February 13, 2023
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Leo possesses more than 17 years of valuable experience as a researcher and lecturer within the fields of Biology and Genetics. Holding a PhD in Biology from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina...
Deep conditioners are the holy grail for curly hair care, but high-porosity hair demands specific ingredients for optimal nourishment. To unravel this essential guide, I’ve teamed up with my friend, a hair scientist expert with a PhD in Chemistry to delve into the specific elements crucial for high porosity hair health.
In your search for the best deep conditioners for high porosity hair, keep an eye out for these vital ingredients: humectants or hydrating elements, cationic conditioning actives, proteins, emollients, and natural additives like essential oils and extracts.
We’ll explain the details of these essentials later in the post. Without further adieu, here are the top high-porosity deep conditioners!
While there are many deep conditioners for high-porosity hair on the market, these deep conditioners are some of the best and most effective. With that said, this is not an exhaustive list, and always keep in mind — what works for one person may not work for you.
Experimentation is the ultimate approach to discovering what will work for you. Trial and error have proven to be a reliable process that yields successful results.
For your convenience, we’ve included ingredient lists for each product. However, please note that these lists may not be the most current. We advise referring to the product bottle for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
This deep conditioner’s unique blend of ingredients is specifically formulated to moisturize deep within the hair shaft and smooth out the cuticle layer for vastly improved manageability.
Natural coconut oil helps to strengthen weak areas, repairing split ends as it infuses hair roots with nutrients while shea butter provides a protective barrier to lock in moisture and keep your curls looking their best.
Vitamin E further nourishes the scalp and hair follicles, promoting stronger growth and an overall healthier head of hair.
The natural extracts of sugar cane, green tea, apple, and lemon have been specially chosen for their ability to stimulate the scalp while providing antioxidant protection against environmental damage.
With its unique blend of herbal extracts and nourishing vitamins it can restore life even to the most neglected mane – making it perfect for those who’ve been struggling with dullness or dryness as well as those who just want a little boost in their existing routine.
Pros: Gluten-free, vegan, cruelty-free, PEG-free, talc-free.
The Bounce Curl Ayurvedic Deep Conditioner is a luxurious deep-conditioning treatment that nourishes the hair, creating super soft and supple hair without weighing the hair down.
This is a protein-free plant formula, enriched with plant extracts, lightweight oils, herbs, and oils such as amla, brinjal, and shikakai.
This conditioner is ideal for all types of hair, including those needing extra hydration and repair. It helps to intensely moisturize the hair, providing improved detangling properties that help reduce breakage during brushing or combing.
Pros: Contains certified organic ingredients and no synthetic fragrance.
Cons: It is slightly pricey.
This is a protein-free deep conditioning treatment that will hydrate, soften, and improve your hair's elasticity without weighing your curls down.
It is ultra-moisturizing and functions as an instant conditioner and deep conditioner. It's almost like having two products in one, so more bang for your buck!
I’ve been loving this deep conditioner! It’s a super nourishing mix of oils and butter that works wonders in restoring and sealing in moisture. My hair feels stronger and healthier, and the frizz is minimized after using it.
Pros: Ultra-hydrating blend of oils and butter. Restores and seals in moisture effectively. Strengthens and improves hair health. Budget-friendly.
Cons: Can be heavy for fine hair types, so use sparingly.
This deep conditioner is a rich product designed to nourish and restore damaged, abused hair. The combination of mafura and baobab oils work together to provide intense moisture while making it easier to manage, style, and detangle hair.
In addition to bringing softness, the oils are also known for their restorative properties which help strengthen, repair, and protect the hair.
Then manuka honey is added to the mix – this natural humectant attracts and retains moisture so that your hair looks healthy and shiny all day long.
Yogurt is also a key ingredient in this conditioner as it has proven highly effective in moisturizing chemically or over-processed hair.
Not only does it hydrate strands but it also helps retain natural proteins and minerals. Furthermore, yogurt can help with frizziness, split ends, and hair elasticity.
Pros: Affordable. Cruelty-free.
If you need a rejuvenating deep conditioner, this masque is your saving grace!
After I recently bleached my hair and it became dry, brittle, and lifeless – this product worked wonders to bring back the health and flexibility of my hair.
It has quickly become one of my favorite products for restoring healthy-looking curls!
It is a concentrated and highly penetrating moisture treatment that will strengthen and soften your hair while reducing breakage.
