Our unique curls deserve the best care, and understanding the right products for them is crucial for their thriving health. One natural and effective way to enhance moisture in your hair is through the use of oils. However, it’s important to note that not all oils provide the same benefits. Some oils have larger molecules, while others have smaller fatty acid molecules. Additionally, certain oils can penetrate the hair shaft, while others create a protective coating on the surface. A combination of penetrating and coating oils is optimal for those with high-porosity hair.
The most beneficial oils for high-porosity hair are castor oil, coconut oil, argan oil, baobab oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil, and avocado oil, which are excellent choices.
To help us with this topic, I consulted a seasoned expert—a Cosmetic Formulator with a PhD in Chemistry and extensive knowledge of hair science—to navigate the scientific nuances of selecting the best oils for high-porosity hair. This ensures our exploration is firmly rooted in scientific expertise, enhancing the credibility and reliability of our hair care insights.
Optimal Oils for High Porosity Hair
Not all oils are suitable for high-porosity hair, as their effectiveness depends on various factors.
The molecular weight and size of oils differ, with some having larger molecules and others containing smaller fatty acid molecules. This influences their ability to either penetrate the hair shaft, nourish the hair cuticles, or remain on the surface, forming a protective coating.
Using a combination of penetrating and coating oils for high-porosity hair is advantageous. This dual action addresses both the outer surface quality and the damaged inner core of the hair cortex, promoting overall improvement.
Explore our thoughtfully curated list of oils designed specifically to nourish, protect, and enhance the texture of high-porosity hair:
● Shea butter is an excellent conditioning agent for high-porosity hair, gives shine, and improves sensorial feel.
● Mango butter offers a unique and luxurious feel upon application, amazing emollience, immersing your hair in an incredible emollience that offers softness to dry, rough hair.
● Castor oil is a deeply moisturizing oil with a highly lustrous, glossy appearance.
● Coconut oil (cocos nucifera) is an excellent hair conditioning and treatment option. It penetrates hair fiber due to the lower molecular weight/size of its fatty acid. It addresses the problem of dryness and improves hair shine.
● Argan oil is an anti-frizz oil that is rich in vitamin E, has moisturizing properties, and promotes a healthy scalp.
● Baobab oil is a unique natural product with superior texture and a sensorial touch.
● Olive oil seals in moisture, improves elasticity, offers antioxidant-rich nourishment, and enhances shine.
● Jojoba oil is a liquid wax with remarkable conditioning properties for skin and hair.
● Apricot kernel oil is a nice light-textured oil with moisturizing benefits.
● Avocado oil is a nourishing recipe for dry scalp and hair.
● Sweet almond oil provides essential fatty acids and vitamins that contribute to hair’s overall health and strength.
● Righteous Roots Oils is an all-natural blend of eleven essential oils that helps control frizziness, stimulates healthy hair growth, and detangles hair. Side note: this oil helped my hair recover from significant hair loss.
Unsuitable Oils and Emollients for Your Hair
Petroleum-derived white mineral oil, petrolatum, or petroleum jelly are emollients known for their moisturizing and hair-conditioning properties.
However, it’s important to note that these ingredients, including heavy oil derived from petroleum, make them less environmentally friendly and sustainable. Additionally, they have high molecular weights, resulting in a greasy feel on the hair.
For a more eco-friendly and beneficial alternative, consider natural plant-extracted oils. These options outshine petroleum-derived counterparts and provide a wide range of benefits for your unique hair type.
4 Ways to Use Oils for High-Porosity Hair
Natural oils and butter are versatile substances, offering a myriad of applications for overall well-being. From nourishing the skin and promoting hair health to culinary uses in cooking, these multifaceted ingredients provide a holistic approach to enhancing various aspects of our lives.
#1 Pre-Shampoo Treatment
The best way to enhance your hair care routine is by applying oils to your hair and scalp before washing. For optimal results, consider leaving the oils on overnight, allowing them ample time to penetrate deeply and work their magic. This pre-shampoo treatment can significantly improve the effectiveness of your hair care routine, leaving your hair nourished and revitalized.
