconut oil is the best oil for this.

I like to allow the oil to soak in overnight and let it work its magic. I keep a big jar of Nutiva organic coconut oil on hand at all times.

Use whatever brand you want, but this is my go-to. It’s the best! If your hair doesn’t like coconut oil, try grape seed oil or olive oil.

When oils are used on damp hair it forms a waterproof barrier to keep water from escaping too quickly. Using styling methods like LOC (liquid – oil – cream) or LCO (liquid – cream -oil) is perfect for this.

Oils can help seal in the moisture on your hair and delay its release into the air.

Apple cider vinegar rinse/Acidic treatments

Understand that this is not for everyone, however, using pH-balanced products plays a role in maintaining a good porosity level.

Some porosity problems can be temporarily resolved by applying a low pH solution or product. A weekly acidic rinse is an example.

Using apple cider vinegar can help improve a porosity problem and help lay the cuticle layers flat.

Don’t overdo it and always listen to your hair! Always dilute apple cider vinegar with water and stick to a pH of 4.

The pH of sebum and hair is between 4.5/5.5, so it’s important to stay within this range.

I mix 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to 8 ounces of distilled water. I apply it to my hair as a final rinse, then style as usual.

A great way to help tighten lifted or raised cuticles is with liquid-based products or spritz with acidic pH. Check out Green Beauty’s pH acidic spritz. I own this product and sometimes like to use it after a workout.

If you’ve ever had chemicals used on your hair, chances are you’ve experienced the effects.

My favorite product to use after a chemical process is the Roux Porosity Control Corrector and Conditioner. I swear by this product.

Just when I thought my hair was damaged beyond repair after getting highlights, this product literally saved my hair!

Other things to consider

  • Do not rush when detangling hair! This is so important.
  • Don’t wash your hair every day.
  • Don’t let your hair become saturated with water for a prolonged period.
  • Stay away from tight hairstyles.
  • Air dry your hair as much as possible. If you must use a blow dryer, use it on the warm to cool setting.
  • Don’t let your hair spend long periods of time in the sun.

Tips for High Porosity Hair

Use a combination of products with protein and moisture.

High porosity hair can get away with layering more products.

Add protein treatments to reinforce the cuticles, as needed.

Rinse your hair with cold water to help cuticles lay flat.

Incorporate deep-conditioning treatments

Because the hair is more fragile, it is crucial to be gentle when detangling hair

If you have issues with getting a gel cast, check out my blog on, Reasons Why You’re Not Getting A Gel Cast

Best Products for High Porosity Hair 

Shampoos



Clarifying Shampoos


Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo 8.5 oz.
$24.38 ($3.05 / Fl Oz)
Grab it Here
01/27/2023 07:46 pm GMT

Co-Wash

Best For Color-Treated Hair

Conditioners


Bounce Curl Super Smooth Cream Conditioner
$29.79 ($3.72 / Fl Oz)
Grab it Here
01/27/2023 10:57 pm GMT

Leave-in Conditioners

Shea Moisture Leave in Conditioner with Jamaican Black Castor Oil for Hair Growth, Strengthen & Restore, Vitamin E, Curly Hair Products Safe for use on Hair Color, 16 Oz
$14.50 ($0.91 / Ounce)

This is my all-time and go-to product since the beginning of my healthy hair journey. It's especially good for color-treated.


It contains Jamaican black castor oil and certified organic shea butter to nourish, moisturize, and support elasticity for hair that resists breakage during detangling. It literally heals your curls!

Grab it Here
01/27/2023 04:32 pm GMT


Curl Creams

Soultanicals Marula- Muru Moisture Guru 8oz
$22.72 ($2.84 / Fl Oz)
Grab it Here
01/28/2023 12:47 am GMT

Foams / Mousses



Gels

Bounce Curl Light Creme Hair Gel Lotion (8oz)
$25.00 ($3.12 / Fl Oz)
Grab it Here
01/27/2023 08:22 pm GMT

Deep Conditioners

Design Essentials Natural Almond & Avocado Wash Day Deep Moisture Masque

Looking for a deep moisture treatment to fortify and soften your dry, brittle hair? Then this is it. This is my absolute current favorite deep conditioner!

This rich formula is infused with sunflower oil, which delivers essential moisture, softness, shine, and protection to dry hair.

With regular use, it can help reduce breakage and improve hair elasticity for healthy-looking, lustrous hair. It is concentrated and a little goes a long way.

Simply apply a palm-sized amount of this moisturizing mask from roots to ends, using a wide-tooth comb to distribute evenly throughout your hair.

Leave on for 15 minutes before rinsing with cool water. Whether you have thick or fine hair, this nourishing mask will deeply penetrate your strands and leave them looking soft and silky smooth and moisturized!


Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Hair Mask for Dry, Damaged or Color Treated Hair - Repairs Straight, Wavy and Curly Hair, 8 Ounces
$39.00 ($4.88 / Ounce)

This is my favorite deep conditioner. It's a comprehensive hair repair treatment that may be used on dry, damaged, chemically treated, or lifeless hair.


