Low Porosity Hair: Characteristics & How to Care for it

by Gaia Tonanzi
Low porosity hair is one of the three main porosity types. As with other porosities, genetics play an influential role when determining how open and closed our hair cuticles are. It is all about the hair’s ability to absorb and retain water. Identifying if we have low hair porosity is crucial to ensuring that we use the most effective products to give our curls the care they need. 

What is Low Porosity Hair?

Low porosity hair is characterized by a very tight cuticle structure. Hair cuticles are the little scales that cover the external layer of the hair’s surface and control how much moisture can penetrate into the hair shaft. In low porosity hair, they are tightly closed, which means the hair is not too dry and can maintain moisture quite easily. However, this also makes it very hard for the moisture penetrate through the cuticles when needed.

Some key features of low porosity hair include: 

  • Products sitting on top of the hair (resulting in build up)
  • Taking a long time for water to saturate the hair properly when washing
  • Taking a long time for the hair to dry.

low porosity hair characteristics

6 Characteristics of Low Porosity Hair

Each hair porosity type has different characteristics that derive from the cuticle structure. Looking at whether these line up with how your own hair behaves can help you determine whether your hair is low porosity. 

  1. When you spray some water on a clean, product-free strand, the water forms little beads on the surface rather than penetrating into the hair
  2. It takes a long time for the hair to get fully wet
  3. It takes a long time for the hair to fully dry
  4. Leave-in products tend to sit on the hair rather than penetrate, so it’s very easy to apply too much and cause build-up
  5. The hair is easily weighed down and can struggle to achieve volume
  6. The hair doesn’t take color very well

5 Tips to Care for Low Porosity Hair

Since low porosity hair is prone to build-up and to being weighed down, it's important to follow specific techniques and tips in product application: 

  1. Clarify more often to ensure you get rid of product build-up. 
  2. Use lighter products.
  3. Try a simpler routine, using only one product rather than layering them.
  4. Use heat to make moisture penetrate better (for example, use a heated shower cap during the waiting time of your hair treatment, or diffuse your hair for a few minutes with your treatment on at the start of the treatment waiting time).
  5. Use just a few protein-rich products to avoid protein overload, as this hair is healthy and doesn’t need a lot of repair

Our Best Products for Low Porosity Hair

As this hair type suffers from build-up you should regularly use clarifying products, such as our Detox Kit, to remove this. To moisturize low porosity hair properly, use a lightweight but hydrating deep conditioner like our Hydro Creme Soothing Mask, which will penetrate into the strands without weighing them down.

Whilst oils are a great way to nourish hair, you should stick to products that contain lightweight oils that won’t sit on the hair strands and make it look greasy. Look for products that contain glycerin as it helps to retain moisture within the hair. Lightweight products are also a must for low porosity hair as they won’t weigh your strands down. We recommend our Hydro Style Flexi-Jelly, a medium hold weightless styling gel that will define your curls without any build-up. Applying your styling products on soaking wet hair can help it be absorbed into the strands, so this is also recommended. 

Since low porosity hair doesn't need a lot of protein to maintain good protein moisture balance, use only one of our Strength Recipes products at a time to make sure you are not overloading your hair. 

The Differences Between High, Medium, & Low Porosity Hair 

Whilst low porosity hair has a tight cuticle that makes it difficult for moisture to penetrate, as well as leave, high and medium porosity have different features. High porosity hair has looser cuticles that easily let moisture in, but just as easily let it out. This makes it difficult for this porosity type to retain hydration. Medium porosity hair, on the other hand, sits in between the two. The cuticles are looser than low porosity, but not as loose as high porosity. This means that moisture penetrates relatively easily, but isn’t lost too fast. 

About Curlsmith 

We specialize in creating gourmet haircare products for curly, coily, and wavy hair. Our curl loving range of products was created in partnership with trichologists and stylists, and includes conditioners, and shampoos and co-washes. Natural ingredients and kitchen cupboard staples are at the very heart of our formulas and they are purposefully designed with curls in mind.