The Ultimate High Porosity Natural Hair Routine

Aug 31, 2019

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A short while ago, we discussed how to achieve the ultimate low porosity hair routine.

Now, we’re doing the name for our high porosity naturals.

High porosity hair has a unique struggle – the art of retention.

See, unlike low porosity hair, water has no problem entering high porosity hair strands. The strands are “open”, making it effortless for water to enter its strands.

High porosity naturals have no problem getting moisture penetrated into its strands.

The problem? Making sure the water stays put.

Moisture retention can seem almost impossible with high porosity natural hair. But we got the keys to making sure your high porosity natural hair stays juicy, moisturized and healthy all year round.

Here’s what you need to know.

wet curly hair with the title the ultimate high porosity natural hair routine

What is Porosity?

If you need a bit of a refresher, here’s what you need to know:

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 High Porosity Hair?

If you have high porosity hair, your hair cuticle is “open” – under a microscope, the hair cuticle is raised rather than laying flat. This is sometimes due to genetics.

But in other cases, your high porosity can be an indicator of damage, commonly from over-manipulation/mechanical damage, poor diet, dye, bleach or heat. Under a microscope, your strands are broken or chipped. 

In any case, because high porosity strands are not lying flat, your strands catch onto each other, causing single strand knots and split ends. Yikes!

Some indicators of high porosity hair include:

  • Frizz
  • Extreme dryness
  • Inability to retain a style
  • Extreme tangles and,
  • A dull-looking color. 

To check your porosity, gently grasp a section of clean, freshly washed hair. Run your fingers along the length of the strand, from the tips to the ends. If you feel any uneven, bumpy parts in the strand, this means that your cuticles are open and you have high porosity natural hair.

Think of your strands like a leaky bucket: if the cuticle remains raised, any moisture you put into your hair is immediately lost.

Therefore, the goal is to flatten these cuticles as much as possible and retain that moisture!

How to Treat High Porosity Hair

There are a few Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to high porosity hair.

Right now, your hair is a fragile state. Everything you do to your hair needs to be nourishing and protective. This includes low manipulation protective styles, deep treatments and regular trims.

It is imperative that you follow these steps meticulously, as high porosity hair is fragile and prone to breakage.

Here are the top ten things you need to include in your high porosity natural hair routine!

Protein Treatment

High porosity natural hair LOVES protein!

Natural hair is made from protein, called keratin. When your hair is highly porous, there are chips and breaks and cracks in these keratin bonds that keep your curls intact.

To combat this, you need to manually add protein into your hair. This is a key step in addressing highly porous natural hair. How? By deep conditioning using protein-based masks!

Now, if you are hair is extremely damaged, you may need to do an intensive protein mask first. We suggest the Aphogee Two Step Protein Treatment, once every 8 weeks (followed up with an intense moisturizing deep conditioner after).

Regular Trims

It’s unfortunate, but 100% damaged hair is totally irreversible. Once your hair strands are split (i.e. you’ve damaged your cuticles with relaxer/heat), it’s impossible to reverse it.

The more you expose your hair to heat, chemicals or whatever was causing the high porosity in the first place, you are minimizing your ability to recover these strands.

So, while retaining the damaged hair may seem worthwhile, it’s best to get a trim and reduce the amount of damage to your healthy, new growth coming in.

It doesn’t have to be a big chop (although big chops can accelerate your hair growth significantly). Invisible trims (i.e. taking off a quarter of an inch every month) is a great way to keep your length while getting rid of dusty ends.

Deep Conditioning

Just because your hair needs protein, does not mean that you can skip out on the moisture, girl!

Deep conditioning sessions are a must for all hair types, whether you are low porosity or high porosity. In short, because of the coily nature of our hair, the natural oils from your scalp cannot travel down our hair to moisturize it. The straighter your hair, the easier these oils can travel down your hair via gravity.

So, we need to manually add in moisture, via deep conditioning. Since high porosity hair already has its cuticles open, it isn’t as imperative to use steam like our low porosity naturals. Make sure you are using moisture-rich products such as honey and glycerin to give your hair the boost it needs.

