How does knowing type, density, porosity, and strand thickness affect what products/ingredient help?

RhoswenRhoswen Registered Users, Curl Ambassador Posts: 1 Curl Neophyte

Hi everyone, :) I'm new to the curly girl method, and I'm a little confused about how knowing details about my hair helps. I see a lot of recommendations from people to try to figure out my hair type, porosity, density, and thickness but I don't know how to use that information to look for certain products/ingredients. A little background info: I only discovered I have wavy hair two years ago when I turned 17. I live in an area in the south where I have not found a single hairdresser that has any recommendations beyond "blow it out and then recurl it with a curling wand - natural texture doesn't matter." So, I do not know if my haircut is exactly ideal for wavy hair and for the past two years I've been letting it do its thing (I'm too lazy for heat or styling), but I also haven't made any steps towards helping it either (buying good products or anything). Recently I decided I wanted to start putting some effort into my hair really and as such have read nearly every wavy article on and watched what feels like a 1000 YouTube videos but still don't know what to do or buy. Okay back to current, from what I can tell I am a 2A with medium thick hair strands and a high density overall. As far as my porosity I am unsure; I took the quiz here at naturally curly and it says medium but I honestly just don't know if that’s right. My 15-inch long hair gets completely drenched in less than 30 seconds of being in the shower and it pretty much always feels dry – suggesting a high porosity. However, when I pull on a piece of wet hair it will stretch a little bit, and then it will spring up like a coil, and it takes HOURS to dry entirely suggesting low porosity. As far as my hairs need for protein/moisture, when I stretch a dry hair strand, it will stretch a bit before breaking - suggesting it doesn't need protein or moisture. Now, I have not started the curly girl method yet because I am clueless about how to pick out products for my hair. I really need advice on how to determine my porosity and then how to use all of the information about my hair to look at the best products/ingredients for my hair type (what exactly does having high density, medium thick strands, with whatever porosity translate to as far as what products/ ingredients I should buy/avoid). I have no set routine right now, although I did wash today, and I can describe what I did today and how my hair is now in case it helps any of you decipher my hair. I washed with “mane and tail” original shampoo and followed up with “OGX” tea tree oil conditioner. As I rinsed out the conditioner, I used a wide-tooth comb while my head was flipped over to help line up all my hairs, and then I squished to condish. Everything from this point on is done with completely wet hair using the squish to condish method. After rinsing out my conditioner, I used some "coochy" (by pure romance & another gift), followed up with “Eden's” natural pudding soufflé, then “as I Am” Curling Jelly (which doesn't help me with definition but a friend gave it to me, so I figured why not). I then used a combination of aloe Vera gel and lots of “ion” anti-frizz solutions gel – which is hard hold but, zero alcohol per the front of the bottle. I plopped with a tee for about ten minutes and then let it air dry. Once 100% dry, I scrunched out the crunch with a little more "coochy". My hair looks okay, but it feels dry - almost like straw (even though all the tests I have done say my hair's moisture and protein levels seem to be fine). Again this isn't what I do/use every wash (actually it was my first time trying squish to condish method, using the gels, the as I am curling jelly, and coochy) I am just waiting to buy until I get recommendations. I'm looking for how to assess products/ingredients myself as well as any recommendations on where to start you guys have. If it helps any; I do not use heat and do not have treated hair, although I have loads of breakage and split ends. I only use a wide tooth comb and am very gentle, starting from the bottom and working my way up (especially through wet hair), I also regularly get trims. I am sorry for the length of this question but appreciate the help and time from you guys.

Best Answers

  • Therese1Therese1 Registered Users Posts: 2,563 Curl Virtuoso
    Accepted Answer
    Hello! No worry about the long post. You gave a lot of good information in it, which is helpful.

    My guess is that you are low porosity and protein sensitive. The reason your hair always feels dry is because the porosity is so low that moisture has a hard time getting into the hair shaft. To fix this, deep conditioning treatments are helpful. You can buy a special deep conditioner or you can use a rinse-out conditioner. To deep condition, wash your hair as usual and then squeeze out the excess water. Work the conditioner into your hair and then cover with a plastic cap and wrap a towel over it (to hold in body heat). Let sit for about 30 minutes and then rinse out and style as usual.

    Many curlies do deep conditioning once a week. Some do it twice a week, others every other week, and some just do it once in a blue moon.

    I think that the loads of breakage and strawlike feeling you have are from too much protein in your products. Low-porosity hair is often protein sensitive, especially if it is coarse. Too much protein makes the hair brittle. I would start on a protein-free regimen. It might take a couple of weeks for you to see results (the excess protein has to wear off). Once your hair has recovered, you can start adding protein back in to experiment with how much protein your hair can handle, and how frequently. Also, you may find that your hair likes certain proteins but not others (silk and keratin seem to be the most tolerated). The only way to figure out which proteins your hair likes (if any) is trial and error.

