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15 Shampoos for Low Porosity Hair and the Key Ingredients to Look for

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

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You likely have a good grasp of your hair type, whether it’s straight, wavy, or curly. This fundamental knowledge significantly shapes your hair care routine, from styling choices to the type of haircut you should get. However, when it comes to determining your hair’s porosity, the process isn’t quite as straightforward.

Low porosity hair is characterized by tightly bound cuticles that lay flat, creating a smooth surface that resists the penetration of water and other agents. This unique structure means that while it retains moisture well once absorbed, it’s also more challenging for moisture and other agents to penetrate in the first place.

When it comes to choosing hair products, such as shampoos for low-porosity hair, it’s essential to pay attention to the ingredients. Look for shampoos that contain surfactants, non-ionic cleansing agents, conditioning agents, emollients, humectants, extracts, preservatives for product longevity, and hydrating ingredients. These key ingredients work harmoniously to provide the necessary cleansing while maintaining moisture and nourishing your low-porosity hair.

To provide you with expert guidance in this endeavor, I’ve collaborated with my friend, a hair scientist with a PhD in Cosmetic Chemistry. Together, we’ve delved deep into the science of hair care, focusing on the specific needs of low-porosity hair.

Now, let’s take a look at an ideal shampoo formulation for low-porosity hair.

Low Porosity Shampoos and Key Ingredients

Image of surfactant shampoo ingredient for low porosity hair

With curly hair comes the understanding that a diverse array of products is essential for achieving the best results. Our hair care routine typically encompasses shampoos, conditioners, leave-in treatments, deep conditioners, and oils.

Take conditioners, for instance: there are rinse-out, leave-in, and deep conditioners. Depending on our hair’s needs, we might use all of them or just a select few on any given day.

Similarly, the world of shampoos offers a plethora of options, ranging from sulfate-free, conditioning, and clarifying to protein-free, daily-use, dry shampoo, volumizing, color-protecting, dandruff-fighting, and more. Each serves a unique purpose tailored to specific hair needs and concerns.

The primary goal of a shampoo formulation is to efficiently clean hair fibers and scalp surfaces. To do this, the formula comprises a blend of surfactant molecules.

Here are the key ingredients to look for:


Surfactants, otherwise known as surface active agents, are chemical compounds that have the ability to reduce water’s surface tension and enhance its wetting power. 1

A myriad of surfactants are now accessible, making it possible to create top-tier shampoo products.

The commonly used surfactants in shampoos are characterized into two major classes: Anionic Surfactants and Non-Ionic Surfactants.

Anionic surfactants carry a unit negative charge and show strong detergency properties along with foamability. 1

These are then further divided into two categories: Sulfates and Non-Sulfates (also referred to as ‘sulfate-free’).

Modern industry is increasingly shifting towards sulfate-free solutions due to their performance and environmental benefits.2

Sulfates include:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
  • Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)

Non-sulfate Anionic surfactants:

  • Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate
  • Sodium laureth sulfosuccinate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate

Non-ionic surfactants are the second major class of cleansing agents. They do not carry any unit charge (positive or negative) and thus are called non-ionic. 1

Non-ionic Cleansing Agent

Thanks to recent strides in detergent science, a new high-performing non-ionic cleansing agent has been conceived that adds multiple advantages to hair care formulations. 3

The commonly used ones are:

  • Glucosides ( e.g. Coco glucoside, Decyl glucoside, Lauryl glucoside)
  • Alcohol ethoxylates (Laureth – 7, 10, 12, 14, etc.)

Other Ingredients

Besides having surfactants as a major component of a shampoo formulation, a shampoo also may contain 1 :

  • Conditioning agents
  • Cationic polymer
  • Emollients
  • Natural oils
  • Humectants
  • Floral or herbal extracts
  • Preservatives
  • Perfumes or fragrance

For low porosity hair, an ideal formulation should be sulfate-free, mild, and gentle which should not remove essential lipids from the hair shaft and scalp surface.

Sulfates are known to be harsh and have high irritation potential. Unfortunately, these ingredients can leave your hair parched and brittle by drawing out too much moisture. 3

Not only do they leave the scalp dry and vulnerable to irritations, but they can also cause discomfort. Sulfates can solubilize lipids and make hair dry and porous. 4

Furthermore, the formulation should contain small molecular weight cationic hair-detangling agents e.g. Polyquaternium-10 or Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride.

