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Low vs High Porosity Hair: The 5 Key Differences & How to Care

aida turner

Published by Aida Turner

Hair porosity is a crucial aspect of hair health, determining how your hair absorbs and retains moisture. Low porosity hair has tightly packed cuticles, making it resistant to moisture. In contrast, high porosity hair, with its gaps in the cuticle, absorbs moisture quickly but loses it just as fast. These differences in porosity also dictate distinct hair care needs. For instance, low porosity hair benefits from lightweight, water-based products to ensure hydration without buildup, while high porosity hair requires richer, deep-conditioning treatments to combat its rapid moisture loss.

The 5 Key Differences Between Low and High Porosity Hair

  1. Moisture Retention
  2. Reaction to Products
  3. Drying Time
  4. Frizz Potential
  5. Chemical Treatment Reaction

1. Moisture Retention

Low porosity hair’s tightly bound cuticles make it challenging for moisture to penetrate, leading to potential dryness. On the other hand, high porosity hair, with its gaps in the cuticle, can absorb moisture like a sponge but struggles to retain it, often leading to rapid dryness after washing.

2. Reaction to Products

Products can sit atop low porosity hair, making it essential to choose lightweight, water-based products. High porosity hair, however, can drink up products, making it crucial to ensure products don’t over-saturate and weigh the hair down.

3. Drying Time

The drying time can be a clear indicator of your hair’s porosity. Low porosity hair, resistant to water absorption, can remain damp for extended periods. In contrast, high porosity hair, due to its rapid moisture loss, can dry in a fraction of the time.

4. Frizz Potential

Managing frizz is a common challenge for high porosity hair, especially in humid conditions where the open cuticles can absorb excess moisture from the air. Low porosity hair, with its closed cuticles, is better equipped to resist such frizz.

5. Chemical Treatment Reaction

Low porosity hair’s resistance to moisture also extends to chemicals, often requiring longer processing times during treatments. High porosity hair, being more absorbent, can process chemical treatments faster but is also at a higher risk of damage if not monitored closely.

low porosity and high porosity hair need different caring routines

How to Care Low Porosity vs High Porosity Hair?

The structure of your hair cuticle – whether tightly bound (low porosity) or more open (high porosity) – dictates its moisture needs and how it responds to various hair care routines. Recognizing the unique care requirements of each hair type is essential for maintaining hair health, shine, and elasticity.

The table below provides a comprehensive guide on care aspects tailored for low porosity and high porosity hair. Each recommendation is backed by the scientific understanding of how these hair types benefit from different care practices.

Care AspectLow Porosity HairHigh Porosity Hair
Moisturizing FrequencyMoisturize every other day or as needed. Due to its resistance to moisture, it may not need daily hydration.Moisturize daily or even multiple times a day. High porosity hair loses moisture quickly and needs frequent replenishment.
Heat TreatmentsUse minimal heat. Low porosity hair takes longer to dry but retains styles longer. Use a heat protectant when necessary.Use heat sparingly. High porosity hair can be more susceptible to heat damage. Always use a heat protectant.
Drying MethodAir dry or use a hooded dryer on a low setting. Avoid high heat blow drying.Use a microfiber towel to reduce frizz and breakage. Air dry or use a diffuser on a cool setting.
DetanglingDetangle when the hair is damp using a wide-tooth comb to reduce breakage.Detangle gently with a lot of conditioner to provide slip and reduce breakage.
Protective StylingBeneficial but not always necessary. Styles like loose braids or twists can help retain moisture.Highly recommended. Styles like braids, twists, or buns can protect the hair from environmental damage and moisture loss.
TrimmingTrim every 3-4 months to maintain hair health.Trim every 6-8 weeks to prevent split ends and further damage.
Scalp CareRegular scalp massages with light oils can promote blood circulation.Regular scalp treatments and masks can help maintain a healthy scalp environment.
Sun ProtectionUse hats or scarves when exposed to intense sun to prevent drying out.Use leave-in conditioners with UV protection and wear hats or scarves in intense sunlight to prevent further moisture loss.
Caring for low and high porosity hair

Understanding the unique care needs of low porosity and high porosity hair is crucial for maintaining its health and vitality. While low porosity hair requires less frequent moisturizing and benefits from minimal heat, high porosity hair demands more regular hydration and protection from potential damage. The drying methods, detangling practices, and protective styling choices also vary between these hair types. Regular trimming is essential for both, but the frequency differs. Moreover, scalp care and sun protection are vital for maintaining the overall health of the hair, regardless of its porosity. By tailoring your hair care routine based on your hair’s porosity, you can ensure it remains strong, shiny, and resilient.

How Do You Choose the Right Products for Low vs. High Porosity Hair?

Choosing the right products for low vs high porosity hair is a nuanced process deeply rooted in understanding each hair type’s unique characteristics and needs. With its tightly bound cuticles, low porosity hair requires lightweight shampoo and condtioner, water-based products and light oils that hydrate without causing buildup. On the other hand, high porosity hair, characterized by open cuticles with gaps, benefits immensely from more affluent products infused with proteins and heavier oils. These products fill the cuticle gaps, ensuring prolonged moisture retention. Additionally, while clarifying shampoos are a boon for low porosity hair to combat product buildup, moisturizing shampoos are a must-have for high porosity hair to replenish its rapid moisture loss.

By meticulously choosing shampoos, conditioners, treatments, and styling products tailored to your hair’s porosity, you maintain its health and enhance its natural luster, resilience, and vitality.

If you’re not sure what products you need for low porosity hair, check out our list of the 10 best products for low porosity hair.


Having a clear understanding of the differences between low and high porosity hair is crucial in making informed choices when it comes to hair care. Once you have identified your hair porosity, you can choose the right products and techniques that work best for your hair type.


What kind of low-porosity vs. high-porosity hair tests are there?

There exist three commonly used approaches for assessing the porosity level of your hair:

  • The float test
  • The slip ‘n’ slide test
  • The water spray test

Want to know the methods? Check our Hair Porosity Test!

Is it possible to change the hair porosity?

Hair porosity is largely determined by genetics and cannot be permanently changed. However, certain external factors like chemical treatments, heat styling, and environmental damage can temporarily alter hair porosity. It’s important to take good care of your hair and avoid damaging practices to maintain its natural porosity.

Can I have both low and high porosity hair on my head?

Yes, it is possible to have different porosity levels in different parts of your hair. The porosity of your hair can vary depending on the region of your scalp. This can be due to differences in hair follicle density, hair thickness, and the amount of sebum produced.

aida turner

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.