Glycerin For Low Porosity Hair – How Does It Work?

Written by Kassidy Ward

Updated on

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glycerin for low porosity hair

Low porosity hair is very hard to style and maintain because it doesn’t allow water to penetrate the hair shaft. If you’ve been struggling to find the right products and ingredients for your low-porosity hair, you are not alone! It’s frustrating and challenging, and many people face this issue.

But there’s one super-ingredient that can actually be very beneficial for this hair type – glycerin! This powerful humectant retains and attracts moisture, thus leaving your hair hydrated and healthy.

Keep reading as we will dive into the benefits of glycerin and what it can do for your hair. We’ve also added a list of the best products containing glycerin.

What is Glycerin?

glycerol helps to absorb moisture to its surface

Glycerin (or glycerol), a coconut, palm, or soy oil derivative, is a thick and odorless liquid. It is a powerful humectant that helps retain and attract water to the skin and hair, thus effectively preventing moisture loss.

Aside from helping with moisture retention, glycerin has other benefits for the hair, like improving scalp condition and reducing dandruff, stimulating hair growth, and preventing frizz. Its use in cosmetic products has been recently reviewed by the American College of Toxicology and has been deemed safe to use.

Main Properties:

  • Sweet taste.
  • No smell.
  • No color.
  • Environmentally friendly.
  • Jelly-like structure at normal temperature – solidifies as temperature goes down and becomes liquid at high temperatures.
  • Attracts moisture to itself.

Glycerin has been widely used in the beauty industry, but its sweet and jelly-like colorless structure has also found its purpose in the food industry, mostly as a food sweetener that is FDA-approved.

Glycerin and Humidity

As miraculous of an ingredient as glycerin is, there are a few points to keep in mind when using it. Because it’s a humectant, it attracts moisture. If you live in a very humid climate, using glycerin will make your hair draw moisture in excess, leaving you with a fluffy, dry mess of hair.

Additionally, while low-porosity hair can benefit greatly from glycerin products, it isn’t recommended for those with high-porosity hair.

Benefits of Glycerin for Hair

glycerin deliverys optimally hydrated hair strands for people with low porosity hair

Given its natural ability to literally pull moisture from the air, glycerin is widely used for skin and hair moisturizing. In fact, vegetable glycerin is the main ingredient of many humectants that have proven to increase and retain moisture on the top layer of the skin and hair pores.

In order to make sure the humidity and moisture are not only attracted but that it sticks to the skin and hair – glycerin is commonly used in combination with an occlusive- moisturizing agent that kind of forms a seal around the shaft and doesn’t let the moisture out.

However, studies have proven that the combination of glycerin and hyaluronic acid(another humectant) has positive long-term effects on the health of skin, hair, and human pores, even in the long run.

Ava Shamban, a board-certified dermatologist, explains that because it has small molecules, it can effectively penetrate and hydrate the cells of both the hair and the scalp, thus improving dandruff and dry and itchy scalp.

Why is Glycerin Good for Low Porosity Hair?

Aside from the much-needed moisture, low-porosity hair is highly unlikely to be able to absorb common natural oils, heavy oils, and protein treatments. And as such, their particle would only act as a shield and potentially may even cause build-up, further preventing the hair and scalp from breathing normally.

This is where glycerin steps in the picture. Its natural ability to attract moisture and retain it is perfect for the hydration of your hair which normally doesn’t want to get wet. In addition, glycerin-based hair products are widely popular for fixing damaged or dry hair.

Best Glycerin Products for Low Porosity Hair

On this list, we’ll include some of the best products with glycerin for your low porosity hair currently available on the market.

1. Mizani 25 Miracle Milk Leave-In Conditioner

The Miracle Milk leave-in conditioner is made of natural ingredients and is a great finish for controlling frizzy hair. Because it has such a lightweight formula with natural ingredients like coconut oil and glycerin, it’s great for moisturizing dry ends and repairing damage. You can also use this leave-in conditioner to protect your hair from overheating if you use blow dryers or ceramic straighteners and as a detangler for easy combing.

Aside from low-porosity hair, all hair types can benefit from this, including colored and keratin-treated hair. It comes in packages of 8.5 and 13.5 oZ for an affordable price, starting at around $23.

2. Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Banana + Coconut Nourishing Superfood Shampoo

This coconut-scented nourishing shampoo is an excellent choice for scalp moisturizing and is specifically designed for dry and dull hair that’s frizzy and easy to break. It’s a vegan formula packed in a 12.5 oz bottle that can be used for dyed and natural-colored hair, with 98% natural ingredients.

The formula makes use of banana as an antioxidant, coconut for hydration, acai berry for vitamins and minerals, and glycerin as a humectant for moisture retention. The price starts at $50, but it’s not much to pay, considering the effects visible after using a single bottle.

3. Carol’s Daughter Wash Day Delight Jelly-To-Cream Conditioner

This vegan-friendly formula can be purchased for just $10. It’s a moisturizing conditioner that needs to be washed, made out of glycerin and aloe vera juice, combined in a perfect jelly structure. When applied to the hair, the jelly texture turns into cream, which slides through the strands evenly and minimizes tangles and knots. You need to let it rest on wet hair for about 2-5 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water.

It’s the perfect conditioner for tangled and damaged hair that will allow further moisture in the hair while keeping the scalp clean and nutrient-rich from the aloe vera gel.

4. OKAY 100% Pure Glycerin Oil

Starting at $12 per ounce, OKAY is 100% pure glycerin oil that can treat hair and skin issues, empowering cell regeneration and hair growth.

As such, it’s the must-have ingredient at home, which can further be used as a pure medication for treating dry and cracked skin or add it into dozens of available DIY glycerin recipes. Here is an easy moisturizing hair mask you can try at home.

