Hair - Hair Type - Porosity

Does Low-Porosity Hair Need Extra Protein or Not?

Do your need protein for your low-porosity hair? Find out now in our comprehensive guide.

Written by Ioana Moldovan
Does Low Porosity Hair Need Extra Protein

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Hair porosity refers to how well your hair absorbs and retains moisture and nutrients.

Low-porosity hair has a packed cuticle layer, which is tighter than others. This makes it challenging for moisture and protein to penetrate.

This brings up a question: Does low porosity hair need extra protein?

Dr. Jane Williams says, “Low porosity hair often struggles with protein absorption, yet, like all hair types, it needs protein to maintain its strength and health.”

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the protein needs of low-porosity hair. But first, what is it?

What Is Low Porosity Hair?

Hair with low porosity struggles to absorb and hold onto moisture and oils. It not only dries out slowly but also takes time to hydrate. The flatness of the cuticle layer contributes to this behavior.

Three key components make up your hair:

  1. Cuticle
  2. Cortex
  3. Medulla

For low-porosity hair, the cuticle, which forms the outermost layer, sits together in a tight manner. This tight formation prevents moisture from penetrating the hair with ease.

Low Porosity Hair Characteristics

Hair with low porosity has a tightly sealed cuticle layer, which influences its:

  • Feel and structure
  • Level of porosity
  • Stretchiness
  • Ability to hold onto moisture.

If you are not sure about your hair, look out for these low-porosity hair characteristics:

  • Resists moisture
  • Takes a long time to dry
  • Tends to accumulate product residue
  • Struggles to absorb oils
  • Can be shiny yet frequently appears dull and prone to frizz
  • Tends to be resilient against chemical treatments
  • Generally feels smooth but can also be coarse and dehydrated
  • Exhibits limited elasticity
  • Tends to get tangled and matted
  • Stays afloat in water
  • Has a tendency towards split ends
  • Easily experiences product build-up on the scalp.

Does Low Porosity Hair Need Protein?

Yes, low porosity hair needs protein, but in moderation. Protein treatments help strengthen your hair and maintain its health.

Low porosity hair is often protein sensitive. This means too much protein can cause damage or unresponsiveness to moisture.

To avoid this, select milder protein treatments and check your hair’s reaction.

Protein Sensitivity

Protein sensitivity is when your hair doesn’t react well to proteins in hair products. If you have low-porosity hair, you might be protein-sensitive.

Signs include:

  • Stiffness
  • Brittleness
  • Drieness

These signs appear even after using protein treatments.

To prevent protein sensitivity, use gentle, protein-free products for your porous hair.

Swap out silk protein for moisturizing ingredients like:

  • Aloe vera
  • Shea butter
  • Jojoba oil

This helps maintain your hair’s softness.

For those with textured hair, avoid relaxers which can weaken hair’s protein structure. Instead, nourish your hair using natural oils.

Protein: Low vs. High vs. Medium Porosity Hair

Your hair’s porosity determines how it can absorb and keep moisture in, as well as how much protein it needs. Let’s dive into low, medium, and high porosity hair’s protein needs.

Low-porosity hairHigh-porosity hairMedium-porosity hair
Cuticle structureHas closed cuticles. Water and protein don’t penetrate with ease.Has larger gaps in the cuticle layers. Moisture and protein enter and exit easily.Has raised cuticle layers, allowing for a balanced absorption of moisture and protein.
Protein contentContains plenty of keratin protein. Too much can cause overload.Often leads to frizz and dryness due to quick absorption and loss of moisture and protein.Maintains a natural balance of protein.
Care suggestionsBe careful to avoid protein overload. This can lead to stiff, brittle hair.Regular protein treatments can help fill in the gaps and keep hair strong.There’s no need for extra protein, as the hair typically maintains a balance.

Signs of Protein Deficiency in Low Porosity Hair

Signs of Protein Deficiency in Low Porosity Hair

Excessive Hair Breakage and Shedding

When your hair lacks protein, the strands become weak and brittle. This leads to more breakage and shedding than usual.

Pay attention to your hair while combing or brushing. If you notice an increase in hair loss, this could be a sign of protein deficiency.

Lack of Volume and Thickness

Protein helps strengthen the hair’s structure, providing thickness and volume.

If your hair feels thin and limp, it could be due to lack of protein.

Loss of Elasticity

Without enough protein, your hair may lose its elasticity. This means that your hair doesn’t bounce back after you stretch it, leading to more split ends and frizz.

Test your hair’s elasticity by stretching a strand. Observe if it returns to its original shape.

Dull, Lifeless Appearance

Healthy hair with the right balance of protein and moisture should have a natural shine and vibrancy.

If your hair appears dull and lacks shine, consider checking your protein levels.


Protein helps seal in moisture and maintain a healthy balance between hydration and strength.

