Every hair care routine is unique: factors such as your hair’s texture, length, and even the cut, in general, determine how often you need to wash your hair, as well as the products and steps you’ll need to take. And when you start to notice excessive breakage or damage to your hair, you’ll often turn to additional measures like restorative hair masks to try and revive your strands. But even if you feel confident that you’ve mastered the right care routine for your hair needs, there’s one step you probably haven’t tried yet: the pre-poo.
Right now most of you are probably saying, “so… what’s a pre-poo?” “Pre-poo” is an abbreviation of “pre-shampoo,” and generally refers to a protective treatment that you apply to your hair as the first step in your shower routine, before shampoo and conditioner. You can use hair oil, nourishing hair butter, or DIY recipes made with ingredients such as olive oil, avocado or coconut oil, but it just needs to be something that is going to have a restorative effect on your locks. The idea is that you’re providing a nourishing, protective layer for your hair and scalp, in case your shampoo is stripping too much moisture, leading to dryness and potential damage.
While people generally aren’t fans of adding another step into their daily routines, pre-pooing can be extremely super beneficial in protecting and hydrating your hair. Here are some of the main reasons you should try a pre-poo on your next wash day, and why it could be the answer to fixing any damaged or dry hair you might have been dealing with:
While most people could use a little moisture boost year-round, this is especially needed as we head into the winter months. Applying a nourishing pre-poo treatment to your hair and scalp lets you give targeted attention, bringing additional moisture right to the source.
Hair can be fragile, and even with the most gentle touch the process of washing and scrubbing your hair and scalp can mean added stress on our cuticles. Pre-pooing provides a protective and moisturizing barrier that helps to guard your cuticles against extra wear, tear, and potential breakage.
photo by @nicolebradleyy
No one likes to have an oily scalp, but those natural oils exist for a reason: the sebum on your scalp helps to keep hair healthy, and over-stripping it can lead to dryness, damage, and breakage. Pre-poo will help to make sure that these oils are restored and follicles are protected. And as an extra guard against over-stripping, make sure you choose a healthy hair shampoo that fits your needs!
Healthy hair is shiny hair! Adding a nourishing pre-poo oil treatment to your hair and scalp is a quick way to boost its shine and silkiness since you’re caring for it from the inside out. Plus, the added shine will always make your natural hair look its best. Be sure to read our blog post on tips for shiny hair to learn about other ways you can help boost the shine level of your strands before and after your shower routine.
Your conditioner’s job is to re-fortify the cuticle with a protective coating — adding in a pre-poo treatment is like taking these benefits up a notch. By starting off your shower with a protective treatment, you’re helping your conditioner be even more effective.
If you have curly hair or your natural hair texture is generally very dry, trying a pre-poo treatment is almost a must-have for your hair care routine. Since lost moisture means curls lose their definition and bounce, adding in a pre-poo oil treatment before you shampoo will add extra nourishment and protection against over-stripping your curls. And since those with curly hair usually wash their hair less frequently, a pre-poo treatment really helps you make the most of those days, boosting nourishment and shine before shampooing.
If your hair is on the finer side, or tends to go limp when you add too many heavy products, you could also be suited to try a pre-poo treatment. While many deep conditioning treatments can weigh your hair down, trying a pre-poo step will help to give your hair essential moisture and protection, minus the limp and lifeless strands.
Photo by @nicolebradleyy
Now that you’re convinced, let’s run through a typical pre-pooing routine, as well as how often you should be doing a pre-poo treatment for your specific hair type:
You want to make sure that the pre-poo treatment can properly condition every part of your hair and scalp, so start by sectioning dry hair into several areas. Once you’re finished, apply the pre-poo treatment starting from the scalp to your ends, making sure everything is evenly coated.
Use a wide-tooth comb to carefully detangle and brush through your hair — this will also help to ensure that the pre-poo treatment has made its way evenly through your hair, as well as getting your hair nice and detangled before the rest of the shower.
The length of time you let the pre-poo treatment soak in is up to you, but the general rule of thumb is to keep it on for at least 30 minutes before shampooing. If your hair is extra dry and damaged, you should try to leave it on overnight: just wrap your head up in a protective scarf to make sure it stays on your hair, instead of absorbing into your pillowcase.
Once you’re ready to remove the pre-poo, shampoo, and condition it out as usual — be thorough with your shampooing to make sure that no product or oil is left behind. There are a lot of different types of shampoo, so we’d recommend finding one that won’t over-strip or dry out your hair type, which would undo all of the hard work of the pre-poo treatment in the first place. If your hair is noticeably dry and damaged, try and give it some extra attention by using an ultra-nourishing enzyme shampoo.
Start by adding a pre-poo treatment into your hair care routine once a month, and increase in frequency depending on your hair needs (and if you’re noticing it’s been drier or more damaged than usual). Just as you probably swap in a deep conditioner, or a product like a hair growth treatment if you’re noticing issues with your hair, it’s important to make adjustments in your routines like adding a pre-poo step in to properly care for your hair and scalp. Once you’ve tried a pre-poo treatment (or have any favorite at-home pre-poo recipes you’d like to share), be sure to let us know how it went in the comments!
By Lauren Hannel, staff contributor
cover photo by @nicolebradleyy