  • 15ml OKAY vegetable glycerin
  • 15ml olive oil
  • 25g honey

Make a homogenous mixture of the ingredient and apply it on damp hair. Let it stay for half an hour, and rinse it off with cold water.

5. Ouidad Curl Shaper

This kiwi-scented curl shaper comes in a neat and simple-colored tube of 2.2 oz. It’s specifically designed for finer hair, so you won’t have to worry about it weighing your strands down.

The Ouidad curl shaper is a glycerin-based cream without added colors and paraben, which is preferred for adding volume to the hair cuticle, regaining its elasticity, and fixing the cracked, dry flaws. If you’re looking for proper hydration and repair of damage, your curls will love this.

6. Oribe Conditioner for Moisture

This dermatologically tested, all-natural deep conditioning cream is one of the most intense hair moisturizers you can find on the market. It’s suitable for all hair types, even keratine-treated and colored hair.

The product is a wash-off deep conditioner that’s good to be gently massaged onto the scalp as well since it contains natural ingredients that nurture both scalp and hair. Its formula contains a blend of shea, illipe Butter, and olive oil for intense moisture and softness, while the mirabelle plum seed oil provides a healthy shine. The hydrolyzed vegetable protein, combined with the glycerin, increases the moisture within the hair shaft, retains it, and prevents any potential frizz.

7. Aveda Cherry Almond Softening Shampoo

There are many products in the Aveda Cherry Almond Softening line, but our top pick is the gigantic pack of their shampoo that will make your low-porosity hair feel weightless without it being dry. It is formulated with Babassu and coconut oil for gentle cleansing and nourishing and cherry blossom and sweet almond oil for softness and shine.

You can purchase it at $47 for 33.8 Fl oz, and it’s an all-natural formula that combines almond oil, a sweet cherry scent, and a strong glycerin base for extra moisture and hydration.

Other Ingredients to Look For

Here are some other great ingredients for moisturizing low-porosity hair, especially if you’re using heavy penetrating oils, such as argan oil, olive oil, and almond oil.

Look for hair products containing these ingredients in combination with glycerin to combat moisture loss. You can even purchase them separately and then easily combine them with the OKAY 100% glycerin oil to create an endless homemade alternative base of hair products that specifically suit your low-porosity hair’s needs.

All you need is some imagination, a spray bottle – and our simple tips on combining glycerin, oily, or butter-based ingredients and a scent that suits your soul.

In this list of ingredients, we’ll also include some DIY recipes that can greatly favor low-porosity hair.


Panthenol is a chemical for embracing hair growth and fixing dead split hair ends. However, it can dry out the skin, so ALWAYS use it with a strong glycerin base. According to Doctor Brendan Camp, a double board-certified dermatologist, panthenol isn’t only a great humectant and an emollient, meaning it can smooth out any imperfections of the hair shaft.

In combination with glycerin, you can restore moisture to your low-porosity hair very efficiently. But be careful not to overdo it, as you risk moisture overload, which can lead to split ends, limp hair, and breakage.

Shea Butter

The amazing shea butter properties make the hair silky and smooth and provide enough nutrients. It has sealing properties, which, combined with the glycerin, will attract and lock in moisture in your hair. Shea butter is also rich in fatty acids and vitamins, so it can effectively reduce split ends, breakage, and dryness. You can add just a drop or two of glycerin oil since the shea butter is already greasy enough.

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is a very lightweight oil that doesn’t weigh down or grease up your hair like other oils. Additionally, it’s an emollient, meaning it will soften your hair and hydrate your scalp. Grapeseed oil is also great for strengthening the hair shaft, reducing dandruff, and adding shine and moisture.

When coupled with glycerin, you have a powerful combination for attracting and retaining moisture in your low-porosity hair.

Aloe Vera Gel or Juice

Aloe Vera is an undisputed super-ingredient regarding skin conditions, but it’s also very beneficial for hair. Some of the benefits include strengthening the hair shaft, controlling grease, promoting hair growth, and protecting hair from UV damage.

You can easily make a very useful DIY conditioner with glycerin oil. Mix a big portion of aloe gel (you can even cut it out with your own aloe plant) and add around 15 ml of glycerin oil. Add a natural scent, or just let it be scentless and save it in a container. You’ll have enough conditioner for a week!

More beneficial ingredients for low-porosity hair include:

  • Sea Algae.
  • Slippery Elm.
  • Flaxseed Gel.
  • Castor oil.
  • Marshmallow Root.
  • Cetyl Alcohol.
  • Glyceryl Stearate.
  • Cetearyl Alcohol.
  • Behentrimonium Methosulfate.

Glycerin Is Low Porosity Hair’s Best Friend

Low-porosity hair can be unmanageable and frustrating to style, but with the help of glycerin, you can add that much-needed moisture and retain it! If you’re only now starting to embrace your natural hair, adding glycerin to your hair care routine can be a game changer. As low-porosity hair is notorious for being unreceptive to water, glycerin can help penetrate your hair strands and attract moisture to them.

If you’re looking to buy a glycerin hair product, make sure that it’s around the first 5 ingredients listed, as this would mean that it’s potent enough to actually do what it’s supposed to. If you’d like to DIY it, be sure to combine the glycerin with some of the ingredients we mentioned for even better results.

Hopefully, our list of homemade masks and glycerin-based products was useful and will help you on your natural hair journey!

About the Author

Kassidy WardKassidy Ward

Kassidy Ward is our curly girl expert and has been following the Curly Girl Method for over 3 years. She's tried just about every product and technique out there to get her curls to cooperate and is always on the lookout for new products to try.

She's also a sucker for free products, which is why she's relentlessly reaching out to manufacturers with her unique persuasive skills. 9 out of 10 times, she wins!