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What Is the Best Way to Dye Low Porosity Hair?

5 mins

Subhuti Soni

How to know if you have low porosity hair and how to find the right way to treat, dye and care for it. Read on, we have you covered!

Everyone can agree that dyeing hair is fun - even a minor hair color change can be a game changer! While different types of hair react differently to hair dyes, being able to dye your hair without getting disappointing results shouldn't be a luxury, not even for those with low porosity hair. The structure of your hair might make it difficult for the dye to seep in, but there are ways you can overcome this to get the best possible results after your hair dyeing process.

First, though, let's try to understand more about hair porosity.

Table of contents:

  • What Is Hair Porosity?
  • Hair Structure of Low Porosity Hair
  • How To Know If You Have Low Porosity Hair
  • How To Test If You Have Low Porosity Hair?
  • Dyeing Low Porosity Hair
  • Priming
  • Dyeing
  • Caring for it
  • Extra Tips: Best Products for Low Porosity Hair

What Is Hair Porosity?



Porosity is the hair's ability to absorb moisture/water. You may have high, medium, or low levels of hair porosity according to the structure of your strands.

Hair Structure of Low Porosity Hair

Your hair is a protein filament that has three layers to it:

  • The cuticle: The cuticle layer is the outermost layer of your hair and it is made of individual flattened cells that overlap. 
  • The cortex: This is the thickest layer of the hair shaft. It contains fibrous proteins and hair color pigments.
  • The medulla: This is the innermost layer of the hair shaft.

There are three types of hair based on porosity – low porosity hair, medium porosity hair, and high porosity hair.

In Low Porosity hair, the individual cuticles are flattened, they overlap and are tightly jammed together. Because of this reason, it makes it harder for water, as well as hair products like hair color, to penetrate the hair, get absorbed and stay in the hair shaft. As opposed to medium and high porosity hair, dyeing low porosity hair can be a challenging task.

In Medium Porosity hair, the outer cuticle opens up just enough to allow water, hair products and hair color to get in with ease and to stay for a longer time than with high porosity hair.

In High Porosity hair, the individual cuticles are lifted all the time and the cortex is exposed. High porosity hair appears to be frizzy, dry, and it tangles a lot. The keratin inside the hair shaft starts breaking down, allowing more water in and more of the natural oils out. This type of hair is prone to split ends and breakage. It will accept well any hair color you choose, but it will also rinse out quicker than with different hair types.

How To Know If You Have Low Porosity Hair

What are the Signs of Low Porosity Hair?

If you do have less porous hair, the following are the things you might face daily:

  1. Products tend to sit on your hair instead of getting absorbed;
  2. Drying and washing takes longer than usual;
  3. Either your hair is too oily or too dry;
  4. You always find dirt/build-up in your hair.

How To Test If You Have Low Porosity Hair?

You can easily test your hair's porosity level by doing some simple tests:

Stretch Test: Take some wet hair strands after shampooing, stretch them against a ruler and see what happens. If the hair stretches 30%-50%, then you have low porosity hair.

Float Test: Take a strand of dry, clean hair and put it in a glass of water. If it’s low porosity, it will float.



Texture Test: Take a few strands of hair and run your fingers up and down along their length. If you can do it smoothly, without feeling any roughness in the texture, you most likely have low porosity hair.

Dyeing Low Porosity Hair

While less porous hair is typically easier to manage, it does not hold onto hair color well. The hair color might not penetrate all the strands evenly and it will also get washed off easily. So, is there a way to choose a hair color for low porosity hair or to work smarter with our favorite hair colors? Let's see.


Priming your hair means preparing it for the next step or in this care, the coloring process. Priming works similarly as makeup primer - it creates the optimal base/foundation for color application, with a goal to make hair coloring more successful and to close the cuticles of your hair after the coloring so the color stays longer than usual. Priming has several steps:

  1. Clarifying: Because we use many products on our hair every day, it is necessary to clean them out before dying to ensure efficient coloring. Since low porosity hair does not absorb products well, it has more chances of products sitting on the surface. So, keep in mind to cleanse and clarify your hair a couple of days before applying the color. Hair cleansing is an essential step in priming your hair.

  2. Using the pre-color treatment: To prepare your low porosity hair make sure to research the best ways to do a pre-color treatment, and to use it prior to the actual coloring process. 

    This treatment is available on the market as spray, serum, foam or cream. Before applying it, make sure to know how much of the primer your hair needs. For example, we can’t prime long hair with one small bottle of foam.

