Last Updated on March 1, 2023 by Verna Meachum
If only there was a way to find out what type of ingredients to look for in gels for high porosity hair. It would make shopping for products and your life so much easier, right?!!
I used to think gels for high-porosity hair were a mystery until I started researching which ingredients were best for it.
And it turns out that gels for high porosity hair need certain key ingredients so they can provide maximum protection and nourishment to your hair.
My healthy hair journey turned completely around when I started learning about the science of hair care and the key ingredients hair products should contain.
I’ve conducted extensive research and gone through many tests and trials to bring you the best gels for high-porosity hair.
Before we move forward, let us examine some prime determinants to take into consideration when searching for gels tailored for high-porosity hair.
It is not sufficient to simply focus on the ingredients – you need to also factor in your specific type of hair and its level of porosity as well as the kind of styling result you want.
Things to Consider When Searching for the Best Gels for High Porosity Hair
Hair porosity is a measure of the ability of moisture to enter and pass through the cuticle layer – something that varies among individuals due to hair’s natural capacity for porousness.
Porosity is an indication of how damaged your hair has become. Once hair is damaged, cracks and pores appear in its proteinaceous structure, leading to pores.
While brushing our hair can damage it to an extent, other factors such as heat styling, bleaching, dyeing, and chemical treatments are much more likely to cause severe harm. And don’t forget that UV radiation exposure can also be a key player in damaging your hair.
Porosity can be categorized into three distinct categories: high, normal (medium), and low. The level of porosity is determined based on the pore size, number of pores, and volume of pores existing on a surface.
- High Porosity Hair is known for its many open pores and large-sized pores, with copious amounts of space between the cortex matrix layers. This type of hair absorbs moisture quickly due to having lifted cuticles; however, it is crucial to understand that this fast absorption capacity can also result in a rapid loss of moisture if not treated properly. For many people, high-porosity hair is caused by chemical processes, such as bleaching, coloring, and intense heat styling.
- Low Porosity Hair is especially difficult to maintain due to its cuticles, which are tightly packed together and lay flat. It has fewer openings with smaller pores that make it almost impossible for the hair to absorb moisture, making hydration a tricky task. Trying to style this type of texture can be an arduous undertaking that requires patience and dedication.
- Medium Porosity Hair with its balance of open cuticles and pores, Medium Porosity Hair has the advantage of readily absorbing both active ingredients and water. This makes it incredibly efficient in providing hydration to your hair!
Knowing your specific level of porosity can help you make informed choices about which products best suit your individual needs.
Test to Figure out Your Porosity Level
To accurately measure your hair porosity, you need advanced devices, such as the gas adsorption method.
The gas adsorption method is the preferred technique for most accurately determining porosity, as it provides insight into both specific surface area and pore size.
However, there is an easy test that you can do at home to determine your hair’s porosity. It isn’t always right or reliable, but it is a good starting point.
1) Place a strand in water for two to four minutes.
2) If it remains floating on top of the surface with no signs of sinking, then hydration is not penetrating through the hair shaft and you have low-porosity hair.
3) On the other hand, if it rapidly sinks in a few seconds or so, then that would mean that you likely have high porosity hair.
Hair has more than one porosity level. For example, toward the ends of your hair, it is more likely that is high in porosity while the roots may be low. This is something that the float test cannot reveal.
Other things to pay attention to:
- Observe how your hair reacts when you wash and style it as well. Low-porosity hair is difficult to saturate with water or may form beads on its surface upon contact. For those with low porosity hair, be sure to choose a lightweight gel product so that you don’t suffer from build-up.
- On the other hand, high-porosity hair absorbs products easily but will look and feel dry shortly afterward. If you find that your hair is quick to drink up moisture, then you need a more concentrated, hydrating product to fight the frizz.
Although no two types of hair are the same, there are general characteristics and tendencies among different hair types.
For instance, those with curly (type 3 hair) or coily (type 4 hair) hair may prefer gels that offer more hydration, whereas those with wavy hair will benefit from gels that provide more hold.
Once you identify the type of waves, curls, and coils you have, searching for products that are specially tailored to your hair becomes much easier.
If you’re looking for gels for styling and to create definition, then gels with medium to strong hold and more control are an ideal choice.
