Hair - Hair Type - Porosity

How to Care for Low Porosity Hair: 9 Ways to Handle It

Do you have low porosity hair? Find the answer to all of your questions in this comprehensive guide.

Written by Ioana Moldovan
Low Porosity Hair

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It’s sometimes hard to navigate the world of low-porosity hair.

The structure of this hair type makes it resistant to water and product absorption.

According to a study published in Science Direct, low-porosity hair absorbs as little as 33% of the moisture that high-porosity hair does.

This article will demystify low-porosity hair, offering key insights and tips to help you maintain your mane at its best.

What Is Low Porosity Hair?

Low porosity hair is hair that doesn’t absorb moisture and oils well. It dries out slower but also hydrates slower. This is due to the structure of the hair, as the cuticle layer is flat.

Your hair consists of three main parts:

  • Cuticle
  • Cortex
  • Medulla

The cuticle is the outermost layer. In low-porosity hair, it’s tightly packed together. This makes it difficult for moisture to penetrate.

What Are The Causes of Low Porosity Hair?

Here are the causes of low porosity hair:

  • Genetics
  • Age and hormones
  • Lack of damage
  • Protein overload
  • Environmental factors


Your genes play a crucial role in determining your hair porosity. If your family members have low porosity hair, it’s likely you do too.

Genetics control how the cuticle layer of your hair forms. This highlights the influence of heredity on hair structure.

Age and Hormones

As you age, your body undergoes hormonal changes. These changes can impact your hair’s structure. They may cause your hair to become less porous over time.

Certain hormonal imbalances may lead to alterations in hair porosity levels.

Lack of Damage

Low porosity hair can be a sign of healthy hair with minimal damage.

You might have protected your hair from excessive heat, chemicals, or general wear and tear. As a result, the cuticle layer remains intact and tightly closed. This limits the absorption of water and oils.

Protein Overload

Too much protein in your hair care routine might lead to low porosity hair.

Excessive protein can cause your hair to become stiff and unresponsive. This is due to the cuticle layer becoming tight and closed off.

Try to balance protein treatments with proper hydration for your hair.

Environmental Factors

Factors like climate, humidity, and air pollution can all influence your hair’s porosity.

Exposure to dry environments or harsh weather conditions might contribute to low porosity hair. They affect the cuticle layer and make it more resistant.

What Are the Signs of Low Porosity Hair?

You may have low-porosity hair if your hair is:

  • Slow to dry
  • Builds up a lot of product
  • Forms water beads
  • Resists chemical treatments

Slow Drying Time

Slow Drying Time

One sign of low porosity hair is that it takes a long time to dry.

The hair cuticles are tightly packed together. This makes it difficult for water and moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. As a result, it takes longer for your hair to dry because the water doesn’t easily evaporate.

Product Buildup

Product Buildup

Low-porosity hair is more prone to product buildup.

Due to the close-knit hair cuticles, products tend to sit on top of the hair shaft rather than being absorbed. This can lead to a buildup of products on your hair. It will feel heavy and greasy over time.

Water Beading

When you wet your hair, you might notice water droplets beading on the surface of your hair.

This is because the tight hair cuticles of low porosity hair prevent water from being easily absorbed.

The water then sits on the hair shaft and forms beads.

Resistance to Chemical Treatments

Resistance to Chemical Treatments

Low-porosity hair is often more resistant to chemical treatments. These treatments include bleaching, coloring, toning, and perming.

The tightly-packed hair cuticles make it harder for your hair to absorb chemicals into the hair shaft. You might find that your treatments don’t produce the desired results.

Is Low Porosity Hair Good or Bad?

Neither low nor high porosity is inherently good or bad. They have unique characteristics and require different care to maintain.

Porosity Types and Hair Damage

All hair types can experience damage and need proper care. This table illustrates each type of porosity and its characteristics.