    The pre-color treatment is necessary as a step because it will help absorb more hair color in the process of dyeing your hair. Pre-color treatment will also:
  • Dissolve artificial color build-up from previous dye jobs
  • Create a barrier between harsh chemicals and your strands
  • Balance the hair’s porosity prior to the coloring or lightening process
  • Pre-soften your gray hairs prior to coloring to achieve full coverage
  • Open up your hair cuticles before dyeing process


You can get the best possible results from coloring your hair by following the priming steps listed above. After these, you can go on and color your hair yourself or at the salon (which would be the best option, since dyeing can be tricky and is best left to a professional). If you do plan to do it yourself, know that:

  1. Apply as much hair color as needed. Don’t be limited by the number of tubes or bottles. If you have longer or thicker hair, make sure to cover it all, from scalp to the end of each strand. And we mean it - cover it all!

  2. Due to the nature of low porosity hair, the color should usually be left for longer than usual (unfortunately, though, this may cause more damage). My recommendation is to at least contact your hairstylist for tips on how long to leave the color on your less porous hair.

  3. Use after-color treatment to seal in your cuticles! Do not skip this step! After coloring treatment is often in the coloring box so make sure to use it.

  4. Be aware - not applying hair color evenly by accident will show after drying. So, unless you have time to go through the whole priming and coloring process yourself, try visiting a hair specialist to do the coloring process for you.

Caring for it

  1. Use A Color Preserving Shampoo: Go for sulfate-free shampoos suited for color-treated hair. These will make the color stay longer and prevent it from getting washed off easily.

  2. Avoid Hot Water: Wash your hair with cold or lukewarm water to minimize damage to your colored hair.

  3. Invest: To ensure your low porosity hair remains healthy, lustrous and colored nicely longer than usual, you will have to invest in high-quality hair oils, preferably with emollients and softening ingredients like shea butter, avocado, aloe, jojoba oil, etc. These will form a protective layer around your low porosity strands.

  4. Condition regularly: Try not to skip deep conditioning and make sure you do it regularly. By regular conditioning, you will retain moisture and hair color longer!

Extra Tips: Best Products for Low Porosity Hair

If you have low porosity hair, I can highly recommend you this nourishing and hydrating shampoo & conditioner pack for cleansing and deep conditioning: 

WOW Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner contain the power of pure Moroccan argan oil, which will turn your hair soft and shiny without the grease. Use the combo to hydrate your low porosity hair and nourish them with vitamins, soothe the scalp and reduce the chances of breakage and split ends. Free from sulfates, parabens, and silicones, the Wow Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner give the best results when used together.

For cleansing and clarifying your hair prior to dyeing it, I recommend using the WOW Apple Cider Vinegar shampoo. It is infused with raw apple cider vinegar that helps clarify your hair and scalp, prepping it for your next color adventure. 

Also, check out our collection of hair oils to add to your hair care routine and care for your low porosity hair just the way it deserves.


While coloring hair is fun, the results of coloring low porosity hair highly depend on your Hair with knowledge and preparation. Low porosity makes it harder for the dyes to get in, because of the nature of its structure. The best way to dye low porosity hair is to maintain a hair care routine aimed towards opening up and closing the cuticles without much harm. Following the priming and coloring process, using a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, and refraining from using hot water can keep the color locked in for weeks in your healthy hair!

Explore the WOW website for more natural hair care products.

We know you can't wait to rock that new color, so try these tips and thank us later!


Let's Share This:

Subhuti Soni

I am Subhuti – currently 23, and a content writer based in India. I have done my Bachelor’s in Business Economics followed by a Masters in Psychology. I like a bunch of things, from the winter sun, rain clouds, dogs, everything teal, to K-pop dances, Carl Jung, and Parapsychology. Creative writing is something I like to do in my spare time because it gives me the space to untangle my thoughts and turn them tangible and meaningful. Presently, trying to live a mindful, harmonious life and find alignment as I go.

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Author: Subhuti Soni

Latest posts:

Subhuti Soni

I am Subhuti – currently 23, and a content writer based in India. I have done my Bachelor’s in Business Economics followed by a Masters in Psychology. I like a bunch of things, from the winter sun, rain clouds, dogs, everything teal, to K-pop dances, Carl Jung, and Parapsychology. Creative writing is something I like to do in my spare time because it gives me the space to untangle my thoughts and turn them tangible and meaningful. Presently, trying to live a mindful, harmonious life and find alignment as I go.
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