8 Hydrating Tips On How To Keep Low Porosity Natural Hair Moisturized (Until Wash Day)

Apr 5, 2022

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Learning how to moisturize low porosity hair is not as complicated as we’ve been led to believe.

Simply put, here’s how to keep low porosity hair moisturized:

  • Keep the hair clean and clarified, to allow moisture to enter your hair;
  • Prioritize light-weight, water-based products over heavy oils and oil-based products to keep the hair hydrated for longer;
  • Use ambient heat strategically to set the hair and help products penetrate;
  • Employ natural hair friendly tools that will work with your coils, not against it, and;
  • Set your hair before bed to protect your coils and retain your styles
    • Let’s get into the details of what this looks like.

Let’s get into how to keep low porosity natural hair moisturized.

What Is Natural Hair Porosity

As a friendly reminder, hair porosity is important because it measures 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.

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 closed. It is difficult for this hair porosity to absorb moisture.

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

What Is Low Porosity

Specifically, low porosity hair is when your cuticles are tight and flat.

The cuticles are so tightly shut that moisture and products have difficulty penetrating into through the cuticles and into the hair.

In other words, low porosity hair has an incredibly with high product buildup potential.

If you’ve ever asked why is low porosity hair always dry, this is why! Product buildup is a significant factor in why low porosity hair is dry.

In fact, many “low porosity” naturals can be medium-porosity but because of product buildup, they’ve reduced their porosity because of all the layers of buildup. Yikes!

Let’s get into the exact recipe to moisturizing low porosity hair.

How To Moisturize Low Porosity Hair

Shampoo is key

The science is clear: shampooing natural hair every 7-10 days is an absolute non-negotiable if you want to have healthy, hydrated and happy natural hair.

This is true for ALL naturals, but even more important in low porosity hair.

Remember: moisture cannot travel through layers and layers of dirt.

If you are not properly clarifying your low porosity hair, you’ll continuously experience dry hair because your strands are not experiencing that moisture. It’s just contributing to product buildup.

Don’t buy into the notion that natural hair will dry out natural hair.

While it’s true that some shampoos can be drying, there are plenty that are not!

Pick yourself up a gentle, moisturizing shampoo you can use on a weekly basis, and once a month (or whenever you feel you need), use a deeper cleansing shampoo to detox the hair. You’ll find that your hair will be softer and more supple when you apply your leave-in products.

image of redken all soft shampoo for natural hair

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 give a silky press. Double cleanse your hair and scalp, smoothing your strands down as you go, for best results.

an image of camille rose sweet ginger rinse

Camille Rose Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse

Best for TYPE 3 – 4

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!

Minimal oils

A common question in the natural hair community is: should I use oils?

The answer: it depends.

We’ve already established that low porosity naturals experience dryness and product buildup much more often than other porosity types.

Oils, while they are packed with vitamins and fatty acids, have zero water content.

Using them in your leave-in routine may not give you an optimal style because it’s water that defines our curls and coils and gives our natural hair styles that full, plump look.

It’s best to use water and water-based products in your leave-in and styling routine.

If you want to use oils, use them as a hot oil prewash treatment before your shampoo days. Just be sure to properly shampoo your hair to get all the oil out and avoid more buildup.

Water over everything

On that note, water should be considered your best friend if you have low porosity natural hair.

Water is nature’s only true moisturizer. That means, applying your leave-in stylers on damp hair and using water-based, light-weight products.

This will ensure that your low porosity hair will remain hydrated until the next wash day.

TGIN Miracle RepaiRx Protective Leave In Conditioner

TGIN Miracle Repairx Protective Leave-in Conditioner

Best for TYPE 3-4, low porosity

This light-weight formula is perfect for low porosity naturals looking for moisture without the product buildup. It adds definition while replenishing moisture to curls and coils, resulting in soft, supple and defined hair.

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.

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!

On damp, sectioned hair, section off your hair and apply a light amount of a lightweight leave-in conditioner. Keep applying water to make sure the leave-in is fully mobile and melts into the hair.

Follow this up with a styler of choice: gel for wash and go, and mousse for twist-outs/braid-outs. Again, keep adding water to each section to work the product into your hair.

Ambient heat – How to dry low natural hair

Heat gets a bad rep in the natural hair community.

Direct heat in the form of flat irons can damage your cuticle layer if done excessively.

To truly dry low porosity hair, it’s optimal to use ambient heat, or indirect heat in the form of hooded dryers or diffusers, are highly effective in setting low porosity hair styles.

Once you’ve applied your products on wet hair, instead of allowing your hair to air dry, sit under a hooded dryer or use a blow dryer with diffuser attachment (using the lowest warm setting) and allow your style to set.

An issue with low porosity hair is that products sit atop the hair and doesn’t do its job.

Setting your styles with heat will help with this!

Using ambient heat when drying the hair, will set your styles better and reduce breakage in the long-run. You’ll find that your hair will retain moisture much longer!

