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What Is Low Porosity Hair?

Is your hair dry, brittle, or have you ever experienced breakage? These are signs that you have low porosity hair. Low porosity hair can be described as hair that is difficult for moisture to penetrate. The cuticles layer of the hair strand is tightly closed which prevents moisture from entering the hair shaft. The hair follicle is open and able to soak in moisture.

Low porosity hair is often hard to manage because of its inability to retain moisture. This makes it difficult to pick up natural oils, which is often needed to soften the hair. It often takes longer for low porosity hair to respond to treatments, and due to this, it is important to be patient with the hair.

Hair porosity is also a factor for hair sensitivity. Individuals with sensitive skin have a higher chance of having sensitive scalp and hair.

Facts About Low Porosity Hair

Because of its inability to retain moisture, low porosity hair can be left feeling dry, brittle, and dull. This is because the cuticle layer is unable to retain moisture. This results in the inner cortex of the hair strand to become dry.

Low porosity hair can be caused by hair products, especially those that contain alcohol, which strips the hair of its natural oils. It can also be caused by dyeing, bleaching, or over-processing the hair.

How to Tell If Your Hair Is Has Low Porosity

You’ll be able to tell if your hair isn’t very porous if:

  • You notice that your hair is dry and brittle.
  • You find that your hair is hard to manage.
  • Your hair tangles easily or you have breakage when brushing or combing.
  • You have to wash your hair often in order to get rid of the oily feeling.
  • Your hair is difficult to color.
  • Your hair takes a long time to wash.
  • Your hair takes a long time to dry.

Low vs. High Porosity Hair

Hair porosity is the ability of the hair to absorb water. So if you have low porosity hair, it means your hair is not able to absorb moisture. This results in dry, brittle hair. The cuticles are tightly closed, which makes it difficult for moisture to get in. In comparison, high porosity hair is the opposite. The cuticles on the hair strand are open and able to allow moisture to enter. However, you will not experience breakage or dryness with high porosity hair.

Individuals who experience low porosity hair can often experience hair breakage. This is due to the ability of high porosity hair to retain moisture.

It is also important to note that low porosity hair is not permanent. Your hair porosity can change depending on your hair's environment, which is why it is important to maintain your hair.

High porosity hair is usually associated with curly hair. This is because curly hair is naturally porous. The cuticle is open and able to absorb moisture. However, it is important to note that the cuticle can change. The cuticle can close up if the hair is exposed to chemicals or excessive heat. This is why it is important to not overuse heat on hair.

How to Test Your Hair’s Porosity

There are a few ways to test your hair porosity. It is important to note that these tests are not accurate. They are a way to provide you with a starting point.

Water Test — The water test is the most common test. The test consists of submerging a strand of hair into a cup of water for a period of time. After the strand has been submerged for a few minutes, you will need to remove the strand from the water and observe it.

If the hair is able to absorb water, it will feel heavy. If the hair is unable to absorb moisture, it will feel light.

Salt Test — The salt test is another common test. The test consists of submerging a strand of hair into a small plate of salt for a period of time. After the strand has been submerged for a few minutes, you will need to remove the strand from the salt and observe it.

If the hair is able to absorb salt, it will feel heavier. If the hair is unable to absorb salt, it will feel light.

Feel Test — If you want to determine your hair porosity, you can perform a simple feel test. First, gather all of your hair. Next, gather a section of your hair and examine it's texture. If the hair feels coarse and rough, your hair is likely low porosity. If the hair feels soft and silky, your hair is likely high porosity.

Caring For Low Porosity Hair

1. Try a Deep Conditioner

Deep conditioners penetrate the hair shaft to restore moisture, and low porosity hair is able to absorb moisture more readily. A deep conditioner penetrates the hair shaft, while a creamy conditioner is only able to coat the hair shaft. Deep conditioners work by delivering moisture to the hair cuticle. Doing so allows for easier detangling, reduces breakage, and gives the hair a healthy shine.

2. Use a Wide Tooth Comb or Detangling Brush

Proper detangling is essential to avoid breakage and to make your hair easier to manage. Wide tooth combs and detangling brushes are able to separate the hair strands more easily than a regular brush. Wide tooth combs are also able to detangle through knots and tangles without causing breakage, and are gentle on the hair.

3. Do Not Shampoo Too Frequently

Shampooing your hair too frequently can strip it of its natural oils, which are important for healthy hair growth. Try to shampoo only once every two weeks at most. If you have dry hair or want to remove product buildup, shampoo every few days. If you do shampoo daily, make sure to use a moisturizing shampoo.

4. Do Not Overuse Heat on Your Hair

High temperatures from hair irons, blow dryers, hot rollers, and curling irons can damage the hair cuticle. This is because high temperatures tend to dry out the hair, causing it to break due to lack of moisture. To reduce heat damage, use heat sparingly, and always use a heat protecting product.

5. Use Moisturizing Products

Protein is essential for hair growth, but too much of it can cause the hair to become dry and brittle. Moisturizing products are helpful in replenishing moisture in dry hair, while maintaining the needed amount of protein. They are able to penetrate the hair shaft to help repair the hair cuticle, making it softer and smoother.

6. Do Not Overuse Hair Products

Too many hair products can clog the hair cuticle, which makes it difficult for moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. Try to use natural products with few ingredients and avoid heavy products like gels and other styling products containing alcohol.

7. Use Hair Products With Glycerin

Many hair products contain glycerin, which is helpful in restoring moisture to dry hair. Glycerin attracts water from the surrounding air, and helps hold in moisture in the hair shaft. It is able to maintain the moisture content of the hair cuticle, making the hair smooth and soft. Be careful not to use too much glycerin, as it can cause the hair to feel sticky.

8. Use Heat Protection Products

Using heat on your hair can leave it dry and brittle. Heat protection products protect the hair from the harmful effects of heat, whether it be from hair irons, blow dryers, hot rollers, or curling irons. They contain ingredients such as oils and butters that help seal the hair cuticle, and prevent moisture from escaping.


Low porosity hair is healthy hair that just doesn't hold moisture as well. As long as you are gentle with your hair, it will be able to go about its natural beauty routine without interference from you. You will get the most out of your hair care routine if you do what is best for your hair, not just what is convenient.

This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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