Pre-Shampoo Treatments and Their Benefits

Last Updated on December 12, 2022 by Gaga

Pre-pooing, or pre-shampooing, is the process of applying a treatment of some kind to your hair before shampooing. Although this may seem like an unnecessary extra step, there are quite a few benefits to it.

Pre-shampooing is a kind of protective treatment that helps prepare your hair for washing to minimize the drying effect of hair shampoos. Pre-pooing forms a thin layer over your hair strands, which can prevent your hair from drying out after shampooing with a sulfate shampoo. Even if you’re not using a sulfate shampoo, you may want to pre-poo if your hair is damaged and feels brittle. Pre-wash treatments help flatten cuticles to lock in moisture, preserve healthy hair oils, and nourish your locks.

Pre-wash products are supposed to be used before 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 and condition of your hair. You can even use these as overnight treatments to get the maximum benefits.

A woman with a pre-shampoo hair mask in the bathroom

Pre-shampoo treatments come in the form of hair oil, hair butter, hair masks, and conditioners. Just make sure to avoid products that are too thick, such as petroleum jelly which can form a thick layer that will be difficult to wash off of your hair.

Some of the pre-wash formulas are designed for particular hair types or to help with some scalp issues. When shopping for a pre-shampoo treatment, make sure to purchase the product that suits your specific needs.

What Are the Benefits of a Pre-Wash Hair Treatment?

Replenishes lost moisture: If your hair is overly dry and porous, it can’t retain its natural moisture and oils. Such hair may look dull, lifeless, and hard to manage. A pre-shampoo treatment soaks into dry hair and replenishes the moisture stripped away from bleaching, coloring, and heat styling. It gently smooths out rough cuticles to lock in moisture, leaving your hair silky soft, and bouncy

Nourished curls: 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, tame frizz, and keep curls feeling smooth and nourished.

Prolongs the life of your color: 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. It maintains color vibrancy and longevity by preventing color fading due to washing, sun exposure, and heat styling

Reduces hair breakage: This treatment is exceptionally effective if you need to stop hair breakage. Tangled hair is one of the most common causes of excessive hair breakage.  Pre-shampooing flattens the cuticle and lubricates the hair shaft, making the strands smoother. This helps soften the hair before washing and keeps tangles at bay.

Protect swimmer’s hair: Before you go swimming in a pool or the ocean, you need to protect your hair from chlorine and salt water. As a protective measure, saturate your hair with the pre-shampoo treatment before swimming. By soaking your hair with a pre-shampoo product, you will minimize the damaging effects of chlorine and sea salt on your locks.

How to Pre-Poo

a young woman with wet nourished hair

Apply the pre-PO mixture to wet hair before washing.

  1. Massage 1–2 teaspoons of the treatment into wet hair and scalp.
  2. Use your fingers to distribute the mixture through the lengths of your hair to ensure maximum coverage. Concentrate on the thirsty ends. Then use a comb to evenly distribute the treatment.
  3. Cover your hair with a plastic cap and leave the treatment on for about 30 minutes or longer if your hair is ultra-dry and porous. You can apply heat to ensure better absorption.
  4. Rinse thoroughly. Shampoo and condition as normal.

 You can pre-poo 1 to 3 times a week or as often as needed.

Coconut Oil Pre-Shampoo Treatment

To get the most out of this pre-shampoo treatment, use virgin coconut oil.

Divide your hair into equal sections. For fine and thinner hair, four sections are enough. For thicker, longer, or dense hair, eight sections are better.

After dividing your hair, apply the pre-shampoo treatment. You want your hair to be completely saturated to take advantage of all the benefits of the treatment and the coconut oil. Completely coat the hair, starting at the roots, and making your way down to the ends. Once the hair is coated, comb through it with a wide tooth comb or your fingers to ensure that there are no tangles. Now, you wait.

When using pre-shampoo treatments, the longer you can leave it on, the better. You should leave the treatment in for at least thirty minutes, but to further take advantage of the benefits, you may want to leave it on for a few hours or even overnight.

When you are ready, thoroughly rinse out the pre-shampoo treatment and wash and condition your hair as normal. Your hair will feel moisturized and healthy.

DIY Pre-Poo with Castor Oil

Castor oil is used to treat hair fall and even stimulate hair growth. And castor oil is not only the magic ingredient of this recipe, but it’s also quite affordable!

What you need:

  • 1 tbsp Castor oil
  • 2-3 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • 10 drops of geranium essential oil
  • Shower cap


  1. Mix everything and apply it to your scalp and hair.
  2. Cover with a shower cap.
  3. Wash off after 30 min.

Ready-Made Pre-Wash Treatments

While you can easily make your DIY pre-wash treatment, for those who prefer some ready-made products some great pre-poo products include Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Pre-Shampoo Treatment, Huile de Leonor Greyl Pre-Shampoo Oil Treatment, and Timeless Pre-Shampoo Treatment by Living Proof.

A beautiful girl blow-drying freshly shampooed hair

About the author

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Gaga is a blogger and founder of the Softer Hair website. She often says that insomnia is to blame for her first blogging attempts. Being the night owl, she hated the morning alarm. She left her office job and returned to what she loved most - writing.


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