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I'm Verna,
Your Curly-Haired Friend.

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! 

Leave in Conditioner for High Porosity Hair: Key Ingredients to Look For

June 6, 2023


Verna Meachum

Image of 3 leave in conditioners for high porosity hair with a blond curly haired girl pointing at them.

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Curl care

With extensive experience in the beauty industry, I specialize in writing for curly hair care brands, websites, and magazines.

Not only do I have curly hair, but my children, friends, family members, and even friends who are professional curly hairstylists, each with their unique curly textures.

 You get the point :) 

I also partner with a friend who holds a Ph.D. in chemistry and works as an R&D Chemist, ensuring our content is scientifically accurate and help us navigate through the misinformation around curly hair care. 

Hi,I'm Verna

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Last Updated on September 13, 2023 by Verna Meachum

Hello, my fabulous hair care aficionados! Today, we’re delving into the wonderful world of leave-in conditioners, specifically tailored for our high-porosity hair comrades.

As we embark on our quest to tame the often thirsty and vulnerable high porosity locks, it’s essential to arm ourselves with the right knowledge and tools

High porosity hair, with its raised cuticles and heightened thirst for moisture, requires a special kind of love and attention to maintain its glorious mane potential. Enter, the mighty leave-in conditioner – a true hair care superhero that swoops in to deliver moisture, repair, and protection.

In this enlightening article, we’ll unveil the key ingredients that hold the power to quench the thirst of your parched hair, fortify their defenses, and restore them to their crowning glory.

So, fasten your seatbelts and prepare to be both informed and inspired as we delve into the world of leave-in conditioners and the crucial ingredients that are destined to become your high-porosity hair’s best allies!

What is High Porosity Hair?

Image of hair cuticle showing low porosity, medium porosity, and high porosity.

Hair porosity is a way to measure the condition of your hair and understand how its structure affects it. It can also reveal how much damage your hair has undergone. On the other hand, low porosity hair indicates that your hair fibers have fewer openings and may be less damaged.

When your hair has high porosity, it means that there are many gaps or cracks along the hair shaft. This type of hair is often dry, damaged, and frizzy, with less shine and bounce. It is also more likely to break.

High porosity levels can be a sign that the hair is not in good health and may have been subjected to excessive chemical treatments, heat styling, physical abrasion, as well as repeated and aggressive combing and brushing.

Chemical treatments like alkaline hair bleaching, permanent coloring, perms, and alkaline hair straightening can lead to a significant reduction in hair protein and its mechanical strength. These treatments also make the hair more porous and prone to frizz.

Managing and styling high-porosity hair fibers to achieve a defined curl pattern can be challenging.1 To enhance their natural appearance and restore moisture and shine, it is recommended to use both a deep conditioner and a concentrated leave-in conditioner.2

If you have high-porosity hair, it’s important to use a leave-in conditioner regularly to protect, moisturize, and strengthen your hair. This also adds shine and bounce to your hair’s appearance and helps protect it from environmental factors.

Characteristic Features of a Leave-in Conditioner

A leave-in conditioner is a type of conditioner that is meant to be applied to the hair and left on for an extended period.

Unlike rinse-off conditioners, leave-in conditioners have more time to penetrate the hair shaft and provide moisture and nourishment. They are especially helpful for improving the quality of dry or high-porosity hair.

To best care for high-porosity hair, it’s recommended to look for a leave-in conditioner that possesses the following qualities:

● Boost hair moisture level.

● Provide the right balance of emollience.

● Make hair soft with enhanced sensorial.

● Protect hair against oxidation, environmental damage, and solar radiation.

● The product should not feel heavy or leave a greasy residue.

To meet these goals and provide durable conditioning for high-porosity hair strands, it is recommended to thoroughly review the ingredient list to ensure that the product is suitable and compatible with your highly porous hair and/or dry scalp.

Key Ingredients to Look for in a Leave in Conditioner for High Porosity Hair

When shopping for leave in conditioners for high-porosity hair, there are a few key factors to consider. The product should be designed to provide nourishment, repair any damage, protect against the elements, and ensure a softening and detangling experience.

