How to Moisturize Low Porosity Hair

LuxeLuminous is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Genetics plays a big part in how your hair grows out of your head. Some of us have straight hair, while some of us have curls. Some of us have light hair, while some of us have darker locks. Some of us have hair cuticles that a tightly bound, while some of us have more open cuticle layers.

Cuticles, you say? Why should cuticles matter?

Well, the type of cuticle your hair has is related to whether or not it has a low or high porosity. And it’s important to know what porosity your hair is, because then you’ll know what kind of hair care products will be best to use.

In this article we’ll be concentrating on how to moisturize low porosity hair.


Do I Have Low Porosity Hair?

Porosity is the word scientists use to describe how easily water or haircare product moves back and forth through the hair’s cuticle layers.

hair section
Hair cuticle section source: Wikipedia

Therefore, it refers to how your hair absorbs and holds moisture.

The porosity of your hair is mainly determined by genetics, although it can also be affected by too much heat exposure or chemical processing, such as dyeing, keratin treatments, and relaxers.

Low porosity hair has a tightly bound cuticle layer and overlapping scales that lie flat against the hair shaft. The cuticle scales overlap much like those on a fish.

This makes it harder for the strands to absorb water, and makes low porosity hair resistant to many chemical processes, such as permanent hair dyeing.

Knowing whether or not your hair has a high or low porosity will give you a better idea if a product will work for your hair or not. There are two simple methods you can use to find out if your hair is high or low porosity.

Float On

With the Float Test, you’ll need to gather a couple of hair strands from your brush or comb, drop them into a glass or bowl filled with water, and then leave them to sit for up to five minutes. If your hair is low porosity, then the strands will continue to float, meaning the hair is unable to fully absorb water.

If your hair sinks to the bottom, then you have high porosity hair, which absorbs water easily. If your strands are hanging out somewhere in the middle, then you have normal porosity, which absorbs water at a slower rate.

See also: Low Porosity Hair Test: Do You Need to Do It?

Bumpy Ride

You can also test your hair’s porosity by using the Slip n Slide Test. Simply pull on a strand and slide your fingers up the hair shaft from the tip, moving them towards your scalp. If you can feel little bumps as you move your fingers, this means your cuticle is lifted and that your hair has a high porosity.

So if your fingers slide smoothly, you have low porosity hair.

Because of its properties, low porosity hair is generally considered to be healthy, and usually has a natural shine, especially if your hair is darker. If your low porosity hair has been regularly subjected to excess heat or chemicals, then the damage caused by these drying out your hair can make it more porous as time goes on.

How to Moisturize Low Porosity Hair

Dig Deep

Since low porosity hair repels water when you first wet it, this means it can be difficult to maintain the balance of moisture your locks need to stay manageable. Therefore, deep conditioning treatments used with moderate heat are an ideal way to make sure that your low porosity hair’s cuticles open enough to let moisture enter the cortex.

However, because low porosity hair is also prone to protein build-up, it can end up feeling dry like straw. Using conditioners with humectants like glycerin and honey will attract and hold moisture by helping to open the tight-bound cuticles.

For extra conditioning, using moisturizers that are rich in emollients like water-based No products found., will ensure your hair won’t be left feeling brittle.

Also, don’t forget to brush your hair when it’s wet if you’ve got curly locks.

Just To Clarify

Start your moisturizing process by using a clarifying shampoo , which will help to not only remove any product buildup, but also lifts and opens the cuticles of low porosity hair for moisture absorption.

Use this process twice a month before deep conditioning. To deep condition your hair, you’ll need to use heat, either from a hooded dryer or hair steamer. If you don’t have the option of adding heat, you can also deep condition your low porosity hair overnight.

Simply apply the product to your hair and cover it with a plastic shower cap. You could also wrap a warmed towel or hair turban on top, then leave it overnight before rinsing in the morning.

What Not To Do With Low Porosity Hair

There are three things you really need to consider if you want to keep your low porosity hair in the best condition.

Shampoo You

Because low porosity hair has the capacity to accumulate product buildup, there’s no way to forgo the shampoo. This means co-washing won’t be the best option for you.

If you regularly suffer from product buildup, use a clarifying shampoo or make a rinse using a 50/50 mix of water and apple cider vinegar to rinse through your hair after shampooing and before using conditioner.

It would also be beneficial to use a sulfate-free shampoo. Also, shampoo slightly opens the cuticle for optimal deep conditioning after. So again, do not rely on co-washing.

