The Complete Guide to Low Porosity 4C Natural Hair!

Updated: October 9, 2022

low porosity natural hair growth

In this article, we’re going into detail about the best hair care regimen for low porosity hair, no matter its curl pattern, but especially for 4C hair!

We’ll also be talking about the best products for low porosity hair, and finally answering the question about whether you’re supposed to do protein treatments on low porosity hair or not! 

If you know about hair porosity and have already identified yours as being low porosity hair then congratulations!

You are already on the right track to healthy, long (if that’s your goal) natural 4a, 4b, or 4c hair! 

However, if you have no idea what hair porosity is you’re in luck, and we’re happy you found Hibiscus Roots!

Hair porosity describes how well your hair is able to absorb and retain moisture and other products!
We have a full article that explains this in detail here

What is Low Porosity Hair?

To explain what low porosity hair is, we have to talk about what exactly hair is. All hair is made up of three layers:

best 4c low porosity hair regimen
structure of the hair: source
  1. the cuticle — the outer layer of the hair, made of individual cells that overlap each other 
  2. the cortex — the middle layer which contains proteins and color pigment
  3. and the medulla, — the inner layer of the hair strand


When your hair is low porosity, the cuticles in the cuticle layer are packed very tightly together.

As a result, it is difficult for water, oils, and other products to get into the low porosity hair strand.

You should know, low porosity hair is never a result of product or manipulation, it is usually genetic. 

Is My Natural Hair Low Porosity?

Trust us, knowing whether your natural hair is high or low porosity matters more than knowing whether or not your hair is 4C! We explain why in this post. You should take these tests with a grain of salt because different parts of your hair can have different porosity. What you need to understand is how your hair behaves overall in terms of water absorption.

Here are a few easy ways to tell if your 4c hair is low porosity, and how to adapt your regimen accordingly:

1. The hair porosity test

This involves taking a few clean strands of hair and dropping them into a glass of water. Then after 2 minutes, if your hair floats towards the top of the glass (and doesn’t sink) your hair is most likely low porous.

2. The slip and slide test

This sounds exactly like what it is. Take a piece of hair and place it between your index finger and your thumb, then slide up and down. If your hair strand slides right through, or it moves smoothly along then it is most likely low porosity.

3. Product test

Whenever you do the LOC or LCO method, do you notice excess product just sitting on your hair strands? Do you notice this even when trying to deep condition your hair? No matter what, you find that it’s rather difficult for your low porosity hair to absorb products or even water? Your natural hair is probably low porosity!

4. Drying time test

Do you notice that your hair just takes a really long time to dry after it’s been wet? It takes hours for your hair to air dry, and longer than usual when you attempt to dry it with heat? Then your hair is most likely low porous! 

The Best Low Porosity Hair Regimen for 4C Hair!

low porosity natural hair

If you weren’t sure before, you probably now have a better idea of your hair’s porosity. Now, you’re probably wondering about the best regimen for low porosity natural (especially 4c) hair.

Settle in, we’re about to get into it.

1. Cleanse your hair regularly

If you’ve ever heard of the curly girl method (or CGM) you may be following a “no-poo” or “low-poo” regimen. It’s also been a commandment in the natural hair community to not wash your hair often because it dries out the hair. This may be true if you only use harsh surfactant shampoos.

However, if you are low porosity you SHOULD definitely be washing your natural hair often! And not just co-washing.

You should be using a cleansing agent often, even if it’s Ayurvedic like a black soap or a clay wash.

This is because low porosity natural hair is prone to product buildup, seeing as not all the product you apply to the strand gets absorbed.

You’ll need to be washing off that product regularly. So it doesn’t just sit there, creating even more of a barrier for moisture and other products. Make sure your 4c low porosity hair regimen involves regular cleansing for best results!

2. Always deep condition with heat

The recommendation to avoid direct heat if you want healthy hair is definitely not pointless.

However, if you have low porosity 4c natural hair you need heat especially when deep conditioning.

This is because heat opens up the hair cuticles and helps product and moisture penetrate the hair strand more easily.

In this case, heat could mean a warm towel wrapped around your deep conditioning cap to trap body heat.

You could try using an electric deep conditioning cap like this one we love from Amazon or this bonnet hairdryer for a few minutes.

These are all methods of indirect heat that help open up the hair cuticle without damaging it.

