The Top 10 Best Products For High Porosity Hair

Apr 17, 2021

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When it comes to choosing the best products for high porosity hair, there’s a lot that needs to be taken into consideration.

a GIF of Rihanna saying "just roll with it, girl"

High porosity strands are sensitive, so the products you choose will make or break your high porosity hair routine.

In particular, high porosity hair is susceptible to breakage, tangles, knotting and split ends. As such, you need to use high porosity hair products that are restorative, strengthening, conditioning, and moisturizing to reduce friction between the strands and help fortify the cuticle.

Let’s get into products for high porosity hair you should have in your arsenal.

What is Natural Hair Porosity

In a nutshell, porosity describes how well your hair responds to moisture and products.

Natural Hair Porosity

Natural hair porosity is the ability of your hair to absorb water and/products.

Low porosity natural hair has a low absorption rate, because the cuticles are stubbornly flat and shut tight. It is difficult for this hair porosity to absorb moisture.

High porosity natural hair has a high absorption rate, because the cuticles are raised. It is difficult for this hair porosity to retain moisture.

Porosity is arguably the most important concept to understand about your hair – yes, even more important than knowing your hair type.

It’s a clear indication of what products you should look for, ingredients you should avoid and how you should establish your natural hair routine.

Most importantly, it tells you how to moisturize your natural hair, which is the cornerstone of healthy curls and coils.

High Porosity Hair 101

High porosity naturals have cuticles that are raised and elevated, like the shingles of a roof.

Under a microscope, the cuticles may have breaks, gaps or cracks along the surface that make moisture loss a common occurrence.

High porosity can be genetic. Or, it can develop from:

  • Damage from heat styling tools;
  • UV-damage from the sun;
  • Chemical damage from relaxers or keratin treatments;
  • Mechanical damage from detangling or over-manipulation.

Not only does having porous hair impede with moisture retention, the raised cuticles interlock with cuticles on other strands, causing knotting and tangles. A double whammy!

a GIF of a black woman lying down on a couch in a frustrated manner

 Common traits amongst high porosity naturals include, but are not limited to, the following:

♥ Hair dries quickly after being washed (under an hour);

♥ The hair loses definition quickly, even with products on top and when wet; and,

♥ A style cannot be retained for more than a day or two (wash and go, twist out, etc).

If you’re still not sure, pull one clean, dry strand from your scalp. Run your fingers down the length of that strand. If it feels bumpy, you have high porosity hair. If it’s smooth, you have either low porosity or normal porosity hair.

Or, do our hair quiz to figure out your “hair facts”, including your porosity.

Best Ingredients for High Porosity Hair

Before we get into the best products for high porosity hair, to help you understand your porosity better, here are some ingredients you should be looking for:

a black man in the shower reading the back of a bottle asking "what's cocamidopropyl?"
  • Moisture: as we know, water is nature’s only true “moisturizer”. Water should be included as the first ingredient in your products, especially your leave-in products.
  • Film-forming humectants: regular humectants, like glycerin and honey, draw in moisture from the surrounding environment. Film-forming humectants take it one step further – they also create a barrier around the hair shaft, protecting the moisture from evaporation. This encourages moisture retention for a longer period of time. Examples include aloe vera, slippery elm and marshmallow root.
  • Strengthening ingredients: these ingredients strengthen the hair, fill in broken gaps and help fortify the cuticles to avoid further breakage along the hair cuticle. Examples include proteins and amino acids, and ceramides.
  • Conditioning agents: these agents condition the hair, and provide slip to your products, reducing friction between your strands. Examples include fatty alcohols (cetyl alcohol, triglycerides).

Now, let’s explore the best high porosity hair products that include some of the above ingredients!

