What Is Low Porosity Hair

For high porosity hair:

What is Low Porosity Hair? (Tips on Products for Treating It)

There are many quotes on hair that motivates us to have healthy hair. A girl’s hair is her crown and confidence to conquer anything, even the world. We all dream of having hair with no problems at all. Not a single one! Is this possible? Is there anyone who has the perfect hair?

On average, there are 10 out of 100 people who have hair with an ideal porosity level. Those are the lucky ones. Porosity is not something that we add to the hair, it is the natural property of it. Though we can treat it using ideal and dedicated products.

Low porosity hair is one of them. There are three levels of porosity, high, low, and medium. The latter one makes your hair look and feel just right. Other than that, both have issues. So what is hair porosity? Porosity is the ability of hair in absorbing and retaining water, oils, or any product that will help hair to stay strong.

After reading until here, the first doubt will be ‘how to recognize the hair type?’ which will be followed by many questions like, ‘What if I have low porosity hair?’ ‘Is there any solution to it or I will have to live with it?’ and plenty of them.

I am here to share with you everything about low porosity hair, from discovering them to the right products to use for its treatment.

But before anything, we all know how thin a single strand of hair is, right? But do you know it also has parts? They are cuticle, cortex, and medulla.

The cuticle is an uppermost layer of the hair, the structure is like the shingled roof – overlaying individual cuticles on each other. The cortex is a middle layer and the thickest one, which provides fibrous proteins and pigments to the hair. The last one is the medulla, the innermost layer of the hair.

What is Low Porosity Hair?

low porosity hair

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Low porosity hair is when your hair can’t absorb or retain any of the product, this is because of the cuticles bound tightly together. It won’t allow water, oil, or conditioner to reach the hair shaft.

Styling your hair with a straightener will damage the hair’s cuticle layer, resulting in the high porosity hair (which also won’t retain moisture). Don’t worry! This isn’t the result of using a chemicalized product, it’s a genetic factor. You can always treat it.

How to Recognize the Low Porosity Hair?

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How will you know if you have low porosity hair? Do I have to visit a trichologist (the one who treats hair)? Nope, you don’t have to! You can do the testing on your own. There are a few characteristics that will directly tell you whether your hair has a low porosity. Take heed!

  • You will find oil or any other moisturizing product sitting on your hair, even after the hours of application.
  • Washing and drying hair isn’t an easy and quick task to do.
  • Lack of luster and hair elasticity.

If you still have a doubt, take a Float Test for the accurate result. For that, you will need a transparent glass full of water, your hair strand (perfectly washed and rinsed), and constant focus.

Put the hair in a water glass and look at how it performs, is it floating on the upper level of water, in the middle of it, or has settled down. All three describe a different type of porosity level.

low porosity hair

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If your hair is floating on the water or takes time to settle in, then you have low porosity hair, as it didn’t absorb water.

When your hair is in the mid-level of the water glass , you are likely to have medium porosity.

Hair that sinks to the bottom without taking much time shows the symptoms of porous hair, which means high porosity.

How to Treat Low Porosity Hair Type?

There are a number of ways to treat the hair with low porosity. You can use products for its care and few remedies or haircare routines that will help you out.

Embrace Pre-poo

low porosity hair

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Pre-poo is a conditioning treatment carried out on hair before shampooing. Use oil, a mixture of oils, conditioner containing oil, or a butter. You can also go for oils of sunflower, coconut, avocado, etc. as it provides softness, weight, and slip. You can keep it for a few hours or just 1/2 an hour before the hair wash.

Use Deep Conditioner

low porosity hair

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The regular leave-in conditioner won’t be able to give moisturization to the hair, so you will have to go for deep conditioners with heat treatment. You can use a hooded dryer, steamer, or even a heat cap will also work well to provide warmth to the hair. Cuticles will loosen due to heat and this way, hair will soak up all the nourishment.

Seal The Moisture

low porosity hair

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You need oil to seal in the moisture. Use L (liquid/leave-in), C (cream), O (oil) method, rather than LOC. Remember to use oil as the last ingredient (always) as it will hold up the others well.

