The Essentials| Winter & High Porosity Hair

I’ve been following the Curly Girl Method again for over a month and have to admit that I’ve become happier with my hair. I’ve been able to achieve more consistent results and curls and have noticed an improvement in how my hair is clumping towards the ends and an increase in curl definition all over my head. What’s the most impressive about this is that I’ve had luck with my waves in the winter, when I typically dislike my hair the most during the winter. Much of what I’ve learned for what works in my hair has come from learning about my hair characteristics and not just about my wavy curl pattern. Looking into my porosity and its significance has been particularly helpful. I believe understanding my hair porosity is what has helped me to get better results and improvement this time around.


Porosity, as a reminder, is the measure of how your hair responds to and holds onto moisture. Those with higher porosity hair find that their hair absorbs moisture easily but also does not retain it well. I’ve always had hair that hairdressers commented on as being incredibly porous. However, I was beginning to doubt my porosity because my hair floated in that strand test, which by the way can be incredibly inaccurate. My hair is fine but high density and this heaviness can make it seem like my strands are easily weighed down, which is not the case. My hair absorbs any moisture incredibly quickly, loses moisture quickly, tangles intensely and reacts terribly with humidity. Despite not being damaged, my hair’s cuticles remain open. Here are some of the products that worked well for my higher porosity hair and a brief explanation of why they work on my high porosity hair, especially in the cold Canadian winter.

Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate and Repair Multi-Action Leave In ($14.99 CDN): I’ve loved having this milky spray leave-in around this winter because of its lightweight nature – it never weighs down my finer waves or my roots that tend to fall flat because of their weight – and versatility. I like using it as a leave-in on wet hair for an extra dose of protein, to help clump and smooth my curls and as an extra layer of moisture. It contains a water-soluble silicone which I don’t mind in the slightest because my hair does not tend to easily experience build up and it acts as a heat-protectant – a godsend when I diffuse. It has some nice slip, too, and a light dose of shea butter and oils, which my hair sucks right up. I love using it as a refresher spray after my curls have fallen out on subsequent days, adding hydration without weight, when paired with a styler. It also works well to fix a wayward curl via dampening and pin-curling. I’ve heard that Canadians are starting to see this pop up in drugstores as well, which is exciting.

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Anti-Frizz Max Hold Gel ($16.99 CDN): In my experience, high porosity hair that sucks everything up and has a tendency to get frizzy and dry – especially in the winter – needs a harder hold gel. This one has the strongest hold out of most of the gels I’ve tried without being drying or heavy and I find gives me the best multi-day hair because it reduces the frizz factor from refreshing and actually stays working in my hair overnight and beyond. I find many gels disappear in my thirsty hair overnight and I lose definition and frizz creeps in. It has protein which can be a plus for most high porosity people and contains shea butter and a few plant oils to help nourish the hair and seal it. It does contain a lot of the humectant, glycerin, but it also has lots of anti-humectants as well which prevents moisture from being sucked out of the hair.
Shea Moisture Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-Correct Masque ($16.99 CDN): I’m realizing now that I’m talking endlessly about Shea Moisture for my high porosity recommendations but they truly do work on my finer high porosity hair in this cold Canadian winter especially. Unfortunately, this one isn’t readily available here in stores – I’ve had to order it online. It’s a blend of fatty alcohols, butters, a few slip agents, oils and a mild to moderate dose of protein. It’s not heavy but it definitely hydrates thirsty hair, reduces frizz and helps my curls clump nicely. I use it as either a standard conditioner in the shower but it makes an excellent deep conditioner. The butters and oils keep hydration in my hair for longer than a minute and seem to ward off frizz and it offers a dose of protein that higher porosity hair tends to crave, especially if its fine like mine. Doing full weekly deep conditioning treatments have become essential for me during the harsh winter weather and this is my product of choice.
AG Hair Recoil Curl Activator ($22/$38 CDN): While AG isn’t exactly a particularly budget conscious line, the salon brand is super easy to find in Canada, at many salons and is sold at Chatters, the popular chain. This cult favourite curl cream is one of their many sulfate and silicone free products and can easily be purchased. In the cold Canadian winter, adding a lightweight and curl enhancing cream to my routine has really helped my hair to retain moisture and clump nicely. I use it before gel and I find that it keeps my hair defined and help my curls underneath clump more nicely into spirals. It does contain humectants but it also has film-forming ingredients that seem to minimize the hydration loss and frizzing. Adding this curl cream to my routine this winter has really helped with my hair being smoother and in more hydrated, bouncy curls.
Deva Curl One Condition Delight ($26-30 CDN): Including Deva Curl’s most lightweight conditioner might seem like a strange choice in a post about thirsty winter hair but hear me out… In the winter, my hair is much drier, more tangly, frizzy at the crown and lifeless. It needs babying and constant nourishment from the elements, dry air and friction from rubbing against scarves and coats. However, when you have fine hair like I do that can get weighed down in certain sections, a great nourishing but lightweight conditioner can be your best friend. I like this one because it’s curl enhancing for me with the protein and the linseed and my hair drinks it up. I like using it as a leave-in and as a standard conditioner, but not rinsing it out whatsoever. I also alternate my typical gentle shampoo with co-washing and I reach for this one often because it has the slip I want and doesn’t contribute to flat roots, as some can. It does contain glycerin but it also has film-forming humectants which are helpful for reducing moisture loss in colder weather and minimizing frizzing that occurs. It’s an excellent complement to the more butter and oil rich products that I rely on to keep my hair moisturized.

Any thoughts?
Maggie, x.

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