The Mestiza Muse

Be Beautiful. Be Natural. Be You.

Be Beautiful. Be Natural. Be You.

Tips For Caring For Low Porosity Hair

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Learn tips for caring for low porosity hair

We partner with and endorse products from trusted companies that benefit our readers. Here’s our process.

As a reader-supported platform, we may earn affiliate commissions for purchases made through links, including those advertising

Please read our disclosure for more info.

Caring for hair with low porosity requires understanding its unique needs. This type of hair has tightly “closed” cuticles that resist moisture absorption, leading to a tendency towards dryness and brittleness. Yet, you can nurture and maintain healthy, moisturized curls with the right knowledge and techniques. This guide provides practical tips and strategies to enhance moisture retention and promote overall hair health.

Understanding Hair’s Unique Characteristics

At the outset of my journey towards healthier hair, I concentrated heavily on deciphering my curl pattern, overlooking the equally crucial aspect of hair porosity. Understanding additional hair attributes like density, elasticity, and strand thickness (distinct from overall volume) is fundamental in adopting an effective hair care routine.

Grasping your hair’s porosity sheds light on the behavior of your strands, guiding you in maintaining them optimally, and assisting in the selection of appropriate products and techniques for their care. Porosity, in essence, measures your hair’s ability to hold and absorb moisture, which is pivotal for its health and appearance.

Each individual’s hair exhibits a specific porosity level, which may be high, medium, or low, influencing its interaction with moisture. Despite these differences, all hair types naturally absorb water, albeit to varying extents.

Low Porosity Hair Tips

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

Low-porosity hair, typically a sign of healthier and often untreated strands, features medium-sized cuticle openings and a modest pore count. This structure forms a resilient barrier against moisture and product penetration, making hydration a challenge.

Even though low-porosity hair is known for its strength and healthiness, it’s not completely immune to damage. Specifically, the ends of the hair might show aging signs due to environmental factors and daily styling routines. To keep this hair type looking its best, it’s important to adopt care practices tailored to its unique needs. These practices will help in ensuring that the hair remains evenly nourished from root to tip, thus preventing the usual issues of dryness and product buildup. Here are some effective tips and strategies to consider:

  1. Limit Product Use: With low-porosity hair, applying too many products can be counterproductive due to the tight seal of the cuticles. Only use what’s necessary for the best results.
  2. Choose Specific Products: Look for hair care products that are specially formulated for low-porosity hair, prioritizing those with ingredients that penetrate the hair shaft with ease.
  3. Focus on Hydration: Opt for hydrating ingredients like water-based conditioners, glycerine, avocado, and humectants (e.g., flaxseed extract, aloe vera gel, marshmallow root, beet juice), adding honey for an extra moisture boost. Discontinue any that don’t suit your hair.
  4. Embrace Hydrolyzed Proteins: Don’t shy away from proteins. Hydrolyzed proteins are beneficial as they help retain hair moisture. Smaller proteins such as amino acids, peptides, silk, collagen, and keratin are preferred, as they can more easily penetrate under the cuticles.
  5. Ensure Consistent Moisturization: Regularly moisturizing is essential to keep your low-porosity hair healthy and vibrant.
  6. Apply Products to Wet and Warm Hair: Moisture and oils are better absorbed when the hair is wet and warm, thanks to the opened cuticles.
  7. Use Heat for Deep Conditioning: Applying heat can elevate the effectiveness of deep conditioning by lifting the hair cuticle for deeper nourishment.
  8. Utilize a Hair Cap for Heat: After applying treatment, covering your hair with a hair cap or shower cap can enhance the absorption of conditioning treatments through the warmth from your body heat or an additional heat source like a steamer.
  9. Avoid Product Build-Up: Low-porosity hair is prone to buildup, so use lightweight ingredients and shampoo regularly to prevent residue accumulation.
  10. Clarify Regularly: At least once a month, use a clarifying shampoo to remove any product buildup that can create a barrier, preventing moisture absorption.

Ingredients to Avoid

Image of the word "avoid" in red with a magnifying glass.

When caring for low-porosity hair, it’s crucial to be mindful of the ingredients in your haircare products, as some can hinder your hair’s health and complicate styling. Here’s a concise guide to ingredients best avoided:

Silicones (e.g., Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone): Often used to enhance shine, detangling, and heat protection, these water-repellent oils can build up on low-porosity hair, making it difficult for moisture to penetrate due to their large molecular weight and insolubility in water.

Petrolatum and White Mineral Oil: Derived from petroleum, these ingredients are staples in many haircare products for their moisturizing properties. However, their occlusive nature means they can weigh down low-porosity hair, leaving it feeling greasy and heavy.

Formaldehyde and Related Preservatives: Preservatives are used to extend shelf life by preventing microbial growth; these chemicals can irritate the skin and pose other health risks, potentially harming hair and scalp health.

Humectants: While humectants are beneficial in small amounts for attracting moisture, high concentrations can make low-porosity hair look lifeless and limp. Moderation is key.

Sulfates: Common in many shampoos for their cleansing power, sulfates (when used in excess) can strip hair of its natural oils, leading to dryness and damage. Those with low-porosity hair, especially those who are sensitive or color-treated, should opt for sulfate-free options to preserve hair’s natural moisture and integrity.

