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How To Dye Low Porosity Hair

Have you ever spent so much money on a high-end hair dye only for it not to change your hair shade at all?

This happens to many people, and the cold, hard truth is that it’s likely not your hair dye that’s to blame. Your hair could be the issue if you have low porosity strands.

Less porous hair is notorious for not holding on to color. It’s super frustrating for girls with natural, low porosity hair not to be able to experiment with colors they’re eyeing. But don’t worry – it’s not impossible!

Today, we’ll go through what it means to have low porosity hair, delve into why it’s so hard to dye, and go step by step on how to dye low porosity hair.

how to dye low porosity hair

What Is Low Porosity Hair?

Hair porosity pertains to how your cuticles – also known as the outermost layer of your hair – look like.

If they’re sealed shut and overlap with one another, then you have low porosity.

If you have natural hair and don’t use heat stylers that often, it’s likely that you have low porosity hair.

On the other side of the spectrum, your hair gets more porous when chemical treatments and heat styling roughs up the cuticle.

This lifts the cuticle, creating holes and openings in the hair shaft.

how to dye low porosity hair
Hair structure

Low porosity hair has a bit of trouble absorbing moisture and other substances because of how closed up the cuticles are.

It also means that rich and extremely heavy oils with bigger molecules have a hard time penetrating less porous hair.

So hydration is truly a challenge when it comes to low porosity hair.


Use Light Oils

When moisturizing low porosity hair, the key is to use lightweight emollients, like argan oil and jojoba extracts.

These will moisturize and soften the hair and lock in hydration without being ultra-heavy and weigh down your delicate locks.


Float Test

An easy way to find out for sure if you have low porosity hair is by doing the float test.

Take a strand of clean hair and put it in a glass of water.

If you have porous hair, it will soak up water right away, making the strand sink.

If you have lower porosity, your hair will be resistant and won’t open up and absorb water, allowing it to float.


Stretch Test

Another way to tell if you have low porosity hair is by stretching out your hair strand to see how far it will go.

Gather up about five strands of hair and carefully stretch them out while they’re wet.

High porosity hair will break or snap as you pull on it.

But if it stretches to 30% and goes back to its original length with no issues, you likely have low porosity hair.


Why Is It Difficult To Dye Low Porosity Hair?

Moisturizing isn’t the only big issue when it comes to dealing with low porosity hair.

Another chief complaint many ladies have with their less porous strands is that it’s hard to dye a different color.

Much like water and oils, it’s difficult for hair dye to penetrate low porosity hair because it’s so closed up.

Note that this is also an issue for those with high porosity.

The more porous your hair, the easier it is for colored pigments to slip out.

So much like low porosity hair, it can also be difficult to color porous and damaged strands.

But going back to the star of the show – low porosity hair. This hair type is resistant to foreign substances, like water and pigments.

That means you have to put in extra work and effort if you want your hair dye to actually work on you.

It’s even more challenging when your low porosity hair is coarse and curly.

Thicker, coarser hair textures need more time to absorb hair dye to hold on to color compared to finer hair types.


Usually Undamaged

See, low porosity hair is healthy, natural, undamaged hair.

To get your hair to open up a little and be moderately porous and take on color easily, it has to be treated at least a little bit.

That’s why many hair dyes are infused with developers, bleach, and other activators that lift your cuticles, giving the dye more space to enter your hair and deposit the colored pigments.

Like all hair processes, it could lead to a bit of damage.

This may sound like a nightmare for untouched, low porosity hair, but it’s the best way to get your dream coloring job done.

Just make sure to practice proper aftercare once your hair is colored, and you’ll be able to maintain your hair’s overall health.


How To Dye Low Porosity Hair

Dyeing less porous hair doesn’t have a drastic difference from dyeing regular hair.

But there are a few special steps you need to take to give your hair the best shot at ending up with a color you love.

Here’s how you should do it:


Wash The Hair

Low porosity hair is prone to product and mineral build-up.

That’s because super-sealed cuticles leave heavier ingredients sitting on the hair shaft instead of actually penetrating the hair.

You need to make sure that your hair is as clean as possible to ensure that nothing will block the hair dye’s path when it tries to enter your strands.

To do that, wash your hair with a high-quality clarifying shampoo.

This will get rid of all the gunk, grime, and oils suffocating your hair.

One terrific clarifying shampoo is the Paul Mitchell Shampoo Two.

It purifies and deeply cleanses the hair by removing product build-up, bringing back shine and luster to your hair.

It also manages sebum production in your scalp, so your hair doesn’t get overly greasy.


Get Protective Coating

After your hair dries from your wash, it’s time to get ready to color it.

Something you can do to protect your hairline and ears from getting stained is slathering those areas in petroleum jelly.

This will create a protective coating around your skin.



Detangle your hair carefully with a brush.

Your tresses must be smooth and free of knots so that color application will be seamless and even.


Section Your Hair

Section off your hair in four to six chunks.

Working with sections makes dyeing the hair a lot easier, since you’re being organized with your process.


Apply The Dye

Now, you can apply your hair dye.

Instead of raking the dye through your hair, squeeze the dye into your strands as you smooth it down each lock of hair.