It comprises nourishing almond and avocado oils with a powerful punch of hydration and fortification to provide intense moisture, softness, and shine.
Formulated with your hair in mind, this wash day masque will make detangling a breeze and leave your curls strong and resilient – every single time!
For those suffering from dry and damaged hair, this masque shines above all else.
Not only does it restore elasticity to make styling easier but its core ingredients also shield against further damage which can stem from everyday heat styling, chemical processes, or environmental exposure.
Pros: It does a great job of moisturizing and conditioning high-porosity hair. This formula is gluten-free.
This is a creamy, nutrient-rich product specifically designed for thick, dry hair. This product penetrates the hair cuticle, allowing for rehydration and easier detangling of curls.
Plus, it adds just enough spreadability to make combing through the strands a breeze.
Infused with amla fruit and ximenia oil, this deep conditioner provides long-lasting slip that makes it easier to manage unruly curls. And its botanical ingredients help add strength and elasticity to dry, damaged hair.
It’s formulated with natural ingredients like organic aloe juice, shea butter, olive oil, and glycerin to create a nourishing blend that leaves your hair feeling soft and looking healthy.
Love, love this deep conditioner. Your hair will love it!
Pros: Pthalate-free fragrance (parfum)
This is another favorite deep conditioner of mine! I was introduced to this product seven years ago and still use it from then today.
It is a deep conditioner that helps to instantly replenish lost moisture, transforming dry and brittle hair into soft supple curls that are full of life.
The formula is derived from the babassu palm fruit, an Amazonian plant that contains high concentrations of sterols and tocopherols.
These anti-inflammatory compounds help protect the scalp while nourishing each strand of hair with vital nutrients.
The deep conditioner also contains a blend of fatty acids and natural oils, as well as complex amino acids which work together to replenish moisture in the hair and reduce flyaways for shinier, healthier-looking curls.
Pros: Made with certified organic ingredients.
Cons: It has a pretty intense minty-ish lemongrass scent, which may be too strong for some people.
This is a deep-conditioning hair mask that has been scientifically proven to reduce breakage from the first two uses.
With ingredients like rosehip oil, B vitamins, and algae extract, this mask helps restore moisture and hydration to dry, brittle, colored, or over-processed hair.
Additionally, it helps improve the long-term health of damaged hair by providing essential nutrients and essential fatty acids.
The antioxidant-rich formula works to power up your strands with a combination of natural extracts that help to strengthen your hair while promoting healthy shine and silkiness.
It nourishes and softens the strands while targeting damaged areas to repair them from within. The moisturizing effects last for days after application as it continues to work its magic throughout the day without weighing your hair down with excess product build-up.
This mask is one I cannot live without. It works wonders on my high-porosity hair and has proven to be a staple in my deep conditioning routine.
Pros: 97% naturally derived ingredients, vegan & cruelty-free. Free of sulfates, silicones, and phthalates.
This deep conditioner is the perfect choice for anyone looking to protect, strengthen, and restore their curls. This natural hair masque is loaded with powerful ingredients that nourish and nurture hair from the inside out.
Silk amino acids, another key component of this deep conditioner, replenish lost proteins due to damage caused by chemical treatments, color-treating, and over-processed strands.
Transitioning from chemical to natural hair will also benefit from this repairing formula as it helps strengthen and rebuild damaged follicles while protecting fragile new growth.
This luxurious mask rejuvenates dry and brittle strands with its special blend of moisturizing agents such as sunflower seed oil, avocado oil, and mango seed butter.
Not only will these ingredients promote healthy growth but they will also protect against breakage when used regularly.
It has been a while since I used this deep conditioner, but I highly recommend it if you have high-porosity hair. Give this a try!
Pros: Created specifically for curly textures. This product adheres to the Curly Girl Method, free of silicones.
This masque is designed to deeply penetrate the hair shaft, delivering vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants that work together to strengthen weak hair cuticles and help promote growth and length retention.
The unique blend of pumpkin seed oil, argan oil, castor oil, mango butter, and mint extract nourishes the scalp while providing intense hydration to dry strands.
The masque also contains sunflower seed extract which helps protect color-treated hair from fading due to UV exposure.
The masque’s ability to infuse and restore moisture into the hair makes it a great choice for combating breakage caused by environmental elements such as heat or humidity.
