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How to Moisturize Low Porosity Hair: DIY Step-by-Step Guide

Beautiful African American female with curly healthy hair styled with avocado oil and aloe vera gel

Your ideal hair moisturizing regimen has a lot to do with your hair porosity. Unfortunately, many naturals have no idea what hair porosity is, much less what it means for hair hydration.

Chances are you’ve stumbled upon this article because you’ve been struggling to keep your low porosity hair moisturized. Well, we’ve got good news, you are in the right place. This article will give you an in-depth overview of how to moisturize low porosity hair.

What Is Low Porosity Hair? 

Stylish African American woman with curly hair cuticles in an afro styled with penetrating oils

Some people think they have low porosity hair when, in fact, they don’t. So, we’d like to start this article by defining what low porosity hair means. 

Low porosity hair is made up of strands with a tightly packed cuticle layer. The layer is bound so tightly that there are barely any openings for water or moisture-containing products to penetrate the strands.

In other words, your strands are water and moisture resistant. This natural resistance can lead to brittle, parched, breakage-prone strands.   

In addition, low porosity hair takes a long time to release moisture once it’s been absorbed. One exception is when you shampoo your hair. 

Here’s how to find out whether you have low porosity hair. Think back to the last time you washed your hair:

  1. Did it take more than a few seconds for your whole head to become saturated with water? If the answer is yes, then you may have low porosity hair. 
  2. Did it take hours and hours (up to 24 hours) for your hair to dry after rinsing? If you answered yes to this question, you likely have low porosity hair. 
How To Find Out Your Hair Porosity - Strand Test on High & Low Porosity Natural Hair | Samirah Gilli

If you want to be “doubly sure” that you have low porosity hair, you can try the float test. Note: While the float test is a fun “directionally correct” way to test for hair porosity, it’s not a scientifically reliable method. It’s pseudoscience, but it’s fun.

In general, hair will float in water. Most people that complete the float test will observe that your hair floats for a long time and may eventually sink if it does at all.

This long float is because hair your hair is naturally coated with oil. Any additional hair product you use in your hair care regimen will have an added impact.

Oil will always float on water, so your hair floating does not indicate low porosity. It simply indicates that your hair is light and has an oil coating that repels water.

Suppose you chose to do the test with freshly washed hair, but you don’t condition your hair after washing it. In that case, that is an artificial test if you would typically apply conditioner after a shampoo.

Regardless, hair will still float for most people because there is usually still some residual oil remaining on the hair.

The temperature of the water has also been a subject of debate. Some people maintain that it makes no difference, but this is incorrect since warmer temperatures can remove some of the hair’s oil. However, the most common observation that people will make when viewing a single strand of hair is that it will float.

How to Moisturize Low Porosity Hair

If you have reached this point and realized that you have low porosity hair, there are various methods you can use to unlock your hair’s ultimate hydration potential.

In this section, we will share helpful tips and tricks for moisturizing low porosity hair to help you keep your hair hydrated. 

How To Moisturize DRY Low Porosity Natural Hair

1. Develop a Pre-poo Routine.

“Pre-poo” is short for pre-shampoo. A pre-poo routine is used to prep your hair before shampooing. Since low-porosity hair tends to be stripped of moisture during the cleansing process, you’ll want to protect and moisturize your strands as much as possible beforehand. 

A pre-poo treatment can include products you commonly use on your hair. If you have natural oils like grapeseed oil or jojoba oil on hand, use them.

All of these oils are lightweight enough to penetrate your low porosity hair strands and provide deep hydration. You can also use a conditioner combined with either one of these oils.