This is a terrific method of encouraging your low porosity hair to absorb the pigments in the dye.

It’s especially useful for coarse, kinky hair that has trouble taking on a new color.


Distribute The Dye Evenly

Using a wide-tooth comb, distribute the product even more throughout each section of hair.

This is crucial because an even application of dye will result in a more natural-looking color without patchiness.


Incorporate Heat

Sit under a hooded dryer and turn up the heat a little bit.

Heat goes a long way when you have less porous hair because it helps open up the cuticles temporarily.

With cuticles that are a little more separated than normal, the dye can seep into your hair fibers and color your strands.


Give The Dye Some Extra Time

Leave the dye for just a little longer than instructed.

Because low porosity hair is resistant to chemicals like color pigments, you need to give it extra time to absorb.

Keep the dye in your hair for about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how resistant your low porosity hair is.


Rinse Your Hair

Step into your shower and rinse your hair.

Make sure you wash out every single bit of hair dye so that you don’t come out with a patchy color.

It’s also important so that you don’t over-process your hair and risk damaging it severely.


Follow Up With Conditioner

Follow up with a nourishing conditioner to replenish your hair of the moisture it lost during the dyeing process.

Try avoiding conditioners rich in heavy oils and proteins to avoid weighing down your hair and causing product build-up on your strands.

Rinse again.

Dry and style your hair as you normally would.

And there you have it!

Gorgeously colored hair that broke through the barriers of low porosity levels.


Good News! Color Lasts Longer On Less Porous Hair

It’s not all bad news for those with low porosity hair.

The silver lining of having a hard time coloring your hair is that when you actually do successfully change your shade, the color will stay longer in your locks than other hair types.

This is because when your cuticles close up again, they’ll seal all that pigment in.

This is in contrast to high porosity hair that tends to leak out pigments fairly quickly because of the gaps in the cuticles.

Color longevity is a huge issue for those with super porous hair.

In that regard, having low porosity hair is quite lucky.

It allows you more time to enjoy your new, vibrant hair color without worrying about it fading too quickly.

That’s one fantastic benefit of keeping your hair healthy and not subjecting it to damaging chemical treatments and frequent heat styling!

Related Post: Does Porous Hair Hold Color?


Consider Semi-Permanent Color To Maintain Your Hair’s Integrity

Yes, it can be scary to use bleach and permanent dye for the first time on your healthy, low porosity hair.

Using these intimidating chemicals means you’ll be lifting your cuticles and damaging your hair to a certain degree all to get a new hair color.

If you want to try another hair dye option that isn’t as damaging to maintain your hair’s health, you can always turn to semi-permanent dyes.

These temporary dyes don’t penetrate your hair cuticles and merely sit outside your hair shaft.

Semi-permanent dyes don’t contain hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, or any activator that will rough up your cuticles and break your hair bonds.

That means it doesn’t alter your hair structure at all.

Sure, they fade faster than permanent dye, but they’re a lot safer and will deal less damage than dyes made with harsh chemicals.

These dyes are also a brilliant way to try out new colors without committing to them for too long.

It takes about a month to wash out semi-permanent dyes, and then you’re back to your natural shade.

Recommended Post: How To Make Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Last Longer


Clairol Professional Beautiful Collection Color

One awesome semi-permanent dye is the Clairol Professional Beautiful Collection Color.

This dye has a wide range of natural-looking colors, from honey brown to jet black.

It provides you with fade-resistant color that works even on stubborn gray hairs!

This semi-permanent color is rich in natural and moisturizing ingredients to boost your hair’s shine and elasticity.

It contains jojoba oil, aloe vera extracts, and vitamin E for immense hydration.

Those ingredients are excellent for low porosity hair because while they’re nourishing, they’re not super heavy.


L’Oreal Paris Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color

But if you want a semi-permanent dye that’s a little more playful and has more fashion colors, check out the L’Oreal Paris Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color.

This collection includes bright and vivid colors like pastel pinks and deep, jewel-like reds.

This vegan hair dye is formulated in a conditioning hair mask form, giving your hair a bit of extra moisture as you color it.

It’s free of hazardous chemicals that can cause your healthy hair harm, such as ammonia and peroxide.

The only caveat with this temporary color is that it works well only on light to medium blondes.

If you have darker hair, it will only leave a subtle tinge of color in your hair.



Having low porosity hair poses many issues because of its resistance to moisture – from drying your hair quickly to getting your locks properly hydrated.

One of the bigger issues, especially for those who want to try coloring their hair for the first time, is getting less porous hair to hold on to their new hair dye.

But when done right, hair dyeing can go pleasantly and smoothly for anyone with low porosity hair.

You just need to keep an eye out for opportunities to make your coloring job a lot more effective for your hair type.

This includes utilizing hooded dryers and extending the time you let the dye sit in your hair.

Let this step-by-step guide be your blueprint when you finally want to get out of the cyclical rut of coloring your low porosity hair and ending up with little to no results.

By understanding your hair type well and applying hair dye correctly, you might finally be able to break through your tightly-sealed cuticles and flaunt the hair color you desire.

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