Low Porosity Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know

In a previous post , I discussed hair porosity. This post will go into detail about what you can do if your hair is low porosity. To recap, it can be defined as hair with compact and overlapping cuticle layers. The physical characteristics of this type of hair causes it to repel water, making it difficult to hydrate and even permanently color/dye.

 low porosityYou might have low porosity hair if your hair…
  • …takes a long time to absorb water
  • …takes forever to dry
  • …frizzes up when you use aloe vera and vinegar in pure form
  • …suffers from product build-up
  • …does not take color treatments easily
  • …no matter what you do to moisturize it, it feels dry

Note:  Hard water is abundant in limescale and can build up on the surface of your hair thus mimicking low porosity characteristics. Be sure to check the quality of your water where you live.

I have low porosity hair, what next?

If you have low porosity hair, it’s not impossible to care for your hair. Though it requires a little extra maintenance, this hair type is considered very healthy. When dark in color, it’s often shiny and glossy in appearance. Remember, hair often becomes high porosity due to manual or chemical manipulation that has damaged the cuticle over time, i.e. wear and tear.

So how can we help moisture penetrate the cuticle and keep it there? To answer this let’s discuss “best friends” and “enemies” for this hair type.

Best friends

  1. Indirect heat : Cleanse hair with warm to very warm water. Heat helps lift the cuticles and allow moisture into the hair shaft. Add heat to your deep conditioners, either sit under a hooded dryer or wrap hair in a warm towel.
  2. Light oils: Oils are great for added sheen and pliability. Light oils such as grape seed or sweet almond oil are best for this hair type as they don’t cause buildup. Coconut oil is usually recommended for curly and afro hair. Although it is a great oil (I’ve raved about it before on this blog), it’s not for all hair types. Many people with low porosity hair  experience stiff and rigid hair after using it. Also avoid really heavy butters.
  3. (Humectants): Humectants help draw moisture from the air into your hair and skin. This could be helpful at certain times of the year, but harmful at other times. That depends heavily on dew point in your local area. Dew point is defined as “the highest temperature at which airborne water vapor will condense to form liquid dew. A higher dew point means there will be more moisture in the air.” (source: Wikipedia) So when dew points are high or very low, skip the humectants. High dew points will increase swelling and frizz. During low dew point moisture can be drawn away from the hair shaft causing dryness and breakage. Ideal dew points are between 4-16 C ( 40 – 60 F). Ingredients to look out for: glycerin, honey, propylene glycol, and panthenol/vitamin B5. Here is a great article on dew points and curly hair. To find your local dew point, visit this website.

Enemies

  1. Acidic products: products such as aloe vera and vinegar have a low PH and are naturally acidic. Low PH products cause the cuticle to close. This is not what we want for low porosity hair. There are ways to use these products in cooperation with other products and methods to make them work for this hair type. However, as a general rule of thumb, you should generally avoid using them in their pure form.
  2. Protein treatments: This hair type tends to be protein-sensitive. Most proteins are too big to penetrate the hair shaft and since low porosity hair has tightly stacked cuticles, this would be counterproductive. If you must incorporate proteins, try lighter proteins such as silk amino acids and hydrolyzed keratin.
  3. Co-washing: There are many people with curly hair who swear by conditioner only methods. This method is not advised for low porosity hair that is prone to build-up. If you do decide to test conditioner only method, maybe consider doing a clarifying shampoo once a month to avoid product build-up. Remember, build-up coats the cuticles, making it even more difficult for moisture to access the hair shaft.

 

Please keep in mind, the ends of the hair, on all hair types, tend to be porous and dry. So it is okay to treat them with heavier oils or aloe vera juice.

Do you have low porosity hair? What methods have helped you keep your hair moisturized.

 

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