These ingredients can effectively detangle hair fibers, smooth the cuticles, and reduce combing force for both wet and dry hair, however, they should be used in low dosages. 5

Hydrating Ingredients

Moisture is the key to the health of low-porosity hair. Therefore, shampoo should contain hydrating agents, such as propanediol and betaine instead of the traditional humectants, glycerin, or propylene glycol (1,2-propanediol). 1,6, 7


Floral or plant-based extracts are highly sought after for their gentle and skin-friendly qualities, decreasing any potential skin irritation when applied in a cleansing formula. 8

Below, we’ve listed some key skin-friendly ingredients suitable for low-porosity hair. 

Suitable and Preferred Ingredients for Low Porosity Hair

Glucosides-based surfactants are preferred due to their strong skin compatibility and low irritation potential, yet they are effective and efficient cleansing. Therefore, they are major and primary cleansing surfactants in a formulation.1

Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate – preferred co-surfactant. It generates a voluminous rich creamy lather. It also demonstrates a strong hydrating benefit to the scalp and the hair fibers. 41, 42, 43, 44

Disodium cocoamphodiacetate – mild amphoteric surfactant for gentle cleansing. 9

Cocoamidopropyl betaine – mild amphoteric surfactant.1

Betaine – is a natural hydrating agent that delivers water molecules efficiently.7

Propanediol – corn-derived natural moisturizing agent.6, 10

Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride – A guar gum-derived cationic conditioner.5

Polyquaternium – 10 is a starch-derived cationic conditioner.5

Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5) – fiber moisturizing and strengthening molecule.11

Biotin – scalp regeneration, hair thickness, and moisturizing agent. 12

Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein – hair conditioning, strengthening, and moisturizing. 13

Green Tea Leaf Extract – scalp healing, makes formulation gentle and mild. 14

Coconut oil – fiber conditioning, emollient and detangling, thermal protection. 15

Olive Oil – antioxidant, fiber conditioning, emollient, scalp revitalizing.16

Argan Oil – antioxidant, scalp and fiber conditioning, emollient. 17

Castor Oil – fiber conditioning and moisturizing agent. 18

Grapeseed Oil – nourishes the hair with essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamin E, promoting shine, strength, and overall hair health.

Fragrance – Plant-extracted essential oils are the preferred choice due to their multifunctional benefits compared to synthetic fragrances. Tea tree oil, peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, and lemon peel oil are aromatic liquids commonly added as a fragrance. 18 Besides their characteristic aroma, they are scalp stimulants that boost blood circulation to the scalp area and accelerate cellular turnover. 19

Preservatives – opt for biodegradable natural preservatives for a safer and more sustainable skincare experience. 20 Not only are they naturally sourced but also gentle on the skin.

Sodium benzoate and Potassium sorbate offer a broad range of protection against bacteria and fungi. 21

Hexylene Glycol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, and Phenoxyethanol are also fine for low-porosity hair fibers. They are known for their strong protection against microbes. 22, 23, 24

Now, let’s analyze the ingredients that could damage low-porosity hair and should be avoided for optimal health. 

Ingredients to Avoid

Image of a big red x on top of an ingredient label.

When caring for low-porosity hair, it’s crucial to be discerning about product ingredients, as certain components can exacerbate moisture absorption and retention challenges.


Those with low porosity hair should avoid using sulfate-based shampoo products. Particularly sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which is known to remove essential lipids from the scalp and hair surface. 4

When hair is washed with SLS, it can lose some of its proteins, eventually leading to weak compromised hair.4

This type of sulfate also has the potential to dry out both the scalp surface and hair fibers. Furthermore, repeated exposure may even cause skin irritation such as redness or itchiness on the skin. 25

Did You Know?

Did you know that Sodium lauryl sulfate has other names? They are sodium mono lauryl sulfate, sodium dodecyl sulfate, sodium mono lauryl sulfate, sodium dodecane sulfate, lauryl alcohol, hydrogen sulfate – sodium salt, n-lauryl sulfate sodium, and sulfuric acid mono lauryl ester sodium salt. – University of Bristol

Other sulfates that should be avoided:

  • Sodium cocoate sulfate
  • Ammonium lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is milder than SLS; however, it is still a powerful detergent and solubilizing agent that should be avoided. 25

High Dosage of Traditional Humectants

Glycerin and propylene glycol are two traditional humectants often used in hair care formulations. 1 Both bind water molecules from the air and add them to the scalp or hair fiber. 27

However, both are polyhydric alcohols. Their usage in high concentrations is not suitable for natural, virgin low-porosity hair.

Glycerin is sticky, and its high dosage makes hair heavy. Both also suppress the detergency and foamability of the cleansing formulation.

