I talked about porosity a few posts ago but as a refresher, porosity is the measure of absorption in the cuticle layer of your hair. The cuticle layer of your hair is arranged like shingles on a roof. A tight, compact shingle pattern make penetration difficult yielding low porosity.
So how do you know if you have lo-po hair? Well when you apply products, particularly heavy creams or butters, does it feel like the product is just sitting on top of your hair rather than being absorbed? Do you have to drench and dunk your hair in water to get it wet? Does your hair tend to resist chemical treatments like coloring? If you answered yes then you may have lo-po hair. Another way is to do a porosity test by placing a clean, dry, product-free strand of hair in a bowl of water. If the hair floats at the top of the water you have low porosity.
So what is a natural with lo-po hair to do? Well below are tips from NaturallyCurly.com member Marah Mizrahi on caring for lo-po hair:
Here are a few [product] suggestions. The Kinky Curly Line is a good one. Curl Junkie is another one that has decent products for low porosity hair. Tigi Moisture Maniac Conditioner. Oyin Honey Hemp Conditioner. Giovanni 50/50 Balanced Hair Remoisturizer.
Any line that has humectants and emollients that soften the hair. Try not to go oil or protein over board. Low porosity hair doesn’t need a lot of either one. Some low porosity folks find they are extremely oil sensitive and avoid mostly all oils, especially coconut oil.
I can’t recommend Carol’s Daughter because I don’t like the line at all. I also don’t recommend Miss Jessies or Mixed Chicks.
A lot of people with low porosity have to find ways to get things inside their hair shaft. Because the cuticle is tight what you try to do is raise the cuticle so the products can penetrate.
Ways to do this is use Very warm (not hot) water before your conditioner is apply. Another way is steam (some people invest in steamers or create their own). You can apply your conditioner to wet hair and put a plastic cap and sitting under a hooded dryer with conditioner on the hair which is basically a heated deep treatment. The most important thing is to get moisture in and the way to do that is raise the cuticle. Alkaline type solutions do this as well.
A controversial way to do it is to use baking soda treatments on the hair. Where you basically add a little bit into your conditioner and rinse it out. You have to make sure to rinse with cold water or use very diluted apple cider vinegar to close the cuticle back though. I say this is controversial because some people swear by it, others think it’s a bad idea to use baking soda in the hair.
Try to find water based products that contain humectants. A humectant would be like glycerin, pathenol, honey, aloe, fructose, glucose, hydrolyzed silk, urea, propylene glycol, etc. Ingredients that draw moisture to the hair.
You’ll have to test the glycerin because some folks feel they are glycerin sensitive. If you have very low porosity hair though as you describe..this might help you out provided you don’t’ live in an extremely dry climate and it’s probably one of the easiest humectants to spot on the ingredient list of products.
Avoid protein laden products. Look for richer conditioners with great emollients but not a bunch of unnecessary oils. You’ll probably want to avoid a lot of oily products, silicones, mineral oils, petroleum anything that can super coat the hair shaft since you already have a compact hair cuticle you don’t really need to use a lot of oily ingredients to majorly coat the hair. Because you want a decent amount of moisture drawn to your curls so if you use any oils just be picky and use the least amount you can.
Some low porosity folks actually prefer to use shampoo as opposed to conditioner washing only because of the fact that it (shampoo) ingredients helps to opens the cuticle. They look for a good moisturizing shampoo that doesn’t terribly strip the hair. Some are fine with sulfates,others are not. If you still want to avoid sulfates but use shampoo try to find a decent moisturizing one. Aubrey Organics Honey Suckle Rose is a good one, so is Giovanni 50/50 Shampoo.
Thank you Marah so much for tips for the lo-po naturals. The Cherry Lola treatment is also popular for lo-po naturals, this treatment can be found in my previous notes. If you do Cherry Lola or another baking soda treatment be sure to follow with something moisturizing! http://derbycitynaturals.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/cherrylola-no-frizz-protein-treatment/