    I have protein-sensitive hair and use the Jessicurl Deep Conditioning Treatment, which is CG friendly and has no protein. I find that I can tolerate a wee bit of protein (meaning protein in one product) every other week. I deep condition every other week. 
    Low poo: Intelligent Nutrients (IN) Harmonic; Oribe Cleansing Creme
    RO: IN Harmonic
    LI: CJ Beauticurls; Jessicurl (JC) Gelebration Spray
    DC: JC Deep Conditioning Treatment; Weleda Rosemary Conditioning Oil
    Stylers: JC Confident Coils; IN Volumizing Spray; IN Perfect Hold Hairspray; John Masters Sea Mist; Bumble Bb. Gel; Kenra Firm-Hold Gel; Sevi Blue Yarrow Sea Salt Spray
    Low-porosity 2a/b baby-fine hair
  • bomegabomega Registered Users Posts: 1,355 Curl Virtuoso
    Accepted Answer
    In addition to what @Therese1 said, I think the OGX Conditioner you are using has silicones in it. Its not the worst since the Mane n Tail shampoo you are using is a sulfate, but this cycles is precisely the problem, according the the curly girl method. The cones' block moisture and the sulfates it takes to remove them are harsh and drying to the hair. 

    You might want to start by reading about the curly girl method. A lot of people learned about it from the Curly Girl Handbook by Lorraine Massey. One of the co-founders also came out with a book call Curl Revolution which is a good read. But you can learn about it just reading around But in a nutshell, avoid silicones, sulfates, petroleum products, drying alcohols (fatty alcohols are ok), and ideally parabens. Since you have medium width, high density hair, you could experiment with just co-washing to see if your hair prefers that. Cowashing is conditioner washing. You can buy a cowash specific product like As I Am Cowash. Or just use a conditioner to wash. VO5 Moisture Milks and Herbal Escapes conditioners and Suave Essentials conditioners are inexpensive and popular for this, and the Pomegranate scent one doesn't have any protein (there might be others). I think there are some Suave Essentials that are protein free too.

    I usually suggest to people to start with Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus line because these contain silk protein which tends to benefit many different hair types. Some people are reporting that these are not working like they used to due to a formulation change, but I still think they are worth a try. You can buy them from Target and return opened beauty items within 90 days for a refund if it doesn't workout. Suave Essentials Tropical Coconut also has silk protein, and might be a good choice to try, also for cowashing. 
    Low-poo: Alaffia Coffee & Shea Revitalizing Shampoo for Fine/Thin Hair (summer), Alaffia Coconut & Shea Hydrating Shampoo
    Clarify: Kinky Curly Come Clean
    Rinse-out: Alaffia Coffee & Shea Revitalizing Conditioner for Fine/Thin Hair (summer), Alaffia Everyday Coconut Ultra Hydrating Conditioner
    DT: Camille Rose Naturals Algae Renew Deep Conditioner
    Leave-in: As I Am Leave-in
    Styler: Lily of the Desert 99% Aloe Vera Gelly
    Treatment: Daily tea spray; Coconut oil overnight treatment; Citric acid rinse for hard water; 2-step Henndigo w/ amla to cover gray

    2C, fine, low porosity, low/medium density, protein sensitive

    Looking for styling products and tools

    iHerb Code KQS149 for 5% off your order


  • Therese1Therese1 Registered Users Posts: 2,563 Curl Virtuoso
    In short, when you look for CG products, I would focus on ones that have no protein, at least to start. Be wary of hidden proteins like grain extracts (e.g., quinoa extract, barley extract). It can be tricky sometimes! If you are unsure whether something has protein, you can post the ingredients here before buying and we can offer input.
    Low poo: Intelligent Nutrients (IN) Harmonic; Oribe Cleansing Creme
    RO: IN Harmonic
    LI: CJ Beauticurls; Jessicurl (JC) Gelebration Spray
    DC: JC Deep Conditioning Treatment; Weleda Rosemary Conditioning Oil
    Stylers: JC Confident Coils; IN Volumizing Spray; IN Perfect Hold Hairspray; John Masters Sea Mist; Bumble Bb. Gel; Kenra Firm-Hold Gel; Sevi Blue Yarrow Sea Salt Spray
    Low-porosity 2a/b baby-fine hair
  • Guide 65Guide 65 Registered Users, Moderators Posts: 1,984 Curl Virtuoso
    I actually think the attributes mostly help other people when you ask questions about your hair care.  If we were in person, we could see your hair, touch it, and make judgements based on that.  But when someone comes to a message board asking about a problem they're having, at best we can see a picture, but mostly we don't even have that.  So being able to describe your hair and its attributes helps guide our suggestions. 

    As for your routine, you're using 5 different leave in products.  That sounds like a LOT.  Most people will use 2 or possibly 3 leave in products.  Maybe try cutting back.  I don't know what "coochy" is, but the Eden souffle and As I Am curly jelly are both curl enhancers.  You should use one or the other, but not both at the same time.  I'm not sure what the aloe vera gel is for.  My hair hates it and turns straw like, so I don't use that at all.  Then the Ion gel is for hold, that's good to use on top of everything.
    Formerly known as Janiegirl
    2B/2C, fine hair, low density, mixed porosity, protein loving hair
    Current products:
    Changing up my shampoos because I can't find one I like
    Deva Curl One Condition (original formula)
    Innersense I Create Volume
    Deva Curl Ultra Defining Gel
  • GretchenGretchen Administrator Moderators Posts: 10,840 Curl Virtuoso
    Hi @Rhoswen!  How are you feeling about your hair these days? We'd love to hear an update! 

    Gretchen co-founder

    You are beautiful!

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