3. Try deep conditioning overnight!

An alternative to deep conditioning with heat is to deep condition for extended periods of time/overnight.

After washing your hair, apply your deep conditioner to damp hair and wrap it in a plastic cap. You can then wrap your hair up as usual and lay a towel on your pillow for extra protection against drips while you sleep!

The reasoning behind this is: hair that is usually difficult to hydrate or penetrate, is no match against time! The deep conditioning product will have the time to slowly seep into your strand and condition it from the inside out before you rinse it off!

Word of caution: be very mindful about this if you have high porosity hair. Overnight deep conditioning even once when your porosity is on the higher side could lead to moisture-overload or hygral fatigue. We go into detail about hygral fatigue in this article.

4. Apply your leave-in conditioner in the shower

A lot of people with low porosity natural hair have found this to be a saver! Immediately after a shampoo, deep conditioning treatment, and warm water rinse, your cuticle is at its most open.

This is a key time to get as much product into your hair as possible!

Considering the previous point, the steam from the shower also helps the cuticle stay open enough for the product to penetrate.

To do this, squeeze out the excess warm water from your hair.
Then, apply a generous amount of leave-in to your hair in sections.

After this, wrap your hair up in your t-shirt or microfibre towel (you can buy one on Amazon here!) and continue your routine as usual.

5. Skip the cold water rinse

If you have low porosity hair, you need to ignore any advice you’ve previously heard to rinse your natural hair with cold water after washing it!

You don’t need any help sealing your hair cuticle, rather you need help opening the cuticle up.

Especially if you want the previous step to work!

You want to use warm water to wash and rinse your hair, and then apply your leave-in product while the cuticle is still open.

6. Choose your products wisely

When you have low porosity natural hair, you should pick products that have the right consistency and chemistry for you. For example, you should pick products that contain humectants like honey or glycerin. These naturally attract water molecules from the environment into the hair strand.

You should also pick products that have a lighter, milkier consistency. Products like hair milk have a better time slipping through the tiny gaps in the hair cuticle when compared to thick products.

We suggest the best products to use in your 4c low porosity hair regimen below!

7. Consider your oil viscosity (thickness)

Similar to the point above, when picking oils for your LOC method, you want to pick an oil that is light enough to penetrate your low porosity hair strands. Oils like olive oil and avocado oil are true penetrating oils, and oils like sweet almond oil are also great because of how light and nourishing they are!

However, with low porosity natural hair, you might also consider opting for either an LO (Liquid & Oils) or LC (Liquid & Cream) method.

This is because your hair is probably only able to absorb either an oil or an oil-based cream after your liquid moisturizer. 

Some low porosity naturals, like Kimberly Cherrell (another Youtuber we love!), have found major success from simply opting out of using oils on the hair strand altogether! She relies on the oils present in her leave-in conditioners, and the oils in her hair creams to nourish her low porosity hair instead!

You can experiment with multiple of these combinations in your regimen until you find something that works for your low porosity 4c hair!

Don’t forget to write down your results from these experiments so you can always keep track of what worked and what didn’t! Grab a free journal here to make it easier!

8. Opt for the Baggy Method or Greenhouse Method Often

The Greenhouse method (aka the Baggy method) simply involves using a plastic bag/saran wrap to trap moisture in your hair via body heat – creating a sort of greenhouse effect.

You can either do this to create moisture and steam for your whole head, or you can wrap only the ends of your hair after spraying them with water for deeper hydration.

The greenhouse method is one of the most powerful ways to ensure moisture penetrates your low porosity hair strand! And you can use this method often to ensure maximum hydration for your hair.

Just be careful to avoid moisture-overload when doing this by checking your strand hydration levels often!

9. Appreciate the benefits of having low porosity natural hair!

Though we’ve been going on and on about how difficult it is to get product into low porosity 4c hair, there is an upside to all of this.

Once you do manage to get moisture into your hair, it STAYS in there!

You don’t have to worry about all the extra steps high porosity girls take to seal moisture in their hair, your cuticles naturally do most of that work for you!
That’s another reason you could look into only using 2 out of the 3 steps in the LOC or LCO methods.

Once properly moisturized, your hair is more likely to stay hydrated for a long time. This reduces the chances of your hair getting too dry and breaking!

BONUS TIP: You definitely need protein!