Best Products for High Porosity Hair

Pre-poo:

Using pre-shampoo treatments (or pre-poo) can supply your hair with a strengthening boost to temporarily seal those cuticles, ensuring your hair retains as much water as possible. Look for pre-wash products that contain proteins, collagen and amino acids to assist your hair with moisture retention!

an image of olaplex no 3 hair perfector

Olaplex Hair Perfector No 3

Best for all naturals, high porosity

Olaplex’s Hair Perfector No 3 Repairing Treatment has a patented agent that is chemically similar to the disulfide protein bonds in our hair. Using it monthly prior to your wash day as a pre-poo will replace broken bonds in your cuticles caused by sun damage, dyes/bleach, heat tools and manipulation. 

an image of Mielle rice water split end therapy_best products for high porosity hair

Mielle Rice Water Split End Therapy

Best for TYPE 4, high porosity

This serum contains film-forming and conditioning ingredients that will create a barrier around the hair, offsetting the stripping effects of your shampoos. Can be used before the shower as a pre-poo or as a sealant on your ends to lock in moisture. Great for naturals looking for added softness and shine to their hair.

Shampoo

The best shampoos for high porosity hair are gentle, yet clarifying, and contain moisturizing ingredients to offset the cleansing agents in our shampoos.

Ingredients to look out for include mild cleansing agents (cocamidopropyl betaine is a commonly used gentle surfactant), fatty acids and butters for friction-reducing slip.

It’s recommended for all hair types to shampoo every 7-10 days. If you find your hair gets dry in between shampoo days, use a co-wash to temporarily clarify your hair and allow for moisture to penetrate into the hair.

Every month or so, it may be prudent to take stock of your hair and scalp. You may notice coils that are less defined, or do not retain a style as long.

This may be a sign that you need to do a “detox” – this is as simple as using a shampoo with stronger surfactants (and possibly sulfates) to do a deeper cleanse of your hair.

an image of camille rose sweet ginger rinse

Camille Rose Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse

Best for TYPE 3-4, high porosity

This shampoo is incredibly gentle and non-stripping, but contains enough surfactants to thoroughly cleanse your hair and remove buildup. Ginger root oil – the second ingredient in the formula – is antiseptic, boosting overall scalp health. A must have shampoo in any high porosity natural hair routine! 

an image of As I Am Coconut Cowash

Redken All Soft Shampoo

Best for TYPE 3-4

This shampoo is a go-to for many licenced cosmetologists and stylists. It’s salon quality and highly moisturizing, yet it will clarify your hair thoroughly to prep your hair for moisture. Double cleanse your hair and scalp, smoothing your strands down as you go, for best results.

an image of As I Am Coconut Cowash

As I Am Coconut Cowash

Best for TYPE 4, high porosity

This conditioning creme is formulated with fortifying and strengthening ingredients such as coconut oil, saw palmetto and castor oil. The rich creamy formula will also reduce friction between your strands, making detangling a breeze. A great co-washing option for keeping high porosity hair conditioned yet clarified.  

an image of As I Am Coconut Cowash

Redken All Soft Conditioner

Best for TYPE 3-4

A little goes a long way with this salon-quality conditioner. It has a thick consistency that’s perfect to detangle dense, tangly curls and coils. It’s also pH balancing to help your cuticles lay flat. Natural hair professionals rave about this conditioner for good reason!

Deep Conditioner

Deep conditioning should be a staple in all natural hair routines. But for high porosity hair, the act of deep conditioning should be considered sacred.

Ingredients to look out for in your deep conditioners include proteins (of varying sizes), film-forming humectants and conditioning agents.

Moisture is still important, so alternate between a moisturizing deep conditioner and a strengthening deep conditioner.

an image of mielle babassu and mint deep conditioner

Mielle Babassu & Mint Deep Conditioner

Best for TYPE 4, high porosity

One of Mielle’s most popular products, the active ingredient in this mask is babassu seed oil, a significant source of Vitamin E and fatty lipids. The protein source in this formula, amino acids, are small enough to penetrate into your hair strands and fortify your cortex. A great weekly deep conditioner for high porosity naturals.

an image of camille rose algae renew deep conditioner

Camille Rose Naturals Algae Renew Deep Conditioner

Best for TYPE 3-4, high porosity

A Camille Rose cult classic, this deep conditioner contains essential plant-based oils and butters loved by all naturals: manuka honey, mango butter and aloe vera, and also includes ceramine-containing hemp seed oil. The protein-free formula is perfect for non-protein wash days. A high porosity must have!