#2 Blending with Conditioner or Hair Mask
Boost the moisturizing and softening properties of your favorite conditioner, leave-in conditioner, or deep conditioning mask by incorporating a few drops of your chosen oil. This simple addition can make a significant difference in enhancing the overall effectiveness of the product.
#3 Leave-in Treatment
Regularly coating my hair with oil serves as an excellent leave-in treatment, proving to be one of the most effective solutions for maintaining hydration in my high-porosity hair.
Optimal for high-porosity hair, oils work well as leave-in treatments, especially when they are non-greasy and lightweight. Consider the oils listed above, ensuring that they are used sparingly to prevent any undesirable heavy build-up.
#4 Oil Therapy
Harness the benefits of oils to address both hair and skin concerns. Regularly applying oil to your hair and scalp can yield long-lasting improvements in hair quality, overall lifespan, and the promotion of healthy hair growth. Additionally, it serves as a preventative measure against early-age hair shedding or thinning.
For a healthier scalp and hair, we recommend incorporating the natural oil of your choice into your routine at least once a week. This simple practice can contribute significantly to hair health.
What is High Porosity Hair?
Hair porosity is determined by factors such as open pores, pore size, and spacing between cortex matrix layers. High porosity hair has larger pores and more spacing, allowing for quick moisture absorption but also leading to rapid moisture loss due to raised or lifted cuticles.
In contrast, low porosity hair has fewer openings with small pores, which makes it challenging to absorb and retain moisture. On the other hand, medium porosity hair strikes a balance, enabling effective penetration of active ingredients and water.
How to Test Your Hair’s Porosity Level
This straightforward float test serves as a quick and effective method to assess your hair’s porosity, providing valuable insights into its moisture retention capabilities and overall health.
- Begin by preparing a glass of water.
- Take a strand of clean, dry hair and gently release the hair strand onto the water’s surface.
- If the hair floats, it suggests high porosity, indicating that the strands have significant openings and may absorb moisture rapidly.
- If the hair strand remains submerged or hovers in the middle, it suggests low porosity, with fewer openings, making it resistant to moisture absorption.
- The strand typically floats for medium or normal porosity hair but doesn’t remain on the water’s surface for an extended period. This indicates a balanced level of porosity, allowing effective moisture absorption and retention.
Why Does High-Porosity Hair Need Oil?
High-porosity hair often becomes dry, fragile, and damaged due to harsh chemical treatments like bleaching, dyeing, or relaxing, causing a significant loss of hair protein content.1-2 Despite these treatments, side reactions continue within the hair fibers, leading to protein oxidation (cystine being oxidized into cystic acid) and altering the hair’s chemical makeup.4-6
The aggressive treatments result in weakened, porous, and breakage-prone hair. Continued use exacerbates damage, leaving strands extremely brittle devoid of their natural body, texture, and shine. The hair may feel rough, like sandpaper, challenging styling, management, and moisture retention.
To address dryness and damage, high-porosity hair requires oils to seal in moisture and protect against external aggressors. Natural emollients like oils or butter work wonders, making strands soft tangle-free, and imparting shine. Choosing the right oils is crucial, considering their moisturizing, sealing, and cuticle-protecting properties.
Repeated and continual use of such treatments results in extremely damaged and brittle strands, lacking their original natural body, texture, and shine.
9 Ways Oils Benefit High-Porosity Hair
Oils significantly enhance the aesthetic feel of your hair and scalp, preserve moisture, and prevent water loss. Additionally, they reduce fiber-to-fiber friction during combing and brushing.3
These versatile ingredients offer a multitude of benefits for both your scalp and hair, making them valuable additions to any hair care routine.7-9
Hair care experiences substantial improvement when incorporating natural oils, which provide the following advantages:
#1 Lubrication, Decrease in Fiber to Fiber Friction
Oils serve as excellent hair lubricants, coating fibers to reduce friction. This prevents curls from tangling or knotting, making daily styling easier.