2. Condition Mission

After your shampoo, which also allows the cuticle to slightly open, if you don’t take the opportunity to use a deep conditioner, it will be more difficult to retain your hair’s moisture.

Adding some warmth to it with a heat cap or hooded dryer will help the conditioning ingredients adsorb easier into the hair shaft, making your low porosity hair feel even softer.

3. Leave-in Sin

Traditional leave-in conditioners mostly contain proteins that are formulated to help strengthen the hair cuticle, but low porosity hair can become stiff if overloaded with extra protein.

You should consider only using leave-in conditioners sparingly.

Make sure that it’s a lightweight formulation containing a humectant like glycerin, agave or honey. Otherwise, you’ll need to wash your hair more often because of product buildup.

Product Guidance

Although it would be tempting to use heavy styling products to tame your low porosity locks, these will just add unnecessary weight and cause a build up. Doing this will leave your scalp clogged and your hair lifeless and heavy with dirt.

Products to avoid include many oils like castor, coconut and olive oil, which are ingredients in many conditioning hair products. These oils just sit on top of the hair and don’t absorb beyond the cuticle layers, defeating the purpose of moisture retention. Hair butters are also too heavy for low porosity hair.

Product buildup not only leads to dirt collecting more easily, but it also causes dryness. If you want to seal your hair for more shine, and split end protection after styling, then use a light oil, such as sweet almond, argan or grapeseed oil, to nourish your low porosity hair.

Low porosity hair also prefers water-based moisturizers and conditioners like those that include aloe vera gel, which also helps with detangling while your hair is wet. And avoid any styling product that contain alcohol, such as hairspray, gels and mousse.

Below are a few water-based moisturizers that work well to tame low porosity hair. Before using these products, make sure that your hair is wet and has already absorbed some water so that the moisturizer has a better chance of entering the hair shaft.

GIOVANNI Eco Chic 50:50 Balanced Hydrating Calming Conditioner - Leaves Hair pH Balanced for Over-Processed Hair, Lauryl & Laureth Lauryl & Laureth Sulfate Free, Color Safe - 8.5 oz (Pack of 3)
  • MOISTURIZING CLEANSER - Perfect for...
  • COLOR SAFE, DAMAGE CARE - Designed to...
  • EVERYDAY PH CONTROL - Containing Aloe...
  • VEGAN FRIENDLY - GIOVANNI products use...
  • ECO CHIC - GIOVANNI has been bridging...

Reawaken low porosity hair with Giovanni’s 50:50 Balanced Hydrating-Calming Conditioner, which clarifies as well as moisturizes. Containing a blend of organic botanicals like aloe vera leaf juice and rosemary and lavender extracts, these will leave your hair pH balanced, as well a conditioned.

This vegan and paraben-free product will give your low porosity locks the moisture and manageability it needs.

No products found.

Formulated from natural ingredients and free of parabens and silicones, Botanique Nourish and Replenish Conditioner from TRESemmé is a salon-quality formulation that will leave your low porosity hair feeling soft and smooth.

With its tropical fragrance of vanilla and sandalwood, it contains aloe vera juice, which is the number one nourisher for low porosity hair, as well as coconut milk to gently rehydrate the cuticle layer.

Tigi Bed Head Moisture Maniac Conditioner, 8.45 Ounce
  • Softens hair
  • Leaves hair with a shiny, healthy finish
  • Lightweight formula

Tigi Bed Head’s Moisture Maniac Conditioner will transform drab low porosity strands. Containing glycerin, which helps to lubricate hair to get rid of tangles, this conditioner especially works well for curly hair.

Its rich conditioning properties are boosted with the inclusion of argan oil, which has a small enough molecule that has a better chance of entering the cuticle to leave hair shiny and soft.

Trader Joe's Nourish Spa Balance Moisturizing Conditioner - Cruelty Free 16.9oz
  • Enriched with Organic Botanicals
  • Balanced Hair Remoisturizer Ideal for...
  • Adds Moisture and Manageability
  • Cruelty Free (Never Tested on Animals) -...
  • Does Not Contain Harmful Laurel/Laureth...

Manageably soft hair is just a quick trip to the grocer away with this conditioner, which is full of organic ingredients. Free of laurel/laureth sulphates, it’s also suitable for daily use,

Trader Joe’s Balanced Moisturizing Nourish Spa Conditioner is a re-moisturizer that infuses dry, brittle hair with manageability and shine. And it’s vegan, too.

With the information you now have, you know how to moisturize low porosity hair, which should make it easier for you to keep it soft and hydrated… just the way you like it.

And if you’ve got dry gray hair, try these tips.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).