By Chinwe of Hair and Health

Porosity.  What is it?  It is a measure of how easily water and other substances can enter and exit the hair strand.  Depending on the condition of the hair’s cuticle layers, the porosity can rank from low (i.e., the result of flat, tightly bound cuticles) to high (i.e., the result of gaps or lifted cuticles).  Highly porous hair is more susceptible to moisture loss.  On the other hand, low porosity hair is more resistant to moisture loss … and also more resistant to moisture uptake.  If you have low porosity hair, check out these techniques for getting moisture into your strands:

1. Steam your hair

Some naturals with low porosity strands benefit from this routine.  The process is fairly simple and involves sitting under a hair steamer for 15-30 minutes.  Even if you do not own a steamer, you can still perform this step by being innovative (e.g., soak a towel in warm/hot water, wring slightly, wrap around your hair, then cover with a large plastic bag, and sit under a hooded dryer).  The purpose of this step is to lift the cuticle layers and infuse the hair strand with moisture.

2. Baggy your hair

This process involves applying a moisturizer to your hair, then covering with a plastic cap/bag until water vapor builds up in the cap/bag.  Some naturals prefer to do this process overnight while sleeping or during the day with a beanie or head wrap to disguise the plastic cap/bag.  Either way, the purpose of this method is to create a humid environment in which the hair has no choice but to absorb some moisture.

3. Lather twice while washing

Some of us prefer to lather once so as to not strip our strands of its natural oils, but those with low porosity hair may benefit from lathering twice. Why? Well, lathering twice can better remove product buildup and improve moisture uptake by the hair.  Additionally, some naturals who have low porosity claim to benefit from mixing a little baking soda with their shampoo.  (Take caution with doing this latter step as baking soda may or may not be harsh depending on your hair.)

4. Use a curl activator

Do you remember the “jheri curl” or “leisure curl”? Curl activators were used to replenish and retain moisture to these chemically treated looks in order to prevent dryness and breakage.  Though naturals obviously do not have these chemical treatments, many of those with low porosity have found the use of curl activators to be beneficial in moisturizing their strands.

5. Apply your moisturizer to damp not wet hair

Many naturals who have low porosity find that applying moisturizers (and even sealants) to soaking wet hair is not as effective as doing so to damp hair.  This is probably because as the hair dries, water droplets on and in the strand have evaporated a bit leaving room for your moisturizer to penetrate (and your sealant to coat your cuticle layers).  Obviously, you do not want to wait until your hair is completely dry; apply these products when your hair is damp.

Do you have low porosity?  Have you tried any of these methods?


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44 Comments on "5 Ways to Get Moisture into Low Porosity Natural Hair"

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Hello ladies I have low porosity hair as well I am still trying to get the loc or lco method down.i read that curl activator helps .so I would use the curl activator as my liquid sheabutter for my cream and avocado oil as my oil?.I just need a good moisturizing method any suggestions will help????

JJes Jes
I recommend reading this http://science-yhairblog.blogspot.com/2014/07/moisturizing-low-porosity-hair.html Find an oil your hair likes, my LOPO hair likes CASTOR oil only for pre poo, “deep condition”, seal, because it is a polar oil it allows water to be absorbed into my hair rather than block water entry like coconut oil… Find a PENETRATING WATER GRABBING protein/humectant yr hair likes(fine-medium strands), for me it’s silk amino acids, honeyquat, and always use with heat, they are penetrating ingredients but because lopo hair cuticles are so tightly shut they will sit on the hair without heat. Check yr water quality (build up on kitchen utensils, water… Read more »

I have lo po hair and a dry scalp and i am beginning to get frustrated!I keep trying diffrent methods and I am unsure what is working. pls help!


I am not a lo-po gal but I have read that using mousse and gel and things with alcohol are a no-no. Oils on top of oils are also a no no. I suggest trying shea moisture curl enhancing smoothie as your cream in the LOC/lco method. Give it a try!!!


Yes, I use something similar. Alaffia Virgin Coconut and Shea enriching hair lotion. It works wonders on Lo-po hair.

Hi all, Hopefully, this can help some of you and in return help me as well. I found out my hair has low porosity a while ago, and every since have been trying to find the right things to use on my twa. This is my second time BCing, and have even had locs for a while… And I can still barely get this right. My hair does NOT like to absorb moisture. My cuticles are shut! Before I found out that my strands are porous, I thought because my hair needed a lot of moisture that I could pile… Read more »

Elasta QP moisturiser is sooooo good for type 4 hair i couldnt find it for some time and my hair was so dry. Found it again and after 1 use my hair is feeling healthy already


I’m a lo-po girl and I started to lather twice and baggy my hair more often. It does leave my hair softer, just not as long as I would like. I’ve just read somewhere recently that after the wash process on damp hair use the loc/lco method and then baggy my hair. Then after 30 min or an hr I should spritz my hair with cold aloe Vera juice or acv to close the hair cuticle up and it will help to retain all the moisture I just put in. Trying that today.