On the other hand, gels for the edges of your hair are entirely different from traditional hair gels. Edge control gels have a thick jelly-like consistency, and provide superior hold while avoiding any stripping off the scalp or hair shaft.
To attain the ideal braids or twists, it’s essential to select a gel expressly made for this style.
Ingredients to look in Gels for High Porosity Hair
Okay, now let’s get into the nitty gritty of gels for high-porosity hair.
Hair gel is a hair-setting formula that encloses and holds strands in a chosen style for some time.
It features film-forming polymers to form a delicate gentle film coating over the hair shaft, making it easier to attain the desired look while taming frizz or curl distortion in high-porosity hair.
By using the ideal hair gel, your frizzy curls can be controlled and shaped into your desired hairstyle while also providing a long-lasting hold.
When selecting a hair gel to manage high-porosity hair, you must look for the right ingredients.
Here are some of the key elements that should be included in any effective hair gel designed specifically for this purpose:
High-porosity hair must be intensely moisturized to look its best. This type of hair is incredibly parched and needs moisture as soon as possible to get back to being healthy.
Betaine is an advanced plant-sourced molecule that has a tremendous capacity to hold water molecules. It is not a humectant and therefore is not affected by humidity changes. This makes it an ideal hydrating ingredient for high-porosity hair.
Propanediol is another hydrating ingredient used in the latest hair care products, specifically for those with high-porosity hair. This corn-derived multifunctional ingredient helps to increase the moisture content of your hair without leaving them feeling heavy or tacky.
Styling polymers are the backbone and main functioning ingredient of a hair gel. They are film-formers that form a gentle film over the hair shaft.
This mechanism ensures that hair fiber is firmly held in its desired style or pattern, boosting curl definition and maintaining the style for an extended amount of time.
With a water-soluble film as its base ingredient, this styling polymer resists any changes due to humidity while also not creating flakes when applied.
Some examples are enlisted here:
- Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) – a time-tested film former designed to have a gentle hold.
- Polyquaternium-11 – a cationic conditioning and styling polymer for a light hair hold.
- VP/VA copolymer – a styling polymer for a stronger hold, and is a water-resistant film.
- Polyquaternium-55 – a new generation styling polymer for extra hold and humidity-resistant styling for a longer time.
Choice of Thickening Agent
Gel is a thick, usually transparent fluid that consists of various viscosity-inducing polymers. The ingredients for the gel can be either naturally occurring or synthetic.
Utilizing Xanthan gum as a natural polymer in hair gel is the most commonly used choice and has been proven to provide a nice jelly texture without any detrimental effects on the hair.
Hydroxyethylcellulose is a starch-modified thickening polymer that results in a smooth fluid product. While both xanthan gum and hydroxyethylcellulose are derived from natural ingredients, they provide low-viscosity gel formation.
Utilizing synthetic thickeners is an effective way to ensure higher viscosity, stability, and transparency. Carbomer is a popular choice that can be found in numerous hair gels; it’s safe for use with other ingredients except cationics.
However, carbomer is weakly acidic and requires neutralization with an alkalizing agent to make it gel. This can be done using sodium hydroxide or triethanolamine.
Oils are often added to gels for high porosity hair. They make hair soft and lubricate and also facilitate the application of the highly viscous carbomer-based gel. Various plant-sourced oils or butter can be added.
Preferred ingredients for high-porosity hair are:
- Castor Oil – superior hydration, and shine, and also enhances hair styling.
- Jojoba Oil – liquid wax with amazing sensorial and moisturizing benefits.
Proteins are also great moisturizing ingredients and are frequently added to hair gels.
- Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
- Hydrolyzed Keratin
Reading the Label of Hair Gels: What ingredient should be in the top five?
When it comes to selecting the ideal hair gel, reading the label is essential before making the purchase.
Make sure that one of the top five ingredients listed on the product’s packaging is carefully chosen for maximum effectiveness.
To achieve a high-quality, high-porosity hair gel, ingredients should be in the order as follows:
1. Hydrating ingredient
2. Styling polymer
3. Other moisturizing ingredients, extracts, proteins
4. Thickening polymer
5. Fragrance or preservatives
Countless blogs have suggested that drying alcohols such as Isopropyl, denatured/ethanol, and SD alcohols should not be an ingredient in gels (or other hair products) as they can be “damaging” to hair.
