How Often to Wash Low Porosity Hair – Is Once a Week Enough?

Written by Kayla Davis

Updated on

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how often to wash low porosity hair

Like you, I have low porosity hair. But I only wash it once a week.

In fact:

Once a week is how often you need to wash low porosity hair to keep it soft, moisturized, and free from buildup until your next wash.

But here’s a confession. It wasn’t always that easy for me!

I’ve battled with greasy scalp buildup, dry ends, flat hair, and a head full of tangles, that would force me to reach for my shampoo almost 3 times a week (minimum).

I’ve even tried:

  • Mustard oil treatments
  • Baking soda scrubs
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • And pre-poo treatments

Sadly, they were all a waste of time, and I couldn’t keep up.

Until I figured out what works. Thanks to Reddit

And it’s dead simple.

You only need to remember 2 things when it comes to washing low porosity hair:

  • Clarify
  • Hydrate

Yes. That’s all you need.

A good scrub followed by a melting dose of hydration and moisture.

Unlike high porosity hair which requires a lot more care and attention, I figured out my hair is a hell of a lot easier to care for and I wouldn’t have it the other way round.

If you have low porosity hair, and you’re struggling to find the right balance with:

  • How often to wash
  • When to wash
  • Whether to wash and go more often
  • Or to adopt a co-wash routine

Stay with me.

Today I am going to show my exact process for cleansing and moisturizing your hair so that you can skip your shampoo for 1 week or even more.

Here’s what I will cover:

  • Types of buildup on low porosity hair
  • How to wash low porosity hair with hard water
  • Best products to wash low porosity hair
  • Wash and go methods for low porosity hair
  • Co-washing routines
  • Products to avoid
  • Essential products you need for low porosity hair

Once you understand how to wash low porosity hair with the right method, you’ll be washing your hair less!

But first, let me ask you this simple question?

What’s the biggest problem you face when washing low porosity hair?

  • Removing buildup
  • Shrinkage
  • Dryness
  • Breakage
  • Tangles?

I get it.

Truth is, these problems are inevitable.

It’s all about how you manage them with a good hair care routine that works with your hair, not against it.


Why Low Porosity Hair Can Be Hard To Manage?

Low porosity hair does not like moisture.

That’s because the cuticles are completely flat, and do not allow anything to pass through.

In short, your hair rejects moisture.

Here’s an illustration that explains how it looks from the outside:

how frequently to wash low porosity hair

The problem with water and moisture repelling hair is that, instead of absorbing water and your nutrients-rich hair products, it forces them to sit on the outside.

What happens next is a slow accumulation of product buildup that makes your scalp greasy, and the ends of your hair dry.

So why do your ends stay dry?

That’s because sebum, your scalp’s natural oil gets swamped by all the hair products, therefore unable to lubricate the length of your hair.


If you think you are suffering from these symptoms, it’s essential you find out whether you do have low porous hair.

In some cases, it could be that you’re just using the wrong products that are not helping your causes.


Do You Have Low Porosity Hair? Here’s the Easy Way to Figure it Out

The easiest way to find out if your hair is low porosity is to do the float test.

hair porosity flat test

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Make sure you wash your hair first
  • Let it dry
  • Cut a strand of hair
  • Fill up a glass with water
  • Drop that piece of hair in the glass of water
  • Check if it sinks or floats

If your hair floats at the top, it’s one of the characteristics of low porosity hair.

This means your hair will always reject moisture in the form of water, oils, and creams.

As a result, you’ll get buildup on your scalp easily.


Types Of Buildup On Low Porosity Hair

residues from low porosity hair
Residues from low porosity hair

Scalp and hair buildup can be mild or heavy, and this depends on a few things related to your lifestyle.

For example:

  • How much hair products you use daily
  • If you wash your hair with hard water
  • How often you do a deep cleanse
  • And how often you use heavy oils and creams

Let’s take a look at the types of buildup that happens to low porosity hair:

Sebum Buildup

Naturally, your hair should be soaking up sebum from your scalp. That’s the reason your scalp produces this glorious oil. To feed your hair strands so that they stay supple, smooth, and resistant to breakage.

Imagine what would happen if your scalp didn’t produce sebum and distributed it to your hair?

Your hair would become severely dry, brittle, and eventually break.

sebum coating low porosity hair
Sebum coating and distribution method

So sebum, whether you like it or not, is a vital component that keeps your hair healthy.