Hydrating Ingredients

To bring back the natural appearance of highly porous hair, it’s important to add moisture. Look for a leave-in conditioner that has a blend of hydrating ingredients to boost the water content of dry hair strands.

While Glycerin and Propylene Glycol are popular ingredients, glycerin may not be the best choice for a leave-in conditioner. It can be sticky and heavy and requires a higher dosage to be effective, which is not ideal for a leave-in application.

New hydrating ingredients have higher water-binding and water-holding abilities and are multifunctional. One such ingredient is betaine, derived from beetroot juice, which has a greater water-binding capacity than glycerin and is a small, water-soluble molecule. As a result, it does not cause stickiness and rinses off easily.

One natural ingredient called propanediol can enhance the water level in dry, highly porous hair. It can also make dry hair feel softer and smoother. Other recommended options for dry hair include salts of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (Sodium PCA, Zinc PCA), lactic acid and sodium lactate, hydrolyzed amino acids, and hydrolyzed proteins.


Hair that has high porosity can be coarse and rough, making it difficult to comb. The surface of these hairs also has high fiber-to-fiber friction, which means they need additional lubrication and emollients.3 That’s why it’s important to use a leave-in conditioner with multiple emollient ingredients specifically designed for high-porosity hair.

Natural oils and butter are great options as they provide superior emollience and a pleasant sensory experience without feeling greasy or heavy.

We recommend using the following oils and butter for hair fibers that are extremely dry, frizzy, and have high porosity:

● Sunflower Oil

● Avocado Oil

● Apricot Kernel Oil

● Olive Oil

● Baobab Oil

● Argan Oil

● Shea Butter

● Mango Butter

● Cocoa Butter

These oils have multifunctional benefits and are natural remedies for hair disorders. They are also green and sustainable, making them a more popular choice than synthetic and petro-derived emollients.

Hair Softening and Detangling Agents

If your hair has high porosity, you may notice that it feels rough and has more curls, knots, and twists than usual.

Unfortunately, these knots and twists can cause breakage due to the increased friction. To help your hair, use products with softening and detangling ingredients to remove knots and twists and make your hair smoother.

To address the problem, cationic surfactants are recommended. They are effective because they carry a positive charge, allowing them to easily bind with the hair fibers. By doing so, they smooth out the hair cuticles, reducing any static charge and getting rid of frizz.

For a leave-in conditioner, it is best to use low molecular weight straight chain carbon molecules as your cationic hair softening agent.

Here are some of our preferred ingredients:

Cetrimonium Chloride

● Cetrimonium Methosulfate

● Behentrimonium Chloride

Behentrimonium Methosulfate

Anti-oxidants for Solar Protection

Exposure to UV radiation can lead to damage to hair proteins and lipids through a process involving free radicals. This can weaken hair fiber, cause loss of hair color and make it more prone to breaking.

The Leave-in conditioner is intended to protect the hair shaft from UV radiation by staying in place for the entire day.

To counteract the effects of UV-induced oxidation, antioxidants are included in the leave-in formula. These components help to neutralize free radical species and safeguard the proteins in your hair. 4 

Choosing natural antioxidants are preferred over using synthetic sunscreens. Certain natural oils with high levels of Vitamin E, sterols, and cholesterol have effective antioxidant properties.

In addition, natural extracts that contain high polyphenolic content can also capture free radicals and provide protection to hair and skin against damage caused by UV rays. 5, 6, 7

Here are some natural ingredients that serve as antioxidants and are commonly preferred:

● Vitamin E

● Olive Oil (Rich in Vitamin E)

● Lemon juice or extracts belong to the Citrus family. They are a rich source of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). 

● Green Tea Extract (Polyphenols)

● Grape Extract and Grape Seed Oil

Natural Extracts and Essential Oils for the Scalp Health

To improve the quality of your scalp and keep it hydrated and soothed, you should use a leave-in conditioner that targets the scalp’s surface.

Look for a leave-in conditioner that contains ingredients to stimulate the scalp, improve blood circulation, and support healthy hair growth.

Having a healthy scalp is important for a healthy hair growth process. You can use a variety of natural ingredients and essential oils to achieve this.