However, that is not entirely true. It all comes down to the formula. Alcohols can be used as a solvent or quick-drying agent in styling products.
For example, Ethanol can cause hair cuticles to swell, which in turn allows for deeper penetration of ingredients. This is beneficial because the inner part of the hair can then be reached.
Alcohols are highly volatile, evaporating quickly and only residing on the hair for a brief duration of time.
Alcohol can potentially remove the lipids (fats) from the hair surface. The hair surface contains lipids that form a barrier and protect the hair.
If you’re not keen on using products with alcohol for your hair, then by all means don’t use them.
Best Gels for High Porosity Hair
This is a long-lasting styling gel designed to nourish and moisturize curly hair while retaining its natural shine. The custard gel offers curl definition, and elongation without forming a greasy or oily coating. It also provides plenty of holds that will last.
Through this product’s unique blend of ingredients – agave nectar extract, marshmallow root extract, aloe vera leaf extract, etc., it’s possible to maintain moisturized and healthy hair with minimal fuss.
Also, this gel works great with low porosity hair.
Ingredients: Botanical Infusion Of Water / Aqua, Equisetum Arvense / Horsetail, Chamomile, Urtica Dioica / Nettle And Althaea Officinalis / Marshmallow, Organic Aloe Vera Juice, Agave Tequilana / Agave Nectar Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate / Vitamin E, Pectin, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate And Fragrance.
This is one of my all-time favorite gels. It helps define my curls while minimizing frizz. I also like to use it to refresh second-day and beyond curls.
This is a lightweight styling gel that will help define and shape your curls. This product contains natural extracts such as black seed oil, as well as a holding ingredient to help keep the curls in place for a long time and reduce frizz.
It is a formula comprised of 80% gel and 20% cream which will allow you to define your curls without weighing down your hair.
This product does not contain silicone, parabens, sulfates, PEGs, DEA/MEA propylene glycol, or formaldehyde. Also, no animals were tested and all Bounce Curl products are completely vegan-friendly.
Note: For optimal styling results, use this hair gel in conjunction with Bounce Curl products. It is not compatible with all brands, so beware before mixing products!
Ingredients: Water, VP/VA copolymer, Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Jojoba Esters, Hydrolyzed Oat protein, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Panax Ginseng root Extract, Salvia Officlnalis (Sage) Extract, *Nigella Sativa (Virgin Black Cumin) Oil, Boswellia Carter Oil, Aminomethyl Propanol, Carbomer, Sodium Phytate, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Citric Acid, **Fragrance (100% Natural Fragrance).*Certified Organic **New 100% Natural Fragrance.
I love this gel and I love the way it smells!!! This is a vegan and certified cruelty-free gel.
Boucleme Gel is a 99% plant-powered styling gel that provides effortless application and smooth, defined curls without the sticky residue.
This lightweight formula is made with natural actives of linseed, Argan oil, and aloe Vera to provide nourishment for your hair. The gel consistency helps to build volume and will not flake or weigh down your hair.
Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Glycerin (Vegetable), ***Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract, Xanthan Gum, Polyglyceryl-4 Caprate, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Extract, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Virgin Coconut) Oil, *Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, *Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, *Tilia Cordata (Linden) Flower Oil, *Litsea Cubeba (May Chang) Fruit Oil, *Michelia Alba (Magnolia) Flower Oil, *Michelia Alba (Magnolia) Leaf Oil, *Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Red) Peel Oil, *Origanum Majorana (Marjoram Sweet) Leaf Oil, *Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange Sweet) Peel Oil, *Cymbopogon Martini (Palmarosa) Leaf Oil, *Pogostemon Cablin (Patchouli) Leaf Oil, *Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, *Mentha Viridis (Spearmint) Leaf Oil, Styrax Tonkinensis (Benzoin) Resin Extract, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid, **Limonene, **Linalool, **Geraniol, **Citral, **Benzyl Benzoate.*Natural pure essential oils. **Potential allergens. ***Certified organic ingredients. Sulphate free | Silicone free | Paraben free | Mineral oil free.
This styling gel is weightless and provides superior hold without weighing down your hair. Formulated with oils from the Argan tree in Morocco, this gel helps condition and revitalize the hair while adding shine. It also offers UV protection to prevent damage caused by sun exposure. This gel contains no alcohol and leaves no flakes, tacks, or itchiness.