Wash Your Hair Regularly

low porosity hair

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The most important thing is clarifying the hair. Washing your hairs once in a week or two will wash away the product build-up and will allow hair to take in moisture another time. Wash your hairs with warm water at the beginning to open the cuticles to absorb the moisture, and then seal it off with cold water.

Try The Greenhouse Effect

low porosity hair

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The greenhouse effect (GHE) is a well-known process for the growth of hair. You have to wash your hair, add a shower cap and leave it overnight (or for the more extended period). The warm and steamy environment will be created, and cuticles will also lift up and absorb the moisture. The hair will be damp and curly after the removal of a shower cap. Check out these curly hair styles for women.

Use Satin to Protect Your Hairs

low porosity hair

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Cotton soaks up the moisture and oils, so ditch those cotton pillows and embrace satin pillow covers. You can also get a satin headscarf to protect your hair when you are out. Satin doesn’t soak much water, oil, or any other product and helps hair in retaining them.

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Which are the Best Low Porosity Hair Products?

low porosity hair

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These were the tricks to treat your low porosity hair. A proper hair care routine, and you are halfway there. To treat the remaining ones, many companies have launched the products designed especially for low porosity hair.

Shampoo, leave-in or deep conditioners, and cream with essential oils will help you in treating hair at its best. Whenever you get your hands on one of the products for the treatment make sure it’s alcohol-free . We have named the best of the products below:

  1. Mielle Organics Babassu & Mint Deep Conditioner
  2. Carol’s Daughter Goddess Strength Leave-In Cream
  3. Mizani’s Miracle Milk Leave-In Conditioner
  4. EDEN BodyWorks’ Coconut Shea Curl Defining Creme
  5. Carol’s Daughter Almond Milk Ultra-Nourishing Mask
  6. Kinky-Curly Come Clean Natural Moisturizing Shampoo
  7. TGIN’s Moisture Rich Sulfate-Free Shampoo

All these products are natural and harm-free products. Look for the oils of avocado, argan, grapeseed, jojoba, baobab, pomegranate, sweet almond, apricot, sunflower seed, and others for the natural moisturization.

Have a Healthy and Low Porosity-free Hair:

low porosity hair

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This is all you need to know about the low porosity hair and its treatment. Maintain a proper hair care routine, and you will see the magic. You love your hair how they are, but treating them like a queen will make you love them more.

For more information on any of the beauty or fashion related topics, visit Fashionterest.

A Full Guide To Low Porosity Hair: What It Is, Why It Matters & Tips

Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she’s held beauty roles at Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com.

Last updated on December 29, 2022

Your strands of hair are delicate little things—precious even. Because they are so easily damaged, it’s important to fully understand all the things that wreak havoc on your hair as well as its unique structures—this way you are fully aware of how to best care for it. Porosity is one of those things that are vital to know.

Porosity, you might know, refers to how susceptible your hair is to water: Essentially, to what degree the outer layer of the strand takes in or keeps out water. Each of us has different levels of porosity. Here, let’s talk specifically about low porosity hair.

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What does it mean to have low porosity hair?

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What Is Low Porosity Hair

“When someone has low porosity hair, the hair tends to have trouble absorbing moisture because the hair is resistant to water,” says hairstylist Danielle Malary of Lumiere Vive Salon. “The outer layer of the hair strand is called the cuticle layer. The cuticle layer is made of little tiny cuticles that lie slightly over one another. When the hair has low porosity, the cuticles are packed so tightly onto each other, it makes it very difficult for moisture or water to penetrate the strand. Typically, those with kinky curls tend to have low porosity hair.”

In contrast, you can have high porosity hair. This happens when your cuticles aren’t as dense, and thus moisture flows through the hair with ease. There is, of course, a spectrum to this: You don’t have to fall squarely in one camp or the other—in fact, you might find you’re somewhere in the middle. Hair, after all, is full of variables and possibilities.

How can you tell your hair porosity?

The classic test to see what your porosity is called the water test. It’s super simple: grab a glass of water, and a strand of hair (like from your brush). Drop in the hair and see if it floats or sinks to the bottom. If it floats, you have low porosity hair. If it sinks to the bottom, you have high.

