Pre-shampooing is a kind of protective treatment that helps prepare your hair for washing to minimize the drying effect of shampoos. Pre-wash treatments help flatten cuticles to lock in moisture, preserve healthy hair oils, and provide nourishment to your locks. It straightens and conditions your hair and keeps tangles at bay to reduce breakage.
Pre-shampoo treatments come in the form of hair oil, hair butter, hair masks, and conditioners. Pre-wash products are supposed to be used prior to each shampoo, or at least once a week, to keep your locks healthy and nourished. Most treatments are meant to be left on the hair for 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the product instructions and condition of your hair. You can even use it as an overnight treatment to get maximum benefit.
Some of the pre-wash formulas are designed for specific hair types or as solutions for particular hair or scalp issues. When shopping for a pre-shampoo treatment, make sure to purchase the product that suits your needs.
Do You Need a Pre-Wash Hair Treatment?
If your hair is overly dry and porous, it can’t retain its natural moisture and oils. Such hair may look dull, lifeless, and is hard to manage. A pre-shampoo treatment gently smooths out rough cuticles to lock in moisture, increase manageability, and make hair shine.
People with naturally curly hair can benefit from adding this extra step to their regular hair care routine. Pre-shampoo treatments keep natural hair moisturized, leaving curls feeling smooth and nourished.
If your hair has been abused by frequent coloring, bleaching, or other chemical treatments, it may become weak, dry, and prone to color fading. A pre-shampoo treatment protects and nourishes your hair before and after chemical treatments and seals the cuticle to help your color last longer.
Tangled hair can lead to excessive hair breakage. Pre-shampoo treatments flatten the cuticle and lubricate the hair shaft, making the strands smoother and easier to untangle.
Before you go swimming in a pool or the ocean, you need to protect your hair from chlorine and salt water. By soaking your hair with a pre-shampoo product, you will minimize the damaging effects of chlorine and sea salt on your locks.
1. Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Pre-Shampoo Treatment
The Elasticizer is the world’s first deep-conditioning pre-shampoo treatment developed by famous hair expert Philip Kingsley. This scentless, highly concentrated product is designed to add moisture and strength to dry, damaged and chemically treated hair. This is an effective treatment to stop hair breakage.
The list of active ingredients includes hydrolyzed elastin, castor oil, olive oil, glycerin, and silicone.
- Gives strength and elasticity to over-processed, damaged hair
- Locks in moisture, leaving hair healthy, nourished, and shiny
- Helps to mend split ends and prevents future damage from heat styling and sun exposure
- Leaves your hair silky soft, untangled, and bouncy
Use this treatment on wet hair before washing. Apply the product throughout sections of your hair ensuring maximum coverage. Leave it on for about 10 minutes or as long as your hair needs it. Rinse thoroughly. Shampoo and condition as usual.
For very dry or damaged hair, cover your hair with a plastic cap and leave the product in for 10 minutes. The heat will ensure better treatment absorption.
2. Huile de Leonor Greyl Pre-Shampoo Oil Treatment
This multi-purpose blend of botanical oils helps to prepare hair prior for washing while hydrating and nourishing your locks. It soaks into dry hair and replenishes the moisture stripped away from bleaching, coloring, and heat styling. This is the perfect treatment for chemically treated hair.
This treatment is made from a specially selected blend of regenerating and protective oils, including coconut, sesame seed, sunflower seed, hazel, copra, and mongongo oils. It contains natural UVA/B sun protection filters and is free of sulfates, silicone, and parabens.
- Nourishes, conditions, and repairs dry, colored, and relaxed hair
- Helps to repair, detangle, and soften hair prior to washing
- Protects your hair from the damaging effects of colors and relaxers
- Restores damaged ends and reduces hair breakage
- Protects the hair against the damaging effects of hard water
- Makes your hair soft, bouncy, and smooth
- Prolongs the life of your color
With a dime-sized amount of the oil treatment, use your fingers to distribute it evenly through the lengths of your dry hair. Concentrate on the ends, then evenly distribute the product with a brush. Leave the treatment in for 5 to 10 minutes or overnight, then shampoo your hair.
As a protective measure, saturate your hair with the product before swimming in the pool or sea.
This product may solidify at room temperature, so you have to liquefy it prior to use.
3. Timeless Pre-Shampoo Treatment by Living Proof
This strengthening, smoothing, and color-protecting treatment is formulated to help preserve your color and to combat and reverse changes in aging hair.
This treatment is formulated with amino acids, proteins, ceramide-like lipids, and UV absorbers. It is enriched by advanced color-seal technology. The formula is free from parabens, phthalates, and silicone.
- Maintains color vibrancy and longevity by preventing color fading due to washing, sun exposure, and heat styling
- Increases hair strength and elasticity to reduce breakage and maintain hair density
- Seals the cuticle to tame frizz and create smooth, shiny hair
- Preserves internal moisture without weighing hair down
Apply the treatment to dry hair from roots to ends, using 1 or 2 pumps per section. Spread the product evenly throughout your hair. Leave it on your hair for 5 minutes or longer, then shampoo out.
4. Burt’s Bees Avocado Butter Hair Treatment
This pre-wash hair treatment locks in moisture and repairs your hair before shampooing. It can also be used as a leave-in styling conditioner to define your curls and to tame frizz and flyaway hair. It works best for dry, curly, coarse hair that’s prone to tangling.
The product is formulated with essential natural oils and extracts. Nourishing ingredients include avocado oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, kernel oil, rosemary leaf extract, and nettle leaf powder. The formula is free of SLS, parabens, phthalates, and petrolatum.
- Replenishes lost moisture to your hair and scalp
- Leaves hair soft, tangle-free, and manageable
- Gives hair a healthy shine
- Treats dry ends and reduces breakage
- Tames frizz and keeps curls soft and smooth
Massage 1–2 teaspoons of the treatment into wet hair and scalp, focusing on the ends and other damaged areas. Use a wide-toothed comb to distribute the product evenly. Leave the treatment in your hair for 15 minutes or more. Rinse thoroughly and then shampoo as usual.
You can leave the treatment in overnight and wash it out in the morning.
For styling purposes, rub a small amount of butter into your palms and apply it to the ends of your damp or dry hair. Style as usual.
5. PHYTOELIXIR Botanical Intense Nutrition Oil
This lightweight pre-shampoo oil treatment easily penetrates into each strand to restore, nourish, and protect dry and damaged hair. This is an ideal treatment for hair damaged by frequent coloring and heat styling.
Active ingredients include camellia, corn germ, Karanja oil, and egg yolk oils. The formula is rich in antioxidants and Vitamin E and is 98% natural—free of sulfates, parabens, and silicone.
- Provides deep conditioning and intense nourishment
- Improves hair strength and elasticity
- Restores softness and shine
- Protects hair from dryness and future damage
Massage the oil into the lengths and ends of dry hair prior to shampooing. Leave in for about 10 minutes. Leave in longer if your hair is ultra-dry and porous.