Coconut oil is arguably the most popular skin and hair care ingredient out there. It has consistently been a holy grail for hair enthusiasts everywhere for decades, maybe even centuries. I’ve heard quite a number of people whose hair isn’t very porous pose this question: Is coconut oil good for low porosity hair?
I’ll get to that in a sec.
The thing is, coconut is most known for its penetrative properties.
It can deeply nourish the hair shaft from the inside out.
It provides incredible gloss and shine, leaving the hair smooth and soft.
But many coconut oil loyalists will be surprised to hear that their miracle fruit from the so-called tree of life is not so miraculous for everyone.
In fact, it’s a giant no-no for low porosity hair.
What is hair porosity, and what are its different levels?
Porosity refers to how porous your hair strands are.
The more porous the cuticle, the easier moisture, and oil is absorbed by the hair.
There are three “levels” of porosity, ranging from high to low.
High porosity hair means your cuticles have gaps or holes between them that need to be patched up, usually by protein.
This type of hair may be dry, damaged, and brittle because of frequent chemical processing and bleaching.
Medium porosity hair is the “normal” level.
It means your hair leaves just enough room for moisture to be absorbed and released with ease.
This type of hair is mildly damaged, maybe by subtle highlights or heat styling from time to time.
And lastly, low porosity hair means your cuticles are tightly-closed and overlap each other.
As a result, this leaves very little space for water to enter.
This type of hair is common for those who wear their hair naturally – like curly girls who embrace their coils and kinks.
It’s difficult for this type of hair to absorb moisture because it’s so closed up and won’t let anything in.
That said, low porosity hair tends to be a bit dry.
The higher your porosity, the easier it is for you to absorb moisture.
High porosity hair immediately drinks up moisture when it can.
This is the type of hair that instantly gets saturated with water in the shower.
On the flipside, low porosity hair’s cuticles are so closed up that moisture “struggles” to penetrate the hair.
If you notice that during wash day, water beads up on your hair for a while before your hair gets completely wet, then you may have low porosity hair.
Another tell-tale sign that you have low porosity hair is that products – usually heavy oils – tend to just sit on your hair instead of penetrating the strands.
How can I add moisture to my low porosity hair?
Using thick, rich, and extremely emollient oils may be satisfying to think about when it comes to deep conditioning your dry, low porosity hair.
But trust me when I say your hair might despise you for it, especially if you have fine hair.
Oils like coconut and olive oils are too thick for hair cuticles that are closed up.
They will just build up on your scalp and sit on top of your hair strands without being fully absorbed by your hair.
As a result, you don’t even reap the nourishing benefits of these oils.
This results in dry hair that is stiff and hard to the touch.
Lighter oils, like argan and jojoba oils, will be better for adding shine and hydration to low porosity hair.
They’re friendlier because their thin consistency will be easier for the hair to drink up, especially since less porous hair has trouble with that, to begin with.
Something low porosity hair loves for hydration is humectants, like aloe vera, glycerin, agave nectar, and honey.
These moisturizers hydrate the hair by drawing moisture from the environment and bringing it into the hair shaft.
If you have less porous hair, look for these ingredients in your products.
When it comes to everyday products like conditioners, it would be wise to go for light, protein-free, water-based products.
For instance, you can go for hair milk instead of thick custards and defining creams.
Products with a lighter consistency and formula are less likely to just sit on your hair and weigh it down.
Why coconut oil is not for everyone
I’m willing to bet that coconut oil is a staple in most self-care shelves and cabinets around the world, and for good reason.
Its penetrative properties deeply nourish the hair cuticle with its array of fatty acids and vitamins.
This moisture is known to tame and smoothen the hair and fight frizz.
Aside from that, it’s a weapon of beauty.
It makes the hair grow longer and thicker and making sure it has a glowy luster to it.
It even gets rid of stubborn dandruff and provides relief to wounds, burns, and skin conditions like eczema.
Needless to say, coconut oil is a powerhouse product in personal care, especially for the hair.
But despite all the praise, there are a significant amount of people who don’t experience these wonders for themselves.
So many people on the internet have spoken up about coconut oil ironically drying out their hair instead of nourishing and softening it.
Believe it or not, the nourishing strength of coconut oil that attracts so many lovers and loyalists is also its biggest downfall when it comes to low porosity girls.
Is coconut oil good for low porosity hair?
Something you need to understand about coconut oil is that it’s able to penetrate the hair strands deeply because it has a tiny molecular size, which is quite unique to it compared to other oils.
Now, this is great for high porosity hair, because it has enough space to be hydrated by water and humectants and moisturized by coconut oil.
But for clammed up, tightly closed, low porosity hair, it’s an entirely different story.
Because coconut oil has the power to go deep into the hair cuticle, it pretty much takes up all the space it can in the hair shaft.
When you have little to no space in your hair shaft, like low porosity hair does, this leaves almost no room for water to come in, which means zero moisture.
