Best Curly Hair Styling Products for High & Low Porosity Hair

In this post we're going to learn about the best curly hair styling products by porosity – high porosity hair and for low porosity hair. It can be so confusing to know which products will work for our curly hair as there are many on the market now! And we really don't want to waste our money, so how do we know which ones will for for us? The secret is knowing your hair porosity and more about ingredients. Here's my guide to save you time and money!

Best Styling Products for Curly Hair by Porosity - Low Porosity Hair, Medium Porosity Hair, and High Porosity Hair

Choosing Curly Hair Styling Products Can be Overwhelming

I remember growing up, products for curly hair were few and far between. Thankfully today, they abound in drug stores, Wal-Mart, Target, and on Amazon! But that can also mean that you get really overwhelmed with product overload – everything starts to look like it could be THE product to save your hair! You may end up with bathroom cabinets overflowing with products and feeling more confused that ever.

Let Me Help You Save Money and Reduce Product Overwhelm

I want to help you save time and money when it comes to your curly hair styling products. All you need is education on your hair type, your hair porosity, whether that's low, medium or high. It also helps to learn the effects that the different ingredients will have on your hair. Then you will be able to make wise purchases that are catered to you!

It has taken me six months to figure out a styling routine for my curls that works for me! I have done extensive research about product ingredients and their effects on the hair and have experimented on myself, too, and now know what my hair likes and responds best to.

How to Know Your Hair Porosity

To know which stylers your hair likes best, it's so helpful to know your hair porosity. I have an entire post just on this topic! Read more here.

What is Hair Porosity?

Porosity refers to the way your hair absorbs water. At first I thought for sure I had low porosity hair because my hair takes a long time to dry. But about four months into the Curly Girl Method, after using lots of gels and still having dry hair that didn't last more than a day or two, I finally figured out that my hair loves curl creams rich in shea butter and oils! Go figure.

So I believe now that my hair is actually high porosity, which makes sense because I've been coloring my grays for years and hair color is so damaging. And my hair also loves protein, which is another sign that it's more high porosity than low porosity.

Read this post first to find out your hair porosity first, then come back to this post!

Curly Hair Styling Products for Low Porosity Hair

Low porosity hair is more sensitive to protein, so choosing stylers that contain less protein is helpful! It can also be weighed down easily, so I recommend using products that contain lightweight moisturizers.

Lightweight Moisturizers in Hair Products and are good to use with Low Porosity Hair - Curly Hair Care

Lightweight Moisturizing Ingredients

  • Aloe
  • Water
  • Glycerine – byproduct of the soap making process. Very lightweight and moisturizing!
  • Ceramide – lipids that fill the gaps in the outer hair cuticle.
  • Jojoba Oil – is less heavy that other oils as it closely resembles the sebum in our hair and skin. It should be okay for low porosity hair when combined with other ingredients, but I wouldn't recommend using it by itself.
  • Panthenol – a form of vitamin B5, used as a moisturizer and lubricating compound
  • Plant Extracts – all lightweight ingredients that provide nutrients for your hair and scalp. Extracts like aloe leaf, chamomile, ginseng, nettle, rosemary, sage, marigold, willow bark, nettle, melissa, and sunflower are all examples.
  • Avocado Butter – a lighter-weight butter that has moisture sealing properties that help keep the hair softer for longer. Avocado butter is also a high-quality emollient that has antioxidant properties.
  • Murumuru Butter – a very light butter. It is rich in omegas, and it helps to soften the hair, promote elasticity, add shine, control frizz and define curls.
Names for Protein Ingredients in Hair Products

Protein Ingredients to Avoid if you have Low Porosity Hair:

In general, using products that contain protein in the first five ingredients everyday might be too much for your hair, but everyone is different! I would experiment with this and maybe have one or two of your washday products that contain protein. If you're unsure if your hair needs protein or has protein overload, check out my post on protein here.

  • Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed casein
  • Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed collagen
  • Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed hair keratin
  • Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed keratin
  • Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed rice protein
  • Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed silk
  • Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl silk amino acids
  • Cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
  • Cocoyl hydrolyzed keratin
  • Hydrolyzed keratin
  • Hydrolyzed oat flour
  • Hydrolyzed silk
  • Hydrolyzed silk protein
  • Hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Keratin
  • Potassium cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
  • TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
  • TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein

Note – your hair might be fine with these ingredients in a deep conditioner or conditioner, however, because it gets rinsed out. And the combination of the oils and butters changes the chemistry of them and how they perform. So this might take some experimentation for you to see what your hair likes best! It'll be different even among those with low porosity hair because you might have fine hair, which needs different things that coarse hair.

Butters and Oils that Might Be Too Heavy if you Have Low Porosity Hair

  • Coconut Oil (this one is super heavy)
  • Butters – Shea butter, mango butter, murumuru butter
  • Oils – almond, grapeseed, fractionated coconut, olive, almond

Suggested Curly Hair Styling Products for Low Porosity Hair

Using lightweight products is key!