Formaldehyde Preservatives

Image of a preservative free icon.

Using preservatives and antimicrobial agents to protect shampoos is essential to maintain their quality throughout storage, shelf-life, shipping, and usage.

Without it, harmful microbial growth could compromise the shampoo’s effectiveness while also posing a risk of contamination for its users.

Preservatives are chemical compounds added to inhibit the growth of these microbes. 28 However, most of the preservatives are strongly skin irritants and sensitizing agents. 29

Formaldehyde was one of the oldest preservatives used in cosmetics, yet due to its powerful skin-sensitizing properties and carcinogenic nature, it has now been prohibited. 30

Additionally, formaldehyde-containing formulations can make skin and hair brittle and dry. As such, consumers should avoid using them altogether.

A series of preservatives liberate formaldehyde when added into an aqueous formulation. Their preservation mechanism is solely based on formaldehyde release. 31

Some of these formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are:

  • DMDM-hydantoin
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Imidazolidinyl urea

Hair care users should be vigilant when it comes to checking product labels, particularly the INCI listings. 32 Make sure to steer clear of these preservatives at all costs!

Parabens are classified as non-teratogenic, non-mutagenic, and non-carcinogenic. They are popular preservatives recognized for their antimicrobial properties. 33

Shampoos for Low Porosity Hair: Our Top 15 Picks!

Image of Pinterest pin titled, "15 shampoos for low porosity hair and key ingredients to look for"

Let’s get to the main point you’re here for. While many high-quality shampoos are available for low-porosity hair, we’ve compiled a list to help you begin your search. We’ve also highlighted the key surfactants in each product for your convenience.

Additionally, we’ve included ingredient lists for each product to make things convenient. However, please note that these lists might not be the most up-to-date. For the most accurate and current details, we recommend checking the information on the product bottle. Be sure to check the size of the bottles, as they may vary on each site.

#1 K18 Peptide Prep Color-Safe Detox Clarifying Shampoo

Everyone needs a good clarifying shampoo in their hair care arsenal. It is enhanced with active skincare-inspired ingredients and boasts a total of 17 key components, including their patented peptide. Lastly, it is safe for color-treated.

Main Surfactants in Ingredients:

  • Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
  • Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine

Ingredients: Water (Aqua) (Eau), Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Salicylic Acid, Charcoal Powder, sh-Oligopeptide-78, Panthenol, Glycerin, Sodium Phytate, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Caprylyl Glycol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Citric Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance (Parfum), Benzyl Salicylate, Limonene.

#2 Righteous Roots Clarifying Shampoo

Righteous Roots Clarifying Shampoo is a gentle, sulfate-free option that will not strip your hair of natural oils. The primary surfactant combination is gentle, eco-friendly, and biodegradable, all while being sustainably sourced.

The shampoo is composed of a combination of gentle surfactants, such as sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium methyl oleoyl taurate, lauryl glucoside, and coco-glucoside – all from sustainable sources.

With these components carefully blended into one product you can be sure to achieve maximum results with minimal environmental impact!

It is a Cruelty-Free and vegan-friendly formula. It does not contain parabens, silicones, sulfates, (DEA / MEA), propylene glycol, mineral oil, or phthalates. 

Ingredients: Purified Water, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Methyl Oleoyl Taurate, Lauryl Glucoside, Coco Glucoside, Polysorbate, PEG- Methyl Glucose Trioleate, Propanediol, Citrus Paradisi Grapefruit Peel Oil, Glycerin, Adansonia Digitata Oil, Baobab Oil, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima, Avocado Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia Tea Tree Leaf Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii Shea Butter, Panthenol, Allantoin, Mentha Piperita Peppermint Oil, Menthol, Urtica Dioica Nettle Root Extract, Phytic Acid, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Acrylamidopropyltrimonium Chloride, Acrylamide Copolymer, Annatto Extract, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol.

#3 Bounce Curl Gentle Clarifying Shampoo

Bounce Curl Gentle Clarifying Shampoo is skillfully formulated with a unique combination of powerful surfactants, including sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate, non-ionic decyl glucoside, sodium cocoyl isethionate, and amphoteric disodium cocoamphodiacetate.

All five ingredients are lauded for their gentleness, providing a light cleanse that preserves natural hair oils.

This product is fortified with a selection of natural emollients, which help to moisturize the scalp and deliver lustrous locks.

Thanks to these nourishing ingredients, hair will have improved detangling abilities as well as enhanced shine and suppleness.

Rather than relying on synthetic fragrances, this product employs naturally derived aromas to provide a unique and delicate scent.