But if your hair refuses to cooperate, then you have a problem.

The whole process fails.

You see, if your hair cannot absorb sebum, then where does it end up?

It stays on top of your hair or worse – it accumulates on your scalp!

Which is why some of us feel like an oil slick, and the constant need to wash our head or throw tons of dry shampoos to fix the problem.

Sebum accumulation on the scalp causes a host of problems, for example:

It can lead to inflammations, blocked pores, and even suffocate the hair follicles, therefore, slowing or impeding growth.

Other external factors that cause buildup in your hair are hair products or your shower water.

Let’s have a look …

Product Buildup

Let’s be honest, most of us are guilty of layering products on our hair especially when we are too busy.

[me author=”kayla” label=”I do this too.”]

Sometimes I will spray dry shampoo on my hair before and after gym because I don’t have time to wash my hair.


But then I forget, I used hair serums, leave in conditioning treatments, and refreshing sprays in the morning for work.

Next day, it’s the same old routine.

  1. Refresh my hair with dry shampoo in the morning
  2. Layer up some fancy products to make it look presentable
  3. Go to work, then hit the gym
  4. Then mask my hair with dry shampoos again

The problem:

These products accumulate over the week.

And the worst ones are silicone-based products.

Here’s why?

Silicone is like a rubber or plastic substance which coats your hair to smooth out the cuticles and make them look shiny.

While it does a pretty good job, the layer it creates on top of your hair becomes sticky over time. Silicone layers then become resistant to shampoos. They don’t wash out, therefore, blocking moisture from getting into your hair.

Other similar substances are minerals in hard water.

Hard Water Minerals Buildup

how often to wash low porous hair in hard water
How often to wash low porosity hair in hard water

Minerals in hard water are resistant to shampoos and soaps.

That’s why you’ll always see them around your faucets, bathtub, and taps.

If you are washing your hair in hard water or well water, you’re not washing off the minerals that deposit onto your scalp or hair.

Unless you use a chelating shampoo, these nasty minerals won’t go away.

What they do instead is they sit on your hair and crystalize. The crystallization process is what blocks external moisture from getting into your hair.

And finally, we all do this one …

Overloading our hair with oils to heal dryness.

But, does it always work?

Heavy Oils Buildup (Wrong Treatments For Low Porosity Hair)

coconut oil on low porosity hair
Coconut oil on low porosity hair

If you have low porous hair and you use heavy oils, this aggravates the problem instead of fixing it.

Heavy oils – like their name imply, are heavy and lazy.

For example:

  • Coconut oil
  • Castor oil

won’t help to moisturize hair with flat cuticles.

Imagine them as lazy molecules that won’t make an effort.

You apply them to your hair, but they sit there. They won’t break a sweat to move in.

What they do instead, they dry and become sticky on top.

Now, good luck trying to rinse out coconut oil or castor oil off your hair in one go.

It will take at least 2 washes to rinse them out completely. And by that time, you’ve overwashed your hair, and made it even drier!

If you want to adopt an optimum washing routine, follow a lifestyle that causes less buildup.

  • Avoid silicone based products
  • Wash with hard water shampoos
  • Don’t overdo it with dry shampoos
  • Use a boar bristle brush to balance out sebum

And then washing low porosity hair becomes easy.


How Often To Wash Low Porosity Hair – Based on Buildup

how frequent to co wash low porosity hair

How often you need to wash low porosity hair depends on your type of buildup.

But ultimately, your goal is to:

  • Remove product buildup
  • Cleanse and moisturize
  • Refresh
  • And make your hair stay soft and moist for longer

So let’s dive right into the process.

How to Wash Low Porosity Hair

[me author=”kayla” label=”Let’s go back to the float test again.”]

I want you to try something new this time.


Follow the same process:

  1. Wash your hair
  2. Let it dry
  3. Cut a piece of your hair

This time, you will use a glass of warm water.

Before you drop that piece of hair into the glass of water, do this:

With your fingers, dip that piece of hair into the glass and keep it there for 3 minutes.

The idea is to drench the hair and saturate it entirely with water.

Now, just let it go, and see how it behaves in that glass of water.

[me author=”kayla” label=”What do you see?”]

This piece of hair is now sinking slowly into the glass!


Lesson I learned from doing this:

Hair saturated with warm water, allows water-soluble products to pass through.