I know for me after two years of dealing with low porosity hair I’m totally confused. I love Hawaiian silky but it contains mineral oil and I was told not to use glycerin in the winter. HOWEVER that is the only thing that moisturizes my hair. I have tried all of these methods and I have plans to do the cherry Lola treatment once I take out these twists. I pray to god it works I’m on the slippery slope if heat training or a texturizer GASP I’m trying to stay strong


Hey Tamika

Girl if it works for you, use it! Use that Hawaiian silky! lol products containing mineral oil, petrolatum etc. are so-called ‘no-no’s!’ because they are detrimental to some people’s natural hair, but if they are helpful for you, you shouldn’t exclude them just because someone said you should. Especially not when it’s the only thing that works! If you’re on the hunt for an alternative, in the meantime enjoy using Hawaiian silky, don’t stress yourself!

Hope that encourages you!


My hair loved Hawaiian silky when I tried it. Unfortunately I had to stop because the lanolin in it made my scalp itch – it was like wearing a wool sweater on my scalp (just too itchy too stand). I encourage you to hang on to products that seem to work for you. There is a lot of an advice out there that may work for certain hair types, but not all.


I too love 14 n 1 hawaiian silky. Its the only thing that keeps me moist and doesn’t fade away thru out the day. Wish there was some like it for washing.

I learned today that I am low porosity and actually became depressed. I am 2nd round trying and 1 yr 2 mos natural. I’ve already been struggling with if I was actually natural or not because I only wear braids out or twist outs. I avoided the big chop by wearing a sew in for over a year before chopping/trimming. I know I can’t do wash and gos and I am obsessed with needing a defined curl or wave. I was doing a deep condition via bagging using svc and Giovanni conditioner when I learned my hairs true fate and… Read more »
I do lather twice on the lower 2/3rds of my bra-strap-length hair, as I seem to need to to get the oil out. I just dc with coconut oil, but I’m very new to this so once I’ve got that figured out I’ll see about adding a post-wash treatment or oil. The trouble is all the natural ones stick like glue and just make my hair greasy, so maybe a little coconut post-wash as well would be the way to go. Anyway, I’ll definitely be using the damp-rather-than-wet tip, I’ve only tried wet and dry so far but I can… Read more »

Hey Curlies!! I am so thankful for all the info everyone has shared!! I am able to grow my hair quickly but I was always unable to retain moisture, until I started adding baking soda to my cowash once a week followed by my deep conditioner( overnight baggy method) with steam in the a.m. I am soo eager to try curl activator to see if it works on this head as well as it has for some of you.
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I use a combination of a few of the above mentioned methods – I pre-poo w/ oil, using the overnight baggy method; deep condition using one of the steam methods; and I apply moisturizers to damp hair – with good results. I find, however, I receive the best results after I shampoo with a sulfate-free shampoo than I do with co-washing. Going forward, I will cleanse my hair twice per week with a shampoo and omit my weekly co-wash.


I accidentally discovered that putting products on while my hair is damp really makes a huge difference. Putting them on dry is a no-no and putting them on soaking wet hair also is a no go.

Now I will have to try the curl activator.


I have tried hot oil treatments/deep conditioning with a heating cap and/or under a hooded dryer, curl activator, applying product to damp hair, non sulfate shampoos – the works. I don’t own a steamer and am afraid that baggying will leave my “takes forever and a day” to dry hair too wet. What works for me is the Kimmaytube leave in conditioner concoction. It leaves my hair moisturized and soft; it’s going to be a staple for me.

Like you I have tried a lot, including kimmaytube. I have had my best results so far by doing the loc method and co-washing frequently, then in turn doing a deep cleansing here and there. I will continue dc in moderation but it does not really make a huge difference. By co-washing, I can remove some of the excess conditioners/oily stuff so that I can do the loc method daily without getting too greasy, because I have fine hair. The loc method is like the only thing that seems to moisturize my hair and yet I have a 3a, fine,… Read more »

I have tried the LOC method and it left my hair greasy and dry (my hair responds best to products applied to damp hair). So far, the Kimmaytube conditioner mix is the only thing that keeps my hair moisturized and soft with minimal shedding. I use the curly girl method – no sulfates and no silicones. Thanks for sharing your experience, Charlotte! ????