If your hair feels dry and hard to moisturize on a consistence basis, it could be due to protein deficiency.

Protein Treatments for Low Porosity Hair

The best protein treatments for low-porosity hair are those that are lightweight and easy to absorb. These include hydrolyzed protein treatments.

They come in smaller molecules that penetrate the tight cuticle layer of low-porosity hair.

Treatments with heat can be beneficial. Warmth helps open up the hair cuticles, allowing for better absorption of the protein.

While applying the treatment, follow these steps:

  1. Start with a clarifying shampoo to remove product buildup.
  2. Use a deep conditioner to keep your hair hydrated. Look for formulas with honey as it helps with moisture retention.
  3. After rinsing, apply a protein-sensitive conditioner. This will give your hair the protein it needs without causing adverse reactions.
  4. Seal with a lightweight moisturizer to lock in hydration.

Not all oils are suitable for low-porosity hair. Heavy oils like castor might cause buildup.

Instead, select lighter options such as sweet almond, jojoba, or avocado oil.

Balancing Protein and Moisture

When it comes to low-porosity hair, finding the right balance between protein and moisture is essential.

To help balance protein and moisture, try incorporating steam into your hair care routine. Steaming opens up the hair cuticles, allowing for better absorption of moisture.

After steaming, apply a moisture-rich conditioner or hair mask. This keeps your hair hydrated.

Be mindful of product buildup, as low-porosity hair is prone to it. Opt for lighter oils to prevent greasiness and ensure your hair stays shiny.

Low-porosity hair needs less protein than high-porosity hair.

Don’t incorporate protein treatments often, perhaps once a month. This will keep your hair strong but still allow moisture to penetrate the hair shaft.

What is Protein Overload?

Protein overload is a condition where your hair has too much protein, and it loses its elasticity. It becomes stiff and prone to breakage. Your hair may become more tangled than usual, and breakage may increase.

If you’ve been using protein treatments and notice these signs, your hair has reached its protein limit.

Application and Maintenance Tips

To care for your low-porosity hair and provide the needed protein, follow these steps:

  1. Shower with warm water. This helps to open up your hair cuticles, allowing for better absorption of moisture.
  2. Use a clarifying shampoo. This ensures your pores are clean and ready for proper treatment.
  3. Apply a protein-rich product, like manuka honey, to your hair. This will provide the necessary nutrients to keep your hair healthy.
  4. Balance the protein-rich product with moisture. This is essential for maintaining well-defined and resilient hair.
  5. Rinse your hair with cool water. This will seal the nutrients and minimize frizz.

How To Test for Hair Porosity and Elasticity

To test your hair’s porosity and elasticity, try these simple methods:

  • Strand test
  • Float test
  • Spray test
  • Quiz

Strand Test

Stretch a single strand of your hair. If it stretches and returns to its original shape without breaking, your hair has good elasticity.

If it breaks fast, it may need more hair treatments to restore its health.

Float Test

Fill a glass with water and drop a strand of clean hair into it. If the hair sinks fast, it has high porosity. If it floats, it has low porosity.

Spray Test

Dampen a small area of your hair with a spray bottle. If the water beads up on the surface, you have low-porosity hair. If it absorbs fast, it’s high-porosity hair.

Keep in mind that the shape of your hair’s medulla (the inner core of the hair) affects its porosity.

Straighter hair types have a more circular medulla,. Coily hair types have a more elliptical medulla.

This can affect how your hair reacts to chemical damage and other factors.


Take our hair porosity quiz to find yours today.

Ingredients to Look for in Protein Treatments

Ingredients to Look for in Protein Treatments

For low-porosity hair, choose protein treatments with friendly ingredients.

Silk amino acids and rice protein work well. They improve hair elasticity and have a strong affinity to your hair.

In addition to proteins, look for treatments with fatty acids that help increase hair strength.

If you have low-porosity hair and get perms, make sure to use treatments that maintain the protein-moisture balance.

You can try incorporating:

  • Natural glycerin
  • Lanolin, avocado
  • Jojoba
  • Shea

Frequently Asked Questions

Can diet impact protein levels in my low-porosity hair?

Your food choices can change protein amounts in your low-porosity hair. Eating foods full of protein is good for your hair. These foods are lean meats, fish, beans, nuts, and whole grains. If you eat healthily, it helps your hair and your body.

How does chemical processing (like coloring or perming) affect the protein needs of low-porosity hair?

Coloring and perming can damage the hair structure. They make low-porosity hair more susceptible to breakage. This means that your hair may need protein to help strengthen and repair damaged strands.

What are the risks of not getting enough protein for my low-porosity hair?

If your hair is low-porosity, it has lots of a natural protein called keratin. Not eating enough protein can make this type of hair dry. It can make it brittle too. This means your hair might break more easily.