This deep conditioning mask works in minutes to restore essential hydration and natural vibrancy to your hair. Really good stuff!

Grab it Here
01/28/2023 12:27 pm GMT


Oils


Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, 23 Ounce
$19.81 ($0.86 / Fl Oz)
Grab it Here
01/27/2023 08:22 pm GMT

Protein Treatments

ApHogee Intensive 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor (16 OZ)
$15.19 $14.35 ($0.90 / Ounce)

The ApHogee Intensive 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor  is a protein treatment that helps to repair and protect your hair from damage. It only takes two minutes to work its magic, so it's perfect for busy folks on the go.

Grab it Here
01/27/2023 03:56 pm GMT


If you need a good dandruff shampoo, check out my blog, ‘The Best Dandruff Shampoo For Curly Hair: Find The Right Solution For You.’

Conclusion

In the case of product usage, you should test out, evaluate, and adjust as needed. It’s a learning process, but now you’re armed with the information to give your hair a head start toward a great, healthy finish.

The porosity level of your hair fluctuates. Check it twice a year just to make sure you’re staying on the right track and you’re not causing any self-inflicted damage throughout the year.

If this post has helped you, please share it with your friends/drop a comment. I always appreciate feedback.

FAQs

 Is high porosity hair good or bad?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question – it all depends on your hair’s condition. High porosity hair can often be more prone to dryness, frizziness, and tangling, but with the right products and routine, it can also be very manageable.

Is low or high porosity hair better?

Again, this is a question with no definitive answer. Low porosity hair can be harder to moisturize and style, but it often has more shine and bounce.

High porosity hair can be more prone to dryness and frizziness, but it can also be easier to manage if you find the right products and routine.

What are the signs of high porosity hair?

If your hair often feels dry, rough, is difficult to style, tangles easily, seems like it never gets hydrated or moisturized, gets wet pretty quickly, or has a lot of frizz, then it is likely that you have high porosity hair.

What are the signs of low porosity hair?

If your hair is resistant to styling products, takes a long time to dry, is often frizzy, or feels weighed down after styling, then it is likely that you have low porosity hair.

Does high porosity hair dry quickly?

It usually does not dry as quickly as low porosity hair, but it can also be affected by different factors. For example, if you live in a humid climate or if your air is very dry and/or heated then both high and low porosity hair will take longer to completely dry than they would otherwise.

Is high porosity hair difficult to style?

This all depends on your approach and routine with caring for it (or not caring for it!). If you have high porosity hair and find yourself using a lot of styling products that contain waxes, alcohols, or other drying ingredients then your hair will be more prone to dryness.

But if you use moisturizing products with humectants like glycerin, honey, aloe, treatments such as deep conditioners, pre-poo oils, and protein treatments (as needed), then high porosity hair can be just as easy to style as low porosity hair.

Does high porosity mean I have a bad scalp?

No, it does not mean that you have a bad scalp. High porosity simply refers to the condition of your hair’s cuticle and how easily water and other products can penetrate your hair.

How often should you wash high porosity hair? 

This is another question that does not have a definitive answer.

Some people with high porosity hair feel the need to wash their hair every day due to their lifestyle, while others can go several days or even a week without washing and still have healthy-looking hair.

It all depends on your individual scalp and lifestyle, as well as how much product you use and how often you them.

If I have high porosity hair, will it eventually become low porosity?

This is a common myth that many people believe to be true, but actually, the two types of porosities are fixed and cannot change over time or with certain treatments (although some products may temporarily affect them).

Do not worry if you have high porosity hair – it is not a bad thing, and there are many ways to manage it.

How do you grow high porosity hair?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to grow high porosity hair may vary depending on your individual hair type, condition, and genetics.

However, some tips for growing high porosity hair include using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, applying deep conditioning treatments regularly, using a leave-in conditioner or moisturizing styling product, and using treatments that contain protein when needed.

How do you reduce frizz in high porosity hair?

Again, this depends on your individual routine and the products you use. If you are using harsh drying styling products, then you will need to replace them with more moisturizing options.

You can also use a product specifically designed to reduce frizz, like an oil or anti-humidity gel. Sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase. Use a microfiber towel or old t-shirt when drying your hair.

Don’t wash your hair with hot water. Don’t touch your curls as they’re drying. Avoid using heat styling tools as much as possible.

Is high porosity hair sensitive to protein?

This is another question that does not have one answer.

Some people with high porosity hair do not respond well to protein treatments, but others need them in order to look their best and reduce frizz.

Many factors can play into this (such as the type of protein treatment that you use), so it is always a good idea to start slowly and pay attention to how your hair responds.


Reference

  • Robbins, C. (1994) Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair. 3rd edn. New York: Springer.
troubleshooting
Curl care

 We treat our blog with a curious, open-minded, and customer-focused attitude. We ask lots of questions about everything.

We think that people should take what information they need and leave what they don't. We suggest things we enjoy and believe are worth your attention.

Above all, we value your trust above anything else. We're so glad you’re here!

Hi,I'm Verna

product reviews
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