Yes, even if your hair is low porosity it still needs protein! This is because you need to maintain the integrity of that cortex layer of the hair strand.
Protein tends to fill gaps in the hair cuticle, so I understand why someone with an already tight cuticle layer might be wary of it.

This is why you will often see protein-free products marketed towards low porosity naturals. However, though you may not need a lot of protein in your hair regimen, or products – you will need it from time to time.

But hear me out, once you do get the hang of properly moisturizing low porosity hair, you’re going to be getting a lot of moisture in there.

Similarly, what have we learned about Ayurveda (aka balance)?

Too much of anything – no matter how good it is – is never a good thing.

You will occasionally need to add protein treatments, henna, rice water, and other strengthening treatments into your hair care regimen to keep your moisture-protein level in check! 

Best Products for a Protein-Sensitive Low Porosity Hair Regimen

Here is our Hibiscus Roots-approved list of the best products to use in your low porosity hair regimen – yes, even for 4C hair! We’ve done the research and picked mostly all-natural ingredients, and protein-free products for low porosity 4C hair with protein sensitivity. There are 3 products in each category, and there’s a product you can choose whether you’re coconut-sensitive or fruit-sensitive!

Best Protein-Free, All-Natural Shampoos for Low Porosity Hair

Here are the 3 best protein-free shampoos for low porosity hair:

1. DIY African Black Soap Shampoo (recipe here)

Easy DIY African Black Soap Shampoo Recipe for Natural Hair

2. Kinky Curly Come Clean Moisturizing Shampoo 

low porosity hair regimen

Ingredients: Purified water, organic mandarin orange fruit, organic marigold flower, organic white willow bark, organic sea kelp…

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…c14-16 olefin sulfonate, and cocamidopropyl betaine (coconut derived), phytic acid, citric acid, sea salt, phenoxyethanol, and natural fragrance

3. As I Am Curl Clarity Shampoo

4c low porosity regimen

Ingredients: Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Powder, Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Powder…

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…Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Fruit Extract, Fragrance/Parfum, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Benzoate, Limonene

4. Afrocenchix Swish Sulfate-Free Shampoo

afrocenchix low porosity hair

Ingredients: Aqua (Purified Water), Cocamidopropyl Betaine (Coconut based cleanser), Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (Coconut based cleanser), Benzyl alcohol , Dehydroacetic acid…

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…enzoic acid and Sorbic acid (Environmentally Friendly Preservative), Glycerin, D Panthenol (Pro Vitamin B5), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (Aloe Vera Juice), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut Oil), Xanthan Gum, Cetearyl Alcohol (Emulsifying Wax), Cetearyl Glucoside, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit Essential Oil), Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon Essential Oil), Citrus Aurantium Amara (Orange Essential Oil), Cymbopogon Schoenanthus (Lemongrass Essential Oil).

Best All-Natural Deep Conditioners for Low Porosity Hair

Here are the 3 best all-natural deep conditioners for low porosity hair:

1. Mielle Organics Protein Free Hydrating Conditioner with Mongongo Oil

low porosity hair regimen

Ingredients: Water (Aqua, Eau), Cetearyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ppg-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, Behentrimonium Chloride,…

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…Behentrimonium Methosulfate, C10-40, Isoalkylamidopropyl-ethyldimonium Ethosulfate, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, * Organic Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, *Organic Plukenetia Volubilis, (Sacha Inchi) Seed Oil, *Organic Argania Spinosa (Argan) Nut Oil, * Organic Schinziophyton Rautanenii (Mongongo) Kernel Oil, *Organic Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Fragrance (Parfum), Phenoxyethanol, Dipropylene Glycol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Panthenol, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Phyllanthus Emblica (Amla) Fruit Powder, Tocopheryl Acetate, Benzoic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glycereth-2 Cocoate, Disodium Edta, and Citric Acid.

2. Shea Moisture Baobab and Tea Tree Oils Low Porosity Protein Free Conditioner

shea moisture low porosity shampoo

Ingredients: Water, Glycerin (Vegetable), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol…

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…Behentrimonium Chloride, Glyceryl Caprylate, Panthenol, Fragrance (Essential Oil Blend), Capric/Caprylic Triglycerides, Menthol, Adansonia Digitata Seed Oil, Mentha Aquatica, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Extract, Mentha Viridis (Spearmint) Leaf Extract, Cetrimonium Chloride, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Tocopherol, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Sodium Benzoate, and Glyceryl Undecylenate.