That’s because warm water:

  • Gently opens the pores
  • Lifts hair cuticles
  • And loosens dirt and buildup

What will happen now is, when you wash your hair, it responds better to your shampoos, and nutrients-rich conditioners.

But before you lather up with your shampoo, I recommend that you deep cleanse your hair.


Because a deep cleanse will prime your hair for maximum conditioner absorption.

So here’s how you need to wash low porosity hair:

  1. Saturate with warm water for 3 minutes
  2. Use a clarifying shampoo to deep cleanse & prime
  3. Wash with a low porosity shampoo (Alkaline)
  4. Preen your hair to remove all excess water
  5. Apply conditioner to damp hair (Not soaking wet)
  6. Finish by drying your hair with a microfiber towel

Alkaline agents help to lift hair cuticles when washing hair safely. It’s important because you’re now prepping your hair to receive conditioning and moisturizing treatments during your shower.

Best Products For Washing Low Porosity Hair

Bounce Curl Gentle Clarifying Shampo

The ideal shampoo to deep cleanse and give your cuticles a gentle nudge to wake up, and start feeding on nutritious conditioners and moisturizers.

Next up after your deep cleanse, you’ll need a protein-free low porosity hair shampoo.

Shea Moisture Intensive Hydration Shampoo & Conditioner

Low porosity protein free shampoo

This shampoo is ideal for low porosity, protein sensitive hair that is resistant to water and moisture.


Here’s why this shampoo is non-negotiable when it comes to washing low porosity hair:

  • Fast-absorbing
  • Works on curly, coily, ziggly hair
  • Sulfate-free
  • Color-safe
  • Balanced hydration
  • Ultra nourishing
  • Gentle cleansing formula

The Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt shampoo ticks all the boxes. Plus you have the option to buy a conditioner in the same line.

How convenient!

The conditioner is so wonderfully light and yet incredibly hydrating.

It will soothe and quench your thirsty hair with nutrient-packed waters to lock in moisture, and give your hair an enlivened bounce once you step out of that shower.

Just make sure you have a soft towel that won’t ruffle your hair and create tangles and frizz again.

Aquis Microfiber Towel

microfiber towel for low porosity hair

Anti-static, anti-frizz, and anti-breakage towel that absorbs water without the need to rub.


The Aquis microfiber towel squeezes out excess water from your hair without the need to rub and create friction.

Simply wrap your hair in the towel and leave it for a few minutes, and unwrap for tangle-free soft curls.

Washing Low Porosity Hair in Hard Water

For those of you who unfortunately live in hard water areas, I have one important tip.

Double up on your clarifying treatment.

A Chelating shampoo is what you’ll need.

A chelating shampoo has double benefits when it comes to deep cleansing your hair. It contains chelating agents that trap hard water minerals and flush them out from your hair and scalp.

Here’s the top chelating shampoo I use and recommend:

Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo

hard water shampoos

The best hard water shampoo to wash low porosity hair.


I also use the Malibu C hard water crystals twice a month for a proper purge.

[me author=”kayla” label=”I like the fizzing sensation”]

This thing seriously works like magic!


The Malibu C crystal gel is easy to use.

Just rub it in your palms with a drop of water and slather it on your head. Leave it on for a few minutes while you enjoy the tingling sensation.

Now rinse and enjoy how light and fresh your head feels.

check it out:

Malibu C Crystal Gels

If you still need a refresh during the week because of gym commitments, or you generally get very sweaty on your scalp, then you have 2 simple and easy ways to keep your hair clean without the full-on scrub.


Wash and Go for Low Porosity Hair

Here’ the thing …

With today’s hectic lifestyle, you cannot afford to spend 45 minutes during a weekday on washing and styling your hair.

Wash n’ go’s are super low maintenance and easy ways to refresh your hair in between your washes when you’re super pressed for time.

Note: There is no need to deep cleanse your hair. Your weekly routine is enough to take care of removing buildup.

The main objective of a wash and go routine is to help your curls find their spring again with a surge of hydration and a mood-lifting gorgeous fresh scent.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Wash your hair with the Shea moisture LP shampoo
  2. Rinse
  3. Pat your hair dry with the microfiber towel to remove excess water
  4. Apply your Low porosity hair gel on damp hair
  5. Style as required
  6. Diffuse or air dry

No time for air drying?

Use a blow dryer with diffuser. I like the volume and luscious feeling it gives my hair.