It is also good for smoothing down baby hairs, which makes it a good edge control gel.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Carbomer, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Glycerin, Amino-2-Methyl-1-Propanol, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Polysorbate 20, Tetrasodium EDTA, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Fragrance (Parfum), CI 19140 Yellow 5.
Eco Style Olive Oil Styling Gel
This gel is pretty much the same as the Eco Styler Argan Oil Gel, except the key ingredient is 100% pure olive oil.
It helps control frizz, has no flakes or tack, and also provides UV protection.
Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Pvp, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Polysorbate 20, Tetrasodum Edta, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil), Fragrance (Parfum), Ci19140 Yellow 5.
Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Quinoa Frizz Control Gel
I don’t think Briogeo makes a bad product. I love this brand!
This gel helps provide a long-lasting hold for defined curls with shine, softness, and movement.
It is a lightweight formula containing rice amino acids, tomato fruit ferment, and quinoa extract for added elasticity, as well as keratin amino acids to protect against damage.
It provides a light to medium hold while sealing out environmental moisture and preventing frizz.
This product does not contain sulfates, silicones, phthalates, parabens, DEA, or artificial dyes.
Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, VP/VA Copolymer, Carrageenan*, Glycerin*, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract*, Lactobacillus/Tomato Fruit Ferment Extract*, Rice Amino Acids*, Hydrolyzed Quinoa*, Keratin Amino Acids*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil*, Tocopheryl Acetate, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil*, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil*, Polysorbate 80, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate*, Acyl Coenzyme A Desaturase*, Fragrance (Parfum), Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol * Coconut, vegetable, or plant-derived.
Orange Marmalade Curl Definer Gel
This is another great gel that I love. It provides an incredible firm-hold solution for getting frizz-free curls with a beautiful shine.
This plant-based gel is formulated with flaxseed extract and agave to give your hair the ultimate hold and moisture it needs.
This natural formula is easy to apply and provides you with long-lasting results without compromising on quality or hair health.
You can check out my review on this product by reading – Eco Slay Orange Marmalade.
Ingredients: Flaxseed extract, Agave nectar extract, Pectin, Aloe Vera juice, Marshmallow Root extract, Vitamin E, Xanthan Gum, Optiphen Plus, Sweet Orange Essential Oil.
CURLS Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Jelly
Here’s another great gel from one of my favorite brands – Curls! This gel is designed to give you long-lasting curls with superior definition and volume.
It is formulated with certified organic blueberry extract and raw castor oil to deliver maximum moisture and frizz control.
I would suggest not to use too much as it can make your hair feel a little sticky, so a little goes a long way! By the way, this gel also works great with low porosity hair.
Ingredients: Water, Sorbitol, Polyacrylate-14, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Certified Organic Aloe Leaf Juice, Certified Organic Blueberry Leaf Extract, Keratin, Hydrolyzed Quinoa, Silk Amino Acids, Panthenol, Certified Organic Shea Butter, Certified Organic Mango Seed Butter, Certified Organic Argan Oil, Certified Organic Evening Primrose, Jojoba Esters, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Carbomer, Aminomethyl Propanol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Fragrance, Citric Acid.
Shea Moisture Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-Seal Styling Gel
This gel is specifically formulated for high porosity curls. It is infused with Mongongo and Hempseed Oils to help seal hair cuticles, blocking out humidity and frizz for a smooth finish.
The lightweight formula locks in moisture for long-lasting styles that won’t weigh down your style. With regular use, this gel helps to restore damaged curls and protect against split ends for shiny and healthy-looking hair.
Ingredients: Water, MaltodextrinNP Copolymer, Glycerin (Vegetable), Dehydroxanthan Gum, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter**, Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil, Adansonia Digitata Seed Oil, Schinziophyton Rautanenii Kernel Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Hydrolyzed Adansonia Digitata Seed Extract, Tocopherol, Methylcellulose, Citric Acid, Vinegar, Pullulan, Panthenol, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Fragrance (Essential Oil Blend), Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol. *Certified Organic Ingredient. *Fair Trade Ingredient.
GIOVANNI L.A. Hold Styling Gel
This gel works for high-porosity hair and low-porosity hair. It is a strong holding gel that offers optimal control over your style and helps to keep frizz at bay.