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How to care for low porosity hair: 9 tips

Tending to low porosity hair is all about managing dryness and trying to encourage the strands to drink up water. And we should also note, these aren’t styling tips; we’re only talking about care right now. It’s about how you’re treating the strand overall, not necessarily about how you’re applying products, using tools, letting it dry, or so on. So no matter how you go on and fashion it later is up to you (sky’s the limit, no?), but you should care for it with the below in mind.

  1. Keep an eye on the ends. “Make sure to get trims regularly; because the hair is resistant to moisture, the ends tend to become dry and brittle faster,” says Malary.
  2. Remember: Products don’t easily absorb and thus might be sitting atop the strand. “It’s important to use a clarifying shampoo just to make sure the products don’t build up and sit on the hair shaft,” says Malary.
  3. Mist and seal is a good way to lock in water. “Use a mist spray bottle during product application, and then apply a layer of protection like the keratin-infused sealer,” she says.
  4. And on that note, use water-based products instead of heavy oils. “I find that water-based products with butters, lightweight oils, glycerins, and honey work really well to provide moisture and slip in between those cuticles.”
  5. You can use thick creams; just be smart. “If you do like thicker products, make sure to use them sparingly and to deeply cleanse during your next wash day,” she says. “Stay far from heavy oils that sit on top of the hair strand.”
  6. Utilize your scalp’s oils to help. “Massage stimulating oils onto the scalp regularly to promote the production of natural oils,” she says. A good option should contain stimulating actives, like rosemary.
  7. Steam from the shower or sauna is your friend. “Use heat and steam when the conditioner or treatments are sitting in the hair; the heat will open the cuticle making it easier for the water and moisture to seep in,” she says. This is also why hot oil treatments are so popular—if you’re interested in trying one out, check our guide.
  8. Apply conditioner in sections. “A great way to ensure hydration in low porosity hair is to keep the hair wet with warm water as you apply conditioner to small sections and work through with your hands to ensure better distribution of moisture,” says Matrix artistic director and celebrity stylist Nick Stenson.
  9. Get to know your strands. “My biggest tip of all is always to monitor how your hair is reacting and play with the products that you find work best,” says Malary.
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The takeaway

You must understand your hair porosity to better understand how to treat it. Those with low porosity hair need to encourage hair to drink up water and seal it in, and be mindful you are not causing buildup.

Try these products:

Davines Nourishing Keratin Sealer

What Type of Hair Porosity Do You Have?

Two women with different types of hair, taking a selfie and laughing

You may have heard the term “hair porosity” and wondered what it means. Essentially, hair porosity is about your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture.

The porosity of your hair affects how well oils and moisture pass in and out of the outermost layer of your hair, known as the cuticle.

Hair porosity is typically divided into three broad categories:

  • Low porosity: Cuticles that are close together.
  • Medium porosity: Cuticles that are less tightly bound.
  • High porosity: Cuticles that are more widely spaced.

This article will take a closer look at what affects the porosity of your hair, how you can figure out the type of porosity you have, and, depending on the hair porosity you have, how best to treat your hair.

To understand the concept of hair porosity, it helps to know a bit about the structure of your hair, which consists of three layers. These layers include:

  • The cuticle: This is the tough, protective outer layer of your hair that’s made up of smaller cuticles that overlap each other, similar to shingles on a roof.
  • The cortex: This is the thickest layer of your hair. It contains fibrous proteins and the pigment that gives your hair its color.
  • The medulla: This is the soft, central part of the hair shaft.

For your hair to stay healthy and hydrated, water, oils, and other moisturizing products need to be able to pass through the cuticle to get to the cortex.

But, if the cuticles are too close together, it’s not easy for water and oils to penetrate the hair. This can make it harder for your hair to get the moisture it needs.

Also, if the cuticles are too widely spaced, your hair will have a harder time retaining moisture and staying hydrated.

How your hair absorbs and retains moisture is largely due to genetics. So, if low porosity hair runs in your family, there’s a good chance you’ll have low porosity hair, too. But while genetics can affect porosity, it isn’t the only contributing factor.