Use low air flow and medium heat and see the difference!

Products you’ll need:

Carol's Daughter Curl Cleansing Co-Wash

Pick up a silicone-free hair gel that absorbs fast to define and smooth out your curls. See below for my top picks …

A Good Gel For Low Porosity Hair

DevaCurl Ultra Defining Gel

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curling Souffle

The Blow Dryer For Low Porosity Hair

DevaDryer With Diffuser

Another quick way to skip a full on washing is to do co-washing.

Let me explain what it is …


Co-Wash For Low Porosity Hair

Co-washing means conditioner-only washing.

Which means you will skip your shampoo and use a conditioner only to clean your tresses.

Here’s why it works?

A weekly clarifying shampoo treatment preps your hair in advance for optimum absorption. Therefore, your hair stays ready to absorb anything you throw at it in the next few days.

When you use a silicone-free conditioner to wash your hair, it is using optimum PH to replenish moisture and ensure it does not strip your hair’s natural oils.

It is also important to note that conditioners contain a small amount of surfactant (what shampoo uses to cleanse your hair).

Here’s how to do co washing for low porosity hair:

1. Saturate your hair with warm water
Soft water will help loosen dirt and open the pores and cuticles in your hair. It also helps to distribute your conditioner evenly.
2. Apply your conditioner
Use enough conditioner to coat the full length of your hair (from root to tip). Don’t forget – you are cleansing not conditioning. So use a generous amount.

3. Massage the conditioner evenly
Take your time and massage the conditioner to loosen dirt and let it soak into your hair. It will take about 5 minutes.
4. Rinse thoroughly
Finally, rinse your hair thoroughly and let it air dry or use a blow dryer with a diffuser.

And that’s it!

Your hair will feel light, refreshed, and exceptionally swooshy with a lot of bounce and energy.

Whichever routine you adopt, don’t forget:

It’s all about using the right products for low porosity hair. Products that won’t cause buildup or create layers on top of your hair.


Products to Avoid on Low Porous Hair

Silicone-based products create layers on top of your hair to give the illusion of a smooth and shiny surface. They become stubborn barriers in between your hair and your moisturizing products. Avoid them if your hair doesn’t respond well to conditioning treatments.
Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is heavy. It over seals the cuticle layer of your hair, thus preventing water from being absorbed into your hair.
Heavy Proteins
Low porosity hair is protein sensitive. If you add more protein on top, it becomes stiff and brittle. This results in dried out residues.
Heavy Butter
Just like Coconut oil, heavy butter also over seals the cuticle layer. And by its very nature, it doesn’t work to penetrate the hair. Instead, it sits and waits to be absorbed. Unless you use a hair steaming treatment to force it in, it won’t get into your hair.
Cotton Towels
The fibers in cotton towels are too rough for low porosity hair. They create friction and static. What you need is a super absorbent towel that can absorb excess moisture without the need to rub.

And finally, here’s one of my favorite hack that keeps my hair clean in between washes.

The simple act of brushing to stimulate my scalp, balance out sebum, and of course the most important thing of all – it removes accumulated dirt.


Brushing is as Important as Washing. And You’ll Love it!

Now, here’s my favorite trick that keeps my hair clean from buildup and properly lubricated along the lengths all day long.

Before I go to sleep, I brush with a boar bristle brush.

Here’s exactly what it does:

  • It cleans my scalp from buildup and dust
  • It gently massages my scalp (yes it feels good)
  • It keeps my hair soft
  • It stimulates my scalp

And best of all, it distributes sebum from my scalp all the way to the ends of my hair. In short, it uses your scalps own natural oil to moisturize your hair without making it feel greasy or weighed down.

If you are not using a Boar Bristle Brush yet, it’s time you try one.

Denman Boar Bristle Brush

brush for cleaning low porosity hair

The best brush to stimulate your scalp and remove dirt, dust, and lint. And it makes your hair super smooth, easy to detangle in minutes.




So there you have it.

Once a week is how often you need to wash low porosity hair.

If you need a refresh in between, adopt the co-wash or wash-and-gos to get you through the week.

And don’t forget, stack up on the right products.

They do make a huge difference!

About the Author

Kayla DavisKayla Davis

Kayla Davis is a self-proclaimed skincare and haircare junkie who loves testing out new products and writing about her experiences. Her bathroom shelves are always overflowing with beauty products. You name it - it's there.