When coconut oil “takes over” the cuticle, the strand is left to be parched, because there’s no hydration.
The only thing present is that thick, rich coconut oil that can cause product build-up.
Because it blocks water from being absorbed, the hair becomes dry, hard, and a lot less elastic.
Hair care enthusiasts praise coconut oil for its richness and deeply penetrative abilities.
However, these two characteristics of the world’s favorite oil actually cause a lot of harm to low porosity hair.
So no, coconut oil isn’t that great for low porosity hair with so little room to absorb moisture and hydration as it is.
Coconut oil does the worst thing a product can possibly do to already dehydrated hair – starve it of water by taking up too much space.
What happens when you put coconut oil on low porosity hair?
So now that we understand what it is that coconut oil does to closed-shut low porosity hair, let’s talk about the consequences and how it affects our hair’s overall health.
Let’s talk about the most obvious effect: Dryness.
The hair will be extremely dried out and may even become brittle, snapping when it’s even just slightly manipulated.
This is because the hair can become stiff if it’s not getting the moisture it needs.
And because heavy oils are known to just sit on top of low porosity hair, your locks will ultimately still be very oily.
That leaves the hair dry and straw-like, yet super greasy at the same time – a combo that leaves the hair so uncomfortable and far from touchable.
When coconut oil takes up all the space in the hair shaft, leaving no room for moisture, it leaves product build-up not only on the hair strands, but on the scalp too.
This may hamper healthy hair growth, which has a massive impact on those trying to grow their hair long and thick.
Another effect of product build-up is that because there’s a layer of greasy coconut oil around your hair, it blocks not just water, but also all the other nutrients and vitamins your hair care products try to provide.
None of your gorgeous leave-ins and curling gels will be able to penetrate the hair shaft because of the buildup of coconut oil, so all your products will pretty much just go to waste.
Now, I know what you’re thinking.
The answer is simple: just wash off the excess product in the hair, and everything will go back to normal. Right?
Well, not really.
Hair oils in general are difficult to wash off with any old shampoo you have in the shower.
Heavy coconut oil is even harder to wash out, especially since it penetrates deep into the cuticle.
Lighter alternatives to coconut oil
Needless to say, coconut oil is definitely not the best oil you can use out there if you have low porosity hair.
Aside from potentially drying out your hair, it can also cause a lot of product build-up.
This is an issue low porosity hair is naturally sensitive to.
If you love coconut oil so much and can’t bear to give it up even if it’s not the best for your hair, you can opt for fractionated coconut oil.
This derivative of coconut oil is a “cleaned up” version.
Some of coconut oil’s fatty acids are removed, making it a lot lighter than raw coconut oil.
But the general rule of thumb is to switch your thick coconut oil for more lightweight oils.
The lighter oils won’t just sit on top of your hair or leave no room for water to keep your strands quenched.
Need some suggestions? Don’t fret!
Here are my favorite lightweight oils for less porous hair:
This is an oil we often see alongside coconut oil in powerhouse deep conditioners that offer intense moisture.
However, the difference is that jojoba oil is extremely light.
This oil mimics the natural oils that build up in our scalps, so it blends nicely with our hair and skin.
It’s rich in fatty acids but isn’t heavy at all, so it makes a great sealant after your hair care routine.
It also helps get rid of dandruff and moisturizes dry scalps.
This is an underrated oil that doesn’t share the spotlight with most oils, and is especially overshadowed by the heavyweight that is coconut oil.
It’s one of the lightest oils you can find, so it’s practically tailor-made for low porosity hair.
Aside from moisturizing the hair and giving it luster and shine, grapeseed oil also works as a hair strengthener and provides protection from heat damage.
This popular Moroccan oil is known for its great effect on the hair, because of the soft and velvety slip and shine it provides.
It’s a light to medium oil that nourishes the hair without weighing it down.
Pure argan oil can be a bit expensive, but I would say it’s definitely worth purchasing.
Besides, a little goes such a long way with this – one bottle can last you ages.
Sweet almond oil
This is another medium oil that nourishes the hair deeply, making it perfect for weekly masks.
It makes the hair feel soft and silky smooth after use.
It seals in hair products better than the lighter oils listed above, so it’s a terrific last step to your routine.
The awesome part is that you don’t risk clogging and suffocating your locks with this.
So, is coconut oil good for low porosity hair? We both know the answer.
You now know all about the tumultuous relationship between everyone’s favorite coconut oil and tightly closed low porosity hair.
I trust you’ll make smarter decisions when it comes to nourishing your less porous hair with oils.
Don’t feel bad or get sucked into FOMO just because everyone else is slathering coconut oil all over their tresses.
Not everything that works for them will work for you, and you have to march to the beat of your own drum.
Everyone’s hair is different, and your low porosity hair needs a special kind of love.
Stick with lighter oils and keep doing you, and your hair will love you for it.