Blow drying, bleaching, straightening, overwashing, and using harsh products can all damage your hair over time. This can cause your hair cuticles to become raised and open, which may make it harder for your hair to retain moisture.

In addition to hair treatments, too much ultraviolet exposure can also increase the porosity of your hair. To protect your hair from the sun, wear a hat or some type of head covering when you’re outdoors.

One of the easiest ways to test your hair porosity is by using a glass of water. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Shampoo and rinse your hair to remove any product buildup.
  2. Fill a glass with water.
  3. Once your hair is clean and dry, drop a single strand of your hair into the glass of water.
  4. Watch the strand to see if it sinks to the bottom of the glass or floats at the top.

The results

  • Low porosity: If the strand floats at the top before sinking, you likely have low porosity hair.
  • Normal porosity: If the strand floats somewhere in the middle of the glass, you probably have medium or normal porosity hair.
  • High porosity: If the strand quickly sinks to the bottom of the glass, you likely have high porosity hair.

You can also test your porosity level by running a finger down a strand of your hair. Low porosity hair will feel smooth, whereas high porosity hair will feel rough and bumpy because the cuticles are open.

With low porosity hair, the cuticles are tightly packed and very close together. This makes it harder for moisture to penetrate the hair shaft.

You may have low porosity hair if:

  • hair products tend to sit on your hair and don’t absorb easily
  • it’s hard for water to saturate your hair when washing
  • it takes a long time for your hair to air dry

With medium or normal porosity hair, the cuticles aren’t too close together, but aren’t too open either. This allows moisture to penetrate easily, and it also makes it easier to retain moisture for a longer period of time.

You may have medium porosity hair if:

  • your hair is easy to style and can hold styles for a good length of time
  • your hair takes color well
  • your hair tends to look healthy, shiny, or glossy
  • it doesn’t take too long for your hair to air dry

Heat damage and other chemical processes can cause normal porosity hair to change over time.

Whether due to genetics or hair damage, high porosity hair allows moisture to be absorbed into the hair shaft easily, yet it isn’t able to retain moisture for long. This is because the cuticles tend to have gaps or spaces between them.

You may have high porosity hair if:

  • water and other moisturizing products are quickly absorbed into your hair
  • your hair tends to break easily
  • your hair tends to be frizzy and dry
  • it doesn’t take much time for your hair to air dry

If you have high or low hair porosity due to genetics, you may not be able to change it. However, according to hair care experts, there are things you can do to make your hair healthier, more manageable, and easier to style.

For low porosity hair:

  • Use protein-free conditioners. These tend to be more easily absorbed into your hair and may be less likely to cause product buildup.
  • Apply conditioner to hair that’s already wet. Diluting the conditioner may make it easier to be absorbed into your hair.
  • Look for ingredients like glycerin and honeyin shampoos and conditioners. Avoid products with oils, as these tend to have a harder time penetrating the cuticle.
  • Apply heat when you condition your hair. Use a steamer, heat cap, or hooded dryer. Or, if you don’t have those, put a shower cap over your hair once you’ve added a conditioner.

For high porosity hair:

  • Look for ingredients like butters and oilsin shampoos and conditioners. These ingredients will help moisturize your hair.
  • Use leave-in conditionersand sealers. These products help your hair hold on to moisture.
  • Use a heat protectant product on your hair. Apply this product before you blow dry or use other heat styling treatments. This can protect your hair from heat damage.
  • Avoid hot waterwhen shampooing and conditioning. Use lukewarm water instead.

Hair porosity may not be a term you hear often. But knowing what type of hair porosity you have can help you better understand how to manage, treat, and care for your hair. And that can lead to hair that’s stronger and healthier.

Last medically reviewed on August 22, 2019

How we reviewed this article:

Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • Dias MFRG. (2015). Hair cosmetics: An overview. DOI:
    10.4103/0974-7753.153450
  • Hessefort Y, et al. (2008). True porosity measurement of hair: A new way to study hair damage mechanisms.
    ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18818850
  • Sinclair RD. (2007). Healthy hair: What is it? DOI:
    10.1038/sj.jidsymp.5650046

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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