The 14 Best Products for Low-Porosity Hair, According to Hair Experts

Hydration incoming.

Alicia Aylie wears a black V-neck / pink silk ruffled long sleeves blazer jacket, a gold chain necklace, on May 19, 2022 in Cannes, France.
(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

When shopping for your favorite shampoos and conditioners, leave-ins, and other haircare products, you must consider several factors: hair type, hair thickness, curl pattern, and hair porosity. The latter "describes how well your hair can absorb and retain moisture," celebrity hairstylist Larry Sims explains. Low-porosity hair has more difficulty absorbing moisture and is, as a result, prone to buildup. That's why you need the best products for low-porosity hair to ensure healthy hair and a nourished scalp.

"Low-porosity hair has an outer layer that has a tight cuticle," explains Alicia Bailey, a licensed master cosmetologist and CEO of Iman Yvonne Beauty. Because of this structure, follicles cannot easily allow the hair shaft to absorb hydration. "Use lightweight products on the hair," she adds, warning that thick, creamy, or protein-rich products sit on the hair shaft, further impeding moisture absorption.

But with so many hair products on the market, how can one determine which products have the right consistency for use on low-porosity hair? I had Bailey and celebrity hairstylist Larry Sims break down everything there is to know about shopping for low-porosity hair—including the best products—ahead.

The Best Products for Low Porosity Hair

The Best Shampoos for Low Porosity Hair

The Best Conditioners for Low Porosity Hair

The Best Styling Products for Low Porosity Hair

The Best Tools for Low Porosity Hair

What Causes Low-Porosity Hair?

A mixture of nature and nurture determines one's hair porosity, so it's important to note how changes to your routine and environment impact your hair health. "Heat styling tools, such as flat irons and blow dryers, can damage the hair cuticle, putting you at higher risk for low-porosity hair," Sims says. He adds that if you don't wash your hair frequently, you may foster low-porosity hair because of the amount of product buildup.

"Hair porosity is also largely determined by genetics. If you have family members with low-porosity hair, there's a good chance you will too," he explains. "Something not many people know is that someone can have a mixture of both low- and high-porosity hair." The latter often is displayed by dryness and damage, so if you feel you have combination porosity, be sure to prioritize hydration while avoiding buildup.

What to Look For in Low-Porosity Hair Products

  • Lightweight Textures

Bailey suggests that people with low-porosity hair gravitate towards lightweight ingredients. "Water-based products that can easily penetrate the hair are great choices," Sims adds.

  • Oils

"If the product has oil in it, look for lightweight oils like jojoba, babassu, black seed oil, argan or aloe vera," says Bailey. "These oils all have a good comedogenic rating, which means they won’t clog the skin's pores." Sims adds that honey and glycerin are also great for hydrating low-porosity hair from the inside out without weighing it down.

What to Avoid in Low-Porosity Hair Products

Both Bailey and Sims recommend steering clear of protein-packed products, explaining that people with low-porosity hair can be protein-sensitive. This means that too much protein would result in buildup, moisture retention issues, and a weighed-down look.

Because low-porosity hair needs an environment that facilitates moisture absorption, Bailey advises avoiding heavy butters and creams. They can sit on top of the hair shaft and cause buildup. For instance, options like olive oil and castor oil may be too heavy. "Additionally, avoiding silicones is wise because they create a barrier and sit on top of the hair, making it difficult for the hair to absorb moisture," she adds.

Meet the Experts

Alicia Bailey
Alicia Bailey

Alicia Bailey is a licensed master cosmetologist and the CEO and Global Hair Education Director at Iman Yvonne Beauty with over 30 years of experience. She is also an author, life coach, and public speaker, and has owned salons such as Flawless Sessions Hair Salon in Georgia and Flawless Unisex Hair Salon in Hampton, Virginia. She has also worked as an educator for McBride Research Laboratories since 1999, and has worked with a number of women's magazines to promulgate education about black haircare.

Larry Sims
Larry Sims

Larry Sims is a celebrity hairstylist and co-founder of Flawless by Gabrielle Union, a haircare brand made with curls in mind. He has worked with the likes of Union (of course), Tracee Ellis Ross, Zendaya, Janet Jackson, and more.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at