Idk how those question marks got inserted.

I do find the loc method to be quite heavy but I want healthy hair so I have been dealing with it. However, I am bored of no volume. Unfortunately I cannot use glycerin products or aloe Vera. Any ideas? My hair rejects conditioner, even on damp hair, by the time my hair is fully dry, it is really dry, unless I seal with Shea butter, which is heavy on my hair. I want to try henna but it is said to only work on dry hair. If I wait until my hair is dry before putting anything on it,… Read more »

I agree with you Pam, that works for me also, I end up with shiny, soft, moisturized hair.


my friend has always struggled with her low porosity hair and she told me that using the sauna at the gym and a curl activator has helped tremendously! Definitely would suggest it to others in the same scenario. My hair isn’t as porous, I have 3b curls, but both techniques worked great for me as well : )


I should add that the long aide activator can be sticky and tacky if you use too much. I tend to section my hair and apply it however, I don’t shingle it into my hair. I shingle only when I use the styler of choice on top of the long aide activator. Hope this helps someone.


So you are basically saying that you use a curl activator as a leave in conditioner? What is the difference when a lot of conditioners contain glycerin as well? I’m trying to understand. 🙂


I use the long aide activator as a leave-in or combine it now with the Giovanni Direct leave in. Many products like the giovanni direct leave in has glycerine but apparently not enough for me so I have to add more by using the the long aide activator.

I have very low porosity hair and I have stugggled to find any products that will absorb into my hair. Until very recently I stayed away from thick butters like shea or mango butters or any thick conditioners because it would not penetrate into my hair. However, I have stumbled on to a system that works for me and found that I can use butters and creamy thick conditioners. I co-wash or use terresential’s mud wash as my cleanser. I let my hair dry a little so it is damp by plopping a white tee-shirt on my hair. On damp… Read more »

We offer a hand held steamer for quick convenient hydration treatments. Convenient enough to be used several times between cleansing days without the need to apply more product or get the hair wet. The steamer is called the Q-Redew.
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I tried s curl with weird results.. I dunno, it was a year ago when I first tried it so I only remember not getting the same results others claimed to get. The baking soda thing works well though; I mix mine with conditioner and water then let it sit for a few minutes. I use it like shampoo.. Yogurt, honey, and bentonite clay are also good. I avoid a lot of oils, like hot oil treatments, because they make my hair greasy and knot up really bad.


I have low porosity hair and Hawaiian Silky is my TRUTH!!!!


Maybe I just need to try the other brands of activators, like Hawaiian silky


I have another curl activator and it’s great on my daughter’s hair but just okay on mine, I need to try Hawaiian silky


#2 work


I have low porosity hair and recently started using s-curl activator and my hair LOVES it! 🙂

Bridget J

I have low porosity hair and employ two of the methods listed. First, I apply my moisturizer and styling products on damp not wet hair. If I apply it to soaking wet hair it just slides of the hair leaving my strands parched and wasted product. Second, I often incorporate curl activators into my styling process. Either apply it before or after applying gel to my hair. My personal favorites are Long Aid activator gel and Care Free Gold curl activator.


Regarding tge bking soda. I found making a rinse with 3 tablespoons of baking soda to 8 cups of water, then rinsing after my cowash helps. After you do this follow up with a good moisturizing deep conditioner. Only do this once a month. It really works and its not so harsh on the hair.


beautiful model and beautiful hair on model




Are you MRS.KINKY on youtube cause you both stay angrily saying irrelevant shit in all-caps?

I think Tina might be referring to the definitions of low- and high-porosity: they’re almost identical. That could be confusing and frustrating for someone trying to figure out which category their thirsty hair falls into. Also, some of the suggested methods involve lifting the cuticle, but since the hair in question is porous, it seems logical that the moisture will just flow right back out, since the cuticle is still open. Sealing after moisturizing is the missing step that’s critical for porous hair. (I’d say rinse with cool water or ACV diluted with cool water to close the cuticle and… Read more »
I just realized I have low porosity hair so I have been doing a lot of research about it and low and high porosity hair is very different. With low porosity the problem is not sealing, it’s actually the opposite, the cuticle is so tight that the moisture has a hard time getting in, so it is very important to try to lift/open the cuticle to be able to get some moisture in. Many people recommend not using a sealant at all on low porosity hair because it doesn’t need it and the build up can further prevent moisture from… Read more »
Sabrina @seriouslynatural

I haven’t but I will as soon as I can. Just found out I have low porosity hair.
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