5 Best Shampoos for Low Porosity Hair (2023)
Published by Aida Turner
Does your hair stay dry no matter how much you drench it in running water? Does your scalp remain dry throughout the day, leaving you with frizzy hair strands?
Maybe you’re struggling with low porosity hair, which means your hair shaft does not retain moisture since you have smaller and fewer pores. Unfortunately, low porosity hair is primarily caused by genetics1 and occurs because the hair cuticle – the outermost layer of the strand – overlaps, causing the hairs to grow thicker and less porous.2
Since low-porosity hair is more resistant to moisture, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Dry and rough hair
- Frizzy hair
- Longer washing and drying periods
- Product, sebum, and oil build-up
Having this hair type can take a toll on the state of your strands, your confidence and all the other things connected with your crowning glory.
Hair porosity was a common issue at the hair salon I worked at, so I’ve picked up the five best shampoos for low-porosity hair that address common hair symptoms. Let’s see which one works best for your needs.
Maui Moisture Lightweight Hydration
- Suitable for curly hair
- Best for dryness
Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo
- Sulfate and paraben-free
- Cruelty-free and eco-friendly
- Best for preventing product buildup
Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey
- Sulfate free and not-tested on animals
- With babassu oil
- Best curl cleansing shampoo
5 Best Shampoos for Low Porosity Hair
Here are the five best shampoos that enhance your low porosity hair care routine and leave your follicles feeling silky-smooth after every shower!
1. Maui Moisture Lightweight Hydration + Hibiscus Water Shampoo – Best for Dryness
Moisture is one of the critical factors for strengthening low-porosity hair. This Maui Moisture Lightweight Hydration + Hibiscus Water Shampoo is a must-have for your hair’s manageability and keeping it in a healthy state.
The Maui Moisture is a good find that makes the hair silky and soft after every use, which is beneficial when you have low hair porosity that leans more on the dry and damaged side.
It contains vital ingredients that help your hair achieve a moisturized state, including the following:
- Hibiscus water
- Passion fruit
- Aloe barbadensis leaf juice
What I liked most is that it promotes healthy hair without stripping off natural oils since it is a sulfate-free shampoo, forgoing surfactants like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES).4
Another good thing is that it is lightweight and ideal for a suitable low-porosity hair shampoo. This means it will not leave a significant amount of product on your hair, and your smaller pores can absorb it.
Moreover, the Maui Moisture shampoo for low porosity is designed to lock in moisture for those with dreadlocks, natural curls, and other braid styles.
Personal experience – review
When I used Maui Moisture Lightweight Hydration Hibiscus Water Shampoo on my clients the results were remarkable.
Three key benefits I’ve noticed for my low porosity hair clients are:
- The sulfate-free formula provides a gentle yet effective cleanse, which is perfect for low porosity hair. It prevents dryness and damage while still removing dirt and product buildup.
- The lightweight hydration offered by this shampoo doesn’t weigh down their hair, maintaining its natural bounce and volume.
- After using the shampoo, my clients’ hair looks shiny, soft, and healthy, making it a great choice for enhancing their hair’s overall appearance.
- Sulfate-free & vegan
- No Silicones
- Hydrating Power of Aloe
- The smell is poor
2. Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo – Best for Preventing Product Buildup
Preventing and removing the buildup of products are the best things an individual with low-porosity hair can hope for from their shampoo.
The Malibu C Hard Water Wellness shampoo has all the right ingredients to get the job done.
Not only that. This clarifying shampoo is plant-based, vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and sulfate-free, which means removing product build-up using only organic ingredients.
Being plant-based, this cleansing shampoo does not have harsh additives and can produce the following perks:
I trust this clarifying shampoo because it is designed with multifunctional surfactant technology that gently cleanses mineral and excess sebum buildup. It also has antioxidants and vitamins that protect the hair from further damage.
- Healthy hair growth
- Elevate the production of natural oils
It is also important to remember that those with curly hair types can benefit from using this clarifying shampoo for low-porosity hair.
Personal experience – review
I’ve seen fantastic results using the Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo on my low porosity hair clients. Their hair looks healthier, shinier, and more vibrant than ever before. If you’re a hairstylist or have low porosity hair yourself and struggle with hard water issues, I highly recommend giving this shampoo a try.
A trio of advantages I’ve observed for my low porosity hair clients are:
- The shampoo effectively removes hard water minerals, which can build up on low porosity hair and cause discoloration and brassiness. This restores the hair’s natural color, shine, and vibrancy.
