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Curly hair is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. It could be super-defined one day and a frizzy concoction the next day – and it's never exactly the same from one head to another. Our mission is to equip you with the necessary tools for restoring and maintaining healthy locks and celebrating the hair you were born with! 

A Complete Care Guide for Low Porosity Hair

October 29, 2018


Verna Meachum

Picture showing a low porosity hair strand magnified

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Curl care

I am highly experienced in the beauty industry and specialize in writing for brands and websites that focus on curly hair care. Moreover, I actually have curly hair and have curly-haired children with varying hair textures. I am also surrounded by curly-haired friends, including curly hairstylists and curly-haired family members. You get the point :) I’m well-versed in the language and nuances of curly hair care, styling tips, and product recommendations.

Furthermore, I collaborate with my friend who has a Ph.D. in organic and inorganic chemistry and works as an R&D Chemist to help us navigate through the misinformation around curly hair care. He advises us on Hair Care Science to ensure we are well-informed.

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Last Updated on April 13, 2023 by Verna Meachum

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.

There are three porosity levels; low porosity, medium porosity, and high porosity.

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 a technical term that indicates the amount of tiny openings and small pore size within each strand in comparison to damage hair fibers.

Those with medium porosity hair have medium-sized cuticle openings and some pores, allowing small molecules like active ingredients and water to penetrate without issue.

High-porosity hair is characterized by its abundance of pores and has numerous empty spaces along the hair shaft.

Low porosity hair can 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.
  • Protein treatments don’t seem to work for your hair, and when you apply them, it becomes stiff.
  • Single strand knots are created easily.
  • Resistant to chemical treatments.
  • Absorbs products slowly.

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

 ðŸ”¶ Elasticity

 ðŸ”¶ 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?

Testing Your Hair

Lower porosity hair is typically does not have damage and is more resilient to dehydration. People with lower porosity hair find it difficult to “take” in hair dye and chemicals used for relaxing or adding permanent wave.

Also, lower porosity hair has difficulty absorbing oils and conditioners. However, this may be due to previous use of henna or because the hair is coarse (wide) with little flexibility.

There are three common ways to test your hair porosity;

  • float test
  • the spray bottle test
  • the slide test
  • sometimes the stretch test

While these tests are not always accurate or reliable, they can serve as a starting point or helpful guide.

If you want a more precise assessment, you can send in your hair into a lab for a comprehensive analysis. They will assess your hair’s average properties, including thickness, damage and porosity. From there, they can recommend hair care products using their expertise.

Using the float test, follow these simple steps to determine your hair porosity:

  1. Before you start, make sure your hair is clean – if it has any products (including oils and leave-in conditioner) on it, swish it around in some water with a drop of detergent, then rinse and let it dry before testing.
  2. Completely submerge the hairs under water to break the surface tension.
  3. If your hair has treated and untreated roots of considerable length, cut the hair in half and test each area separately.
  4. If you want a more accurate result, tie approximately 20 hairs together instead of using individual strands. This is because single strands can’t hold much water, but a larger group of them can if they’re porous.

Interpreting the results:

  • If your hair floats after 5 or 10 minutes: You have low porosity or low-normal porosity, or you may have lower porosity roots and more porous ends. Re-do the test on the ends and roots of your hair separately.
  • If your hair is floating partially and sinking partially: it may be because the ends are more porous than the roots. To test this, wet only the ends or roots separately and see if they float or sink. Re-do the test on the ends and roots of your hair separately.
  • If your hair sinks or is just under the surface after 10 minutes: it is porous.

Check out this video tutorial for alternative ways to test your hair

Video credit: Healthy Afro Hair

Careful observation

Out of all the products and tools available for hair, your eyes, hands, ears and mind are the most important. If oil and conditioner just sit on top of your hair instead of being absorbed, if you’ve never dyed it or handled it roughly, then it probably has lower or normal porosity.

If on the other hand your hair easily absorbs oil and conditioner, is rarely weighed down, and is often dry and brittle – then you have likely high porosity hair.

It is also possible to have several porosities along your entire head of hair – for example, you may have low porosity at the roots, normal porosity in the middle of your hair, and high porosity towards the ends.

The bottom line is to learn to listen to what your hair tells you and let that guide your hair care choices!

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.


