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How to Treat High Porosity Hair

A woman with natural hair and a septum piercing
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Most people who only have a casual interest in their hair usually just think around how it looks and which conditioner they like best. Which means most people don't consider all of the factors that cause their tresses to look the way they do. Which is why, after following the same steps and using the same products of their favorite YouTube guru/celebrity/real life hair inspiration, their style falls short. Besides texture and density, porosity plays a role in how your hair behaves.

High porosity hair is often characterized by the following:

  • Frizz
  • Extreme dryness
  • Easily tangles
  • Inability to hold a style
  • Lack of shine or sheen
  • Sucks up water quickly, but loses it just as quickly

Common Causes of High Porosity Hair

  • Chemical processes, especially overprocessing
  • Thermal styling, particularly high temperatures and/or frequent use
  • Over-manipulation
  • Using harsh products

The reason hair will behave this way is because the hair's cuticles, which lay flat when healthy, have been lifted and are no longer in an optimal state. If your hair is in this condition, getting it back into healthy shape is going to take time and effort. You may have to stop doing some things that got your mane in this state to begin with.

How to Treat High Porosity Hair

First things first: Hair that's already damaged isn't going to magically repair itself, and a cut, or at least major trim, is the best way to start on the road to a well-conditioned mane.

In order to fix your hair, you'll need to drastically minimize your heat usage, and only have chemicals applied only (if at all) in a salon setting. Take a look at the products you use. If you own anything with sulfates that's not a clarifying shampoo, toss it out. You need ultra-moisturizing cleansers that contain no harsh, drying sulfates.

Next, you need a dose of protein, as soon as you can possibly get it. Protein treatments come in different forms. If you're experiencing severe breakage due to high porosity damage, you may need an emergency product like ApHogee Two-Step Protein Treatment ($24). An intense treatment like this only needs to be applied once and you must follow all directions carefully to avoid further damage. Less severe damage can be managed with maintenance protein products like Ouidad's Curl Quencher Moisturizing Conditioner ($20). Protein will strengthen your hair, but it's also drying, so even with breakage, you should have more conditioning than protein. Use something like Joico's Defy Damage Masque ($22).

Black hair requires a lot of moisture when it's healthy, so when it's high porosity, it needs it even more. Get into the habit of weekly deep conditioning, with mild protein treatments applied about once or twice per month. The goal here is to manage your damaged tresses while promoting healthy new growth that doesn't become high porosity.

As you moisturize your hair, don't let all that conditioning work go to waste by not holding that moisture in. The L.O.C. method will work very well on high porosity hair, especially with heavy butter like shea or mango as the "cream" sealants. Use a lighter hand with the butter if your hair is relaxed, but definitely focus on the ends of your tresses, every night if necessary. Good oils to use on high porosity hair include:


  • Grapeseed
  • Jojoba


  • Shea butter
  • Mango butter

Relaxed or Natural

  • Coconut
  • Avocado
  • Almond

It may take weeks or months before you notice a difference, but as long as you're practicing good hair care, your tresses will eventually get healthy again. Remember: minimize heat, use chemicals wisely (or not at all), stick to moisturizing products and treat your tresses with TLC. You can get a handle on damaged, high porosity hair and grow healthier, medium to normal porosity hair this way—instead of living with breakage and frizz.

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