Pros: 100% Cruelty-Free.
Cons: Contains fragrance that may be irritating to sensitive skin.
Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Hair Mask is a great solution to damaged, broken hair. This deep penetrating, intensive conditioning mask is clinically proven to repair, protect, and restore your curls while also promoting growth.
It contains natural and organic ingredients such as blueberry extract, aloe vera juice, and shea butter that are proven to nourish, soften, and hydrate your hair.
Made with key ingredients such as blueberries, which are rich in vitamin C and B-complex. Proanthocyanidins, a plant chemical found in blueberries, is also added to this mask to interact with hair follicles and promote accelerated growth while slowing down hair graying and loss.
Aloe leaf juice, chamomile extract, as well as many other natural ingredients, all serve to help moisturize and nourish the scalp.
In addition to providing a boost of moisture to dry, brittle curls, this intensive conditioner also helps repair the damage and split ends, and protects against breakage.
Plus, it’s gentle enough for daily use on color-treated or chemically-treated hair!
Pros: Great for all hair types.
Cons: Contains fragrance that may be irritating to sensitive skin.
This deep conditioner is an intensive moisturizing and strengthening treatment that is enriched with an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
The formula contains blue-green algae, a superfood for the hair that is known to be a powerful healing agent and nourishing ingredient. It works to reduce breakage, promote hair growth, soften strands, and improve the overall health of the scalp and hair.
Mangob has also been added for extra moisture retention and deep conditioning benefits. This luxurious concoction helps transform dull, damaged curls into healthy-looking locks that are strong, soft, and manageable.
I’ve always recommended this product for low-porosity hair, but it is also an excellent deep conditioner for high-porosity hair as well!
The creamy texture melts into the hair without weighing it down or leaving any residue behind. Its rich consistency works effectively to provide instant hydration while deeply conditioning each strand from root to tip.
Pros: Phthalate-free fragrance.
This deep conditioning hydrating hair mask provides intense hydration to hair and locks in moisture for stronger, healthier hair. This best-selling mask treatment is designed to nourish, replenish, and fortify follicles for a beautiful, healthy look.
It is perfect for revitalizing dry, over-processed, or color-treated hair.
Whether your tresses are curly or straight, this emollient masque will help restore natural lipids and provide 6X more intense hydration than just using a non-conditioning shampoo.
It is also formulated with ultra-hydrating raw shea butter, nutrient-rich sea kelp, and antioxidant argan oil. This natural combination of ingredients helps reduce frizziness while providing long-lasting softness and shine without leaving behind an oily residue.
Pros: Cruelty-free formula. This SheaMoisture hair mask is formulated with no silicones, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, or petrolatum.
Cons: Contains fragrance that may be irritating to sensitive skin.
This is a reparative, moisture-rich deep conditioner formulated to hydrate, silken, smooth, and strengthen dry, brittle, coarse, or damaged hair.
Containing hyaluronic acid, bamboo extract, and biotin as key ingredients; this deep conditioner provides exceptional nourishment for a healthier hair texture and more vibrant shine.
Hyaluronic acid helps to retain and seal moisture into the hair while reducing frizz and softening brittle hair; bamboo extract adds elasticity and strength with silica and amino acids that moisturize the hair follicles; while biotin strengthens the hair structure.
This combination of natural ingredients results in increased shine and improved elasticity which can lead to increased growth for an overall healthier-looking head of hair.
Pros: Free of parabens, formaldehyde, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, sulfates SLS & SLES, triclocarban, triclosan, and contains less than one percent synthetic fragrance. It is also vegan, gluten-free, cruelty-free, and comes in recyclable packaging.
Cons: It is slightly pricey.
This is a one-of-a-kind conditioning and moisturizing treatment for dry or damaged hair. This luxurious formula combines some of nature’s best ingredients to nourish and hydrate the scalp and strands.
Aloe vera is legendary for its unique properties to soothe and moisturize dry or damaged hair and skin. It contains vitamins B2, C, and E, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc as well as fatty acids which are all vital for healthy hair growth.
Murumuru seed butter adds intense moisture due to its high oleic acid content as well as vitamin A, promoting nutrition to both skin and hair.
Rich in vitamin E, shea butter helps protect the scalp while providing emollient and moisturizing qualities.
Banana Extract is packed with nutrients including potassium and vitamin A which can help keep your curls hydrated while helping to prevent breakage.