This product will help clean your hair, loosen excess sebum, and leave your hair shaft as well as scalp surface free from any residuals.

Ingredients: Water, **Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, **Decyl Glucoside, **Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, **Glycerin **Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, **Propanediol, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), Polyquaternium-10, **Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Biotin, **Vanillin, **Hydrolyzed Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Seed Protein, *Nigella Sativa (Virgin Black Cumin) Oil, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Lactic Acid, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, **Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, **Boswellia Carterii Oil, **Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, **Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Ferment Extract, **Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, **Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, **Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, **Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, **Geranium Maculatum Oil, **Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Seed Oil, **Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, **Pogostemon Cablin Oil, **Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Seed Oil, ** Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Caprylyl Glycol.

*Certified Organic **Plant Derived 100% Oil Scent (no synthetic fragrance). ***BounceCurl changed its Preservative and removed Phenoxyethanol to a greener preservative in this formula.

Bounce Curl Enzyme Gentle Clarifying Shampoo
$35.00 ($4.38 / Fl Oz)

Use 'muse' at Bounce Curl's checkout for a discount.

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03/19/2024 02:59 pm GMT

#4 Kinky Curly Come Clean

This shampoo doubles as a clarifying shampoo and chelating shampoo! The Kinky Curly Come Clean shampoo contains Phytic Acid, a natural chelating agent that eliminates harsh water minerals such as calcium and magnesium. The main surfactants are C14-16 olefin sulfonate and Coamidopropyl betaine.

It is an all-natural substitute for EDTA obtained from soybeans and corn, which will soften hard water, making it easier to rinse off while preventing any buildup on your hair strands.

Pamper your hair and scalp with this luxurious blend of Mandarin Orange extract and Sea Kelp, designed to delicately rid dulling buildup while sustaining its ideal moisture balance.

This sulfate-free shampoo is perfect for dry damaged hair, gentle enough to be used daily.

Ingredients: Purified Water, Organic Mandarin Orange Fruit, Organic Marigold Flower, Organic White Willow Bark, Organic Sea Kelp, C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate and Cocamidopropyl Betaine (Coconut Derived), Phytic Acid, Citric Acid, Sea Salt, Phenoxyethanol, and Natural Fragrance.

Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo
$17.00 ($2.12 / Ounce)
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03/18/2024 07:18 pm GMT

#5 SheaMoisture African Water Mint & Ginger Detox & Refresh Hair & Scalp Shampoo

Revitalize your scalp and hair follicles with African water mint, which is an invigorating and stimulating experience. Trust me, your scalp will thank you.

This shampoo helps to rid your scalp of dirt, debris, and excess oils that can contribute to a dry, itchy scalp.

Activated charcoal purifies your scalp from dirt, oil, and excessive sebum which can impede the health of your curls and inhibit further hair growth.

Packed with vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants, ginger helps battle free radicals to make your hair stronger while preventing breakage.

Let your hair show its vibrancy with the natural conditioning and shine of Opuntia extract, which is abundant in Vitamin E.

The main surfactants are sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate and cocamidopropyl betaine. Sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate is a mild alternative to harsh sulfates. 

Cocamidopropyl betaine tends to make a formula gentler while still cleansing effectively, making this shampoo perfect for low-porosity hair.

Ingredients: Water, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycerin (Vegetable), Fragrance (Essential Oil Blend), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter (Certified Organic Ingredient) (Fair Trade Ingredient), Menthol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Tocopherol, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Flower Extract, Zingiber Officinalis Extract, Aquatica Leaf Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Charcoal Powder.

#6 Camille Rose Naturals Clean Rinse Shampoo

The unique recipe of sesame and olive oils is blended together with organic honey a peppermint oil to create a hydrating puree that provides nourishment for all hair textures without stripping away its moisture.

The surfactants decyl glucoside and coco-glucoside are the main surfactants in this shampoo, both of which are mild and gentle for low-porosity hair.

Ingredients: Distilled water, decyl glucoside, coco-glucoside, and glyceryl oleate, glycerin hydroxyproyltrimonium (honey), sesame indicum (sesame) seed oil, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, mentha pipenta (peppermint oil), xantham gum, natural fragrance, phenoxyethanol, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, cassia gum, stearyl alcohol, phytic acid.

Camille Rose Clean Rinse Shampoo
$17.09 ($2.14 / Fl Oz)
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03/23/2024 03:08 pm GMT

#7 adwoa beauty Baomint™ Moisturizing Shampoo

With its exclusive formula, this shampoo is tailor-made for those with curly hair. It replenishes the scalp using sebum that mimics organic and natural oils without removing the required moisture from tresses.

Cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium cocoyl isethionate, and lauryl glucoside are the main surfactants in this shampoo for low porosity hair.

As stated previously, cocamidopropyl betaine is a mild cleansing agent that leaves hair feeling clean. With its extremely gentle cleansing properties, sodium cocoyl isethionate eliminates excess oil to provide a smooth finish and minimize tangles and frizz.

Lauryl glucoside helps break down surface tension resulting in more efficient dirt and oil removal with each wash.

Aloe Leaf Juice is a remarkable conditioning agent that moisturizes and exfoliates the scalp, leaving hair feeling smooth. Additionally, it helps to ease itching and reduce flakiness.

Baobab Oil hones in on softness and elasticity for renewed strength while Wintergreen, Spearmint, and Peppermint Oils work together to cool down your dry scalp while nourishing it back to health.

This shampoo is vegan and cruelty-free and is free of sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehyde, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate oxybenzone, coal tar hydroquinone, triclosan, and triclocarban.

This remarkable item contains less than one percent of synthetic fragrances so it’s safe to use without worry!

Ingredients: Water (aqua), *aloe barbadensis leaf juice, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium cocoyl isethionate, lauryl glucoside, sodium lauroyl lactylate, +glycerin, *adansonia digitata (baobab) oil, ricinus communis (jamaican black castor) seed oil, prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, phthalates free fragrance, gaultheria procumbens (wintergreen) oil, *mentha piperita (peppermint) oil, mentha viridis (spearmint) leaf oil, hydroxyethylcellulose, polyquaternium-10, dehydroacetic acid, benzyl alcohol, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, opuntia ficus indica (prickly pear) seed oil, *cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) seed oil, *lavandula (lavender) spica oil, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil, menthol, urtica dioica (nettle) extract, citric acid.

*Certified organic ingredient +kosher ingredient used.

#8 Shea Moisture Low Porosity Weightless Hydrating Shampoo

SheaMoisture Low Porosity Weightless Hydrating Shampoo is a lightweight, hydrating shampoo that gently cleanses while effectively removing product build-up on moisture-resistant, low-porosity hair.

The main surfactants are cocamidopropyl betaine and sodium lauroyl isethionate. Also, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate is in the formula that is derived from a fatty acid of coconuts. Its mild foaming properties make it an ideal ingredient for moisturizing sulfate-free cleansers.

Sodium methyl cocoyl taurate’s remarkable surfactant properties render it a natural alternative to harsh sulfates and silicones.

Cocamidopropyl betaine is a mild cleansing agent that helps eliminate product build-up and excess oil from the scalp.

Sodium lauroyl isethionate is an effective foaming agent that helps to remove dirt, oil, and other impurities without stripping away essential moisture.

This sulfate-free shampoo for low-porosity hair provides your locks with the perfect balance of cleansing and hydration.

Blended with Grapeseed, Tea Tree, and Sunflower Oils, plus Fair Trade Shea Butter, this nourishing formula helps to restore vibrancy in your hair.

Ingredients: Water (Eau), Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycerin (Vegetable/Végétale), Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Sodium Chloride, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Panthenol, Coconut Acid, Polyquaternium-10, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Stearamidopropyldimethylamine, Menthol, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Citric Acid, Caprylic Acid, Capric Acid, Lauric Acid, Sodium Isethionate, Sodium Methyltaurate, Sodium Acetate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Phytate, Sodium Benzoate, Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance (Parfum).

#9 Maui Moisture Lightweight Hydration + Hibiscus Water Shampoo

This shampoo is infused with exotic hibiscus water, rich passion fruit, and refreshing watermelon, making this blend ideal for low-porosity hair that’s prone to being weighed down.

Distinctively, this blend starts with a base of aloe vera juice combined with pure coconut water, setting it apart from products that list deionized water as their primary ingredient.

The cleansing agents are sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate and cocamidopropyl betaine. Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate is derived from coconuts and offers mild cleansing without excessively stripping the hair. Cocamidopropyl betaine is a gentle surfactant that enhances foam and cleansing, while also mitigating potential irritation from other ingredients.

Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Vera, Water (Aqua), Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Water, Hibiscus Abelmoschus Flower/Seed Water, Passiflora Incarnata Fruit Extract, Citrullus Vulgaris (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Polyquaternium-22, Linoleamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Polyquaternium-39, Undecane, Tridecane, Sodium Hydrolyzed Potato Starch Dodecenylsuccinate, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, PPG-2 Hydroxyethyl Cocamide, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Maltodextrin, Hexylene Glycol, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Fragrance (Parfum).