- The product is gentle on the hair, making it suitable for regular use without causing dryness or damage.
- The shampoo’s light citrus scent is pleasant and refreshing, adding a delightful sensory experience to the hair washing routine.
- Effective in removing hard water mineral deposits
- Vegan, hypoallergenic, mild, and gentle
- Free from parabens, preservatives, and sulfates
- Not recommended for white, unpigmented hair.
3. Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Moisturizing and Detangling Shampoo – Best Curl Cleansing Shampoo
You don’t need to worry if you have Afro-textured with low porosity hair because the Mielle Organics Pomegranate and Honey shampoo can be one of your best hair care products.
It is effective when deep cleansing and detangling coils because it has the following ingredients in its formulation:
- Babassu oil
The pomegranate ingredient helps keep your strands healthy, strong, and shiny. With this, the risks of breakage can be lessened.
Another ingredient is babassu oil, which keeps your hair moisturized throughout the day, ensuring that every drop of this lightweight oil will have a chance to seep through your scalp.
Moreover, the honey ingredient focuses more on softening your curls for easy detangling.
All of these characteristics point out that the Mielle Organics shampoo for low-porosity hair is a product that cleans the hair without stripping natural curls’ oils. It even keeps the moisture locked in, nourishing the hair.
Personal experience – review
My former client, Sarah, had always struggled with her low porosity hair. It seemed like no matter what products she used, her hair would remain dry and tangled. I decided to try the Mielle Organics Pomegranate and Honey Shampoo on her hair during one of her appointments, and we were both amazed by the results.
- The first positive aspect of this shampoo is that it has a very nice lather, which allowed me to thoroughly cleanse Sarah’s hair without using too much product.
- The second positive statement is the pleasant smell of the shampoo. It has a light, fruity scent that isn’t overpowering, which is important for clients like Sarah who are sensitive to strong fragrances.
- Lastly, the shampoo left her hair feeling soft and moisturized after rinsing, something that can be challenging for low porosity hair.
- Effectively lifts dirt and oil while preserving moisture
- Luxurious lather and has an appealing scent
- Designed for Type 4 hair but is suitable for any curl pattern
- The pump breaks easily
4. Briogeo Scalp Revival Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo – Best for Exfoliating
Low-porosity hair struggles to absorb the moisture necessary for hair follicles because of its smaller pores. With the addition of dead skin cells, it becomes more difficult for nutrients to come in.
But I have a solution for this issue: the Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo.
This low-porosity shampoo is designed to keep the scalp clean and is safe for chemically-treated hair, color-treated hair, and damaged hair.
Cleaning and detoxifying the hair is possible because the shampoo contains these ingredients:
- Coconut oil
- Tea tree oil
- Spearmint leaf oil
- Binchotan charcoal
- Peppermint oil
Incorporating this shampoo into your hair routine can clean, moisturize, and even help alleviate itchy scalps.
It’s also important to note that this shampoo for low-porosity hair caters to all hair types and is best suited for curly, damaged hair that chemical treatments have wreaked havoc on.
Personal experience – review
One of my clients, came in with low porosity hair, complaining about a dry, itchy scalp and product buildup. I knew I had to find a solution that would cater to her unique hair type while providing an overall positive experience. That’s when I discovered Briogeo Scalp Revival Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo.
The shampoo was a game-changer for Rachel. It provided three main benefits that specifically catered to her low porosity hair:
- The shampoo contains charcoal and coconut oil, which effectively cleansed her scalp by removing dead skin cells and impurities without stripping her hair of its natural oils.
- The blend of tea tree oil, biotin, and witch hazel helped soothe her itchiness and irritation, leaving her scalp feeling refreshed and hydrated.
- The peppermint scent provided a pleasant and invigorating sensory experience during the hair washing process, making her feel pampered and relaxed.
- Detoxifies, exfoliates, soothes, and balances the scalp
- Helps prevent itching from product build-up or dryness
- Relieves dry and flaky scalps and leaves the hair feeling very clean
- Menthol can sting eyes
5. Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo – Best Clarifying Shampoo
Detoxifying your scalp is one thing that can be done with an exfoliating shampoo, but deep-cleaning your hair is something best done with the Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo.