Hair Porosity TypeCuticle StructureMoisture Absorption and RetentionResistance to Damage
Low PorosityTightly bound cuticles that lay flatDifficulties in absorbing moisture, but once absorbed, retains it for longerMore resistant to heat, chemicals, and environmental damage
High PorosityOpen cuticlesEasily absorbs and loses moistureCan lead to dryness and potential damage
Normal PorosityCuticles are neither too tightly packed nor too looseAbsorbs and retains the right amount of moistureRequires less maintenance

Maintenance Strategies for Each Type

Maintenance strategies for each type of hair porosity differ because their structure is different.

This table lists the maintenance differences between each type of hair porosity.

Hair Porosity TypeMaintenance Strategies
Low PorosityUse moisturizing treatments, and sealants, and avoid heat and harsh chemicals
High PorosityRegular healthy hair care practices, the balance between moisture and protein
Normal PorosityRegular healthy hair care practices, balance between moisture and protein

Testing Low Porosity Hair

You can test for low-porosity hair in four ways:

  • Gas adsorption and pore size analysis
  • Dynamic vapor sorption
  • Spray test
  • Fiber swelling

Gas Adsorption and Pore Size Analysis

Gas adsorption is a technique that determines the porosity of your hair. It measures how much gas is absorbed by your hair, indicating the size and distribution of pores.

To perform this test, a specialist will use a machine to measure your hair’s gas adsorption.

This method is more advanced and may not be readily available. Still, it can provide a more accurate assessment of your hair porosity.

Dynamic Vapor Sorption

This method uses a device that measures the amount of moisture your hair can absorb at various humidity levels.

Dynamic vapor sorption helps you better understand your hair’s ability to retain moisture. It also helps determine its porosity. It’s a more scientific approach to testing hair porosity and may not be accessible to everyone.

Spray Test

The spray test is a simple and convenient way to check your hair porosity at home.

Here is how to do this:

  • Fill a spray bottle with water and lightly mist a small section of your dry hair.
  • Observe how your hair reacts to the water.
  • If the water beads and rolls off your hair, it indicates low porosity.
  • If it’s quickly absorbed, your hair likely has a higher porosity.

Fiber Swelling

This method involves taking a close look at your hair strands after washing them with water.

When hair fibers swell, it can indicate how porous your hair is.

For low-porosity hair, minimal swelling will occur since it resists absorbing water.

To perform this test, wash your hair and carefully observe the swelling of individual strands.

How Do You Fix Low Porosity Hair?

You can use these nine fixes to improve low-porosity hair:

  1. Choose the right products
  2. Apply products on damp hair
  3. Clarify your hair regularly
  4. Moisturize correctly
  5. Use heat
  6. Use ph-balanced products
  7. Use humectants
  8. Divide the application of products into sections
  9. Trim your hair

1. Choose the Right Products

Select lightweight products that can penetrate the tightly closed cuticles of your low-porosity hair.

Avoid heavy creams or butters as they can build up on the hair, making it hard to absorb moisture.

2. Apply Products to Damp Hair

Ensure that your hair is damp when applying products. This will help the products to better penetrate the cuticle. This makes them more effective at moisturizing and nourishing your hair.

3. Clarify Your Hair Regularly

Use a clarifying shampoo once or twice a month to remove product buildup. This also allows moisture to penetrate your hair better. It helps maintain the overall health and shine of your low-porosity hair.

4. Moisturize Correctly

Apply water-based moisturizers and follow with lightweight oils to seal in the moisture. This helps to keep your low-porosity hair hydrated and protected.

5. Use Heat

Add heat when deep conditioning your hair by using a hair steamer or a heat cap.

The heat will help to open up the cuticles, allowing for better absorption of nutrients and moisture.

6. Use pH-Balanced Products

Choose products with a pH level close to your hair’s natural pH, which is usually around 4.5-5.5.

This helps maintain the balance of your hair and ensures that the cuticle remains healthy and closed.

7. Use Humectants

Incorporate humectants like glycerin or honey into your hair care routine.

Humectants help attract moisture from the air. This keeps your low-porosity hair moisturized and healthy.

8. Divide the Application of Products into Sections

Apply your products in sections. Work from the ends to the roots. This helps distribute the products evenly and allows for better absorption into your hair.

