Low Porosity Hair: Everything You Need to Know

What you will learn about low porosity hair from this article:

Does your hair take FOR-EV-ER to get wet and equally long to dry? Do your stylers and treatments leave your hair with a greasy film rather than delivering results? These could be signs that you have low porosity hair.

Hair porosity is quickly joining the ranks of hair type and texture as an important factor for how we care for our hair. Why? Because, just like your hair type and texture impact things like stylability and how often you shampoo, porosity influences which products you should use in order to keep your hair optimally moisturized and healthy. 

Out of all the levels of porosity (low, medium, high), hair with low porosity is considered the healthiest. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its own challenges.  

That’s what we’re here for – to help you understand exactly what your hair needs to look and feel its best! Check out our ultimate guide to low porosity hair below, from what it looks like to how to care for it.

According to the New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists, hair porosity is “the extent to which hair absorbs and retains water, products and treatments based on the integrity of the cuticle.”"

It’s mostly genetically-predetermined, but it is possible to increase or decrease your hair’s porosity based on how well you care (or don’t care) for it. 

Read our deep dive on what is hair porosity here.


Here’s a quick recap on why this is important: 

Hair is made up of three layers:

  1. Cuticle – the outermost protective layer

  2. Cortex – the middle layer that contains the majority of the hair's color and strength

  3. Medulla – the soft, innermost layer

In order for your hair to maintain peak hair health, moisture must be able to pass through the cuticle layer to the cortex and your hair must be able to retain the moisture. In low porosity hair, getting moisture into the hair is super difficult. Let us explain!

What does low porosity hair mean?

Low porosity hair means your hair has a tightly reinforced cuticle layer that keeps moisture (and your products) from penetrating. It literally means there are fewer “pores” in the cuticle layer. This makes it super difficult to get critical moisture into the hair, but once it’s there, retention is no problem.

High hair porosity is typically a result of your genes. You can, however, increase your hair’s porosity by damaging it. 

This is often done through excessive heat styling, frequent color / chemical processing, UV exposure and the like. The more damage you create, the more “pores” can develop not only on the surface of your hair but also within its internal structure (think: swiss cheese).

What are signs of low porosity hair?

  • Takes a significant amount of time to wet
  • Takes forever to air dry
  • Products build up easily on the surface instead of absorbing
  • Greasy, weighed down feeling
  • Difficult to achieve volume
  • Appears super smooth, shiny and healthy
  • Hair is resistant to chemical and color treatments
There are two easy hair porosity tests you can try at home:

The Float Test

Hair Porosity Float Test

To start, shampoo your hair and let it air dry without products. Then, fill a glass with room temperature water, and place a single strand of hair in the water. If the strand floats, it means you have low porosity hair.

If the strand sinks, it means you have high porosity hair. Check out our blog on high porosity hair for more info! 

The Spray Test

Spray Porosity Test

Mist dry hair with water and observe. If the water beads up on your hair, you likely have low porosity hair. If your hair absorbs the water quickly, you likely have high porosity hair.

How to treat low porosity hair: our top tips

It's important to focus on moisturizing the hair and avoiding buildup. Here are some low porosity hair remedies:

  • Use lightweight, water-based products: Look for hair care products that are water-based and free from heavy oils and butters. These products will absorb more easily.
  • Detox regularly: Since low porosity hair is prone to buildup, it’s important to detox your hair of any residues – from hard water minerals to product buildup – that can prevent moisture from penetrating. 
  • Use heat: Using a warm towel or a hair steamer can help to open the cuticles of low porosity hair and allow for better product absorption.
  • Deep condition: Deep conditioning low porosity hair regularly can help to provide much-needed moisture to low porosity hair. 

Best products for low porosity hair

Best Products for Low Porosity Hair: Dream Filter

Dream Filter – This pre-shampoo spray gently detoxes hair of hard water mineral buildup in just 3 minutes 





Best Products for Low Porosity Hair: Color Security Shampoo

Color Security Shampoo – 100% clean, sulfate-free, no-residue formula effortlessly washes away buildup without leaving any residues of its own behind (unlike most shampoos) 




Best Products for Low Porosity Hair: Money Masque

Money Masque – Made with natural humectants that instantly penetrate and hold moisture deep in hair’s core; no heavy oils or butters! Works in as little as 5 minutes. Use with a hair steamer to help make strands more receptive to moisture.



Low porosity key takeaways

We hope now you have a better understanding of low porosity hair meaning, as well as how to treat low porosity hair. Remember to focus your efforts on infusing mega moisture and keeping your hair buildup-free for your healthiest results always!

Frequently asked questions around: low porosity hair

What does high and low porosity hair mean?

Hair porosity is used to measure how well your hair can absorb and retain moisture based on the condition of your cuticle layer. 

High Porosity Hair Lifted Cuticle

In high porosity hair, the cuticle layer is open, resulting in gaps (aka, “pores”) in the surface of your hair. This allows moisture to enter easily, but your hair can’t retain it.





Low Porosity Hair Closed Cuticle

In low porosity hair, the cuticle layer is tightly closed, meaning there are no gaps in the surface of your hair. In this case, it’s more difficult to get essential moisture into the hair, but once it’s there, it can retain it easily.



Is Low Porosity Hair Good?

When it comes to hair porosity, low porosity hair is considered the healthiest. This is because it’s the best at retaining critical moisture that’s essential to keeping hair optimally healthy due to its tightly closed cuticle layer.

We hope now you have a better understanding of low porosity hair meaning, as well as how to treat low porosity hair. Remember to focus your efforts on infusing mega moisture and keeping your hair buildup-free for your healthiest results always!

Next Blog in the series: 

  • Read our Porosity guide for curly hair here
  • Other Hair Health Tests to check for overall hair health