The No Poo method encourages followers to keep their hair clean, using only natural ingredients.
Ater discovering that my hair falls into the low porosity category, I thought I’d take a more thorough look at which ingredients are good for those with low porosity hair.
As expected, I learnt that hair porosity makes a difference, since No Poo low porosity hair recipes contain different ingredients to those for high porosity hair. I found this fact intriguing, so decided to research the subject further.
There are three types of hair porosity; low, normal, high. Knowing your own hair type will help you keep your hair healthy and nourished. High porosity hair accepts moisture willingly, whereas low porosity hair has tight cuticles which stop moisture from being readily accepted. Whichever type of hair you have there is a No Poo method to help.
When I first went No Poo I just followed the most popular recipes which successfully kept my hair clean. The big issue for my hair though, was that many No Poo hair washes actually cleaned my hair too much, leaving it feeling like straw.
These issues prompted me to learn more about the best ways to care for No Poo low porosity hair. Keep reading to find out what I discovered.
No Poo Low Porosity Hair
Traditional shampoos contain many chemicals; sulphates, parabens, and silicons to name a few. The containers often end up in landfills and the chemicals are bad for both our hair and our environment.
No Poo rejects traditional shampoos in favour of natural products which leave hair looking and feeling at its best.
The No Poo science behind using different ingredients and methods for low porosity hair is bound up in the way your hair grows. How your hair grows out from the hair shaft, and the shape of the shaft plays an important role in the type of hair.
All hair is made up of 3 layers:
If the cuticle is tightly wound then you are likely to have low porosity hair; it doesn’t like to let anything in or out of the hair (source 1).
For those of you with low porosity hair, don’t stress! Thankfully, it is still possible to No Poo successfully. You may just have to change a few methods and use particular ingredients to keep your hair looking at its best.
What Does Low Porosity Hair Look Like?
In an ideal world, a porosity test should be taken before going No Poo.
But, if you are like me, you started No Poo before really understanding how hair is grown and how your hairs porosity affects its well-being.
If this sounds like a familiar story, then you’ve probably also been Googling ‘what are the signs of low porosity hair’ too, and quickly determined that you have low-porosity hair.
Some common low porosity hair characteristics include:
- Your hair is slow to wet, and slow to dry.
- Hair absorbs little product/oils.
- Anything applied to the hair sits on top and/or leaves build-up.
- Hair might look oily.
- Your hair feels heavy with oil/build-up.
- Prone to breakage if moisture levels aren’t kept up.
- Tends to be straight hair.
- Shiny as light bounces more off tight, closed culticles.
- Lack of volume (source 1,2,3,4).
What Causes Low Porosity Hair?
Whether your hair is low or high porosity is mainly down to your genes.
Your genetic make-up tells your body how to make your hair shaft, its shape, and how your hair is to grow from the shaft.
How your hair grows will mean either loose or tight cuticles. Tight cuticles are ones that don’t let moisture in or out i.e. it’s low porosity.
Although there is very little that you can do about how your hair grows, if your cuticles are damaged then more moisture can penetrate the hair and raise your hairs porosity levels.
Hair can be damaged in a number of different ways, including:
- UV rays
- Chemical treatment to hair
- Heat treatments such as straighteners
- Dying your hair
Even if you wish your hair was more porous, deliberate overuse of heat treatments and chemicals should be avoided as they ultimately damage the hair.
There are many kinder methods to help low-porosity hair that you can use.
How To Find Out If Your Hair Is Low Or High Porosity?
So, you want to find out if your hair is low or has high porosity?
There are a couple of easy ways that won’t take long to give you the answer.
Once you know what hair type you have then you can start tailoring your hair care regime to get the best out of your hair.
Here are some tests you can complete, to determine if you have high or low porosity hair:
1. Strand Test
The first test you can do is the hair porosity strand test:
- Utensils: A few strands of hair, glass of water at room temperature.
- Method: Drop your strands of hair into the glass and leave them for 5 minutes.
- Sinking: If your hair has sunk to the bottom of the glass it is high porosity
- Floating: If your hair remains on top of the water it is low-porosity
- Middle: Your hair is medium/normal porosity
2. Spray Bottle Test
If you don’t have time for the strand test, an alternative is the spray bottle test:
- Utensils: Find a spray bottle of water, and mirror.
- Method: Spray water onto hair and watch how the water behaves.
- Results: If the water beads then you are likely to have low-porosity hair.
3. Slip Test
If you’re sat reading these tests and are unable to complete tests 1 or 2, then the slip test is for you:
- Utensils: Your hair and fingers.
- Method: Slide your fingers up a few strands of your hair towards your scalp.
- Results: If your hair feels smooth then your hair is likely to be low-porosity.
Whilst the glass of water test is the most accurate, the others will give you a good indication of the type of hair that you have.
Once you have learned how porous your hair is you can use methods and ingredients to leave your hair healthy and lustrous (source 1).
How To Care For Low Porosity Hair
There is a lot to learn when it comes to caring for low porosity hair. Here are some tips:
The best way to look after low porosity hair is to use light oils such as jojoba and argan oil that won’t weigh your hair down.
You can help these light oils work even better, by covering your head with a shower cap/towel/ or having a sauna to heat up your hair.
Heating your hair/scalp is effective because the cuticles open and accept more of the nourishing ingredients that you are using (source 1).
Hair Masks And Rinses
One of the downsides of low-porosity hair is that products that you use may not be fully absorbed into the hair.