9. Trim Your Hair

Regularly trim your hair to remove damaged ends and promote healthy hair growth. This prevents split ends and breakage and keeps your low-porosity hair in good shape.

Effective Home Remedies for Low Porosity Hair

Use these home remedies for low-porosity hair:

  • Warm oil treatment
  • Apple cider vinegar rinse
  • Baking soda treatment
  • Aloe Vera
  • Honey hydration treatment

Note that these may not work for all. Some people see better results with home remedies than others.

Warm Oil Treatment

Lightweight oils, like jojoba or almond oil, can easily penetrate tight cuticles.

All you have to do is:

  • Warm up the oil slightly in a bowl
  • Massage it into your scalp and hair strands
  • Let it sit for about 30 minutes
  • Wash your hair as usual

This will help your hair to absorb moisture more effectively.

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

An apple cider vinegar rinse can help clean your hair and balance your scalp’s pH level.

Follow this steps for best results:

  • Mix a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water
  • Gently massage it into your hair and scalp
  • Leave it for 5-10 minutes
  • Rinse off

This will remove any buildup and open up the cuticles. It will also allow your hair to absorb moisture and nutrients easily.

Baking Soda Treatment

Baking soda can help remove stubborn buildup from your hair. This allows it to absorb moisture better.

Here is how to get best results:

  • Mix a small amount of baking soda into your shampoo or create a paste by adding some water
  • Apply this mixture to your hair and massage it in gently
  • Rinse out after a few minutes.

Try to follow up with a deep conditioner as baking soda can dry your hair

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has natural moisturizing properties and is a great remedy for low porosity hair. You can use pure aloe vera gel from the plant or find products containing aloe vera as a key ingredient.

Here is how to do it:

  • Apply it to your hair
  • Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes.
  • Rins thoroughly

This treatment will nourish and moisturize your hair, making it easier to manage.

Honey Hydration Treatment

Honey is a natural humectant and it helps to attract and retain moisture.

To use honey as a hydration treatment for low-porosity hair:

  • Mix a few tablespoons of honey with your conditioner
  • Apply it to your hair
  • Mix in some glycerin (optional)
  • Leave the mixture on for about 15-20 minutes
  • Rinse thoroughly

This will hydrate your low-porosity hair, making it softer and more manageable.

What To Avoid With Low Porosity Hair

Here is a list of what to avoid if you have low-porosity hair:

  • Using too much hair product
  • Butter
  • Protein treatments
  • Silicones

Using Too Much Hair Product

When caring for low-porosity hair, be mindful of the amount of product you use. Excessive product use can create buildup. This makes it challenging for your hair to absorb moisture.

Use lightweight oils and other products specifically designed for low-porosity hair. Remember, less is more – always start with a small amount and add more if needed.


Avoid using heavy butters like shea and cocoa butter on low-porosity hair. They can weigh it down and prevent moisture absorption.

Instead, opt for lightweight oils that can nourish your hair without causing buildup:

  • Jojoba
  • Grapeseed,
  • Sweet almond

Protein treatments

Too much protein can lead to stiff, dry hair. Dry hair is prone to breakage.

If you feel your hair needs some protein, opt for a mild protein treatment. Follow up with a moisturizing conditioner to maintain a balance.


Silicones can create a barrier on your hair strands. They further prevent moisture from penetrating.

Avoid products containing silicones, and choose products with water-soluble ingredients instead.

When washing and conditioning your hair, use cool to warm water (never hot). This helps open up the cuticle and allows moisture to enter.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent product build-up in low-porosity hair?

To prevent product build-up in low-porosity hair, use lightweight products and don’t apply too much. Rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water. This opens up the cuticles and allows the product to penetrate. Finish with cold water to close the cuticles.

How can I increase moisture retention in low-porosity hair?

For better moisture retention, use heat or steam when applying deep conditioners. This helps open the hair cuticles and allows moisture to penetrate. Also, opt for water-based moisturizers and seal them with oils to lock in the moisture.

Can diet impact the porosity of my hair?

A balanced diet can contribute to healthy hair, but it doesn’t directly affect hair porosity. Consuming foods rich in vitamins and minerals can improve your hair’s overall strength and health.