Suppose you have dirty hair from outdoor activities or frequent use of hair products, regardless of your hair type. In that case, the best course of action moving forward is to use this shampoo for low porosity because it gently cleanses the strands through the following ingredients:
- Argan oil
- Lavender extract
- Chamomile extract
- Jojoba extract
Most importantly, I am drawn to this because it cleanses the strands while not producing damage, as it is sulfate-free, phosphate-free, paraben-free, and safe for color-treated hair.
Personal experience – review
Lisa came to my salon with low porosity hair that was constantly feeling dry and lifeless. I recommended she try the Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo, as I had seen positive results with other clients in the past. After using the shampoo for a few weeks, Sarah was ecstatic about the improvement in her hair’s overall health and appearance.
The three most positive t estimonies about the Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo for low porosity hair are:
- It effectively cleanses the hair without stripping it of its natural oils, which is essential for maintaining moisture in low porosity hair.
- The shampoo lathers well and leaves the hair feeling smooth and manageable, reducing the need for additional conditioning products.
- The fatty acids derived from coconut oil in the shampoo nourish and hydrate the hair, providing essential nutrients for low porosity hair.
- Formulated with a rich blend of nourishing argan and avocado oils
- Safe for colored hair
- Can also be used prior to a color, perm, or chemical treatment to promote more even results
- Does not lather easily
Key Ingredients of Shampoos for Low Porosity Hair
Ensure that your shampoo has at least a few of these key ingredients to get the most out of it:
Almond oil is rich in vitamins A, B, and E, which are essential nutrients that nourish, moisturize, and strengthen low porosity hair. These vitamins promote hair growth, improve texture, and reduce hair loss.
Almond oil also has a lightweight texture, making it an ideal choice for low porosity hair that requires non-greasy hydration.
Avocado oil is packed with monounsaturated fats, which are known to deeply penetrate the hair shaft, providing hydration and nutrients to low porosity hair.
This oil is also rich in vitamins A, D, and E, which help to repair damaged hair, improve elasticity, and promote growth.
Argan hair oil
Argan oil, derived from the kernels of the argan tree, is loaded with beneficial nutrients like vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids.
These nutrients help to protect low porosity hair from environmental damage, like UV rays and pollution, while also improving elasticity, reducing frizz, and boosting shine.
Check the indispensable and best oils for low porosity hair!
Aloe vera is a succulent plant with powerful moisturizing and soothing properties. Its gel-like consistency is easily absorbed by low porosity hair, providing hydration without causing buildup.
Additionally, aloe vera contains enzymes and amino acids that can help to maintain a healthy scalp and promote hair growth.
Aloe leaf juice
Aloe leaf juice, extracted from the aloe plant’s leaves, shares many of the same benefits as aloe vera, including moisturizing and soothing properties.
It is particularly beneficial for low porosity hair due to its lightweight nature, which allows it to hydrate the hair without causing any buildup or heaviness.
Jojoba extract is derived from the seeds of the jojoba plant and closely resembles the natural oils (sebum) produced by the scalp. This similarity allows jojoba extract to effectively moisturize and nourish low porosity hair without causing excess buildup. Furthermore, jojoba extract is rich in vitamins B and E, which help to strengthen hair and promote growth.
Coconut oil is a versatile ingredient that can benefit low porosity hair when used in moderation. Its small molecular structure allows it to penetrate the hair shaft more easily than other oils, providing deep hydration and preventing protein loss.
This helps to maintain the hair’s strength, elasticity, and overall health. However, it’s important to note that excessive use of coconut oil can weigh down low porosity hair, so it’s best to use it sparingly.
Honey is a natural humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture. This makes it an excellent ingredient for low porosity hair that struggles to absorb and retain hydration. By drawing moisture into the hair shaft, honey helps to keep low porosity hair moisturized, soft, and manageable.
Additionally, honey contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can improve overall hair health and protect it from damage.
What Ingredients to Avoid for Low-Porosity Hair?
You must avoid certain ingredients in a shampoo for low-porosity hair to keep your hair manageable and healthy. I’ve listed all of the ingredients to look out for in this section.
You must avoid heavy products like shea butter and use gentle hair shampoo for low-porosity natural hair.
In this case, butter is thick in nature, especially shea butter. This means it cannot help with deep cleansing or deep conditioning of low-porosity hair because it prevents moisture from getting in.
Avoid Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Irritation can occur with low-porosity curls or hair, and non-lauryl-sulfate-free clarifying shampoos and hair products can significantly escalate this situation.
