The mestiza muse

A Complete Care Guide for Low Porosity Hair

October 29, 2018

posted by

Verna Meachum

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Last updated on 1/04/22

Low porosity hair is one of the most common types of hair, and it can be difficult to care for, or so you thought. If you have low porosity hair, there are several things that you can do to treat it and bring out the best in your hair.

I know how it feels to start your natural hair journey. You’re so excited about this fresh start that you want to do everything perfectly.

So you go out and buy a variety of hair goodies based on what you’ve seen others use, or you might experiment with different styling techniques like the LCO/LOC methods, etc.

Your hair ends up being excessively moisturized as a result of this. After a while you realize your hair is not acting right, it’s hard to style…

You’re having trouble figuring out your hair, so you’re tempted to give up.

But wait, I’m hoping that what I’m about to explain will set your mind at ease.

What can you do if you have low porosity hair?

First, it is important to understand what low porosity hair means before you can begin to treat it.

 

What is Low Porosity Hair?

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

Many factors determine whether your strands are low or high porosity and it’s important to know what these factors are so that you can properly maintain your locks.

Low porosity hair is difficult to moisturize and style because the cuticles are tightly packed and lay flat, making it more resistant for moisture to penetrate your hair strands and reject the rest.

Signs you may have low porosity hair

  • Products build up easily and seem to sit on the surface rather than penetrate your hair strands
  • You see water beads sitting on top of your hair strands
  • You have to use a lot of products to get desired results
  • It takes a long time for your hair to get fully wet or dry
  • You feel like your hair is rough, coarse, or wiry in texture
  • Your strands are constantly dry or frizzy.
  • Protein treatments don’t seem to work for your hair, and when you apply them, it becomes stiff.
  • In tighter textures, single strand knots are created easily
  • Resistant to chemical treatments

In high porosity hair, the cuticles are raised, which means it can easily absorb water, however, it also loses water quickly. Your hair feels perpetually dry and it experiences excessive frizz and in some cases, it breaks easily.

 

Characteristics of Low Porosity Hair

Many other characteristics of hair may be observed, aside from the curl pattern.

For example;

  • Density
  • Porosity
  • Length
  • Elasticity
  • Width (the actual thickness of the strands of hair and not the volume of hair).

Knowing these factors can help you to better understand your hair and how to care for it.

While all of these factors are important to understand, porosity is the most essential one of them.

Causes of Porosity:

  • Genetics
  • Environmental factors (such as how often you style and color your hair, whether you use heat or not, etc.)
  • Weathering of hair
  • Chemical treatments
  • Mechanical stress
  • Sun exposure
  • Hair grooming practices

Now that you know a little more about low porosity hair, what can you do to treat it?

Ways to Treat Low Porosity Hair

There are several ways that you can do to make sure your hair stays moisturized and healthy.

Hydrating low porosity hair is one of the most important things you can do and it requires a different mentality and methods.

Remember that your hair naturally repels water because it is low porosity, so you have to work hard at getting adequate hydration into your hair.

Tips:

  • Use indirect heat in the form of a steamer (which simultaneously opens the cuticle and delivers water to the hair) when deep conditioning your hair.
  • Use a lot of water with your styling products; hydrated hair is more elastic, flexible, and less frizzy.
  • Use film-forming humectants (they retain water in your hair), such as marshmallow root, slippery elm, pectin, flaxseed gel, pathenol, beet extract, aloe vera, hydroxypropyltrimounium honey, etc.
  • A sealant such as oil or butter for added softness and flexibility.
  • Use light oils like jojoba, grapeseed, sunflower, jojoba, and sweet almond oil to help lubricate your hair without making it feel weighed down. Note: that not all oils and applications are appropriate for everyone. Play around with them and see what works best for your specific hair.
  • Clarify your hair regularly. Nothing you try will work well if you have product build-up on your hair.
  • The best judge of whether protein suits your hair or not is how it feels after application. Try using smaller proteins instead of large ones. Always, pay attention to how your hair responds to protein so you know how to adjust your regimen.

There are many types of low porosity hair, so finding the right routine can take some time. But once you find what works for you, it becomes second nature.