Here is a list of some of our preferred natural extracts and essential oils.

● Green Tea Extracts

● ChamomileFlower Extracts

● Aloe Vera Leaf Juice 

● Rosemary Leaf Extract & Essential Oil

● Eucalyptus Leaf Extract & Essential Oil

● Clove Oil

● Peppermint Oil

● Cinnamon Oil

Formulators have multiple options to use in a leave-in conditioner formulation.

Additives: Fragrance and Preservatives

We recommend opting for products with natural essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances.

Natural essential oils are pure, aromatic liquids made from organic molecules sourced from fruits or flowers. They have a distinct scent and are gentler on the skin compared to synthetic fragrances.

When choosing preservatives, it is better to choose those that are green, skin-friendly, and easily biodegradable instead of synthetic ones.

There are several green preservatives available today, including sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, capryl glycol, hexylene glycol, and more.

Leave in Conditioners for High Porosity Hair: Top 10 Picks

We have curated a list of leave in conditioners specifically for high porosity hair. Additionally, we have provided the ingredient listings for each product to help you make an informed decision.

Remember that although these product recommendations for high porosity hair are helpful, there is no assurance that they will work for everyone.

The most suitable formula can be found through trial and error by attempting different ones. Allow let your hair to be your guide!

#1 SheaMoisture JBCO Leave in Conditioner

I have used this product for many years and it has significantly improved the condition of my over-processed and bleached hair. It has helped restore my damaged hair, making it look healthier and more beautiful as shown in the before and after picture below.

Image of a before and after of my hair transformation from damaged to healthy hair, using the Shea Moisture leave in conditioner for high porosity hair.

This product helps provide moisture, shine, and detangles my hair really well. The ingredients in this product include Jamaican black castor oil and certified organic raw shea butter, which are perfect for nourishing and softening brittle and dry strands. It also has peppermint extract that gives a refreshing tingle sensation on the scalp. Moreover, it is also budget-friendly.

Ingredients: Apple Cider Vinegar, Jamaican Black Castor Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Peppermint. Collection: Jamaican Black Castor Oil.

My own Shea Moisture JBCO leave in conditioner for high porosity hair.

#2 Briogeo Rosarco Milk Reparative Leave-In Conditioning Spray 

If you want to fight dryness, frizz, and lack of shine in your hair, the Briogeo Rosarco Milk Reparative Leave-In Conditioning Spray is a great solution. It is made with ingredients like rosehip oil, argan oil, and coconut oil that come from natural sources.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Polyglyceryl-6 Stearate*, Isopropyl Palmitate*, Glycerin*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil*, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil*, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Extract*, Cetrimonium Chloride, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil*, Cetearyl Alcohol*, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil*, Amyris Balsamifera Bark Oil*, Pogostemon Cablin Oil*, Elettaria Cardamomum Seed Oil*, Ferula Galbaniflua (Galbanum) Resin Oil*, Glyceryl Stearate*, Citric Acid*, Polyglyceryl-6 Behenate*, Caprylhydroxamic Acid*, Fragrance (Parfum), Benzyl Alcohol*. *Coconut, vegetable, or plant-derived.

#3 GIOVANNI Vitapro Fusion Protective Moisture Leave-in Hair Treatment

This GIOVANNI Vitapro Fusion Protective Moisture Leave-in Hair Treatment is a great product, especially if you have bleached hair. It provides moisture and strength to your hair and is a must-have.

This product protects and nourishes your hair while preserving the color and shine of your hair. It helps prevent frizz on damaged hair ends and provides heat protection from hot tools. This formula combines vitamins and protein to make your hair soft, manageable, and beautiful.

Ingredients: Aqua (Purified Water), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Natural Fragrance, *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.

#4 Curls Blueberry Bliss Leave-in Conditioner

This is another favorite leave in conditioner of mine. It can repair, restore, and condition your curls. Its ingredients include certified organic blueberry extract, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and mango butter. It is clinically proven to repair damaged hair, encourage hair growth, and prevent breakage.

