Low porosity hair has tightly packed cuticles that lie flat, making it difficult for moisture and products to penetrate the hair shaft.
This tight cuticle layer allows less water to sink in and less moisture to escape, making low porosity hair less prone to breakage than high porosity hair. Low porosity hair takes a while to get saturated by water and consequently takes a long time to dry.
You have low porosity hair when water droplets from a fine spray bottle sit on top of the hair for a long time before absorption.
Low porosity hair can have a lot of product buildup and look dull because there is nowhere for the product to go once it is applied. The product will just sit on top of the hair.
The good news is that low porosity hair is healthy hair. People with low porosity hair need to increase the amount of moisture that gets into the hair shaft by using lightweight and water-based products. They should avoid heavy oils and butters as they can sit on the cuticle layer without penetrating.
Steam treatments or heat caps can help open the cuticle layer somewhat, allowing water vapor to enter the hair shaft. Clarifying shampoos or apple cider vinegar rinses can help remove product buildup from low porosity hair.
Here are ten tips for taking care of low porosity hair:
- Pre-poo: Apply a pre-shampoo treatment with low heat to your hair before washing it to help relax the cuticles and allow moisture to penetrate.
- Wash your hair regularly: Regular washing can help remove product buildup and keep your scalp clean and healthy. Wash with warm water to raise the cuticles and open the hair shaft. Do not focus on how long the conditioner sits on the hair but on how well you work it in, how much water you pump into the strands, and how much you can raise the cuticle with warmth – the water will hydrate while the conditioner softens. In other words, “squish to condish.”
- Moisturize mid-week: Use a lightweight moisturizer mid-week as needed to keep your hair hydrated between washes.
- Seal in moisture: After applying a moisturizer, seal it in with a light oil to prevent moisture loss. Similarly, film-forming humectants like flax seed, aloe vera gel, okra gel, and xanthan gum form transparent, flexible films over the hair strands to trap water and keep the hair hydrated.
- Use lightweight products: Low porosity hair needs lightweight products that can penetrate the tight cuticles and nourish the hair from within. Avoid heavy oils and butters with this hair type. Use light leave-in conditioners when hair is dripping wet. Try wet plopping to allow better absorption of products into the hair shaft.
- Deep condition regularly with low heat: Deep conditioning treatments with low heat can help raise the cuticles and allow moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. Use indirect heat from a thermal cap, steamer, hot towel, or a hooded dryer on low heat to get the moisture to penetrate.
- Be careful with large proteins: If your hair products contain protein, these should be hydrolyzed or smaller proteins, peptides, or amino acids.
- Use emollient ingredients: Emollients like babassu oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, and argan oil can help moisturize low porosity hair without weighing it down.
- Cover your hair: Wear a satin or silk scarf or bonnet at night to prevent friction and breakage.
- Clarify regularly: Clarify consistently as low porosity hair is prone to build up. You should avoid cowashing altogether or do so only sparingly.
It may take some time to figure out what works best for your low porosity hair, so be patient and experiment with different products and techniques until you find what works best for you.
Remember that low porosity hair is relatively healthy but requires specific care and attention. Proper maintenance ensures low porosity hair can remain strong and shiny.
Be sure to cleanse the hair properly – an apple cider vinegar rinse works wonders.
Read more about hair porosity HERE.