Low porosity hair: both a blessing and a curse.
For those with low porosity hair, you know exactly what I’m talking about: the constant dryness, the breakage, and no matter what you do, moisture just won’t stay in.
What’s a curl to do? How do we create a custom low porosity hair routine, guaranteed to give us soft, bouncy hair?
Let’s dive in.
Hair porosity is our hair’s ability to retain moisture. In essence, it is the ability for our hair cuticles (which are much like the pores on our face) to open up and take in the water we are giving it.
There are, generally speaking, three types of hair porosity: low, medium, and high. And most curls fall into one of these broad categories.
Low porosity hair is when your hair cuticles’ remain closed at rest. The cuticles are so tightly closed that it is difficult for water, AKA moisture, to enter.
Translation: low porosity hair is dry AF.
On the other hand, the cuticles in high porosity curls are always open, so it’s easy to put moisture in, but it’s difficult to retain it.
Both of these hair porosity types will experience dry hair if not properly moisturized. The trick is to know which hair type you are to manage it.
How To Know If You Have Low Porosity Hair
There are two inexpensive easy tests to do at home that will help you determine if you have low porosity hair.
Pull a strand out of your head and let it float in a cup of warm water. Wait four minutes. If it floats, you have low porosity hair. If it sinks, you have high porosity hair.
Another test is to slide your fingers up the shaft of one strand of hair. Do you feel any prickles or bumps? If yes, you have high porosity – your cuticles are lifted and open. If it’s smooth all the way up, you have low porosity hair.
How to Moisturize and Maintain Low Porosity Hair
Low porosity naturals have it rough. On the one hand, our curls are naturally dry because the oils from our scalp, called sebum, cannot travel down our hair shaft.
But to add insult to injury, our hair cuticles are so tightly closed that moisture can’t penetrate it anyways.
This also means that the nourishing (not to mention expensive) products we put into it, like oils, leave-ins, deep conditioners, can’t enter the hair shaft.
And we are incredibly affected by our environment – more specifically, changes in weather. In the Northern Hemisphere, the wintertime is notorious for sucking the life out of our curls, leaving them dry and brittle. Especially for us low porosity naturals.
Fortunately for us, there are some key steps that you can incorporate into your hair routine to cater to the woes of low porosity hair.
Here are six things you must add to your low porosity hair routine for moisturized, healthy curls:
1) Protective Style
Protective styling is a guaranteed win for all naturals, regardless of porosity type.
Low porosity hair is notoriously dry. So once you moisturize your hair, it is imperative that you keep the moisture in at any cost.
Protective styling is a great way to do that. If properly installed, they can help retain the moisture in your hair and help achieve your natural hair goals.
By putting your hair in a long-wearing style, such as braids, weaves, wigs and buns, you are not only keeping your hair moisturized, but you are also sheltering your hair from the winter elements.
But, before you put your hair in a protective style, be sure to: 1) deep condition, 2) seal in the moisture with a moisturizing leave-in conditioner, and 3) plan to take down your style no later than every 6 weeks.
Pre-pooing is an essential in every low porosity curly hair routine. Don’t at me.
Pre-pooing, which is the act of applying a protective layer overtop your hair prior to shampooing, is the only way to protect your hair’s natural oils before you wash it. Shampoos are too good at its job: it gets rid of the dirt and buildup in your hair, but it also removes the good oils that keep your hair moisturized.
Pre-poos provide a barrier between these good oils and the suds of the shampoo. Plus, it’s as easy as layering on any natural oil (or leave-in conditioner) you have lying around!
To do this, part your hair in at least four sections – two on each side. Apply a generous amount of your pre-poo in your hair, focusing on your ends. Give yourself a mini scalp massage to loosen up some of the buildup.
Common pre-poos include olive oil, avocado oil, and shea butter. To take it a step further, try to detangle using the pre-poo before you start your wash day process. You’ll cut your wash day routine in half, plus your curls will love you for it!
3) Focus On Your Ends
Nothing screams unhealthy low porosity hair like brittle, dry ends.
At every step in your curly hair routine, your ends should be a top priority. This is especially true in the winter, a time when your ends are at its most fragile.
Leave-in conditioners need to be concentrated at your ends first, and then applied to your roots. The same goes with your deep conditioner.
Your ends are your hair’s elders – so treat them with respect!
4) Give Yourself a Scalp Massage
Healthy hair starts at the scalp.
For starters, it’s an efficient way to stimulate follicle activity because it promotes blood flow in your scalp.
Scalp massages are also a great way to loosen dirt buildup. Dirt and grime can latch onto hair follicles, slowing down hair growth. It can also weigh down new growth coming in, resulting in new growth hair loss.
Grab your favourite oil, put on some Netflix, and gently work some of that oil into your scalp using the pads of your fingertips (and not your nails). In a few months, you’ll notice thicker, healthier hair.
5) Use a Steamer
Not all heat is bad for natural hair. Heat in the form of steam opens low porosity cuticles, allowing moisture and products to enter in and truly work its magic.
The most beneficial way to incorporate steam in your low porosity hair care routine is using a hair steamer during your deep conditioning session.
Apply a generous amount of deep conditioner section by section, focusing on your ends. Spritz a bit of water onto your hair and then put on a deep conditioning cap. Sit under the steamer or hair dryer attachment for approximately 30 minutes and wash off the deep conditioner with cold water.
Voila – juicy, moisturized hair! Lock in that moisture by adding your fav leave-in conditioners, oils and stylers.
6) Vitamins, Exercise and Diet
As much as we hate to admit it, no routine can truly thrive without some sort of health and lifestyle change.
If you are determined to have long, healthy, moisturized natural hair, you must incorporate vitamins into your life, either in the form of oral supplements or diet.
Did you know that your hair, skin, and nails are the last places in your body to receive nutrients? So, if you aren’t eating right or taking your supplements, your body will prioritize your essential organs first (such as the heart, brain, and lungs).
This is why when you’re deficient in critical nutrients, you will immediately notice it in your hair, skin and nails.
Exercise is another key part of a healthy hair routine, and a healthy physical life. Exercising naturals swear that exercising regularly, in addition to a healthy diet, boosts their hair growth cycle significantly.
Healthy hair starts with a healthy body. If you focus on what you consume just as much as what products you put on your hair, you’ll notice a significant increase in your hair health.
The Bottom Line
There are many ways to maintain a healthy low porosity hair routine. By deep conditioning, protective styling, exercising, and using the rest of the above tips, you are ensuring that your hair is at optimal conditions for growth.