If you have high porosity hair like me, you know that it can be a challenge to keep it healthy and looking its best. This hair type tends to frizz easily when the humidity is high and become brittle and lifeless when it is low. High porosity strands have a rough and open cuticle structure that allows for easy absorption of moisture into the hair shaft, and release of moisture from it.

High-porosity hair can be:

  • determined by genetics,
  • caused by cumulative damage from heat, chemicals, and other stressors,
  • due to aging, as strands turn silver,
  • and found in combination with low and normal porosity hair (for example, in transitioning hair).

Regardless of the cause, high-porosity hair is not always synonymous with damaged hair, so keep this in mind as you care for your curls. Below are six things you can’t do if you really want to rock healthy waves, ringlets, and coils.

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Photo courtesy of @kopanotheblog

1. You can’t detangle your hair without a pre-poo or conditioner

Dry hair is in its most fragile state and can be easily damaged from detangling.  Therefore, it is important to detangle with care. To do so, make sure to:

  1. Apply a pre-poo product or your favorite oil, or saturate your hair with water, and then apply a rich conditioner with good slip.
  2. Detangle slowly and carefully, section by section, with your fingers and a wide-toothed comb.
  3. Clip each section with a duckbill clip as you complete it.  

2. You can’t use harsh detergents on your hair

Harsh detergents will dry out your hair and make it difficult to detangle. Gentle, moisturizing Curly Girl approved shampoos, cleansing conditioners, and co-washes will cleanse your hair without stripping it like shampoos with harsh detergents will. Even if you are experiencing product build-up, choose a gentle clarifying treatment such as the ones listed here to remove it from your hair.

3. You can’t do without adequate moisture

Adequate moisture is crucial for thirsty curls. Without it, strands become dehydrated and lose their elasticity. Since everyone’s hair is different, know that it may take some experimentation to find the moisture combination that works best for you. At a minimum, there are four moisturizing products that every curly girl and guy need:

  • a regular conditioner. Choose Curly Girl approved brands that do not contain silicones. This conditioner should be your holy grail on wash day. It should be easy to emulsify between the palms of your hands yet be rich enough to coat your hair. It should also have enough slip to be used for detangling.
  • A deep conditioner or hair masque - Intensive conditioners can be used on an as-needed basis--like when your ends are looking dry and dull-- or as part of your regular regimen.  For best results, look for products that contain both protein and moisturizers (more on protein below).
  • A leave-in conditioner - Choose a product that contains moisturizing properties AND protein A leave-in can be used on freshly washed and conditioned hair or added to water to refresh curls. If a leave-in alone doesn’t give you enough moisture, you might want to use it as the first step in the LOC method. LOC stands for Leave-in-Oil-Cream. It’s a way of applying moisture to hair, and sealing that moisture in.
  • A moisturizer - To be used between wash days, to refresh curls and coils, a moisturizer can help to keep hair feeling soft, and it can perk up listless curls.

To moisturize:

  1. Spritz dry areas of hair with a curl refresher or water that contains some leave-in or regular conditioner. If your hair requires more moisture, apply a small amount of conditioning milk or cream.
  2. Gently massage the moisturizer into the dry sections of your hair.
  3. Scrunch or twist areas that have lost definition.

Use the LOC method on freshly shampooed or co-washed hair prior to the application of any styling products.

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Photo courtesy of @discocurls

4. You can’t do without extra protein

For healthy hair, you also need protein. For some, a protein treatment or protein-heavy conditioning treatment one or two times a month is a must. For those of us with finer hair, choosing conditioning products that also contain some protein is key. To ensure your favorite conditioner has protein in it, see Ingredients Commonly Used in Hair Care Products: Proteins.

5. You can’t over-manipulate your hair when it is dry

Nothing will ruin your curls and coils like hands in your hair. On wash days, after your hair is completely dry, gently scrunch out the crunch, or flip your head over and lightly pick out your roots. Admire your lovely head of curls, but don’t touch them. Trust me on this. If you are setting your dry hair in a twist out or braids, make sure to use a twisting butter or styling cream to protect it.

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6. You can’t expose your hair to heat.

The heat from blow dryers, irons, and even the sun can damage your hair. Many curlies are surprised to find out their curl pattern ends up being completely different from the straighter strands they become accustomed too while using heat. Stay away from hot styling tools, and if you need to use a blow dryer, always do so on the coolest setting, and use a diffuser.

What are your high porosity hair tips? Let us know in the comments!

This article was originally published in 2016 and was updated in 2018 to reflect new recommendations.