#2 Ease in Combing
Reducing fiber friction creates a smoother surface, minimizing the force required to comb through strands.
#3 Hair Conditioning: Penetration
High porosity hair facilitates oil penetration into the hair shaft with its increased pore density and volume. This process, passing through cuticle channels and reaching the hair cortex, conditions damaged fibers, prevents protein loss, and enhances the hair’s inner structure.
Oils effectively combat frizz by creating a water-resistant coating on the hair shaft, guarding against humidity and temperature fluctuations. This ensures your hair stays healthy and its fibers remain aligned, resulting in a well-defined style.
#5 Control Hair Hygral Fatigue
Hair swells when absorbing moisture, and under extreme osmotic pressure, it may experience ‘Hygral Fatigue,’ leading to cracks along the hair shaft. High-porosity hair, with its higher pore density and volume, is more susceptible to this pressure.
To counteract water molecules entering the strands and address hygral fatigue, oils with strong hydrophobic properties can be applied as a protective measure.
#6 Combat Dryness
Apply oil to the scalp and hair to retain moisture, preventing water loss and offering a solution for severe dryness in both the scalp and hair.
Oils are essential for maintaining soft, healthy hair, especially for high-porosity hair that may feel rough. Oils work to smooth and align the cuticle surface, leaving your hair feeling soft and lubricated.
Read A Brief Look Into My Healthy Hair Journey to learn more about my healthy hair journey.
Surface smoothness directly influences the level of luster or gloss. Uneven, rough surfaces scatter light, creating a dull appearance. In contrast, sleekly polished surfaces reflect light consistently, emanating brilliance and shine.
Applying oils as lubricants can significantly enhance your hair’s surface smoothness and light reflection, giving it a glossy finish.
#9 Healthy Scalp
Your scalp is the foundation of healthy hair. Your scalp benefits from oils that provide lipids, antioxidants, and bioactive molecules, nourish skin cells, prevent dryness, and promote robust follicular activity.
These products eliminate dead cells and enhance cellular turnover, fostering new growth. This revitalizes the scalp, invigorating hair follicles for new hair growth and controlling thinning or excessive shedding.
1. Robbins, C., Chemical aspects of bleaching human hair. J. Soc. Cosmet. Chem. 1971, 22 (6), 339-348.
2. Gummer, C.; Marsh, J.; Dahgren, M.; Meinhert, K., Understanding the effect on hair fibers of coloring and bleaching formulations using high-pressure differential scanning calorimetry (HPDSC). J. Cosmet. Sci. 2007, 58 (1), 90-91.
3. Kaushik, V.; Kumar, A.; Gosvami, N. N.; Gode, V.; Mhaskar, S.; Kamath, Y., Benefit of coconut‐based hair oil via hair porosity quantification. Inter. J. of Cosmet. Sci 2022.
4. Zavik, C.; Milliquent, J., Hair bleaching. In The Science of Hair Care, 2nd ed.; Bouillon, C.; Wilkison, J., Eds. Taylor & Francis Group, LLC London, 2005; pp 246-268.
5. Naqvi, K. R., Hair bleaching and dyeing: Chemical Changes in hair fibre. Chemistry review 2011.
6. Wolfram, L. J.; Hall, K.; Hui, I., The mechanism of hair bleaching. J. Soc. Cosmet. Chem. 1970, 21 (13), 875-900.
7. Rele, A. S.; Mohile, R., Effect of coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. Part I. J. Cosmet. Sci. 1999, 50 (6), 327-339.
8. Schueller, R.; Romanowski, P., Conditioning Agents for Hair and Skin. Taylor & Francis: 1999.
9. Rele, A. S.; Mohile, R. B., Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. J. Cosmet. Sci. 2003, 54 (2), 175-192.