For a deeper dive into which ingredients to avoid and why, consider exploring resources like my blog post, ‘Ingredients To Avoid For Low Porosity Hair: A Comprehensive Guide.’

Product Recommendations

Here’s a curated list of products to support low-porosity hair:

Understanding Low Porosity Hair: Natural Traits and Structure

vector illustration of the medulla, cortex, and cuticle.

Low porosity hair is primarily a natural trait, similar to eye color or height, rather than a condition caused by external damage or environmental factors. While damage and aging can temporarily increase hair’s porosity, they don’t fundamentally change hair from low to high porosity.

Your hair structure consists of three layers:

  • Cuticle: The outermost layer, resembling overlapping shingles on a roof, protects the inner layers of the hair.
  • Cortex: This is the middle layer, making up the bulk of the hair shaft. It’s composed of fibrous proteins and is the site of hair’s pigment, contributing to its strength and color.
  • Medulla: The core of the hair shaft, located between the cortex and the cuticle, although not always present in every hair strand.

Understanding these layers helps in comprehending how low porosity hair manages moisture and product absorption, inherent in its tightly overlapped cuticle structure.

Identifying Characteristics of Low Porosity Hair

Determining your hair’s porosity through observation of its qualities and reactions is a practical approach. Low porosity hair, known for its unique attributes, can be recognized by the following characteristics:

  • Reduced Porosity and Smooth Cuticles: Compared to highly damaged hair, low-porosity hair features fewer and smaller pores along with smooth cuticles. This structure enhances its resilience and resistance to water.
  • Delayed Wetting: The compact, flat arrangement of the cuticle layers acts as a protective barrier against wear and tear, significantly reducing water absorption. It may take a while for low-porosity hair to become thoroughly wet.
  • Tendency Towards Build-Up: Due to its resistance to absorption, low-porosity hair is susceptible to product build-up, which can make styling challenging.
  • Water Beading on Hair: A telltale sign of low porosity is water beads sitting on the hair’s surface, indicating an effective seal by the cuticles. This phenomenon shows the hair’s selective absorption capability.
  • Increased Product Accumulation: Over time, product residue can weigh down the hair, leading to decreased flexibility and heavier, stiffer strands.
  • Formation of Single-Strand Knots: Particularly in tighter, kinkier curl patterns, low-porosity hair is prone to forming knots.
  • Extended Drying Times: Low-porosity hair often requires considerable time to dry, especially when air-drying, due to its reduced rate of water absorption.

Testing Hair Porosity: A Simple Guide

Image of float test.

Determining your hair porosity can be straightforward with the right approach. One popular DIY method for assessing this is the float test, though it’s important to note that the test’s reliability can vary based on different factors. Here’s how to conduct it for a general understanding of your hair’s porosity:

  1. Preparation: Ensure your hair is clean to get accurate results. Use several strands for a more comprehensive assessment.
  2. Select a Strand: Take a single strand of hair for the test.
  3. Water Temperature: Fill a container with room temperature water, ideally between 25-30 degrees Celsius, to mimic a natural environment for the hair.
  4. The Test: Gently place the hair strand on the water’s surface, being careful not to disturb the water too much.
  5. Observation Time: Start timing as soon as the hair touches the water. Watch closely to see how long it takes for the strand to submerge completely.

The outcome indicates your hair’s porosity:

  • High Porosity: Hair that quickly absorbs water and sinks rapidly suggests high porosity, meaning it easily lets moisture in but may struggle to retain it.
  • Medium Porosity: If the hair strand takes a moderate amount of time to sink, it likely has medium porosity, offering a balanced moisture retention capability.
  • Low Porosity: Hair that floats for an extended period before sinking demonstrates low porosity, indicating resistance to moisture absorption due to tightly bound cuticles.

This test offers a basic gauge of your hair’s porosity, helping you make informed decisions about your hair care routine.

Differences Between Low and High Porosity Hair

Image showing damaged hair versus healthy hair.

Understanding the distinct characteristics of low and high porosity hair can guide you in selecting the most effective care and styling practices for your hair type.

Low Porosity Hair:

  • Features tightly packed cuticle layers that form a robust barrier, making it challenging for moisture and products to penetrate.
  • This resistance to absorption can result in product build-up, complicating styling and maintenance.
  • Characterized by a low number of pores or small pore size, making it relatively impenetrable compared to damaged hair.
  • Water and other substances tend to bead up on the hair’s surface due to the smoothness of the cuticles.

High Porosity Hair:

  • Has cuticles with numerous gaps or holes along the hair shaft, facilitating quick water and chemical absorption.
  • The presence of raised flaps or damaged cuticles increases the hair’s absorbency.
  • Often results from damage caused by heat styling, chemical treatments, sun exposure, and other environmental factors.
  • This damage creates gaps in the cuticles, leading to high porosity hair that struggles to retain moisture, often appearing dry and damaged.

Recognizing whether your hair is low or high porosity can help tailor your hair care regimen to address its specific needs, promoting healthier and more manageable hair.


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.

Be Beautiful. Be Natural. Be You.


Sign up for my weekly newsletter!

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

Read More »





One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted.
Do it now.

- Paulo Coelho