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Which Products Are Best for My Hair?

Updated: Feb 9


This would be the #1 question I get asked every day in my DM's and emails! First things first - visit this post to work out your Porosity, Texture, Density and Curl Pattern and I'll meet you back here in 5!


Ok, so now that you’ve learned all about your hair type and figured out your Porosity, Texture, Density and Curl Pattern - Let’s go through the products, ingredients and techniques that will work best for each of those hair characteristics.


Firstly – a couple of things to note about hair types and products:


Needs v Wants

As with everything else in life – we have needs and wants. Our hair needs things like moisture, and we may want things like volume – Your Porosity and Texture will be the most important factors in choosing products to meet your hair needs (e.g. how much moisture? delivered via what type of product?) .


Contradictory Hair Types

As you’re reading through these recommendations, remember that the needs for each of your four characteristics may contradict each other {for example – if you have low porosity hair (which loves regular cleansing and lighter weight, easily absorbable products) AND Coarse hair (which loves co-washing and creamier denser products) or, like me – you might have fine hair (which loves lighter weight, easily absorbable products) but also High Porosity Hair (which drinks up heavy products)} – you will need to weigh up the needs of your own hair, which aspects of these recommendations will work best for you and where you can compromise each requirement in order to get the best results.


Ok – lets get started – we are going to kick off with the most important characteristic (when it comes to product selection) - Porosity!

 

POROSITY



We have learned that your porosity dictates your hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. For this reason, porosity will heavily impact on the types of products that will work best for your hair.




Low Porosity

Low Porosity hair features a tightly closed cuticle. For this reason, you may need to use light weight, easily absorbable products and use techniques to temporarily (but gently) open the cuticle to receive moisture. Low Porosity hair is prone to build up so regular low pooing or clarifying may be helpful.


Techniques:

  • Low Po’s may benefit from ‘low pooing’ over ‘cowashing’ and/or clarifying regularly to avoid build up.

  • Use gentle warmth to open the cuticle – examples include:

    • Using a heat cap while Deep Conditioning

    • Using warmer water to rinse out your cleanser before applying conditioner

    • Using steam (steamers designed for the hair or face!)

  • LOC/LCO Method – The Liquid or Moisture product you apply to your hair will need time to absorb – sealing this in with an oil, will lock in the moisture – creating a barrier whilst your hair absorbs it.

  • If you have thicker products (conditioners/stylers) that you wish to use up, add water to thin them out and ease absorption.

Ingredients:

Generally:

  • Avoid low PH formulations

  • Avoid very thick or difficult to absorb products which will just 'sit on’ the hair.

  • It's a myth to say all low porosity hair is protein sensitive, however Protein should be used with caution (focussing on smaller, more easily absorbed proteins) and in conjunction with moisture-based formulations

Specifically:

Low Po Loves:

  • Lighter oils such as Baobab, Apricot Kernel, Argan, Grapeseed, Sweet almond, Avocado or Jojoba.

  • ‘Film Forming Humectants’ such as Pectin, Marshmallow root, slippery elm, honey, seaweed extract/irish moss, nettle, flaxseed – Aloe also fits in this category however some people do experience flash drying or build up with this ingredient (but there are work arounds for this too!).

  • If using proteins, look for smaller proteins (that are more easily absorbed). These include hydrolysed silk, hydrolysed keratin or hydrolysed collagen, amino acids or peptides.

Low Po Avoids (in top 5 ingredients on ingredients list):

  • Heavier oils such as Olive, Coconut Oil, or Castor Oil (these difficult to avoid altogether as they are in many products - just try to ensure they are lower down the ingredients list and not in the top 5).

  • Larger Proteins (Wheat, Quinoa, Oat or many proteins that are not hydrolysed)

Products to consider:

Look for light weight (but moisturising) products that are easily absorbable and which will ‘sink in’ rather than ‘sit on’ the hair. Generally speaking, products such as hair milks, sprays and liquids work better than thicker creams.


Cleansers:





High Porosity

High Porosity hair which may occur naturally or due to damage (for example - by heat, chemical or mechanical causes) means that the cuticles are more open (or cracked/damaged). High Po hair tends to tangle more easily (due to the raised cuticles), become dry more quickly, appear dry/damaged and colour treatments may fade more easily. High Po hair needs strength and structure. Whilst it’s not possible to repair the cuticle, it is possible to fill gaps, smooth cuticles and create the appearance of ‘repair’.


Techniques:

  • Avoid Heat (air dry as often as possible)

  • Finger detangle where possible – if you need assistance from a tool, try a very wide toothed natural comb – ensure it has no jags/sharp edges that can tear at your hair. Start at the bottom and take your time.

  • Pre-poo or ‘Dirty Deep Condition’ – treat your hair with a Deep Conditioner, Conditioner or oil for a short time before shampooing/clarifying/low pooing – this will help protect your strands from cleansers and also allow less water to rush into your open cuticles at wash time (High Po can take on too much water too quickly, causing the hair to swell and create further damage – using a penetrating oil or Deep Conditioner prior to washing may assist by slowing the water absorption).