Follow the steps below to complete a simple pre-poo: 

  • While your hair is completely dry, divide it into four to eight sections. This will make the pre-poo treatment easier to distribute. 
  • Cover each section of your hair with your pre-poo treatment. Be sure to cover each section from root to tip. Be generous with the product(s) and ensure that every strand is covered.
  • Gently detangle each section of hair with a wide-tooth comb.
  • Allow the pre-poo treatment to sit for at least 30 minutes. The longer you allow it to sit on your hair, the better. You can even leave the treatment on overnight. Just be sure to wear a silk or satin scarf or a shower cap to keep your sheets clean. 
  • Lastly, shampoo your hair as usual.
African American young woman with a curly hair type suffering from high porosity hair

2. Add Heat to Your Conditioning Routine.

Heat can take your conditioning routines to the next level. It has sort of an “unlocking” effect on your normally closed cuticle layers. Adding heat to your conditioning sessions will cause those layers to open up, allowing water and moisture in. 

Heat also helps your conditioner to work optimally. Oil-based conditioners are composed of fat molecules that your hair needs to absorb moisture.

In the presence of heat, these fat molecules break down easier, enabling your hair strands to absorb those much-needed oils.

You’ll hear different names from these treatments within the natural hair community. Hot oil treatments and deep conditioning treatments are common descriptions of similar processes with slight variations.

To reap the benefits of heated conditioning treatments, you have a few options: 

  1. After applying your conditioner, steam your hair for a few minutes.
  2. Sit under a hooded dryer for 5 to 10 minutes after applying your conditioner. You can use low to medium heat on the hooded dryer – we advise you to avoid high heat so as not to cause heat damage. 
  3. Wear a heated cap for the duration of your deep conditioning treatment or moisturizing session.
Black girl with a big curly afro hairdo styled with low porosity hair products

3. Try the “Greenhouse” Method.

The greenhouse method is a quick moisture-boosting procedure that you complete after using your favorite moisturizer. Naturals everywhere use this method to prevent moisture loss and dryness after cleansing your hair. 

Here’s how to do the greenhouse method: 

  1. Begin by applying an oil or a cream-based moisturizer to your clean damp hair. 
  2. Cover your head with a plastic cap. If you’re in a pinch, you can use that plastic grocery bag you’ve got in the pantry. 
  3. Leave your head covered overnight. Don’t be surprised if you see water droplets on your cap the next day. This is condensation from the heat of your head and the moisture in the cap. 
  4. Rinse your hair thoroughly in the morning. 

How Often to Moisturize Low Porosity Hair

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There is no exact frequency at which you should moisturize your low porosity hair. This is because moisture retention and loss vary from person to person.

But the good news is that, generally, your hair will tell you when it is thirsty. When your hair feels dry to the touch, don’t be afraid to moisturize it. Most people with low porosity hair moisturize two to five times a week.

Top Moisturizers for Low Porosity Hair 

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Not all moisturizers are created equal when it comes to hydrating your low porosity hair. There are certain ingredients you’ll want to look for in your go-to moisturizers, deep conditioners, and leave-ins to promote moisture. They include:

Jojoba Oil: Jojoba oil is a natural oil that is derived from the jojoba plant. It is similar in composition to the natural oils that our scalp produces, called sebum. This makes the oil easy to distribute and absorb into the hair strands.

Grapeseed Oil: Grapeseed oil is a gem for low porosity hair because it’s lightweight, which makes for easy hair penetration. Heavier oils like olive oil tend to weigh the hair down, making moisture retention next to impossible for low porosity hair. Grapeseed oil is widely loved for its thermal properties. It can protect the hair from damage caused by flat irons and blow dryers.

Avocado Oil: Avocado oil is slightly heavier than the other oils discussed above. However, it is a go-to for people with low porosity hair. Its ability to saturate hair strands with moisture is well-known.

Glycerin: Glycerin is a humectant that draws moisture into your hair from the environment. You’ll find glycerin in tons of natural hair products aimed at hydrating hair. 

Aloe Vera: Aloe vera is extremely moisturizing to the hair and has humectant properties. Just like glycerin, it attracts moisture from the environment into your hair.

Use these ingredients alone or with other moisturizers for maximum moisture retention.

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As you can see, low porosity hair requires very targeted care to accommodate for its distinct structure. We hope that this article has provided you with the tools you need to overcome low porosity hair issues or help someone else who’s dealing with this common issue. By implementing the tips and techniques outlined in this article, you will be well on your way to moist, luxurious curls.