How to Care For Different Hair Porosity Types

Megan Dominion

There are three kinds of hair porosity types: Low, Medium and High. Your hair’s porosity depends on the structure of your hair.

It pays to know that hair has three main layers which are the inner Medulla, the center Cortex and the outer Cuticle. The cuticle’s purpose is basically to protect the cortex, which houses all the moisture and nutrients of your hair. The cortex is shaped kind-of like roof tiles, scales or pine cones in layers. Some of the ‘tiles’ are further apart or closer together depending on how your hair’s structure.

If your cuticle ‘scales’ are far apart, then you have HIGH porosity hair. If they’re a bit spaced out, then you have MEDIUM porosity hair. However, if the cuticles are close together or completely shut / sealed; then you have LOW porosity hair. Still not sure? Take the hair porosity test!

Hair porosity types guide (1)

How to care for LOW porosity hair

Low porosity hair tends to repel moisture, so it’s more challenging to style. The cuticles are closer together, so not a lot of product can penetrate the hair. People with low porosity hair generally have to use more product, and it’s advised to apply products when the hair is wet. You can also add heat to your hair, as the heat can lift the cuticles – which will help more moisture sneak in! Here are a few nifty tips on how to take care of low porosity hair:

  1. Use a shampoo that contains honey or glycerin, and stay away from oily products.
  2. Dilute your conditioner with a small amount of water, which might make it easier for your hair to absorb
  3. Use a deep or leave-in conditioner for a moisture boost as your hair needs it. You can also use a steamer or heat / shower cap to get some extra heat on the hair for more penetration
  4. Stay away from protein-based hair treatments as they can pull moisture out of your hair

How to care for HIGH porosity hair

If your hair is frizzy, dry and dull, then you probably have high porosity hair. This hair type absorbs water and product easily, but the moisture struggles to be retained by the hair because the cuticles are open. (Related reading: Why your hair suddenly feels like straw, and how to fix this at home.) You can try the following tips to mend or treat high porosity hair.

  1. Get a trim. It’s really sad when we have to cut and let go of our hair, but sometimes it’s easier and healthier for your hair to get a fresh start!
  2. Less styling. Heat could be damaging your hair, so take a break from the styling products and give your hair a vacay!
  3. More moisture. You might need to find a richer conditioner for your hair, or look at deep-conditioning products and treatments
  4. More protein. Your hair might need a good protein mask or professional treatment to help give it some extra strength and shine.
  5. Be gentle. Hair with high porosity is weaker and more prone to breakage. Using a silk pillowcase will reduce friction. You can also try wrapping your hair with a silk wrap at night to give it some extra love and retain more moisture.

Caring for high porosity curly hair

Remember, if you have high, medium or low porosity hair, it doesn’t mean you will always have this. This is partly (mostly) genetics, and partly the condition of your hair, so always try to listen to your hair and its current needs. This takes time to learn, I’m still learning what my hair wants and needs! It’s the times when your hair feels really dry, or really mushy and limp that you can take note of what you’ve changed in your routine and learn from this.

Megan Dominion

Megan Dominion is SILKUP's Managing Editor. She's been down both the curly hair and skincare rabbit holes many times and loves that there's always something new to learn; a new science, method, product or personal experience.