I have coarse, low porosity 4c natural hair. After knowing your hair type, hair porosity is the most important factor to consider when creating an effective regimen. I have seen serious gains in my overall 4c natural hair growth and length retention in the last year. And I attribute a lot of that to knowing my hair porosity.
Hair porosity plays a key role in moisture. Moisture is important for natural hair because it keeps our strands hydrated and makes our hair more pliable.
When hair is perpetually dry, it is prone to being stiff and brittle. Brittle hair will often snap at even the gentlest tug and will also break off. In other words, moisture = healthy strands and the hair’s ability to retain length. Hair porosity plays a huge rule in this task. Hair porosity refers to the hair’s ability to absorb and hold moisture. It affects how well oils and moisture can penetrate the outermost layer of your hair, known as the cuticle.
Here are four tips that help to keep my 4c natural hair healthy and happy:
Pre-poo your hair to prep it for washing
“Pre-pooing” or pre-shampooing refers to the process of applying a treatment to your hair prior to shampooing or washing your hair. I will pre-poo with coconut oil the night before wash day, but any penetrating oil such as avocado oil or olive oil will do. This ensures that products can easily penetrate my hair. Additionally, it adds as a protective barrier to my hair by preventing moisture loss while shampooing.
Invest in a hair steamer
Adding heat while conditioning is necessary for low porosity hair types. I purchased a hair steamer three years ago and it’s been my favorite hair tool by far for my low porosity hair. A characteristic of low porosity hair is that it’s difficult for products to penetrate through the naturally closed cuticles. Hair steamers work using water vapor and heat. Hair steamers allow water vapor to open the hair cuticles and allow the products to penetrate the hair strands. You can steam by way of a heat conditioning cap (ex. plastic bag, or microwavable cap), but they don’t release water vapor. As a result, they may not provide you with maximum hydration that is provided in a steamer. A hair steamer also enhances curl and coil definition. It also increases blood circulation to the scalp which enhances hair growth.
Less is more when it comes to products
I am a big believer that less is more when it comes to creating and maintaining a natural hair regimen. Low porosity hair is prone to build up because hair products tend to sit in the cuticle layer rather than penetrate them. For this reason, I do not use silicone-based products on my hair. Non-soluble silicones (e.g. dimethicone, cyclomethicone, amodimethicone etc) are most common in hair products, and they do have some benefits. They provide slip, which makes natural hair easier to detangle. They also trap moisture in and minimize frizz.
Conversely, their occlusive properties can have a negative impact on hair. Silicones create a coating on the hair that blocks out nutrients, air, and water in hair strands. And as you may know, water is the #1 moisturizer for natural hair. As a result, the impenetrable barrier formed on the hair from silicone use can lead to product buildup. The only way to remove silicones is through the use of clarifying shampoos. Some women use clarifying shampoos, but they can often strip the hair due to sulfates in these shampoos. I clarify my hair once a month using a mixture of bentonite clay and organic apple cider vinegar. Additionally, I keep the hair products that I use to a minimum, focusing more on DIYs and my go-to products rather than relying on a vast array of hair products.
Humectants draw and trap moisture into the hair, and they are beneficial for low porosity hair that often struggles to absorb moisture. I often look for humectants when shopping for hair products. These include glycerin, amino acids, honey, aloe vera, and panthenol and propylene glycol. Widely available humectants like honey and aloe vera can be used leave-in conditioners, hair masques, etc. A Google search will introduce you to some humectants to try.
What tips help you grow and manage your low porosity hair?