Suggested Hair Gels for Low Porosity Hair

Heavy Butters and Oils that are Good for High Porosity Hair

Curly Hair Styling Products for High Porosity Hair

High porosity hair needs a lot more moisture than low porosity hair and needs ingredients that seal the cuticle, since it is open and raised. Again, see my hair porosity article if you want to learn more about that.

So I suggest products that include more sealing ingredients – coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and liquid oils like almond, jojoba, grapeseed and olive.

I've found that I have not needed anything more than a good hair cream! It's a one-and-done styler for me. But if you want more shine and some more hold, try using a lightweight gel on top of it. If you need more moisture, I suggest using a leave-in underneath it. If you are struggling with moisture and feel your hair isn't holding it, I would suggest doing a protein treatment, which you can learn about here!

Curly Hair Styling Products that Include Protein for High Porosity Hair

High porosity hair likes protein, so I include them in every washday, whether that's in the shampoo, conditioner or stylers. I also do protein treatments every few months (read more about those here!) and I've found they keep the curls poppin' and reduce frizz.

Curly Hair Styling Cream Products for High Porosity Hair

Curly Hair Gels for High Porosity Hair

If you'd like some shine on top of the hair cream, I suggest the same gels as the ones for low porosity. They are ones I've tried and work really well! I've found I don't need much gel on top of the curl cream at all as the cream has a lot of hold on it's own. But I will use a gel for shine.

See all of my other curly hair care posts here!


  1. I’m trying to figure out my porosity and glad you said your hair laid on the top of the water test. Mine too! My hair is thick, dry, first day curly, second day straightens, dries quickly. Think that fits with high porosity hair? I’m interested in drug store brands and a routine for my hair. So you have a product list to fit my needs?
    Thanks, Marilyn

    1. Hi Marilyn! It sounds like you actually need a protein treatment. Did you see my post on that? Here it is for you. I think you need one (or more) because you said your hair straightens the next day. Also, are you sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase or doing something else to protect your hair while you sleep? Third suggestion is to clarify your hair with a clarifying shampoo and then deep condition. I have a post on deep conditioning here. As for drugstore products, I really like Maui Moisture and Shea Moisture. Both are reasonably priced and perform really well for curly hair! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  2. Personally, this is an awesome blog. I really love to read your posts. Keep posting!
    I’m facing some serious dryness on my head so I am looking for some products like “Gel”.
    Kindly recommend me a Gel or any product for my dryness.

  3. Hi Sara, I bought the Ouidad Curl Quencher Hydrafusion Intense Curl Cream, only to find that it has silicones in it. I was wondering if you could label which products are curly-girl approved. Thanks and have a wonderful day!!!?

    1. Oh dear! I had read the ingredients when I put it up in the post and didn’t see any silicones in it! Maybe they reformulated it. Anyway, thanks for letting me know…did Amazon let you return it?

  4. Hi Sara, I bought the Ouidad Curl Quencher Hydrafusion Intense Curl Cream, only to find that it has silicones in it. I was wondering if you could label which products are curly-girl approved. Thanks and have a wonderful day!!!

  5. Hi my name is Tessa and I’ve really bad struggles with my hair. Ive currently bought leave in conditioners and non of them have worked so far. My hair is 4C which means is much harder to manage and probably drier than yours. I’m a person who really likes to gel their hair and Ive tried all the eco styler gels since they don’t contain alcohol and I soon I put it on my hair it looks fine but when I go along with my day my hair starts drying up and then looks like a hot mess. I really need help


  6. Hi! I think I have low Porosity hair. My hair holds water and takes a while to soak. I’ve always had wavy/curly hair. I used Monat for about 3 years and the texture totally changed. I barely have any curl left and I hate it. I also falls out alot. I do highlight it and have kind of fine hair. I’ve looked and looked and seen a million different products. Can you please recommend a shampoo, conditioner, and any other products for me?
    Thanks for you time and the info, love your hair!

    1. I’ve heard some very bad things about Monat! As far as I know, it contains hormones to help your hair grow. Yes, so the brands I can recommend the highest are InnerSense Organics and BrioGeo. But they’re also quite pricey. However, they do last a long time because they are thick and concentrated.

  7. This post is awesome! Very thankful for you listing the ingredients to look for (or not) depending on your hair. I have low porosity, 2B waves and I’ve been trying to decide what products to try. I’m super sensitive to certain chemical fragrances (and I’m currently pregnant so it’s heightened) and I also hope to use this on my 3 year old daughter with similar hair as me (except she’s more 2C-3a)
    Any recommendations for most natural/non toxic product that would be useful for me and my daughter with our low porosity hair? Thanks!

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