Hair Serum Not Absorbing? Here’s What You Can Do

Hair care concept. Woman applying dropper with oil or serum essence on ends hair. Close up

Key Points

  • If your hair doesn't absorb your serum, you don't reap all the beautiful benefits of the product, and you may even damage your hair over time.

  • When your hair serum isn't properly absorbed, your hair looks greasy and weighed down.

  • Your hair serum may not be absorbed into your hair due to poor application, the wrong product, low hair porosity, or the state of your cuticles.

  • Try these top serums known for easy absorption to make your hair care routine more effective.

Are you frustrated with your hair serum not absorbing into your hair, leaving it weighed down? Hair serum promises to provide moisture, protection, growth, shine, and ease of styling, but when it doesn't absorb properly, it fails to deliver the benefits. Not only does this leave your hair feeling greasy or heavy, but it also leads to dryness, frizz, and breakage over time.

Explore why your hair serum isn't absorbing as expected so you can adjust your routine for better results. Understand the factors that affect serum absorption and unlock the secret to achieving soft, sleek, and moisturized hair. Try some fast-absorbing serums to give your hair exactly what it needs.

Is Your Hair Serum Absorbing Into Your Hair?

Hair serum makes your hair feel soft, sleek, and moisturized when it properly absorbs into your hair. Your locks feel lightweight and smooth as the product dries quickly on your shafts.

However, if your hair serum doesn't absorb into your hair, it may feel greasy or heavy on your locks. Perhaps the serum takes a long time to dry — showing that it's not properly absorbing into your hair. Instead, it leaves an oily residue that makes your hair dry and rough.

If your hair doesn't absorb the serum, you don't reap the product's benefits. These benefits include:

  • Moisture: Hair serums provide moisture to the hair. If your hair doesn't absorb the serum, it doesn't retain moisture, which leads to dryness, frizz, and breakage.

  • Protection: Hair serums protect the hair from damage due to heat styling, sun exposure, and environmental factors. Without proper absorption, your hair is vulnerable to damage.

  • Shine: Hair serums give the hair a smooth, shiny finish. Without proper absorption, the hair doesn't appear shiny or healthy-looking.

  • Styling: Hair serums make your locks easier to style. Without proper absorption, the hair is difficult to style and becomes frizzy or tangled.

In addition to not improving the look of your hair, lack of absorption sometimes has a negative impact on hair health. As the serum doesn't provide the nourishment you expect, your hair becomes dry, brittle, and prone to breakage over time.

Reasons Why Hair Serum Doesn't Absorb

So, why isn't your hair absorbing the serum? The reason could be as simple as humid weather swelling your hair shafts and making it more difficult for products to absorb. Explore these issues to determine what's preventing your serum from absorbing.

Application Conditions

The application of hair serum affects how well it absorbs into your hair. If your hair doesn't absorb your serum, change your technique to see if your hair is more receptive to the product.

Using too much serum makes it difficult for the product to absorb into the hair shaft because the serum can't spread evenly or penetrate it. Use a small amount of serum and massage it in thoroughly, adding more if needed.

The best time to apply serum to your hair for maximum absorption is when it's damp, and the cuticles are open. Applying the serum to dry hair makes it difficult for the product to absorb because the hair cuticle is likely closed. It's best to apply your serum warm, as a warm temperature opens the cuticle and makes it easier for your shaft to absorb the product. Be careful not to use hot serum, as this damages your hair.

Using good technique ensures that the serum distributes evenly and penetrates the hair shaft. Here are some tips for applying hair serum:

  • Apply the serum to the mid-shaft and ends of the hair. The hair shaft is more porous at the ends, so the serum will be more likely to absorb there.

  • Massage the serum into the hair thoroughly to distribute the product evenly and encourage absorption.

  • Avoid applying the serum to the scalp unless it's a scalp serum, as this leads to build-up and makes the hair feel greasy.

  • Let the serum dry completely before styling your hair. This prevents the product from rubbing off on your clothes or furniture.


Hair porosity refers to how well your hair absorbs moisture. Hair with low porosity is difficult to penetrate, so serums may not absorb as easily. This is because the cuticles of low-porosity hair are tightly closed, making it difficult for products to penetrate the hair shaft. Instead, they sit on top of the shaft.

According to hair, health, and wellness expert at Healthline Valencia Higuera, "How your hair absorbs and retains moisture is largely due to genetics. So, if low porosity hair runs in your family, there's a good chance you'll have low porosity hair, too. But while genetics can affect porosity, it isn't the only contributing factor. Blow drying, bleaching, straightening, overwashing, and using harsh products can all damage your hair over time. This can cause your hair cuticles to become raised and open, which may make it harder for your hair to retain moisture."

You likely have low porosity if your hair is often weighed down by products. Determine your hair's porosity to treat it with the appropriate shampoos, conditioners, and hair serums.