  • 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 (some silicones okay to use when used properly)

✖︎  Propylene glycol

✖︎  Drying Alcohols: These ingredients can be drying and damaging to the hair when used in excess. 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

 âœ”︎ 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, plant extracts, and other ingredients that can be helpful for low porosity hair, including film-forming humectants such as; aloe vera gel, flaxseed gel, nettle extract, slippery elm, marshmallow root (Althea officinalis), burdock root, etc.

✔︎  Cetrimonium chloride

✔︎  Good proteins such as hydrolyzed silk, keratin, amino acids, collagen, wheat, and hydrolyzed quinoa.

✔︎  Humectants

Best Low Porosity Hair Products

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

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

Low porosity hair - Cleansers and Low  Shampoo and Clarifying Shampoos.
Low porosity hair conditioners.
Low porosity hair deep conditioners.
Low porosity hair leave in conditioners.
Low porosity hair curl creams
Low porosity hair gels
Low porosity hair oils

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


Is low porosity hair bad?

No, it is not bad. Many people believe that those with low porosity hair should take measures to make it medium porosity.

Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t aim to change your hair’s porosity level. Instead, get to know your hair type and learn to work with it. To be frank, all hair types have both good and bad qualities. The key is learning how to take care of your specific hair type so that it can reach its full potential.

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. Fewer pores on its cuticles make it the closest thing to undamaged hair fibers.

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 potentially damaging your hair and scalp (if used in excess).

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!

Is Carol’s Daughter good for low porosity hair?

The short answer is yes, Carol’s Daughter products can be beneficial for low porosity hair. The line includes a variety of butters and oils that can help to seal in moisture and provide much-needed hydration.

In addition, the products are designed to be lightweight, so they won’t weigh down low porosity hair.

If you’re looking for a good Carol’s Daughter product to start with, we recommend the Monoi Repairing Conditioner. This conditioner is packed with nutrients and antioxidants that can help to repair damage and revitalize the hair. Low porosity hair can be difficult to manage, but with the right products, it can be healthy and beautiful.

Is hydrolyzed wheat protein good for low porosity hair?

There are a few different types of protein that can be used to treat low porosity hair, but hydrolyzed wheat protein is one of the best. This protein can help to fill in the gaps in your hair shaft, which will make your hair look and feel healthier.

Hydrolyzed wheat protein is also a great choice for low porosity hair because it is less likely to cause build-up on your hair. If you are looking for a protein treatment for your low porosity hair, hydrolyzed wheat protein is a great option.

Is Mielle good for low porosity hair?

The answer is yes! Mielle products are perfect for low porosity hair. If you have low porosity hair, I highly recommend giving Mielle a try! You won’t be disappointed.

What are the best As I Am products for low porosity hair?

The Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner, the Leave-In Detangler, the Hydration Elation deep conditioner, and the Doublebutter Cream.

What are the best products for low porosity 4c hair?

There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for low porosity, type four, curly hair. The main thing is to look for products that will hydrate and moisturize the hair without weighing it down.

Oils and butters are great for this hair type, as they can help seal in moisture. Leave-in conditioners and deep conditioners are also key, as they will help hydrate the hair and keep it looking healthy.

Look for products that are specifically designed for low porosity hair, as they will be the most effective.

With these things in mind, here are some of the best products for low porosity, type four, curly hair:

  • Oils: Coconut oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil are all great options for low porosity hair. They can help to seal in moisture and keep the hair hydrated.
  • Butters: Shea butter and mango butter are both great options for low porosity hair. They are very moisturizing and can help to keep the hair hydrated.
  • Leave-in Conditioners: A good leave-in conditioner can help to hydrate the hair and make it easier to style.
  • Deep Conditioners: A good deep conditioner is essential for low porosity hair. It will help to hydrate the hair and make it softer and more manageable.

With these products, you will be able to keep your low porosity, type four, curly hair healthy and hydrated. They will also make it easier to style and manage. Experiment with different products to find what works best for you.

What are the best low porosity hair shampoo?

There are a few things you’ll want to look for in a low porosity hair shampoo. First, you’ll want to make sure it’s sulfate-free. Sulfates can be harsh on low porosity hair, stripping it of its natural oils and moisture.

Second, you’ll want to look for a shampoo that contains humectants. Humectants help to draw moisture into the hair shaft, keeping low porosity hair hydrated.

Some of our favorite low porosity hair shampoos are the Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo and the Righteous Roots Clarifying Shampoo.

These shampoos are all sulfate-free and contain humectants to help keep low porosity hair hydrated. If you have low porosity hair, we encourage you to give one of these shampoos a try!


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!

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