Ingredients to avoid for low porosity hair products:

  • Sulfates (sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate)
  • Silicones
  • Propylene glycol
  • Drying Alcohols: These ingredients can be drying and damaging to the hair. Look for shampoos, conditioners, and styling products that are sulfate-free and have natural ingredients.
  • Some polyquaternium ingredients
  • Some large proteins (which should be used with caution because they can build up easily)
  • Avoid heavy ingredients such as mineral oil, petrolatum, lanolin, etc., because they can lead to build-up on the hair shaft.

Ingredients that are good for low porosity hair:

  • Behentrimonium methosulfate
  • Good alcohols such as Cetyl alcohol, Stearyl alcohol, Myristyl alcohol
  • Good oils and butters such as Avocado oil, Mango seed butter, and Shea butter. Again, play around with these ingredients, as this is not a one size fits all approach.
  • There are also many herbs and other ingredients that can be helpful for low porosity hair, including horsetail extract, nettle extract, marshmallow root (Althea officinalis), burdock root, and many other herbs.
  • Cetrimonium chloride
  • Good proteins such as hydrolyzed silk, keratin, amino acids, collagen, and hydrolyzed quinoa.

 

Best Low Porosity Hair Products:

This is not a complete list, but it’s a good place to start and a point of reference.

Definitely try things out and customize to find out what works best for your hair type.

Cleansers:

As I Am Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner

Bouncecurl Gentle Clarifying shampoo

Bouncecurl Hydra Drench Cleansing Conditioner

Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Shampoo

Eden BodyWorks Coconut Shea Cowash

Kinky Curly Come Clean

Conditioners:

Alikay Naturals Caribbean Coconut Milk Conditioner

Bouncecurl Smooth Cream Conditioner

Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing Conditioner

Curl Junkie Curl Assurance Smoothing Daily Hair Conditioner

Long Hair Don’t Care Conditioner

Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner

Deep Conditioners:

As I Am Hydration Elation Deep Conditioner

Aussie Miracle Moist 3-Minute Miracle

Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair!

Camille Rose Naturals Algae Renew Deep Conditioner

Obia Naturals Babassu Deep Conditioner

Red Rawkyn

Leave-in Conditioners

As I Am Leave-in Conditioner

Breahni Leave in Conditioner

Curls Blueberry Bliss

Curl Junkie Beauticurls Leave in Conditioner

Kinky Curly Knot Today

Stylers:

As I Am Double Butter Cream

Bouncecurl Defining Butta

Rizos Curl Cream

SheaMoisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie

Soultanicals Knot Sauce Coil Detangler

Uncle Funky’s Daughter Supercurl Miracle Moisture Crème

Gels:

Camille Rose Curl Maker

Curls Blueberry Bliss Gel

Curl Keeper Original

Eco Slay Orange Marmalade Flaxseed Gel

Jessicurl Spiralicious Gel

Xtreme Wet Line Styling Gel

Oils:

Briogeo Rosarco Oil

Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Hair Oil

Righteous Roots Oils

I hope these low porosity hair products will help you take your hair to the next level!

 

FAQs

Is low porosity hair bad?

No, it is not bad. However, if you want to maintain healthy hair that has a high shine and feels soft to the touch then using products with ingredients for low porosity hair will be beneficial.

Is low porosity hair healthier?

Yes. Porosity is an indicator of hair health because it shows how well the cuticles are laying flat on the surface of each strand.

Those with low porosity have tightly closed or compacted cuticles that highlight healthy hair strands by reflecting light and making it appear noticeably healthier, shinier, silkier, etc., than those with high porosity hair.

How do you fix low porosity hair?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. You will need to experiment with different methods and products to find what works best for you and your hair type.

Can low porosity hair use rice water?

There is no definitive answer to this question. Some people have had success in using rice water as a treatment for their low porosity hair, while others have not.

It is recommended that you test a small amount of rice water on a hidden section of your hair before applying it all over your head to avoid any potential damage.

Does low porosity hair get wet fast?

No, it does not get wet fast. In fact, it repels water because of its compacted cuticles. This is why it is so important to use methods and products that help add hydration to the hair shaft.

Can you dye low porosity hair?