To find out how porous your hair is, try the water droplet test for a rough estimate. After using clarifying shampoo, allow your hair to air dry completely. Place a droplet of water onto a strand of hair and observe how it reacts. If the droplet rolls off of your hair, it's low porosity. If the droplet slowly absorbs, it has medium porosity. If the droplet absorbs quickly, you have high porosity.

If you determine that your hair has low porosity, use less hair serum, apply the serum to damp hair, and massage it into your hair more thoroughly to help absorption. It's also important to select a serum suited to your hair type and condition. If your hair has difficulty absorbing serum after making these changes, try using a heat steamer or heat cap to assist the product in penetrating your hair shaft.

Cuticle Condition

Damaged hair has a rough or uneven cuticle, making it difficult for serums to properly absorb. Cuticles become raised and uneven on damaged hair, creating a barrier against products. This cuticle damage is often due to heat styling, coloring, harsh products, overwashing, and rough handling of your hair, such as brushing vigorously.

Sometimes, the rough terrain of the cuticle makes it easy for products to absorb into the shaft but difficult to leave the shaft. This means the product gets trapped inside and creates build-up, preventing your hair from reaping the benefits of the hair serum.

Work to reverse damage to your hair with gentle care and persistent use of repairing products such as hair masks and serums. Use a clarifying shampoo once a week to remove build-up. Note that hair is rarely repaired once the cuticle endures a lot of damage. Consider trimming off the damaged parts of your hair and focus on growing strong, healthy locks.

Test products on a small part of your hair before using them on your whole mane to determine how your hair reacts. Avoid products with alcohol, as this dries your hair out even more. Don't use non-water soluble silicone products, which create more build-up. Look for lightweight products made specifically for damaged hair, and remain patient as your hair tries to recover!


Some ingredients simply absorb more easily into your hair than others. For example, it's easier for smaller molecules to penetrate the hair shaft than larger molecules. Water-soluble ingredients absorb more readily into the hair shaft, and they're also easier to wash off when you shampoo. The higher the concentration of an ingredient in your serum, the more likely it's to absorb into the hair shaft. However, too high a concentration makes the serum feel heavy or greasy.

The polarity of an ingredient determines whether it's attracted to water (polar) or oil (non-polar). Hair has both polar and non-polar molecules, so hair serums should contain a mix of both polar and non-polar ingredients. This allows the serum to penetrate the hair shaft more effectively.

Use quality, highly-regarded serums to ensure the formula is set up for success. Using a product with large molecules, poor concentration of ingredients, or a lack of balance of polarity won't absorb into your hair, as well as a proper serum.

Hair Serums To Improve Absorption

If you're dealing with hair that doesn't absorb your serum, revolutionize your hair care routine with a fast-absorbing hair serum. Each of these products is effective for your hair goals while absorbing more easily into your hair. Give them a try!

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Sachajuan Shine Serum

Seal your split ends, prevent more damage, and add a shiny finish to your hair with Sachajuan Shine Serum. This serum doesn't leave a residue on your hair — a promising sign that it fully absorbs into your locks. This product claims to bring order to unruly hair. Add shine even if your locks are coarse, dull, or frizzy with just a few drops of this shine serum. It's even vegan, cruelty-free, and paraben-free!

Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil

by Bumble and Bumble 

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Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil

A beautiful blend of six oils and two plant extracts creates a serum that's easily absorbed into almost all hair types. Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil uses coconut, Argania spinosa kernel, Macadamia integrifolia seed, grape seed, sweet almond, and safflower seed oils to penetrate and hydrate hair. As the name suggests, it goes on like oil but absorbs until it's invisible. Be sparing with this oil if you have extremely fine hair, as it may weigh you down a bit.

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Amazon customer review of Bumble and Bumble's Hairdresser's Invisible Oilt

Photo source: Amazon

Treatment Light Limited Edition

by Moroccanoil 

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Moroccanoil Treatment Light

Moroccanoil Treatment Light is perfect for anyone with fine hair or those who get easily weighed down by serums. This product is lightweight and a bit watery, so it distributes evenly on all hair types and provides a perfect balance of polarity for absorption. Tame your frizz and flyaways, condition your strands, and add shine with this argan oil-based, sweet-smelling serum.

Take Care of Your Hair

By understanding why your hair doesn't absorb the product and how to make the necessary adjustments, you can improve the absorption of your hair serum. Use some of these recommended, fast-absorbing hair serums to transform your hair care routine, providing the desired results without leaving your hair feeling heavy or greasy.

Choose serums that suit your hair type and condition, and use them in conjunction with proper application techniques for optimal absorption. With the right knowledge and products, ensure that your hair receives the full benefits of a quality hair serum. Say goodbye to weighed-down hair and hello to soft, sleek, and nourished locks.

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