  • After washing/conditioning - Close cuticles by rinsing with cool/cold water or using sealing aids.

  • LCO/LOC Method for styling to seal in moisture.


Ingredients:

Generally:

  • Protein based treatments can help add structure

  • Sealing aids

  • Focus on repair, structure, strengthening & protection.


Specifically:

High Po Loves:

  • Heavier butters (for sealing) such as Shea, Mango, Coconut, Murumuru, Cupuacu butters

  • Sealing aids (ACV or Citric Acid)

  • Strong hold stylers (to help look in moisture, prevent it escaping those open cuticles!)

  • Sealing oils (JBCO, Castor Oil, Grapeseed Oil (finer hair)


High Po Avoids:

· High heat and chemical treatments which will create further damage (personal choice!)


Products to consider:

Look for products that will moisturise, repair (fill gaps) or add structure & strength. Seek products which will seal in moisture and those which will protect the hair from further damage. Ensure your Protein/Moisture balance is in check (don’t simply load up on 100% protein products, it is likely this will send you into overload – there are a combination of protein/protein free products in the lists below).







Medium Porosity

Medium Porosity Hair has cuticles that are neither too tightly closed or too open/damaged. Luckily for Med Po’s – porosity has little impact on product selection. Those with Medium Porosity Hair should still ensure their protein/moisture balance is in check and may find that light-medium weight products work well (though depending on the rest of your characteristics, heavier creams and butters can be of benefit to some!).


If your hair falls in the medium porosity category - focus more on your texture characteristic (see below) and the needs that will generate.








 

TEXTURE


Texture describes the size/thickness of the individual strands of hair. The categories are Fine, Medium and Coarse.


Coarse Texture

Coarse Hair describes hair that is thicker (individual strand diameter) than average. Coarse texture is most often a result of genetics, though hair can become more coarse due to medications, medical issues or in some cases grey hairs grow in with a more coarse texture. Coarse Hair can come in any curl pattern, porosity or density.


Despite what some coarse haired beauties have been led to believe – Coarse Hair is not more difficult to manage and is definitely not 'a problem to be fixed'. Well cared for coarse hair can be just as healthy, is just as beautiful and hold styles just as well as any other texture.


Coarse Curly hair is prone to dryness, so the focus will be on moisturising and retaining hydration.


Techniques:

  • Cowashing/No poo (over low poo) as Coarse curly Hair can be prone to dryness.

  • Limit heat – Air Dry where possible, if you need to diffuse > low heat (and try ‘Plopping’ first to reduce diffusing time required)

  • Weekly deep conditioning (with a heat cap or warm towel, if your hair is also low porosity)


Ingredients:

Generally:

  • Moisturising ingredients such as Aloe, fatty alcohols,

  • Softening ingredients such as

  • Cowashing, no-poo or cleansing conditioners for regular use, Cleansing alternatives such as clays for occasional deep cleanse


Specifically:

Coarse Hair Loves:

  • Aloe or Water based products (look for either as first ingredient)

  • Fatty alcohols (Lauryl alcohol, Cetyl alcohol, Myristyl alcohol, Stearyl alcohol, Cetearyl alcohol and Behenyl alcohol)

  • Jojoba, Coconut, Avocado and sweet almond oils

  • Cleansing Alternatives: Bentonite Clay


Coarse Hair Avoids:

  • Stronger cleansing agents:

  • Drying ingredients such as drying alcohols


Products to consider:





Fine Texture

Fine Hair describes hair has a smaller than average individual strand diameter and can range from fine to baby fine. Fine hair is generally a result of genetics, though hair texture can be impacted due to certain medications or medical issues. Coarse Hair can come in any curl pattern, porosity or density.


Fine hair is prone to build up and can be easily weighed down by products which are too heavy or layering of too many products.

Fine hair can benefit from the structural support of protein based products (though if you have low porosity fine hair, proceed with caution and see the porosity section first).


Techniques:

  • Low pooing over cowashing

  • Regular clarifying

  • Damp Styling (reducing excess water weight early in the styling process)

  • Microplopping

  • Diffusing (low heat)


Ingredients:

Generally:

  • Lighter weight ingredients

  • Easily removed ingredients (ones that don’t tend to build up)

  • Stronger hold styling products to help keep curl formation.

Specifically:

Fine Hair Loves:

  • If oils are being used, lighter options such as jojoba, baobab, argan oils.

  • Proteins such as rice, keratin, silk amino acids, or for a gritty texture - hydrolysed wheat protein.

  • Lighter weight moisturising ingredients such as marshmallow root, nettle, cetyl alcohol, hyaluronic acid.


Products to consider:





Medium Texture

For hair that is neither overly fine or coarse, a combination of products and techniques from both of the other textures can be combined to achieve your desired results. Those with Medium Texture can focus more on the needs created by their other characteristics.


 

DENSITY


Density describes the overall amount of hair on the head and is categorized between High Density, Medium Density or Normal Density.


