6 Best Shampoos and Conditioners 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?
You may struggle 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 genetics  and occurs because the hair cuticle – the outermost layer of the strand – overlaps, causing the hairs to grow thicker and less porous.
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 six best shampoos and conditioners for low-porosity hair that address common hair symptoms. Let’s see which one works best for your needs.
Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate Shampoo + Conditioner
- Silicone, Paraben & Sulfate free
- Suitable for all hair type
- Best moisturizing shampoo and conditioner for low porosity hair
SheaMoisture Low Porosity Protein-Free Shampoo and Conditioner
- Sulfate and Paraben free + Color safe
- with baobab and Tea tree oils
- Best protein free shampoo and conditioner for low porosity hair
Mielle Pomegranate & Honey Shampoo and Conditioner
- Sulfate free
- Cleanses with rich lather
- Best shampoo and conditioner for 4c low porosity hair
6 Best Shampoos and Conditioners for Low Porosity Hair
Here are the six best shampoos and conditioners that enhance your low porosity hair care routine and leave your follicles feeling silky-smooth after every shower!
1. Best moisturizing shampoo and conditioner for low porosity hair
Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate Shampoo + Conditioner
Moisture is one of the critical factors for strengthening low-porosity hair. This hydrating shampoo for low porosity hair 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. Best protein free shampoo and conditioner for low porosity hair
SheaMoisture Low Porosity Protein-Free shampoo and conditioner
Catering specifically to those with coily and curly locks, the SheaMoisture Shampoo and Conditioner Set has been formulated keeping in mind the unique needs of low porosity hair, particularly its tendency to be protein-sensitive. Being well-aware that not all hair types require or can handle proteins, SheaMoisture has taken a step in the right direction by providing a protein-free solution.
Here’s what makes this SheaMoisture duo an essential:
- Baobab Oil: This acts as a significant hydrator, ensuring that even the driest strands regain their shine and softness.
- Tea Tree Oil: With its invigorating properties, it helps in promoting a healthy scalp, ensuring the roots get the care they deserve.
- Shea Butter: This time-tested moisturizer ensures that curls stay defined and frizz-free throughout the day.
Describing it simply as a hair care product would be an understatement; this duo is a spa treatment for your hair. The added benefits of antioxidants ensure that your hair remains protected against external aggressors.
Personal Experience – Review
During a recent appointment, I tried the SheaMoisture Low Porosity Protein-Free Set on Jessica, who has beautiful coily hair but often found many products to be too heavy.
Three key benefits she observed were:
- Gentle Cleansing without Residue: The unique blend of oils in the shampoo delicately cleaned her hair, ensuring it was free from any product buildup, which is essential for coily hair types.
- Lightweight Formulation for Lively Curls: Unlike other products, this set didn’t weigh down her hair. The results were buoyant, lively curls that showcased their natural beauty.
- Enhanced Shine and Manageability: Post-use, Jessica’s hair wasn’t just more manageable but also exhibited a shine that was hard to miss. Moreover, the brand’s ethical stance and community commitment made her feel positive about her choice beyond the evident hair benefits.
- Provides optimal hydration and shine to dry and dull curls.
- Ensures a revitalized and healthy scalp, preparing a strong foundation for hair growth.
- The absence of parabens aligns with those seeking cleaner haircare products.
- Might not be suitable for those who require protein-enriched products for their specific hair needs.
3. Best shampoo and conditioner for 4c low porosity hair
Mielle Pomegranate & Honey Shampoo and Conditioner
When it comes to hair, particularly 4C hair, moisture retention and detangling are paramount. Mielle Organics, through their Pomegranate & Honey collection, seems to have crafted a masterful solution for this very specific need, especially focusing on those with low porosity hair that often struggles to retain moisture.
Here’s why the Mielle Organics duo is a must-have for those with 4C low porosity hair:
- Pomegranate Extract: A rich source of antioxidants, pomegranate helps protect hair from environmental damage, ensuring your strands remain strong and healthy.
- Honey: A natural humectant, honey attracts and retains moisture, making it an essential ingredient for those looking to hydrate their 4C hair.
- Babassu Oil: Known for its lightweight properties, babassu oil hydrates without weighing hair down, ensuring that curls and coils remain bouncy and full of life.
With 4C hair being inherently dry and prone to breakage, the pre-detangling feature of the shampoo is a game-changer. It sets the stage, ensuring that subsequent conditioning is seamless, reducing the likelihood of hair damage during wash day.
Personal Experience – Review
When I introduced Jade, a loyal client with low porosity 4C hair, to the Mielle Organics set, the transformation was evident.
