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The months-long journey to nailing a hair growth routine that showed some signs it was actually working also led me to many important conclusions. One, my threshold for patience is tiny. It’s gotten better but there’s still plenty of progress to be made. Two, I love trying anything and everything I can get my hands on. That would be great if buildup didn’t sit on top of my hair, which brings me to the most important conclusion: my hair absolutely sucks at retaining water. For this reason, I had to rebuild my daily regimen to include only the best low porosity hair products.
In the simplest terms, the fibers of low porosity hair are tight-knit. So much so, that they tend to stubbornly lay on top of one another or refuse to open entirely and let water or nutrients penetrate the hair cuticle. Because of this, products like gel, sealant oils, and other stylers tend to sit on top of the hair instead of going beyond the surface to provide the nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy. Over time, and if the buildup is allowed to grow because of an inconsistent cleansing schedule, the hair also becomes weak and prone to damage. Ironically, low porosity hair is also rich in protein, which means the strengthening products one would typically use to combat the side effects of ill-treated low porosity hair only exacerbate those symptoms.
I learned this the hard way when I nose-dived into every hair growth treatment and repair product I could get my hands on, from homemade rice water to protein powder to almost daily hair masking. A small part of me always knew that my hair could use help in the moisture retention department but my experiments gone wrong confirmed it. Now that I’ve taken the time to get reacquainted with my hair again, there are a couple of things I always keep in mind as I’m perusing products to possibly try.
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First, I never go a day without reminding myself that water is moisture; not gel, oil, or cream. I immerse my head in warm water whenever I condition and stay there for a good 2-3 minutes so my hair can drink up every last bit. And if my hair feels dry in the middle of the day, I grab my spray bottle and spritz away. As far as products are concerned, I’ve established a few non-negotiables that I think would serve my fellow low porosity hair types well, too. When it comes to cleansing, I wash once a week with a clarifying formula to nix buildup.
Right now, I swear by this underrated Amazon shampoo that leaves my hair so soft, I almost skip conditioning. Everything else in my routine is water-based, lightweight, and mostly free of protein. You’ll be hard-pressed to find hair products without protein so knowing how much your hair needs (because protein does help keep your hair strong) depends on your unique circumstances. For example, my hair can only take protein on wash day and beyond that, protein-rich hair masks have to be used very sparingly. That being said, consider this list of what I think are the best low porosity hair products a starter list to at least get the wheels turning as you mix and match a routine that works for you.
EDEN BodyWorks Almond Marshmallow Hydration Serum
This jelly-like serum includes one of my favorite penetrative oils, sweet almond oil, in addition to water, glycerin, and aloe vera leaf juice to draw moisture into the hair shaft.
dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub
If your hair strands and scalp are prone to dandruff, buildup and oil residue, this apple cider vinegar scrub clarifies, while also utilizing avocado oil and aloe vera to soothe.
Mielle Organics Mongongo Oil Hydrating Conditioner Protein-Free
The ultimate daily conditioner for protein-sensitive hair, made with all organic and natural ingredients to nourish and hydrate.
Lotta Body Moisturize Me Curl & Style Milk
Besides the ultra-affordable price, this drugstore staple detangles, conditions, and defines curls in just a few dollops.
Bounce Curl Avocado & Rose Oil Clump and Define Cream
My most recent discovery is this protein-free leave-in cream reviewers say has replaced their gel and leave-in conditioner.
Camille Rose Naturals Clean Rinse Moisturizing & Clarifying Shampoo
My favorite haircare products combine clarifying properties with cooling effects. Such is the case with this curly hair shampoo that blends cleansing and moisturizing nutrients to leave the hair gunk-free without drying it out.
Ouai Detox Shampoo
This SC-approved clarifying shampoo is infused with chelating agents to strip the hair of hard water minerals. However, it does contain keratin so proceed with caution if your hair is extremely sensitive to protein.
Not Your Mother’s Tahitian Gardenia Flower & Mango Butter Conditioner
Personally, I recommend using this conditioner as a deep conditioner on wash day since it’s on the heavier side. However, if your hair isn’t particularly sensitive to buildup, I recommend using this protein-free formula as a daily rinse-out conditioner.
Bread Beauty Supply Hair Mask Creamy Deep Conditioner
This new deep conditioner also contains some protein, as well as natural ingredients that strengthen and repair damaged hair. However, even if you have low porosity hair, I think your hair could benefit from this luscious formula as a weekly or bi-weekly treatment.
adwoa beauty Baomint™ Deep Conditioning Treatment
This minty fresh deep conditioner is rich is water-based and rich in oils that penetrate the hair shaft, including sweet almond and coconut.
Rucker Roots GTC Daily Leave-In
I discovered this Black-owned brand earlier this year and fell in love with nearly every product because of the all-natural ingredients that promote growth: ginger, turnip, and carrot. Though I can’t use the brand’s heavier styling products as much as I’d like, this leave-in is light enough to help soften and moisturize my hair without weighing it down. The scent is also irresistible. (This product also contains biotin, so use as little or as much as your hair can tolerate.)