#10 Mielle Organics Babassu Conditioning Shampoo

This shampoo is formulated with certified organic babassu oil, which ensures lustrous results.

The inclusion of surfactants, decyl glucoside, and sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate makes it especially beneficial for low-porosity hair. Decyl glucoside is a mild, plant-derived cleanser that effectively removes dirt without stripping natural oils. Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate from coconuts offers a gentle lather, ensuring the hair remains hydrated and protected.

Together, these surfactants cater to the unique needs of low-porosity hair, promoting optimal health and shine.

Ingredients: : Water/Aqua/Eau, Decyl Glucoside, Cocoamidopropyl Amine Oxide, Polysorbate-20, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Acetamide Mea, Fragrance (Parfum), Phenoxyethanol, Polydquatermium-10, Citric Acid, Benzoic Acid, Ethylhexel Glycerine, Glycereth-2 Cocoate, Citral, Citronellol, Limonene, Linalool, Orbignya Oleifera (Babassu) Seed Oil (certified organic ingredient).

#11 Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo

This concentrated shampoo helps eliminate product buildup and environmental residues, revitalizing dull and lifeless hair.

It contains surfactants like cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, sodium polystyrene sulfonate, and cocamidopropylamine oxide. These ingredients work synergistically to provide a deep yet gentle cleanse, ensuring the hair remains hydrated and vibrant.

Ingredients: Aqua/​Water/​Eau, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate, Sodium Chloride, Cocamidopropylamine Oxide, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Extract, Keratin Amino Acids, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Silk Amino Acids, Panthenol, Sodium PCA, Cinnamidopropyltrimonium Chloride, Butylene Glycol, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, PEG-6 Caprylic/​Capric Glycerides, Caprylyl Glycol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Disodium EDTA, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum/​Fragrance, CI 17200 (Red 33), CI 19140 (Yellow 5), Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Linalool, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde.

Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo
$26.00 ($3.06 / Ounce)
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03/23/2024 03:12 pm GMT

#12 Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Sulfate-Free Shampoo

This lightweight shampoo revitalizes dry or brittle hair, offering instant transformation and detangling benefits to guard against breakage.

It contains surfactants like disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, sodium cocoyl isethionate, and sodium lauryl sulfoacetate. These agents provide a gentle yet effective cleanse, making them particularly beneficial for low-porosity hair, ensuring moisture retention and minimizing product buildup.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Glycerin, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Coco-Betaine, Acrylates Copolymer, Decyl Glucoside, Butylene Glycol, Glycol Distearate, Laureth-23, Glycereth-26, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Gardenia Tahitensis (Tiare) Flower Extract, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Phenyl Trimethicone, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, Sodium Pca, Pantethine, Polyquaternium-7, Polyquaternium-10, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Sulfate, Fragrance, Linalool, Hexyl Cinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Phenoxyethanol, Methylisothiazolinone, Methylchloroisothiazolinone.

#13 Pattern Beauty Hydrating Shampoo

This shampoo is a creamy formula enriched with a blend of oils that will help your curls and coils thrive.

The surfactants are:

  1. Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate: This is a cleansing agent and surfactant commonly used in shampoos to remove dirt and oil from the hair and scalp.
  2. Cocamidopropyl betaine: It is another surfactant that helps create lather and cleanse the hair and scalp.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Polysorbate 20, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Caryodendron Orinocense Seed Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Panthenol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citric Acid, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Disodium EDTA, Decyl Glucoside, Polyquaternium-10, C12-18 Acid Triglyceride, Sodium Glycolate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Sulfite, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Phenethyl Alcohol, Fragrance/Parfum.

Pattern Beauty Hydration Shampoo
$21.00 ($2.14 / Fl Oz)
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03/19/2024 05:04 pm GMT

#14 Acure Curiously Clarifying Shampoo

This shampoo formula is vegan! It’s infused with oils and is okay to use every day.

Surfactants in the given ingredients list are:

  1. Sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate is a mild cleansing agent and surfactant used to create lather and cleanse the hair and scalp.
  2. Cocamidopropyl betaine is another surfactant that helps create lather and cleanse the hair and scalp.
  3. Cocoglucosides Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride is a conditioning surfactant that can provide conditioning benefits to the hair.
  4. Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride is another conditioning surfactant that helps improve hair texture and manageability.



#15 Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Moisturizing and Detangling Shampoo

Here is another great shampoo by Mielle. This one provides a silky slip, pre-detangles thick, curly hair, and cleans without stripping away moisture (win, win!).

