Getting to know my low porosity hair
Having been natural for years now, I’m finally getting a better understanding of my hair – what’s good for it and what isn’t. I have low porosity, coarse, high density hair. If hair typing is your thing, I’d say my hair is easily in the 4b/4c range. My hair is protein sensitive and does not, I repeat, does not like everyone’s “holy grail”, coconut oil. Oh, did I mention that I’ve been going grey since I was about 19 years old, so I’ve got white strands and a few white patches throughout my hair.
Out of all of those challenges, low porosity was the hardest for me to deal with, especially as a newbie. In the beginning, I wondered; why is the conditioner sitting on my hair, why is it taking hours and hours for my hair to dry, why doesn’t it feel soft, why is it so brittle? What am I doing wrong? Low porosity hair needs a lot of love and understanding. But once you figure it out, you realize that this hair type actually has a lot to offer. Read on for tips on how to moisturize low porosity hair.
Tips for moisturizing low porosity hair
To me, low porosity hair is probably the most challenging of the three porosity types (normal and high, being the other two). In low porosity hair, the cuticle layer of the hair shaft is very tightly closed making it difficult for water and conditioning agents to penetrate the hair shaft. But on the flip side, once that moisture is in, it’s in. But you have to know how to get it in and keep it in. Healthy low porosity hair is strong, elastic, and shiny and you only need to remoisturize a couple of times a week. Here are some tips for moisturizing low porosity hair that have worked for me.
- Use a prepoo treatment. You can use an oil, a mix of oils, a conditioner containing oils, or a butter. A prepoo treatment is very beneficial for low porosity hair because it can add softness, slip, and weight (which helps with frizz). Penetrating oils like coconut, sunflower, olive, avocado, or grapeseed are good choices. Some recommend applying this treatment hours before washing your hair. But if you don’t have that kind of time (and many of us don’t) you can use a thermal heat cap or steamer for ½ hr and let it work its magic. After the treatment, wash thoroughly.
- Always deep condition. Deep conditioning works best if you leave it on for a minimum of ½ hr but you can leave it on for as long as you like. For low porosity hair, I’ve found that deep conditioning works best with heat. Heat sources such as a steamer, a hooded dryer or a thermal heat cap work equally well. If you don’t have any of these items, simply cover your hair with a plastic cap, put a hat on top of that and let your body heat do the work.
- Water down your conditioner. I know we’re taught to just slather on conditioner straight from the bottle onto our hair. But it’s true what they say “water is the best moisturizer”. The point here is to saturate your entire head. Imagine, water aided by conditioner penetrating every inch of your dry strands. There’s nothing better. I use about 2 ounces of conditioner to 6 ounces of water. I divide my hair into sections and then work this conditioner mixture throughout. I twist up each section then proceed to deep condition with heat.
- Seal in moisture with an oil. Low porosity hair usually responds better to the L(liquid/leave-in), C(cream), O(oil) method rather than the famous LOC method. Always use your liquid/leave-in first, and your oil last. After my leave-in, I apply a light weight moisturizer before I apply my favourite oil mixture. Some may even want to forgo the cream and apply oil right after the leave in.
- Try bagging or using the GHE (green house effect) method on your hair (either at night or when you’ve got a few hours and nowhere to go). I’ve tried both of these methods, and I think they’re both great for bringing back moisture to very dry strands and encouraging growth. These are good options for a mid-week “pick-me-up” for your hair. Warning: Your hair will be damp after these sessions. So, what I like to do then is place my hair in a high puff and rock those natural curls.
- Make satin your best friend. Whether you sleep with a satin cap or use a satin pillowcase, satin does not rob your hair of moisture the way cotton does. So ditch the cotton pillowcase and let your head slip and slide on satiny heaven. And for extra good measure, especially during these cold winter months, find yourself a satin lined hat. Now that is protection!
What are your tips for moisturizing low porosity hair?