Last but not least is hibiscus extract, which promotes deep penetration of the cuticle layer to balance the natural pH levels of your strands.
Pros: 97% natural/naturally derived ingredients.
Cons: It is slightly pricey.
Water is the ultimate solution to maintaining healthy, high-porosity hair as it alleviates dryness and promotes healthier hair.1
Humectants are water-binding molecules that bind, hold, and deliver water molecules to the dry hair shaft.
Glycerin is a frequently used moisturizing agent. It is green, super-efficient, biodegradable, and cost-effective. However, some may find it leaves their hair feeling sticky on their porous strands.2,3
A variety of humectants, such as propylene glycol, sodium PCA, alpha-hydroxy acids, and betaine are commonly used in hair care formulations.
To help ensure top-notch hydration, our go-to ingredients are:
● Betaine – Natural super moisturizing ingredient extracted from beet juice.4
● Lactic acid / Sodium Lactate (alpha hydroxy acid) – Also known as milk acid. It is hydrating as well as a skin exfoliating agent.5
● Sodium or Zinc PCA (pyrrolidone carboxylic acid) – Pyrrolidone carboxylic acid salts are excellent moisturizing ingredients for the scalp and hair.5
● 1,3 Propanediol – A natural moisturizing agent. Its natural properties provide a great aesthetic feel and sensory results.6
Cationic emulsifiers are the backbone of any conditioning formulation. They’re large, positively charged molecules that create a chemical bond with the negatively charged amino acids in hair proteins. These molecules have long fatty acid chains, which help in detangling and conditioning the hair. Their positive charge is effective in reducing static in dry and frizzy high-porosity hair.
There are various types of cationic detangling ingredients, each with different levels of positive charge and varying fatty carbon chain lengths, used in creating hair conditioner formulas.7
Our top go-to ingredients for extremely damaged high-porosity hair are:
● Cetrimonium Chloride – is a 16-carbon chain fatty acid molecule that acts as an anti-static agent, making it easier to comb hair.8
● Behentrimonium Methosulfate – another 22-carbon-long fatty acid chain.10
Cationic polymers are large positively charged molecules that provide detangling, slip, and conditioning.
Cationic polymers are large positively-charged molecules that provide hair with detangling, slip, and conditioning. They also penetrate the hair, passing through the cuticle channels, making it stronger and more resilient to breakage.
Our preferred go-to polymers for high-porosity hair are:
● Polyquaternium – 6: Contains high positive charge density, particularly known to penetrate hair fibers and improve hair strength.
● Polyquaternium-7: An excellent remedy to high porosity hair makes combing and brushing hair easier.
Proteins are multifunctional ingredients that are highly sought after by individuals with high-porosity hair because of their many benefits. Not only do they replenish moisture to dry hair, but also improve the surface quality and recover hair protein loss during chemical treatments, thermal processing, or other damages.12,13
Our choices for high-porosity hair are:
● Hydrolyzed keratin
● Hydrolyzed wheat protein PG-propyl silanetriol
● Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed keratin
● Silk amino acids
● Wheat amino acids
For more in-depth information about protein treatments for high porosity hair, check out my blog, ‘Protein Treatments for High Porosity Hair (Learn the Best Type of Proteins to Use)‘.
Emollients are essential for high-porosity hair as they help to replenish moisture and smooth the hair’s surface. These elements can play a vital role in restoring your hair’s lost cuticle layer. Natural emollients are favored for their environmentally friendly origin and sustainable supply.14,15
The following emollients are strongly recommended for high-porosity hair:
● Shea butter
● Mango butter
● Coconut oil
● Olive oil
● Castor oil
● Argan oil
● Macadamia seed oil
● Baobab oil
● Sunflower seed oil
Synthetic esters are also commonly used in hair care products, such as isopropyl myristate, isopropyl palmitate, etc.15
Cuticles are the protective outermost layer of human hair, similar to tiles covering a rooftop shielding it from any external harm.
The cuticle layer plays an essential role in the science of hair, as it is where active ingredients interact with hair proteins.
Situated between the two cuticles, there is a tiny passage leading underneath the hair structures, called the cortex and medulla.26
The active ingredients of hair care formulations pass through these pores and penetrate deep inside the hair fiber.27,28 The size, volume, and density of pores (number of pores per unit area) are indicative markers for gauging the health of the hair fiber.29
Healthy, virgin, non-chemically treated hair fibers have few pores with relatively small pore sizes. This type of hair is known as Low Porosity Hair.