Mielle Organics Rice Water Clay Masque

Best for TYPE 4, high porosity

Clay masks are usually quite drying, but this masque pairs the clay with moisturizing and friction-reducing ingredients such as aloe leaf juice, shea butter and jojoba oil. Best of all, strengthening plant extracts like henna, rosemary and horsetail grass will fortify and strengthen your hair.

a photo showing aphogee two minute reconstructor how to take care of natural hair monthly

Aphogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor

Best for TYPE 3-4, high porosity

This protein treatment is amazing for a protein up-keep, reversing mild heat damage and strenghtening high-porosity hair. Your hair will be defined and bouncy immediately after washing it out. For best results, use for 10-15 minutes in the shower for Type 4 hair, and wash out with cool water. Follow up immediately with a moisturizing deep conditioner.

Moisturize and Seal

This stage is arguably the most important for high porosity. The leave-in products you use will determine whether your hair remains moisturized… or dries out within the hour.

On wet hair, apply your leave-in conditioner. Look for products that are formulated with cuticle-filling proteins, film-forming humectants, and conditioning fatty alcohols that all play a role in keeping high porosity hair moisturized.

an image of mielle moisturizing avocado hair milk

Mielle Moisturizing Avocado Hair Milk

Best for TYPE 4, high porosity

A Mielle cult classic, this moisturizing hair milk is formulated with film-forming, moisturizing humectants such as aloe vera, nettle and horsetail extract. It also includes various strengthening ingredients such as rice and wheat protein. A perfect staple product for high porosity strands in need of some TLC.

an image of tgin daily moisturizer

TGIN Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer

Best for TYPE 3c-4, all porosities

No other cream exists on the market quite like this one – not only does it have amazing slip, but it’s rich formula with shea butter and vitamin E will lock in moisture and reduce friction between your coils, keeping breakage at bay! 

Next, using a water-insoluble product (normally a gel for wash and go’s and wrap foam/mousse for twist-outs) will lock in the moisture and provide an additional moisture barrier.

If you hair starts to get dry, re-apply some water. Water will help mobilize your product and, again, is the only true way to keep your hair moisturized.

EarthTones Naturals Curl Enhancing Jelly

Best for TYPE 3-4

A Canadian-based brand, EarthTones Naturals focuses on holistic, natural ingredients – and this gel is no exception. Its formulated with some ingredients such as aloe leaf juice, panthenol and sea kelp!
camille rose spiked honey mousse

Camille Rose Spiked Honey Mousse 

Best for TYPE 3-4

A lightweight setting mousse infused with conditioning ingredients such as honey, nettle and various emollients. Great for smoothing down curly and coily hair and setting twist outs and braid outs. 

Set Your Style

Properly setting your style is the key to ensuring a moisturized style until the next wash day. This is as simple as using a blow dryer and hooded dryer attachment, but we recommend using a hooded dryer.

Why? Because the even heat distribution will ensure each and every coil is properly set. If you have longer hair, you can use a blow dryer on your ends to make sure they are properly set.

You’ll find that after a few wash days, your styles will last longer, look fuller and darker, and you’ll have less tangles on your next wash day.

an image of kiss hair dryer

Red By Kiss 1875 Watt Ceramic Professional Hood Dryer

Best for all naturals

Turn your home into a salon with this affordable bonnet hair dryer. You can either sit under the dryer while deep conditioning with a plastic cap, or allow your hair to dry after styling. Small enough to conserve space but powerful enough to get the job done.

Final Thoughts on The Best Products for High Porosity Hair

It doesn’t take buying a million products to have healthy and moisturized high porosity hair.

The best products for high porosity contain fortifying proteins, moisturizing film-forming humectants and conditioning fatty alcohols. The products above are formulated with these exact ingredients to keep your high porosity hair happy and hydrated!

The Curl Market is a natural hair blog catered to helping black naturals grow their curls into a long, luscious manes.

We use the latest evidence-based scientific research to provide you with the top tips on growing your curls, regardless of hair type.

We also provide lifestyle tips, both self care and mental care, to ensure you are optimizing your body’s natural hair growth cycle – because you can’t grow natural hair if you’re stressed out!

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WRITTEN BY

Ayana Aden

Ayana is The Curl Market’s brand founder. When she’s not deep in natural hair research or creating content, she’s hanging on the couch with her husband and her cat, reading a book or scrolling through TikTok. Follow her on Instagram at @tothecurlmarket.

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