As shown in a study involving 1,600 patients, SLS caused skin irritation in 42% of the population as the chemical penetrates the skin, not just the hair cuticle.3
Avoid Drying Alcohol
In your hair care regimen and shampoo ingredients, avoid drying alcohol as it can dehydrate the scalp and strands.
Always remember that with low porosity hair, you already have to deal with minimal moisture entry because of your pores. Adding drying alcohol will make it worse (e.g., unmanageable hair).
Silicones can moisturize hair and make hair soft to the cuticles. However, given that you have low porosity hair and this characteristic is already apparent, you can conclude that you don’t need silicones.
Even with high-porosity hair, you should still avoid products with this ingredient.
Avoid Mineral Oil and Castor Oil
Other heavy products that should not be applied to your hair are heavy oils, such as mineral oil and castor oil.
These oils can keep hair hydrated, but at the same time, their thickness can contribute to the build-up of products that smaller pores cannot absorb.
Avoid Protein-Rich Ingredients
Like the previous explanations, protein-rich ingredients are prone to build-up in the scalp and hair, leading to stiffness.
How to Manage Low-Porosity Hair
Although low-porosity hair is often deemed unmanageable because it can produce frizzy and dry hair, there are still ways of managing it properly. Here are the steps you can take to manage low-porosity hair.
1. Choose the Right Type of Shampoo
To ease the issues and visible physical manifestations of having low-porosity hair, the right shampoo can be of immense help.
So, here are the best shampoo types for low porosity hair to guide you!
First on the list is protein-free shampoo. A protein-free shampoo can work magic for low porosity hair as it hydrates hair directly at the roots and provide these advantages:
- Manageable hair
- Quality texture
- Stronger strands
With a clarifying shampoo, the product build-up in your hair due to having tiny and unabsorbent pores will be washed away.
Cleaner pores gained with clarifying shampoos will help create new moisture on the scalp and remove excess oil, sebum, and other product build-ups.
Also, a clarifying shampoo makes the hair look and feel healthy.
Last but not least, a moisturizing shampoo can work wonders for low porosity hair by providing much-needed moisture to the shaft and cuticles, producing healthy hair.
It also retains the natural oils in your scalp to strengthen hair through lightweight hydration.
Ensure your moisturizing shampoo contains the following nourishing ingredients:
- Essential oils
- Aloe vera juice
- Apple cider vinegar
- Tea tree oil
2. Do Steam Treatment
You can also undergo a steam treatment. Most customers do this once every three weeks to open the pores or hair follicles and help moisturize products, vitamins, and other essential oils enter the roots.
3. Use Lightweight Hydration Oils and Products
Low porosity hair means taking care of it using lightweight hydration products, such as those I listed in the previous section.
With lightweight products, your follicles and roots get their most awaited nourishment, as these can sip through the tightly-closed pores.
Now that you know what factors lead to low hair porosity, what to avoid, and what hair products to use, you know how to properly manage your natural hair with low hair porosity.
Just make sure you always select butter (shea), silicone, and sulfate-free products filled with nourishing ingredients, just like those listed in this article.
Apply all these tips and tricks, and have the best hair day ever with any of the shampoos on this list!
How to Test if You Have Low Porosity Hair
Testing if you have low porosity hair requires several different methods. Here can you find the scientific methods of testing that you can try to confirm your suspicions: Hair Porosity Test: Unlocking the Secrets of Your Hair.
Apart from the scientifically-recognized methods, there is a straightforward way of identifying if you have low-porosity hair, and that entails following these steps:
- Clean your hair with shampoo and water (e.g., clarifying shampoos)
- Dry your hair using a towel or a blow dryer
- Get lukewarm or cold water and place it in a clear glass
- Get a strand from your hair when combing, and drop it into the water
- Observe the hair’s floating behavior
If the hair floats for quite some time on top of the glass of water before it falls, then you most likely have low-porosity hair.
Author of this article: Aida Turner
Founder & Hair Care Consultant
Aida is a cosmetologist and hair care consultant with over 7 years of experience in the beauty industry. Aida has worked with various top salons and smaller hair care brands, offering her product development, formulation, and testing expertise.
Her extensive knowledge of hair care ingredients and their effects on hair health enables her to provide thorough, well-researched, and unbiased reviews on a wide range of shampoos and hair care products. In her spare time, Aida enjoys experimenting with new hair care routines, blogging about her experiences, and helping others achieve their hair goals.