Thursday, September 17, 2015

Understanding My Natural Hair: Low Porosity Hair

What is Porosity?

Porosity is the measure of how many voids or empty space a physical structure has. There are generally three porosity types: Low porosity, Normal Porosity and High porosity. To find the porosity of your hair you can do a porosity test, I explain that HERE. Keep in mind that while knowing the porosity of your hair is extremely important to helping you realize a number of things about your hair; other factors will still affect how your hair reacts to products. For example the texture and thickness of your hair are factors that can bend the rules a bit. Here are some quick definitions of the three types.

Low Porosity:

Has a smooth cuticle layer that lays flat. The cuticle is tightly bound and is resistant to moisture and water. The cuticle is so tight it does not allow the moisture to get in but once it’s in the hair will hold it in. This hair type is usually harder to process as well. Products don’t tend to penetrate the hair but instead sit on top of it. This hair type is prone to product build up and benefits from a regimen that includes regular shampooing.

 Normal Porosity:

The hair cuticle allows moisture in and does not immediately release it. It holds moisture for a longer period of time and can be more easily chemically processed. This is an optimal porosity type and needs less maintenance. There aren’t many moisture issues with normal porosity hair but excessive heat can change the hair’s porosity over time.

 High Porosity:

Hair with high porosity is usually thought of as damaged hair. This hair tends to eat up moisture and then loose it very quickly. Moisture goes in and right back out. The cuticle has a lot of gaps and so thick butters and oils are beneficial since they will help to seal the cuticle.

What Products to Look for With Low Porosity Hair?

pH Balance

Hair with low porosity needs more alkaline product because they will help open the cuticle. If you’re a lo-po (low porosity) girl stay away from products with a low pH. Low pH is more acidic and acid works to close the cuticle. Learning about pH can benefit you; you can learn to dilute products to your advantage to that the pH is high and more alkaline. A great treatment for lo-po girls is baking soda treatments. Still, I would test this out on a small portion of hair first but the alkaline property of baking soda can be very beneficial to low porosity hair. There are different combinations of baking soda treatments, ie: baking soda and water, or baking soda and yogurt. Try different treatments on small portions of hair to see if you need a treatment more concentrated or something a bit milder.


If your hair has a lower porosity you should probably stay away from too much protein. Personally, I don’t even need to do a protein treatment once a month even. Low porosity hair is pretty good at keeping its integrity. More moisturizing products will be beneficial. Again there are other factors that may alter the rules on your hair, but pay attention to your hair. I used to do a once a month protein treatment because that was the general rule of thumb to most hair regimens when I started my hair journey. It didn’t really work for me, but because I did not understand my hair I thought that my hair had the problem, it never occurred that the products and my regimen were wrong. So do your research and pay attention to your hair. What works for me is moisturizing treatments with a little protein in the ingredients. Either a deep condintioner with a bit of protein or a leave in with a bit of protein. Doing this prevents me from ever really needing a full protein treatment.

Moisturizers and Humectants:

Moisturizers and humectants are a lo-po’s best friend. Honey, agave, aloe vera and glycerin are great humectants. A humectant in short attracts water molecules from the environment. So you area’s climate can greatly affect humectants. Areas with dry air may cause your hair to dry out when using humectants. If you live in an area that experiences winters and summers you may need to change your regimen during winter months (cold dry air that needs less humectants) versus summer months (warm moist air) where humectants are optimal.

All in all you want products that are protein free, have humectants and a high pH. Also it’s best to stay away from heavy products, because again products tend to sit on top of our hair since our hair shaft doesn’t let moisture in. This can cause a lot of buildup. So hair milks and other light style products work best.

Good Tools for Low Porosity Hair

Heat is probably something you’ve been staying away from if you are just learning that you have low porosity hair, but heat is actually great for your hair! One of the only ways to actually get moister into low porosity hair is to use heat. So these tools will be great investments for you.


Steamers weather handheld or overhead will work wonders on your hair. I remember when I first wanted to invest in a steamer I was hesitant because some reviews said it did not work while others praised steamers as if they were a god send. I now understand that the people who steamers did not work for probably had high porosity hair. For them the moisture goes in and falls right back out. For us low porosity girls a steamer will open the cuticle and let moisture in which is the hard part for us, but our hair keeps moisture in all on its own.

Steamers also work well for us because it allows our hair to be damp without actually wetting it. When we spritz our hair damp we usually want to re-moisturize and put more products in our hair, which causes more build up. If steam your hair when you add your product it would actually let the moisture in, not just have it sitting on the surface.

Overhead/ Bonnet Dryers:

Overhead dryers are good for pretty much the same reason steamers are, and you can probably find them at a better price point. Overhead dryers are great for deep conditioning and if you wanted to do a hot oil treatment and sit under a dryer that would be optimal as well. Keep in mind certain oils are better for low porosity hair than others.