5 Ways to Get Moisture into Low Porosity Natural Hair


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 thoughts on “5 Ways to Get Moisture into Low Porosity Natural Hair

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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 on a lot of oils to keep my hair moisturized. And whether is worked or not, I just didn’t like how greasy, heavy, and dirty my hair felt after applying the Shea butter mix I threw together. It came to a point where I could not wash my hair with regular shampoo – my hair turned into a putty like substance with a lot a slip. I thought that could only mean one thing: product overload. I retired the Shea butter mix because, sadly, it was too much for my hair. I love Shea butter, but it’s not the butter for me.

    Now, (as of today actually) I have new products in my regimen and will be giving these oils a try. Because I hate the way heavy oils sit on top of my strands, I’ve opted for lighter oils like jojoba and grape seed. Instead of using heavy Shea butter I am going to use coconut oil. I purchased castor oil too, but found out it’s heavy so I am using it as a leave in spritz for now, until I find other beneficial ways to use it. I always apply to damp hair, never soaking wet or dry hair. After reading some of the comments, I am looking to try an activator. I’m still researching for the best, and will hopefully be back with more info and news.

    The LOC method I used today on freshly washed hair:
    L: Water & castor oil in a spray bottle, shake it up, spray and rub in
    O: Jojoba, grape seed, and tea tree essential oil, stirred, rubbed all over hair
    C: Coconut, grape seed, jojoba, and tea tree essential oil, stirred, rubbed a very small amount into fro

    I tied my hair down with a scarf afterwards and hope to see something tomorrow. I will definitely check back in.

    Nappy Growing!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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 kettle), Hard water can make symptoms worse. (Minerals in the water will coat yr hair, therefore keeping out moisture or penetrating ingredients)

    My hair doesn’t care for conditioners, i like to seal/style with a Xanthan gum gel( High dew point weather)/castor oil and when applying all products do so in tiny tiny sections.

    So hope this helped you, I was about to give up on my lopo hair too, it’s accepting moisture since doing the steps above and i also make my own hair products because it is really hard for me to find stuff that works. Another thing, as my hair gets more moisturized I would try other products such as coconut oil to prevent excess moisture when washing but for now I am staying away because my goal is to get the moisture levels up.

  8. 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????

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