Ingredients: Purified Water, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Certified Organic Blueberry Fruit Extract, Certified Organic Coconut Oil, Glycereth-26, Sorbitol, Certified Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Hydrolyzed Quinoa, Silk Amino Acids, Certified Organic Chamomile Flower Extract, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol.

Best For Damaged High Porosity Hair
Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Leave In Conditioner 8 oz
$12.99 $11.99 ($1.50 / Ounce)
Grab it Here
09/21/2023 07:20 am GMT

#5 Bounce Curl Moisture Balance Leave-In Conditioner

Here is yet another favorite leave-in conditioner of mine! This leave-in conditioner is infused with 5 Ancient Eastern Mediterranean oils, including Egyptian Neroli oil, jojoba, olive, fenugreek, argan oil & more. It acts as a primer and leaves deep nourishment to the hair. It is clinically proven to protect from environmental stressors like dry air, UV, and harsh weather conditions, and has been tested.

Ingredients: Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Simmondsia Chinesis (Jojoba) See oil, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Olea Europe (Olive) Fruit Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed butter, Argania Spinosa Kernel oil (Argan oil), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Rosa Centifolia (Rose oil), Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli) Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetrimonium Chloride, Biotin, *Nigella Sativa (Virgin Black Cumin) Oil, Trigonella Foenum-Graecum (Fenugreek) Seed Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance (Phthalate Free). *Certified Organic.

Image of my own personal Bounce Curl leave in conditioner for high porosity hair.

#6 Design Essentials Natural Almond & Avocado, Moisturizing & Detangling Leave-In Conditioner

The Leave-In Conditioner provides your hair with lightweight moisture and nutrients that are lost due to styling, weather, and the environment. It contains almond, avocado, and jojoba oils, along with other nutrient-rich botanicals. This formula quickly softens and smoothens your hair, making it easy to detangle and control frizz.

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Methyl Gluceth-10, Polyquaternium-32 (and) Paraffinum Liquidum (and) Trideceth-10, Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance (Parfum), Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (and) Prunus Amygdalus Oil, Persea Gratissimia (Avocado) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Retinyl Palmitate, Butylene Glycol, Hypericum Perforatum (Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract), Calendula Officinalis (Flower Extract), Anthemis Nobilis (Flower Extract), Cetaurea Cynaus (Flower Extract), Chamomilla Recutita (Flower Extract), Tilia Cordata (Flower Extract), Benzyl Benzoate, Citral, Geraniol, Linalool, Limonene.

#7 Paul Mitchell The Detangler, Original Conditioner

I understand that Paul Mitchell is not typically known for curly hair products, but my curly hair stylist used this product on my hair during my last appointment and I was pleasantly surprised. The product provided a great amount of moisture and detangling ability, which convinced me to purchase it right after leaving the salon. I recommend giving this product a chance. Don’t sleep on this product!

Just so you know, this product is both vegan and cruelty-free!

Ingredients: Aqua (Water, Eau), Isododecane, Isohexadecane, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Algae Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Tocopherol, Citric Acid, Propylene Glycol, Bisamino PEG/PPG-41/3 Aminoethyl PG-Propyl Dimethicone, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Sodium Glycolate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Magnesium Nitrate, Parfum (Fragrance), Hexyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Salicylate.

Image of my own personal Paul Mitchell leave in conditioner for high porosity hair.

#8 OUIDAD Moisture Lock Leave-in Conditioner

This product is a weightless, breathable formula infused with prickly pear and green tea that adds hydration and primes curls for styling. It seals in nourishment and encourages curl formation while preventing frizz and promoting shine.

Additionally, it adds slip for easy detangling before styling. This product is free from Non-Water Soluble Silicones, Parabens, Sulfates, Mineral Oil, Phthalates, Petroleum, and Gluten. It is also vegan and cruelty-free.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Amodimethicone, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Stem Extract, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hydrogenated Castor Oil/Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Polyquaternium-59, Stearyl Alcohol, Parfum (Fragrance), Butylene Glycol, PVP, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Citronellol, Coumarin, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxycitronellal, Linalool, Limonene. 