Whilst Porosity and Texture based selections are based on the needs of your hair, generally speaking product selection based on density is more about desired results/outcome For example, someone with low density hair may want to achieve the look of more hair/volume > this can be achieved via product selection and techniques. The first thing to do is to determine how your density will impact on your desired results.


High Density

High Density means that you have a higher than average amount of hair strands. Higher Density curlies should first focus on their texture and porosity – but where possible should select products which are easily applied evenly through the hair and those which are light enough to not extend drying time.


Techniques:

· Distribution techniques to ensure products are applied evenly throughout the hair – praying hands, raking, roping and brush styling will assist.

· Microplopping to reduce drying time


Low Density

Low Density means that you have a lower than average amount of hair strands. Lower Density Curlies should first focus on their texture and porosity to ensure the needs are covered; but when it comes to desired results, Low Density Curlies may want to achieve the appearance of more hair/volume by using light weight products, fluffing, separating curl clumps.


Techniques:

· Damp Styling (as opposed to wet styling)

· Raking application technique

· Microplopping to quickly reduce water weight during drying.


Products

As mentioned - the product recommendations for density are dependant on your desired results.

If you desire more volume/the appearance of more hair; you will want to use lighter weight products and be certain not to overmoisturise your hair. Visit the product recommendation lists for fine hair and/or low porosity hair.


Medium Density

Medium Density means that you have an average amount of hair strands. Medium Density Curlies should first focus on their texture and porosity to ensure the needs are covered; but when it comes to desired results, Medium Density Curlies may choose to follow the guides given to either high or low density - depending on the results they wish to achieve. For example, the techniques suggested for low density curlies wanting to create volume will work just as well in medium density beauties.

 

CURL PATTERN


Curl Pattern describes the shape and formation of your curls. They are split into categories from 2a/2b/2c (wavy) 3a/3b/3c (curly) and 4a/4b/4c (kinky coily).


It is very normal to have different curl patterns in different areas of your head - for example some curlies have straighter underlayers and curlier on top (or vice versa). This is normal and for some will be the case regardless of what you do, or how long you have maintained your hair.


For some, length comes into play (some people find their hair needs more length to curl whilst others find that the longer their hair is the less curly it is). For many, curl pattern will change once you start caring for your curls, as damaged hair grows out and is replaced by healthy undamaged hair - this can change the curl pattern but should not be an expectation, as it is not always the reality.


Whilst curl pattern is one of the most commonly discussed 'typing tool' it actually matters least when deciding on products. It does matter more when discussing techniques (the way you apply products and style your hair).


For instance - if we take two Type 4A curlies - a fine haired, low porosity type 4a may need a completely different styling routine than a coarse haired, high porosity type 4a. One would need to be conscious of build up on fine/low porosity hair whilst the other would need to select products that moisturise and lock in moisture on coarse high porosity hair. These two Curlies with the same curl pattern would need completely different product routines to ensure their best results. Though it is fair to say they will use a lot of similar styling techniques.


Similar to Density - For the purposes of selecting products and techniques when designing a Curly Hair Routine, Curl Pattern can be helpful for discussing desired results. But it is important to note that no product is going to take a 2a to 3c (unless it's a perm) and no product is going to take a 4b to a 2c (unless it's a relaxer).


It is also true that many products are sold/recommended as being "Best For Type x" hair - which is based on the fact that certain curl patterns also often share other characteristics. Often Kinky-Coily Hair is lower porosity and often wavy hair is finer textured. This makes it easy if you fit in to that average/standard, but not as easy for a coarse haired wavy or a high porosity kinky-coily.


So - whilst I always encourage people to embrace what they have, there are many curlies who want to know how to impact their curl pattern via products/techniques - so here we go:


To tighten up curl pattern - For those who are looking to achieve a tighter curl (perhaps to even out different patterns on the head), try:

· Protein based products - particularly ones that are left in (leave ins, stylers)

· Damp Styling (as opposed to wet styling)

· Brush Styling

· Finger coiling

· Microplopping (either after conditioning or after adding stylers)

· Smasters Technique (adding more hold styler mid way through drying).


Products to consider:


To elongate/loosen curl pattern - For those looking to stretch their natural pattern or reduce shrinkage, try:

· Moisture heavy products

· Heavier/creamy leave in products

· Twist out technique

· Straight roping (slide products down clumps in a straight downward motion)

· Air Dry or hover diffuse (don't cup hair up in the diffuser, this causes shrinkage)


Products to consider:

 

Ok! There you have it - all my recommendations and suggestions of things to try, to start you in the right direction of coming up with your own curly hair routine - I hope it helps! If it helps you at all - I would love for you to share the love by sharing with your curlfriends!


Feel free to reach out via curlfriends@thecurlstore.com.au if you need a little more help.


Jen x


Obligatory Caution

These recommendations are a great starting point but please remember – no one can do the work for you, getting to know your own hair and its needs is all part of the natural hair/curly hair journey. No single set of products or ingredients will work for everybody – so whilst this blog post has been well researched, it is only provided as a guide to help you along your own journey.


No brands have been involved with this post, nor are any of the recommendations incentivised by brands.


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