3. Alikay Naturals Avocado Cream Moisture Repairing Hair Mask

alikay for low porosity hair regimen

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Cetearyl Alcohol(Coconut derived), Stearalkonium Chloride(Coconut derived), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice(Aloe Vera Juice), Persea Gratissima (Avocado Oil)…

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…Persea Gratissima (Avocado Butter), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary Oil), Olea Europaea (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), Citric Acid, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat Germ Oil), Behentrimonium Methosulfate (Natural Detangling Agent), Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Sorbic Acid(Food Grade Preservative), Arctium lappa (Burdock) Root, Fragrance (Parfum), Color additives, and Botanical Blend Ingredients.

Best All-Natural Leave-in Conditioners for Low Porosity Hair

Here are the 4 best all-natural leave-in conditioners for low porosity hair:

1. Organic Aloe Vera Juice or DIY Aloe Vera Juice (recipe here)

5 Best Ways to Use Aloe Vera for Natural Hair Growth! (2021)

2. Shea Moisture Protein-Free Leave-In Detangler

low porosity leave-in conditioner

Ingredients: Glycerin (Vegetable), Water, Propanediol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter…

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…Adansonia Digitata Seed Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Menthol, Mentha Viridis (Spearmint) Leaf Extract, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Extract, Panthenol, and Fragrance (Essential Oil Blend).

3. Camille Rose Naturals Curl Love Moisture Milk

curl milk low porosity hair regimen

Ingredients: Deionized Water, Behentrimonium Methosulfate and Cetearyl Alcohol, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice Bran) Oil, Aloe Barbadenis Leaf…

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…Ricinus Communis (Castor Seed) Oil, Ternifolia (Macadamia Nut) Seed Oil, Sorbitol, Camellia (Green Tea) Sinensis Leaf, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Milk, Rosa Canina (Rose Hip) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth 20, Slippery Elm (Ulmus Fulva) bark, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid, Scent and Love.

4. The Mane Choice Tropical Moringa Sweet Oil Endless Moisture Restorative Spray

mane choice low porosity regimen

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Polysorbate 20 (Derived From Fruits), Cetrimonium Chloride, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice…

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…Apium Graveolens (Celery) Seed Extract, Asparagus Racemosus Root Extract, Biotin, Camellia Sinensis Leaf (Green Tea) Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D), Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail) Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, Panthenol, Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Serenoa Serrulata (Saw Palmetto) Fruit Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Benzophenone-4, Benzyl Salicylate, Hydroxycitronellal, Limonene, Linalool, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Blue 1 CI 42090, Aminomethyl Propanol, and Fragrance (Parfum & Essential Oil Blend)

Best All-Natural Oils for Low Porosity Hair

Here are the 3 best all-natural oils for low porosity hair:

  1. Avocado Oil

  2. Sweet Almond Oil

  3. Argan Oil

Best All-Natural Styling Creams for Low Porosity Hair

Here are the 3 best all-natural styling creams for low porosity hair:

1. DIY Flaxseed Gel (recipe here)

Easy Flaxseed Gel Recipe for Natural Hair – 10 min tops!

2. Melanin Haircare Twist Elongating Style Cream

low porosity 4c regimen

Ingredients: Water (Aqua, Eau), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Glyceryl Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ceteareth-20

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…Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Behentrimonium Methosulfate (Non-Sulfate Derived From Rapeseed Oil), Citric Acid, Glycerin, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Garcinia Indica Seed Butter, Theobroma Grandiflorum Seed Butter, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Argania Spinosa Kernel (Argan) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, and Rosa Canina Fruit Extract.

3. Kinky Curly Curling Custard

curly custard for curl definiton

Ingredients: Botanical infusion of water, horsetail, chamomile, nettle and marshmallow…

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…organic aloe vera juice, agave nectar extract, tocopheryl acetate (vitamin e), pectic, citric acid, potassium sorbate, and natural fragrance.

There you have it! Everything you need to know about how to care for low porosity natural hair!

Let us know in the comments if there’s anything you didn’t know, or if there’s anything you’re going to try! 

Read Next: Is Your Hair Protein Sensitive? How to Tell!

The Complete Guide to Low Porosity 4C Natural Hair!

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