Yes, you can dye your low porosity hair; however, it is not recommended to use any products that contain sulfates, silicones or drying alcohols. This will help avoid damaging your hair and scalp.

Is low porosity hair curly?

Yes, low porosity hair is curly. However, it can also be wavy and straight as well because all textures of hair are considered to have low porosity.

Is coconut oil good for low porosity hair?

There are mixed opinions about using coconut oil on the scalp or strands of your low porosity hair. Coconut oil is a penetrating oil that has many benefits. It is great for lubrication and adding softness to your hair.

The trick to using it (or any other oil) is to use a very small amount and use it on just the ends of your hair and allow it to soak in for a few hours (adjust according to your hair’s needs).

If coconut oil doesn’t work for you, try using a lighter oil, such as sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, or sweet almond oil, etc. instead.

Can you deep condition low porosity hair?

Yes, you can deep condition your low porosity hair to restore moisture and nutrients that were lost during the washing process, or just from environmental or external factors.

However, keep in mind that moisturizing your hair before using a deep conditioner works well for some, as low porosity hair does not absorb moisture as well as other hair types. So, play around with methods.

What does low porosity hair need?

Low porosity hair needs moisture. This is why it’s important to use cleansing methods that are less harsh on the scalp and strands, such as co-washing. Also, using moisturizing conditioning products will help restore lost hydration in your low porosity hair shafts.

How often should you wash low porosity hair?

There is no definitive answer to this question. Some people with low porosity hair need to wash their hair more often, while others can go up to a week or two without washing it, and still have healthy hair.

It all depends on your scalp’s oil production, how often you use products with sulfates, silicones, or drying alcohols, your lifestyle, and how much product you use.

What is the best way to style low porosity hair?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as each person’s hair will respond differently to different styling methods and products.

However, some of the most popular styles for low porosity hair include twist-outs, braids, bantu knots, roller sets, and flexi-rods.

Does low porosity hair grow slowly?

No one knows for sure if low porosity hair grows more or less than other types of hair.

Low porosity hair has a difficult time retaining moisture, so it is very important to keep the strands well-nourished and moisturized, so you can see hair growth!

Conclusion

I know how challenging it can be to care for low porosity hair. It seems like every time you try to do something new, it just wreaks havoc! But after a few trials and errors, you can finally learn how to care for your low porosity hair in a way that keeps it looking healthy and shiny.

Your regimen should make sense for you, not anyone else. There are no rules or restrictions on low porosity hair care other than using good judgment based on the ingredient list of the product(s) being used along with understanding how your hair responds to certain things after they’re applied.

Your hair might respond in a variety of ways to the same treatment. Only your hair knows best. Do what works best for you and always remember to let your hair be your guide!


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!

more categories to come!

Hi,I'm Verna

product reviews
Textures

Comments +

  1. Holden99 CG says:

    Hi and thanks for this amazing post! I have recently started the CG method, but I’ve been struggling with porosity. I have 2C-3A coarse, frizzy hair, which in my mind meant necessarily that I had high porosity hair. My non CG trained hairdresser also agreed (but then he seems to think that if you have curly, frizzy hair, with a tendency to dryness -ie. most curlies- are high porosity). However, the water test and the water spray test both look like I’m low porosity, and I do tick all the other boxes (long time to dry, no tangles etc)… so, is it really possible to be low porosity and have lots of frizz? Thank you so much!

    • Verna says:

      Hi! I do not agree that most curlies have high porosity hair when there are so many variables to consider when one is experiencing dry hair. Yes, it is very possible to have frizzy low porosity hair.

      Here’s the thing about coarse hair which will help you understand why your hair is more prone to frizz and dryness. Coarse hair includes all three layers of the hair shaft; the cortex, cuticle, and medulla and because of that, moisture has a longer journey when it comes to penetrating deeply into the hair.

      The concerns associated with coarse hair include dryness, frizz, and stubbornness so it is important to familiarize yourself with which hair products to use, which ingredients to avoid, when and how to wash your hair. A couple of things you may want to look at right away is, frizziness can be the result of over-washing. Since your hair is coarse and prone to dryness, you may want to try co-washing instead.

      I’ll be talking more about this in a future post so stay tuned. Hope this helps!

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