However, repeated and excessive use of chemical treatments, exposure to UV radiation, and thermal processing can damage cuticle layers and expose the inner hair structural components.30
In extreme cases, the cuticles are altogether removed and the cortex is exposed, which can cause further damage, resulting in breakage or fracturing of the hair strands.31
Certain defining attributes set high-porosity hair apart from low or medium-porosity hair.
Here’s a list of some of them:
● Feels rough
● Extremely dry
● Lots of frizz
● Split ends
● Difficult to comb and brush
● Hair breakage – especially during combing
● Hair absorbs water or product very quickly
● Wet hair dries quickly
Most of the signs discussed above are related to large pore size, which demonstrates how fragile your hair fibers can be.
High porosity hairs are weak, extremely fragile, and require deep hair conditioning treatment to recover their strength, body, texture, and gloss.34
High-porosity hair can experience numerous advantages from using the ideal deep conditioner, including:
● Hydration – hair with high porosity requires loads of moisture, and a deep conditioner can meet this requirement by supplying water-binding actives.
● Surface Smoothness – conditioning ingredients deposit a layer on the cuticle that makes combing and brushing easier, giving your hair an incredibly smooth feel.
●Hair Breakage – a customized special formulation for deep conditioning contains hair-strengthening ingredients that recover the mechanical strength of damaged hair fibers. These ingredients deeply penetrate the hair cortex, filling empty spaces and strengthening the fiber’s structure. This results in fortified hair, reducing the risk of split ends and breakage during regular grooming.
● Anti-Frizz – deep conditioners are your best bet for minimizing the impact of shifting temperature and humidity levels. Natural oils and butter are known for these benefits.
● Shine – shine is integral to a superior surface smoothness, which enables the hair to interact with solar light much better. The result? Glossy-looking hair that offers remarkable reflection.
It’s no secret that I have gone through quite the rollercoaster ride with my hair due to over-processing it with bleach.
To restore its health, I started deep conditioning it twice a week – and within four months (give or take), what an incredible difference! My hair felt soft and smooth again; not so brittle anymore. Deep conditioning twice a week has truly been a game changer I made when attempting to bring back life into my curls!
Deep conditioning high porosity hair should be part of a regular hair care routine. At least once a week is recommended, depending on the severity of your hair damage.
To keep high porosity hair healthy, it needs to be constantly nourished with conditioning agents — a single application won’t suffice and will not provide the desired results.35
Additionally, one deep conditioning session is insufficient; multiple treatments are encouraged to maintain your hair’s health.
If you want to maintain healthy, vibrant hair, you must create a tailor-made hair care regime. This should include a conditioning shampoo and conditioner as well as a concentrated hair mask – all especially important if your locks are high porosity; they require extra special attention to prevent breakage.
Anytime I dye my hair, I make sure to deep condition it no less than twice a week. This helps keep my hair conditioned, supple, and healthy!
For more information on moisturizing high-porosity hair, check out my blog, ‘How to Moisturize High Porosity Hair: Key Ingredients‘.
Yes! I used to think that you did not need to use heat on high-porosity hair strands as the cuticles are already lifted. However, it is important to remember that scientific consensus can shift as our research expands and our knowledge evolves.
Studies have demonstrated that using heat, such as a hooded steamer or warm air from wearing a plastic cap over your hair, aids in better penetration of active ingredients and higher amounts of cationic conditioning agents attached to the hair surface.37,38,39
By utilizing heat energy, it is possible to accelerate the plasticization of polymers and protein ingredients, leading to improved hair quality, conditioning, and damage recovery.
Yes, porosity matters when choosing products!
Before using any product, it’s critical to assess the condition and circumstances of the hair. Tailoring your haircare formulations based on porosity levels is essential for optimal results.
The distinction between low- and medium-porosity hair is very different from high-porosity hair. When considering pore size, volume, and mechanical strength of the three levels of porosity, clear distinctions can be seen.32
Furthermore, their hair’s frizziness and protein loss vary in the three porosity levels, which require different formulations.
To achieve the best possible hairstyle, it is important to consider your hair porosity before deciding on any hair care product.
Utilizing the wrong product can be detrimental and prevent you from achieving your desired results.
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