Apart from not moisturizing the hair as desired, the leftover product can lead to build-up which will leave your hair looking dull, heavy, and irritate your scalp.
To make sure that this does not become a problem you can use a clarifying clay mask and apple cider vinegar rinses to remove any left-overs that have built up in your hair (source 1).
Traditionally we use conditioner after shampooing, but this may not be the right way to treat low-porosity hair as the conditioner may not be totally absorbed by your hair.
Using a conditioning treatment first will mean that the shampoo does not strip the hair and scalp of moisture as it might if used first.
Lots of people with low-porosity hair pre-poo. This means using a conditioning treatment before washing to keep the moisture within your hair.
Using oil on the ends of your hair, especially if they are dry stops any further damage during washing. It also means that the conditioner does not weigh your hair down leaving it limp and lifeless (source 1).
What Ingredients Are Good For Low Porosity Hair?
Every ingredient and every method will work better for some than for others. Trial and error when No Poo’ing will help you find the best way for you.
The table below shows the best ingredients to use on low-porosity hair:
|Light Oils||Argan, jojoba, sesame|
|Coconut Oil||For pre-poo|
|Humectants||Products such as honey and aloe vera will both provide moisture and reduce the rate at which moisture is lost|
|Heat||Pre-poo or moisturize before having a warm shower/bath to maximize the amount of moisture sucked up by the hair|
|Application||Not an ingredient but try to use the product on damp, not wet hair. If your hair has already been saturated by water it will not take in any other ingredients|
|Tea Tree / ACV||These rinses act as clarifying agents to remove product build-up (source 1)|
Ingredients To Avoid For Low Porosity Hair
As much as there are ingredients to use on low-porosity hair, there are also ingredients that should be used with caution or avoided completely.
The table below shows the ingredients to avoid using if you have low porosity hair:
|Heavy Oils||These sit on top of your hair and weigh it down|
|Proteins||Whilst some proteins are good for hair such as eggs, too much protein can lead to damage|
|Coconut Oil||Whilst pre-poo coconut oil is great, as an after-poo conditioner it will ultimately lead to build-up and heavy hair|
How To Pre Poo Low Porosity Natural Hair
There is no set time frame for how long to pre-poo low porosity should take.
Pre poo’ing low porosity hair can be either be ultra-quick, or it can take a much longer amount of time.
If you pre-poo using oil you can make a difference when leaving it on for only a few minutes, provided you are using heat to help the absorption.
You can also pre-poo overnight with jojoba oil if you want a really deep cleaning result.
Best Pre Poo For Low Porosity Hair
Pre-poo is where you condition your hair before washing it.
I’ve often been asked by friends if they should pre-poo their low porosity hair. The answer is most definitely yes!
Pre-poo’ing stops shampoo from drying out hair and scalp, and you don’t get the heavy feeling you might get when using conditioner after shampooing.
The heavy feeling is the result of your hair being totally saturated and unable to take in anything else. As a result the conditioner just sits on top of your hair weighing it down and adding unwanted build-up to your scalp.
Home-made Pre Poo For Low Porosity Hair
There are many DIY recipes for a pre-poo conditioner for low porosity hair.
One of the best home-made pre-poo recipes is made of coconut:
- Coconut Oil
- Coconut Milk
- Vitamin E Oil
- Spray bottle
- Mix the oil and milk over warm water until smooth and add a dash of vitamin E oil. Pop the mix into a spray bottle and spray onto damp hair. Leave to sit under a hair wrap or shower cap for 10 minutes before washing as usual (source 1).
Aloe vera can also be added to the recipe above and works wonderfully to cleanse your scalp and hair as well as being a fabulous conditioner.
Aloe Vera Pre Poo For Low Porosity Hair
Aloe Vera is used in many No Poo recipes as it soothes the scalp whilst moisturizing and adding a lovely scent.
One of the best recipes I’ve come across uses aloe vera and peppermint oil:
- 1 cup Aloe Vera gel
- ¼ cup Sweet Almond oil
- ¼ cup Grapeseed oil
- 10 drops Peppermint essential oil
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl
- Massage the mixture into your hair
- Detangle hair
- Cover hair with a shower cap and wrap a warm towel around your head
- Relax for 30 minutes
- Rinse thoroughly with water
Using fresh organic Aloe Vera will show the best results, but Aloe Vera gel from your local health store will work almost as well and requires less effort.
If using fresh Aloe Vera then blitz in a processor thoroughly as the last thing you want is to have lumps in your hair that are difficult to get out!
Once I’d passed the transition phase and had been No Poo’ing for a while I felt that there was something missing. It wasn’t that my hair didn’t look good, it did, it just seemed to want something more.
That’s when I decided to look into hair porosity a bit more closely and found that our hairs porosity makes a huge difference in which ingredients will bring out the best in our hair.
With low-porosity hair, more consideration needs to be used when deciding upon the No Poo ingredients and methods needed to keep your hair and scalp in great condition.
No Poo low porosity hair needs more conditioning than high porosity hair as the cuticles are more closed and require more conditioning as the cuticles do not let moisture in or out as well as other hair types.
Pre-poo conditioning treatments are the best way to keep your hair nourished and in great condition.
Aloe vera, honey, and light oils are the best way to maintain your hair and keep it from being heavy and limp.
No Poo Water Only
Water only No Poo is simply using only water to keep hair clean and healthy. It has many benefits to both your hair and the environment. Living in a hard water area may make this wash method more difficult.
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