#9 Giovanni Direct Leave-in Conditioner

This leave-in conditioner is one of my favorites! I always buy the largest size because I love it so much! It gives your hair the hydration it needs to look beautiful, while also protecting it throughout the day and enhancing texture and body without weighing it down. It’s perfect for damaged hair, restoring strength and shine, moisturizing, adding body, and making it easier to comb and style. Plus, it’s color-safe and vegan-friendly.

Ingredients: Aqua (Purified Water), Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), *Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, *Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, *Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, *Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, *Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, *Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, *Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract, *Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, *Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract, Cetrimonium Bromide, Natural Fragrance, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol. *USDA Certified Organic.

Image of my own personal Giovanni Direct leave in conditioner for high porosity hair.

#10 Innersense Sweet Spirit Leave-In Conditioner

This product is perfect for those with fine hair. It’s a lightweight leave-in conditioning spray that helps detangle and increase moisture. It contains emollient oils, fragrant herbs, flower essences, and a bit of honey that’s safe for bees, helping to maintain body and manageability. Additionally, lavender gives it a delicate fragrance.

Ingredients: water aqua- eau, aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf gel*, cetearyl alcohol, glycerin, distearoylethyl dimonium chloride, caprylic/capric triglyceride, hydrolyzed quinoa*, gluconolactone, sodium benzoate, calcium gluconate, potassium sorbate, benzyl acetate, linalyl acetate, citronellol**, abies balsamea needle oil*, juniperus virginiana (cedar) oil*, alpha-terpineol, amyl cinnamal**, linalool**, pogostemon, cablin (patchouli) leaf oil, salvia sclarea (clary sage) oil, citrus reticulata (tangerine) peel oil, mentha citrata herb oil, eugenia cayophyllus (clove) oil, michelia alba leaf oil, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil, citrus limon (lemon) peel oil, citrus aurantifolia (lime) oil, lavandula hybrida (lavandin) oil, cinnamomum camphora (camphor) bark oil, alpha-lonone, evernia prunastri (oakmoss) extract, anisaldehyde, cistus ladaniferus resin, menthol, myristica fragrans (nutmeg) kernel oil, jasminum grandiflorum flower (jasmine) extract, nerol, benzaldehyde, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract*, eucalyptus globulus leaf extract*, ginkgo biloba leaf extract*, aspalathus linearis leaf extract*, honey extract*, calophyllum inophyllum (tamanu) oil, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) oil, citric acid, eugenol**, limonene**. *Certified Organic. †A natural component of essential oils.


If you have high-porosity hair, it’s important to use a leave-in conditioner. This will keep your hair hydrated and conditioned, especially if it’s dry, coarse, or chemically treated.

Leave-in conditioner can also protect your hair and scalp from UV rays, which helps to maintain healthy hair and scalp. If your hair is highly porous, it’s recommended that you use a leave-in conditioner every day.


1. Syed, A. N.; Ayoub, H., Correlating porosity and tensile strength of chemically modified hair. Cosmetics and toiletries 2002, 117 (11), 57-64.

2. Corbett, J. F., The Chemistry of Hair-care Products. Journal of the Society of Dyers and Colourists 1976, 92 (8), 285-303.

3. 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.

4. Nogueira, A. C. S.; Dicelio, L. E.; Joekes, I., About photo-damage of human hair. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 2006, 5 (2), 165-169.

5. Davis, S. L.; Marsh, J. M.; Kelly, C. P.; Li, L.; Tansky, C. S.; Fang, R.; Simmonds, M. S. J., Protection of hair from damage induced by ultraviolet irradiation using tea (Camellia sinensis) extracts. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology 2022, 21 (5), 2246-2254.

6. Marsh, J. M.; Davis, S. L.; Fang, R.; Simmonds, M. S.; Groves, P.; Chechik, V., UV Oxidation: Mechanistic Insights Using a Model System. J. Cosmet. Sci. 2021, 72, 697-710.

7. Knowles, S. L.; Sheng, W.; Davis, S.; Sica, V. P.; Pulliam, C. J.; Baker, T. R.; Li, L.; Marsh, J. M.; Fang, R.; Padilla-González, G. F.; Simmonds, M. S. J., Color Protection from UV irradiation of artificial dyes with grape seed (Vitis vinifera) extract. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology 2022, 10, 100113.


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