How Do You Know If You Have Low Porosity Hair (Characteristics)


How Do You Know If You Have Low Porosity Hair (Characteristics)

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Low porosity hair can be a fickle pain to manage.

No matter how much moisturizers, deep conditioners, or proteins you throw at it …

It will always look meh and fall flat.

That’s because, low po hair is tightly packed on the outside and won’t let anything in.

how do you moisturize low porosity hair
Low porosity hair characteristics

As a result:

All the products you use on your hair sit on top causing unwanted buildup. Buildup that makes your hair dry, crunchy, and heavily weighed down.

Not to mention, those filthy tangles that make you look like the bride of Frankenstein!

Good luck trying to get your hair to hold on to any style!

Now, if you suspect your hair is low porosity central …

Don’t panic just yet.

Check if it’s showing any of these symptoms below before you go for the chop.

Signs Of Low Porosity Hair

  • Your hair struggles to keep moisture
  • Your hair doesn’t work with conditioners
  • You need heat to activate conditioners
  • There’s always buildup and dirt in your hair
  • You get more dandruff
  • Your hair is too oily or too dry
  • You spend ages drying your hair

Does this sound like you on a bad hair day ?

Truth is:

You probably don’t even know what a good hair day feels like anymore.

But don’t despair.

Let’s figure out if you have a Lo Po hair problem and let’s fix it NOW.

The 3 Minutes Hair Porosity Test

symptoms of low porosity hair
How do you know if you have low porosity hair? The floating test

The quickest way to find out if you have low porosity hair is by doing a strand test.

Follow these simple instructions:

  • Clean your hair with a clarifying shampoo
  • Fill a glass with distilled water
  • Cut a strand of hair
  • Drop it in the glass of water
  • Let it sit for 3 minutes
  • Finally check if you hair floats or sinks

If your hair floats with ease at the top, then it’s cursed with low porosity.

What Causes Low Porosity Hair?

There are 2 main contributing factors to low porosity hair:

  • It could be down to your genetics
  • Or you are not deep cleansing your hair properly

That’s right!

While your regular shampoo gives you plenty of soapy bubbles time and brings out the Whitney Houston in you …

It doesn’t do a good job at cleansing all the buildup from products you use daily.

That said, here’s a list of them …

Products You should Avoid On low Porosity Hair

Not all hair products leave buildup. But it’s important to note that:

  • Some of them are low pH (which force the cuticles to shut)
  • And some are too thick to break into the hair strands.

So here’s the types of products you should avoid for non porous hair:

  • Proteins
  • Low pH products (They close the cuticles)
  • Natural oils and heavy oils (Castor oil, Coconut oil)
  • Co wash products
  • Leave in conditioners
  • Heavy butters (like raw shea)

Let me explain why …

These products are good only when your hair can digest them. If your hair struggles to take them in, being heavy and creamy, they aren’t doing you any favors.

Think of them as lazy molecules that won’t even break a sweat. They will just sit there waiting for your hair to absorb them.

And to absorb them, your hair needs energy and Hydration.

You need to nurture your hair – SPOON FEED it again to start taking in nutrients.

Up The Hydration For Low Po Hair

I see hydration and moisture being used as similar terms on online forums and discussions.

Let’s not confuse hydration with moisture.

They are two completely different things.

Read more here on Wikipedia: Hygroscopy.

To summarise this for you:

  • Hydrating: Ability to absorb moisture from outside
  • Moisturizing: Ability to lock moisture that’s already inside

So there you have it.

Remember: Your hair won’t moisturize, if it’s not hydrating.

You need products with hydrating agents like humectants that can suck in moisture from the surrounding and infuse it into your hair.

Only then, your moisturizer will work by keeping the moisture locked in.

Having said that, these hydrating agents still need a bit of help.

Those tightly packed hair cuticles need to wake up and let them in, and this is the difficult part.

But there’s a solution: The pH level of your hair.

  • Low pH: Closes your hair cuticles
  • High pH: Opens your hair cuticles

So how do you safely nudge them to wake up ?

Use A Clarifying Shampoo To Flex Those Cuticles

Now, I won’t advise you do this daily, but once a week is good enough.

A clarifying shampoo not only cleans the excess buildup, but it also allows your hair to hydrate by removing the dirt barriers.

It works by raising the pH to a safe level to deep cleanse and detox the hair and scalp altogether.

It fizzes away all the impurities that crystallize on your hair and block the pores on the scalp.

Only then, your hair is ready to seep in the goodness from deep conditioners.

Use Heat To Infuse Humectants Into Your Hair

To use hydrating products (deep conditioners and masques), you need to leave them in your hair for at least 5 minutes.

Now I recommend you use heat if you want to get the best out of this.

I use a hair steamer at home because it works well. I couldn’t be asked doing the old school baggy or shower cap methods. They were getting a bit too messy for me and hard to keep up with.

So why do you need heat?

Well that’s because steam from the heat opens up the pores and the hair cuticles to voraciously swallow up all the nutrients from your deep conditioner.

Steam makes your hair absorb. And that’s EXACTLY what you need.

Do this for a few days and you’ll see a huge difference.

If you want to know where I got my hair steamer from, here it is:

And it’s not outrageously expensive either.

I use it to steam my face as well. It’s like having my own mini spa at home.

Can’t help it.

Best of all, you can give your hair a therapeutic treat by adding a drop of essential oil like tea tree or lavender. I love it!

The Low Porosity Hair Products That Work

Ok, so you now know what products you should avoid and what works.

Here’s a quick recap:


  • Low pH Products: They close the cuticles
  • Proteins: They are too heavy for your hair
  • Natural Oils: Again too rich and heavy. They will stay on top
  • Co-Washing: They don’t have surfactants to cleanse
  • Leave Ins: They only cause more buildup
  • Heavy Butters: Not just yet !


  • Clarifying Shampoo: Remove buildup and flex hair cuticles
  • Hydration: Use deep conditioners with humectants
  • Hair Steamer: Opens the hair layers to absorb nutrients

Now let me show you what to get (and how to keep it simple).

This Shea Moisture set contains the right products to get you started:

  • A clarifying shampoo
  • An intensive hydrating conditioner
  • And the hair masque you can use with heat

And to get the best out of them …

Grab this hair steamer (it’s cheaper than a trip to your hair salon!)


Mending low porosity hair is not as hard as most people think.

When you understand the root of the problem, that’s half of it solved.

Tackle it with a methodical approach – Use the right products in the right way.

Most people struggle with where to start and with overwhelming discussions on online forums, it makes the whole thing more confusing.

Let’s keep it simple.

Try this 2 step solution and see how your hair starts to flourish again.

Low porosity hair is all about clarifying, then hydrating.

Kayla Davis
Kayla Davis
Researcher, Writer, and Editor

Kayla 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.