Three key benefits Jade noticed were:
- Gentle Yet Effective Cleanse: The gel-based shampoo formulation was kind to her hair, ensuring that natural oils were retained. This was especially valuable for her hair type which tends to be naturally dry.
- Ease of Detangling and Frizz Control: Jade’s wash days became considerably simpler with the set’s pre-detangling features. The conditioner worked wonders in terms of manageability, eliminating the long hours she previously spent trying to detangle her hair and manage frizz.
- Shiny and Bouncy Hair with Ethical Commitment: Beyond the evident softness and shine, Jade felt good about using a product from a brand that emphasizes empowerment, and the use of natural and organic ingredients. This holistic approach made her experience all the more rewarding.
- Specifically designed to cater to the hydration and detangling needs of 4C hair, ensuring hair remains soft and manageable.
- The gentle cleansing formula ensures hair remains protected and undamaged during wash day.
- The brand’s focus on natural and organic ingredients aligns well with those seeking cleaner hair care products.
- The pump breaks easily
4. Best shampoo and conditioner for low porosity curly hair
Briogeo Superfoods Apple Matcha Kale Replenishing Shampoo and Conditioner
This shampoo and conditioner duo is the rejuvenating elixir for wavy and curly hair, providing the much-needed nourishment and vibrancy it deserves. And for those of us who are ingredient-conscious, you’ll be thrilled to know it’s vegan and free from harmful chemicals like sulfates, parabens, and phthalates.
Here’s why this Briogeo duo stands out:
- Matcha: A powerhouse of antioxidants guarding against environmental damage.
- Kale: Bursting with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids to fortify hair from root to tip.
- Apple: An excellent source of procyanidin, supporting a healthy scalp.
This duo isn’t just a hair care product; it’s akin to a refreshing green juice for your locks. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, it revives parched strands, ensuring they’re bursting with life and health.
Personal Experience – Review
After recommending the Briogeo Superfoods Replenishing Duo to Maria, a regular client with dry and dull wavy hair, the transformation was remarkable.
Three key benefits Maria experienced were:
- Vitamin-Rich Revival: The shampoo, akin to a refreshing green juice, flooded her hair with essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, revitalizing her once tired strands.
- Deep Hydration and Shine: The conditioner, mirroring the richness of a green smoothie, not only deeply moisturized her hair but also left it noticeably shinier and healthier.
- Tailored Care with an Invigorating Scent: Beyond the impressive hair transformation, the duo catered specifically to Maria’s wavy texture, and the fresh apple and matcha fragrance elevated her entire hair care routine to a luxurious, spa-like experience.
- Deeply hydrates, revitalizes, and imparts shine to dull strands.
- Protects hair against environmental damage and supports a healthy scalp.
- Free from harmful chemicals, ensuring hair health is never compromised.
- Menthol can sting eyes
5. Best drugstore shampoo and conditioner for low porosity hair
Garnier Whole Blends Hair Remedy Shampoo and Conditioner
Garnier’s Whole Blends Hair Remedy Shampoo and Conditioner emerges as a superior choice in the drugstore category for those with damaged hair, particularly low porosity types that often find difficulty in retaining moisture.
Here’s why the Garnier Whole Blends duo stands out in the drugstore aisle:
- Power of Nature: Combines honey’s moisture-retention, beeswax’s protective barrier, and floral extracts’ rejuvenating properties.
- Eco-Conscious: Garnier’s Cradle to Cradle certification and use of sustainably sourced honey underline their environmental responsibility.
- Clean Formulation: Free from sulfates, parabens, and other harmful ingredients for gentle hair care.
For budget-conscious individuals seeking an effective haircare regimen, particularly when dealing with damage, this Garnier duo offers a solution that both the hair and wallet will appreciate.
Personal experience – review
Introducing this drugstore find to Maria, a regular client, I noted significant improvement in her previously lackluster wavy hair. The product not only revitalized her locks but also provided the benefits of a much pricier product, cementing its position as a top drugstore choice. The delightful floral and honey aroma added a sensory pleasure to the experience.
- Specifically formulated for very damaged hair, offering both nourishment and protection.
- Affordable, making quality hair care accessible to all.
- Clean and green formulation ensures ethical and eco-conscious hair care.
- Given its targeted formulation for damaged hair, those with other specific hair requirements might need to consider additional products.
6. Best clarifying shampoo for low porosity hair
Moroccanoil 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 clarifying shampoo for low porosity hair 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 testimonies 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 the best clarifying shampoos for low porosity hair, 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.