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.

an image of Conair 1875-Watt Ionic Ceramic Hair Dryer with Diffuser and Concentrator, Pink for natural hair

Conair 1875-Watt Ionic Ceramic Hair Dryer with Diffuser

Best for all naturals

One of the best hair dryers on the market for the price point. It has a wide heat setting, with comfortable handles for a comfortable and safe grip. Comes with a diffuser to evenly dry curly and coily hair.

Use protein strategically

Our hair is made out of a protein called keratin, a heavily-bonded protein that keeps our curls bouncy and elastic.

Protein treatments not only work to keep our moisture-protein balance aligned, but they also fill in cracks and holes in the surface of our cuticle layer.

However, too much protein treatments can result in protein overload, and this is detrimental to low porosity hair which is already dealing with dryness.

To mitigate this, look for treatments that:

  • Contain protein-free products, including your leave-in conditioners
  • Do occasional protein treatments using small-sized protein molecules such as amino acids, which that are small enough to enter the cuticle and fortify your cortex without causing dryness.
an image of tgin Miracle Repairx Deep Hydrating Hair Masque

TGIN Miracle Repairx Deep Conditioner

Best for TYPE 3-4

This mask is loaded with a healthy balance of conditioning ingredients that will soften your coils and keep dryness at bay. A great protein-free deep conditioner for boosting moisture in low porosity/protein-sensitive hair.

an image of olaplex no 3 hair perfector

Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector

Best for all naturals

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.

How do you keep low porosity hair moisturized (until the next wash day)

Sleep with silk

Sleeping with cotton is a sure way to dry out your low porosity hair.

Cotton not only absorbs moisture from the hair, but its fibres tug at our cuticle layer, frizzing out our styles and further accelerating dryness.

Silk is the best option to sleep with natural hair. It will not cause dryness and the smooth, silky fibres will not tug on your hair.

silk pillowcase

Natural Mulberry Silk Pillowcase

Best for all naturals

A silk pillowcase is the most effective way to protect your natural hair at night, and also has some skin benefits as well. This pillowcase by MYK Silk is made from mulberry silk, the highest quality silk on the market today. Comes to a wide variety of colours to match your bedroom aesthetic (with a cotton underside for affordability). 

an image of a purple silk bonnet for natural hair

Silk Bonnet With Comfort Elastic Band

Best for all naturals

Silk bonnets are a game changer for all naturals. This silk bonnet by MYK Silk is not only super soft, but contains a sturdy yet comfortable elastic band that will keep your bonnet on your head all throughout the night. Comes in super cute colours and different sizes. 

an image of 3 pastel silk scrunchies for natural hair

Mulberry Silk Scrunchies Combo

Best for all naturals

Silk bonnets are a game changer for all naturals. This silk bonnet by MYK Silk is not only super soft, but contains a sturdy yet comfortable elastic band that will keep your bonnet on your head all throughout the night. Comes in super cute colours and different sizes. 

Keep your fingers out of your hair

That habit where you pick at your hair excessively?

Yeah, stop that.

Similar to cotton, your fingers can rob your hair of its precious moisture, and it can also frizz up your styles.

Try to keep your hands out of your hair as much as you can. If you want to fluff out your hair, use an afro pick!

How often should you moisturize your low porosity hair

If you’ve ever asked the question, how often should you moisturize your low porosity hair, this part is for you.

The answer: whenever your hair feels dry.

If you’ve done the above correctly, your hair should remain moisturized for at least 4-7 days.

When you feel like your hair is dry for your standards (i.e. it isn’t holding any definition, feels dry, looks pale, etc.), it’s time to re-moisturize.

To re-moisturize natural hair is as simple as having a wash day, because moisture cannot penetrate through pre-existing product.

However, if you don’t have time for this, re-purpose your style by sectioning your hair, spritzing some water on each section, and twist. You don’t need to use product because there is product already on your hair.

Use ambient heat (via hooded dryer or blow dryer + diffuser) to set it. This will hold you over until your next wash day.

a GIF of Bruno Mars in the video 'Uptown Funk' sitting under a hair dryer.

How to moisturize low porosity hair daily

If you’re looking to know how to moisturize low porosity hair daily, or how to moisturize low porosity hair between washes, the simple answer is: you shouldn’t have to.

If you set your hair properly with the ambient heat tool of your choice, you’ll find that you don’t need to moisturize your daily.

However if your hair feels dry, section your hair, spritz some water on each section, and twist. You don’t need to use product because there is product already on your hair. Be sure to set the style with ambient heat!

Final Thoughts On How To Moisturize Low Porosity Hair

The bottom line is this: learning how to moisturize low porosity hair is as simple as keeping the hair clean, prioritizing water and water-based products, using ambient heat, using protein strategically and treating your low porosity hair with high-grade treatments, you’ll see moisturized coils in no time.

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!

Come as you are.

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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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