Surfactants in the given ingredients list are:

  1. Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate: This is a cleansing agent and surfactant commonly used in shampoos to remove dirt and oil from the hair and scalp.
  2. Cocamidopropyl betaine: Another surfactant that helps create lather and cleanse the hair and scalp.
  3. Disodium cocoamphodipropionate: This is a mild surfactant used for its cleansing properties.
  4. Cocamide mea: This surfactant enhances the foam and lather in the product.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua, Eau), Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Polyquaternium-7, Disodium Cocoamphodipropionate, Cocamide Mea, Glycol Stearate, Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, Fragrance, Honey, Peg-150 Distearate, Panthenol, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Glycerin, Silk Protein, Orbignya Oleifera (Babassu) Oil, Mauritia Flexuosa (Buriti) Fruit Oil, Copaiferi Officinalis (Balsam Copaiba), Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter, Sodium Chloride, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Benzoic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glycereth-2 Cocoate.

What Low Porosity Hair Means

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

Low porosity hair refers to hair with cuticles that are closely packed and lay flat against the hair shaft. 35 The term “porosity” in this context denotes the hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture.

In low-porosity hair, the tight arrangement of the hair cuticle layer creates a barrier that resists the penetration of water and other agents. 36 As a result, it’s difficult for certain ingredients to get in and do their job.

Low porosity and high porosity hair differ in the following:

  • Level of porosity
  • Pore size
  • Pore volume
  • The number of pores lying on the hair surface
  • The two hair types also differ significantly in their physicochemical properties

Generally, low porosity hair is virgin, non-chemically treated, and natural hair fibers. On the other hand, high-porosity hair has usually undergone extensive damage due to chemical treatments or other environmental factors. 37 They both have very different mechanical strengths. 38

Low-porosity hair has specific needs when it comes to daily care and styling. The starting point should be finding the ideal cleansing formulation for these particular strands.

Hair cleansing is essential to ensure a hygienic scalp, free of sebum and product buildup, product residue, and debris. 39, 40

Choosing the right shampoo formulation will maintain both a healthy head of hair as well as its natural texture and appearance.

The Float Test

Image of three glasses with a single strand of hair to test hair for low, normal or high porosity for 'Shampoo for Low Porosity Hair' blog.

If you’re not certain if you have low porosity hair, you can do a float test to find out. The float test is one of many ways to assess your hair porosity at home. 36

Though the test is not always reliable due to different factors, it provides a general idea. Generally speaking, hair tends to float due to the oil it has.

This natural sebum and any extra product you might use in your hair care routine amplify this effect. Your hair does not necessarily have low porosity if it is floating on the water since oil will always be lighter and float.

It is a little challenging to measure low-porosity hair. If your hair floats, it could be that your hair is coated with a product. So, make sure to test your hair when it is clean, and make sure to test several strands of hair.

Keep in mind that this is purely a rough guide to potentially help you determine your hair porosity. Feel free to perform this on wash day.

  1. Take a single hair fiber.
  2. Fill a container with water at an ideal temperature (25-30 degrees Celcius). The temperature has a major effect on wet hair.
  3. Gently place the single hair strand in the water, ensuring that it does not disturb the water’s surface.
  4. Instantly begin timing your progress.
  5. Watch the amount of time the hair fiber completely submerges.
  6. Hair with high porosity will rapidly soak up water and sink quicker than low-porosity hair, which requires a longer period to absorb it.
  7. To achieve a deeper understanding of the impacts on porosity, this test must be carried out with color-treated or severely damaged bleached hair fibers. This will bring to light any disparities in absorption between processed and untreated hair.

Key Tips for Low Porosity Hair

  1. Low-porosity hair consumer should wash their hair at least twice a week; however, it varies with the varying circumstances, sebum section, debris, and lifestyle. 
  2. Hair should be treated with a regular Moisturizing Rinse-off Conditioner to detangle hair knots and make it easy to comb and style. 
  3. Moisturizing Leave-in Conditioner is vital for day-long protection against grooming techniques and solar radiation.
  4. Once a week, an oil massage can work wonders for your scalp tissues and hair fibers – giving them the boost they need.


What is Low Porosity Hair?

Low-porosity hair is typically virgin and free from chemical treatments, leading to fewer pores with low pore volume and damage. This type of hair boasts a healthy shaft, with cuticles that are largely in good condition and well-aligned.

How can I determine if my hair is of low porosity?