The special blend of surface enhancers adds shine while remaining color-safe so it won’t strip or damage your hair.
Plus, it’s vegan-friendly and free from parabens, so you can enjoy maximum hold without compromising the health of your hair or the environment.
Ingredients: Aqua (Purified Water), VP/VA Copolymer, Hydroxyethylcellulose (plant derived), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Fragrance (includes essential oils), *Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, *Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, *Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, *Betula Alba Extract, *Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract, *Achillea Millefolium Extract, *Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, *Equisetum Arvense Extract, *Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Extract, *Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, *Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Extract, *Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract, *Tussilago Farfara (Coltsfoot) Flower Extract, *Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract. *USDA Certified Organic.
Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel
Here is another go-to gel for my hair, especially during the summer months!
This gel is a high-performance styling gel ideal for any type of climate and all curl types. It creates a strong hold with absolutely no crunch and helps to seal the hair cuticle to keep out humidity and moisture.
This gel also features a UV filter to protect hair from environmental aggressors like the sun, wind, and rain.
The key ingredients of Sericin, derived from silk, and Wheat Protein help reduce hair porosity and tangles while making strands healthier, shinier, and more manageable.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Polyquaternium-28, Sericin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Panthenol, Polyquaternium-7, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Actinidia Chinensis (Kiwi) Fruit Extract, Lawsonia Inermis (Henna) Extract, Wheat Amino Acids, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein/PVP Crosspolymer, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Glycerin, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Behentrimonium Chloride, Cetrimonium Chloride, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, VP/DMAPA Acrylates Copolymer, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Hexylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Potassium Sorbate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum).
Aunt Jackie’s Flaxseed Elongating Curling Gel
I’ve had the pleasure of testing out this gel multiple times, and I must say that it does surpass its promise to elongate your tight curls – which is precisely why I wanted to give it a try in the first place.
The unique blend of Shea Butter, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Omega 3 fatty acids from Flaxseed offers your hair maximum hydration and moisturization.
Not only does it prevent your curls from drying out and becoming fragile, but also helps fight thinning hair for a fuller look.
Don’t use too much as it can make your hair feel sticky!
Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Carbomer, Aminomethyl Propanol, Phenoxyethanol, PVP, Polysorbate 20, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Parfum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tetrasodium EDTA, Potassium Sorbate, Linum Usitatissimum Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool, Amyl Cinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional.
Pattern Beauty Strong Hold Gel
This is a flexible styling gel that helps provide a long-lasting hold without breaking your curls. It fortifies your curls with Sea Moss, Aloe Vera & Chia Seeds.
It is paraben-free, safe for hair with colors, silicone-free, phthalate-free, and formaldehyde-free.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), PVP, Propylene Glycol, Polyquaternium-37, Glycerin, VP/VA Copolymer, Polysorbate 20, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Caryodendron Orinocense Seed Oil, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Salvia Hispanica Seed Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Hydroxyacetophenone, Babassu Oil Glycereth-8 Esters, Rice Oil Glycereth-8 Esters, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Disodium EDTA, Chlorphenesin, Aminomethyl Propanol, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum), Benzyl Benzoate, Amyl Cinnamal, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxycitronellal, Linalool.
Wet Line Xtreme Professional Extra Hold Blue Styling Gel
Don’t sleep on this gel just because is super affordable! It is the ideal formula for styling and conditioning your hair.
It contains Aloe Vera to provide ultimate conditioning for your hair, as well as Panthenol to moisturize and protect it. It has a long-lasting wet look and an amazing Aloe Vera scent that will take your hairstyling to the next level.
The gel gives you control over any hairstyle, whether you want a sleek and shiny look or something more creative.
Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Glycerin, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Polyacrylate-2 Crosspolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum/Fragrance, Sodium Polyacrylate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Hydroxycitronellal, Blue 1 (CI 42090), Panthenol, Methoxycinnamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice.
Do gels work better on damp hair for high porosity hair?
Yes, gels work best on damp high porosity hair (which is my preference) as they coat the strands to condition and lock in moisture. Gels provide a great hold for styling and help prevent frizz and flyways.
Nevertheless, gels are also efficient on wet hair since the extra moisture helps flatten and sleek down strands for that ideal polished appearance. Play around with both ways to see which method your hair prefers.