Get the Best Haircare Results by Using Your Porosity Type

Haircare expert Dr. Gaby Longsworth suggests useful tips on the day-to-day care of low and high porosity hair

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Haircare expert Dr. Gaby Longsworth

High porosity hair

Not all shampoos will make hair feel hydrated and moisturised. High porosity curly hair gets dry easily because moisture escapes more readily through the raised cuticle layer. Using a shampoo that provides a lot of moisture and is not drying is crucial. For this reason, many high porosity curly girls avoid sulfated shampoos. Instead, a shampoo with olefin sulphonate provides a good cleanse and does not dry out the hair as much as a shampoo with sulphates. But it should be used infrequently to prevent drying.

This hair type does not need to use heat when deep conditioning as the cuticle layer is already raised (or damaged) and heat will only dry out the moisture it craves. Because the cuticle layer is porous, high porosity hair soaks up moisture but does not retain it as it has lost the ability to seal it in. The gaps in the cuticles allow essential proteins and hydrating oils to be easily absorbed (compared to lower porosity hair that will often block or keep them out). A pre-shampoo treatment or mask with dense nutrients and oils (such as coconut oil) can help with dryness that can result from the shampoo step. 

High porosity hair can look even more dry and frizzy if heat styling tools are used on too high a heat coupled with not using a heat protectant prior to styling.

To keep the ends healthy, and avoid split, dull, or dry ends, high porosity hair needs regular trims.

Low porosity hair

Low porosity curly girls have healthy hair with a strong, tight cuticle layer. They need to be careful not to use products with a lot of heavy oils and butters that just sit on top of the hair. Instead, water soluble products may be a better option. This hair type can use cleaning shampoos with olefin sulfonate more frequently to remove product build up. The use of apple cider vinegar rinses is also beneficial.

To get moisture into the hair shaft, low porosity curly girls should use heat with a mask or deep conditioner. This will allow products to penetrate more effectively into the hair shaft. Washing with warm water will also allow better hydration into the hair shaft.

Hair steaming is a trendy new treatment that helps lift the hair cuticles to allow moisture to penetrate the hair. This can be beneficial for low porosity hair to allow the benefits of a deep conditioner, an oil treatment, or a mask. However, be careful with steam heat as it has the ability to turn grey hair yellow!

Are proteins good for my porosity type?

Products with protein can strengthen and repair the hair cuticle. Larger proteins typically sit on top of the cuticle layer to repair gaps and damage, whereas smaller (hydrolysed) proteins and amino acids are able to penetrate the hair shaft and repair the hair from within. High porosity hair typically needs protein every wash day in their wash products and stylers, especially if the hair strands are thin, or if the hair was chemically processed. 

Because hair and the cuticle layer are made of protein (keratin), and low porosity hair has a lot of it, this hair type is ‘protein-sensitive’. Meaning it does not need much added protein because the cuticle layer is intact, pristine, and tightly packed together. Adding protein to low porosity hair can cause this hair type to become stiff and fragile, and therefore more prone to breakage.

Protein products with only hydrolysed proteins and amino acids (such as a deep conditioner) are ideal for our low porosity curly girls because that typically adds enough protein without the stiffening and brittleness. But only one product with protein is sufficient and if not each wash day, every other wash day or once a month, depending on the hair strength. The healthier the hair, the less frequent one wants or needs to use protein-containing products.

For both hair types at night

Cotton pillowcases pull moisture from the hair. To keep the hair free from tangles, rubbing, and retain moisture, using a buff, bonnet, cap, tube, scarf, or silk scrunchy (to name a few) during sleep is important. This can be paired with a silk pillowcase (or used alone) as not everyone has hair long enough to put up or pin up.

About Dr. Gaby Longworth: Dr. Gaby Longsworth is a mum, wife, Ph.D. scientist, certified hair practitioner, a biotech/pharmaceutical patent attorney, and owner of Absolutely Everything Curly. As a Ph.D. scientist, she was curious to learn why certain hair products worked well for her hair but others did not, so she started devouring scientific articles about hair, reviewing hair products, and understanding ingredients, all while scouring the web for information. After realising the amount of misinformation and the disappointing marketing tricks companies used, Gaby is deeply passionate about sharing her knowledge and research while continuing the movement of cherishing, embracing, and discovering your natural beauty. Dr. Longsworth’s practitioner & certificate is through the International Association of Trichologists. Gaby earned a J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center, a Ph.D. in human genetics and molecular biology at The Johns Hopkins University and a B.S. in molecular biology from the Florida Institute of Technology.

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