Which brings us to our next point…

Sealing with Butters or Oils, ASAP

Natural oils and butters are the most superior natural hair moisturizers you can find. They form semi-permeable barriers over the hair shaft, meaning that they protect the moisture in your hair but also allows these oils to slowly penetrate into your hair to treat it. A win-win for high porosity hair!

Butters are specifically good for high porosity hair. Butters have a wax-like texture that acts as a further barrier between your hair and the water-sucking air and is perfect for natural hair that is hard to retain.

Some common butters include shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter and avocado butter. Make sure you use the best oils for natural hair.

Product Application – the LOC Method

Generally speaking, high porosity natural hair benefits best from the LOC (leave-in conditioner, cream, then oil) method.

Remember: water/products will evaporate out of hair QUICK-QUICK. So once you apply your leave-in conditioner, you must seal it in with an oil ASAP.

The oils won’t evaporate, plus it protects all the moisture from your leave-in conditioner from evaporating too. 

Use a cream after to provide another layer of moisture. Some naturals even use an oil after the cream too (the LOCO method), if their hair is extremely dry!

Apple Cider Vinegar

We need to thank whoever discovered the use of vinegar on their hair because GIRL, it’s a game changer!

There are numerous health benefits for apple cider vinegar, but did you know that it can close those porous cuticles? Once your cuticles are closed, your hair will be able to retain that moisture.

The bonus? It will also remove product buildup, treat dandruff and balance your hair’s pH, all essential things to ensuring you are growing your hair at its most optimal rate.

Aloe Vera 

Similar to apple cider vinegar, aloe vera juice is another great way to close those stubborn cuticles and lock in moisture. 

A great way to incorporate aloe vera gel is as a pre-leave in treatment. Once you washed off the deep conditioner (cold water, of course!), section your hair and work in aloe vera gel (either from the plant or a product) before using your leave-in conditioner. Your hair will look and feel soft like butter!

Protective Styles

Protective styling is mandatory for all hair types and textures. We need to give our hair a break from both manipulation and the environment.

We also want to make sure we’re giving our hair the space to grow and strengthen without it getting caught on our fingers.

The key here is to use low manipulative protective styles. Jumbo braids that have been left in for 3 months is no longer protective because your hair most likely is dirty AF, with ample amounts of buildup and grime.

This will block your hair follicles and will stunt hair growth. Keep doing that and you will agitate your follicles to a point where hair will refuse to grow out of it anymore.

Yikes!

Low manipulative protective styles:

  • Don’t hurt when installed
  • Can be easily taken down,
  • Do not pull/are not tight on any parts of the hair, and
  • Completely seal your ends from the outside world.

If any of these apply to your protective style, it’s time for a change!

Common styles include braids, wigs and weaves. Braids should be medium sized and not tight so that there is no damage to the cuticles. Weaves must be installed correctly. Wigs are great styles as long as your hair underneath is moisturized and braided prior to installing.

No Heat/Chemicals

This is an obvious one. When you have high porosity hair, not only are your cuticles raised but in many cases, the keratin bonds in your hair are either chipped or broken. This is why it’s so hard for high porosity natural hair to retain moisture!

Both heat and chemicals will further accelerate rates of breakage, shedding and overall damage if continued to be used. Do your ends and edges a favor and lay off the heat and chemicals!

Oil Treatments (Coconut Oil!)

Oil treatments are a high porosity natural’s best friend. 

For starters, many oils will both act as a barrier to protect your moisture, but it will treat your strands by penetrating into the hair shaft. This is only true for plant-based, simple structured, natural oils. Stay away from synethetic or petroleum-based oils!

Coconut oil has been known to fill in broken cuticles, temporarily closing decreasing your porosity. It’s one of the only oils out there that can do this. Look for coconut oil in your products!

The Bottom Line

High porosity natural hair can be a challenge. Retaining moisture is a struggle for all naturals but this is especially pronounced in high porosity natural hair.

The trick is to find a balance between adding in the correct amount of protein, balancing this out with moisturizing deep conditioners, protective styling and regular trims.

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 @ayanaaaden

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This quiz will give you the lowdown on exactly what your curl type is, so you'll never have to wonder again ♥

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