A simple test is the “float test”, which is mentioned above. However, it’s essential to consider other factors and tests for a comprehensive assessment. Here are characteristic signs that your hair is low porosity:

  1. Difficulty in wetting or saturating the hair.
  2. Products often sit on the hair’s surface rather than being absorbed.
  3. Hair takes a long time to dry.
  4. Beads of water sit on top of your hair strands.
  5. Resistance to chemical treatments like coloring or perming.
  6. Hair may feel smooth and reflect light well.

Should A Shampoo for Low Porosity Hair Include Proteins?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to use protein-containing shampoo for low-porosity hair. Proteins are excellent moisturizing and fiber conditioning agents, however, care should be taken in choosing the right protein and its right dosage. 

Should I Shampoo Low Porosity Hair?

Yes, you should shampoo low-porosity hair, but the frequency and choice of shampoo are crucial. Given the tight cuticle structure of low-porosity hair, it’s essential to use a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo to prevent stripping the hair of its natural oils. Additionally, occasional use of a clarifying shampoo can help remove product buildup. Always adjust your regimen based on your hair’s response to ensure optimal health and hydration.

How frequently should you wash low-porosity hair?

Low porosity hair’s tight cuticles resist moisture. Thus, it’s best to shampoo it at least once a week. Adjust based on your hair’s needs and product buildup.

For individuals with delicate hair textures like coily and kinky types, washing every two weeks might be ideal. However, always monitor your scalp’s condition and needs.

What type of shampoo should low-porosity hair use?

Low porosity hair should use shampoos that are lightweight, conditioning, and free from heavy build-up-causing ingredients. Specifically:

  1. Sulfate-Free Shampoo: Gentle on the hair, it won’t strip natural oils.
  2. Clarifying Shampoo: Used occasionally, it can effectively remove product buildup, which is common in low-porosity hair.
  3. Moisturizing Shampoo: Provides necessary conditioning without weighing the hair down.
  4. Protein-Free Shampoo: Some low-porosity hair may be protein-sensitive, so avoiding excess (or large) proteins can prevent the hair from becoming stiff or brittle.

Always choose products based on individual hair needs, and consider formulations that promote moisture absorption without causing buildup.

What should you not do with low-porosity hair?

For low porosity hair, avoid:

  1. Overloading with Protein-Rich Products: Low porosity hair thrives with products that have a modest protein concentration. Overloading with protein can harm and further damage the hair, so it’s essential to be mindful of the protein content in the products you use.
  2. Heavy Products: They can cause buildup, making it harder for moisture to penetrate.
  3. Overwashing: It can strip natural oils, leading to dryness.
  4. Using Heat Frequently: Excessive heat can exacerbate dryness and damage.

Always prioritize gentle care to maintain its health.

Should low-porosity hair use apple cider vinegar?

Yes, low-porosity hair can benefit from apple cider vinegar (ACV). ACV can help balance the hair’s pH, may help remove some product buildup, smooth the hair cuticle, and enhance shine and manageability. 34

However, it’s essential to dilute ACV with water before use and not overuse it, as excessive acidity can be drying. It’s recommended to do an ACV rinse occasionally, depending on individual hair needs.

Individuals with the following conditions or concerns should exercise caution or avoid using ACV on their hair:

  1. Sensitive Scalp: ACV can cause irritation or exacerbate existing scalp conditions for those with sensitive skin.
  2. Open Wounds or Sores: Applying ACV to open wounds or sores on the scalp can cause stinging and further irritation.
  3. Severely Dry or Brittle Hair: ACV can be drying, so those with already dry or brittle hair might experience further dryness.
  4. Color-Treated Hair: ACV might strip away or fade hair dye, especially if the color is recently applied.
  5. Allergies: Some people might be allergic to ingredients in ACV and should avoid its use.

Always conduct a patch test before using ACV extensively, and when in doubt, consult with a hair care professional.


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I’m just a girl who transformed her severely damaged hair into healthy hair. I adore the simplicity of a simple hair care routine, the richness of diverse textures, and the joy of sharing my journey from the comfort of my space.

My mission? To empower others with the tools to restore, and maintain healthy hair, and celebrate the hair they were born with!

My Favourite Things

Great hair goes beyond using shampoos, conditioners, and styling products. Shop my favorite must-haves.

After years of requests, I’m finally sharing my go-to skincare products.

Give your space a quick refresh with these ultimate home decor ideas.

Prepare yourself for an unforgettable adventure and make sure to pack these essential items to take with you on your journey.

Curl Care


Is High Porosity Hair Genetic?

Are you curious about whether the characteristic of high porosity hair is inherited? It’s a valid question, especially considering the link between high porosity and damaged hair. How could a

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