What Is Pre-Poo? Its Benefits, Types, & Tips To Help

Get those silky, smooth, and healthy tresses you always wanted with pre-pooing!

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS Dr. Shruti Chavan Dr. Shruti ChavanMBBS linkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
Edited by , BA, MSc Eshna Das BA, MSc linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
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Your hair may be vulnerable to everyday damage. Using only a shampoo and a conditioner might not protect your locks. What you also need is a pre-poo treatment.

Everyday pollution, coloring treatments, chemical processes, UV exposure, heat styling tools, and using multiple hair products leave the hair damaged and dull. Washing your hair with a shampoo and applying conditioner might not be enough to rejuvenate your hair. A pre-poo treatment moisturizes, replenishes, and revitalizes hair. Keep reading to explore the benefits of using this treatment and how to do it yourself.

What Is Pre-Poo?

Pre-poo is short for pre-shampoo. It refers to any protective moisturizing treatment you apply to your scalp and hair before shampooing. When it comes to effective hair care, incorporating this step in your hair care routine can work wonders, especially for those with natural hair. Pre-poo treatments can be left on your hair for at least 30 minutes or longer, depending on your hair type. They are best for restoring the health of Afro-textured hair or damaged hair. Keep reading to learn the benefits of pre-pooing.

Benefits Of Pre-Poo Treatments

Woman detangles curly hair with pre-poo treatment
Image: Shutterstock
  • Moisturize The Hair: Pre-pooing provides the much-needed moisture to curly, coily, and dry hair. Pre-pooing with nourishing oils restores the moisture balance, provides nourishment to the hair, and keeps it healthy.
  • Condition Your Hair: Pre-pooing prevents your hair from drying out during a shampoo wash, allowing the post-wash conditioner to work more effectively.
  • Detangle: Curly hair is tough to detangle. Pre-pooing moisturizes your hair strands to prevent tangling during shampooing and makes post-wash detangling easy.
  • Nourish The Scalp: Pre-poo treatments include warm oil massages that nourish your scalp, improve circulation, and boost scalp health and hair health in the long run.

Are you excited to pre-poo your hair? In the next section, find out what you can use for the pre-poo treatments.

Types Of Pre-Poo To Use

1. Pre-Poo Oils

Oils are an effective way of deep conditioning your hair before a shampoo wash. For pre-pooing, use hair oils like:

  • Coconut Oil: Coconut oil contains lauric acid that penetrates the hair shafts and nourishes them from within. Lauric acid has a high affinity to hair protein (keratin) and can prevent protein loss (1). Coconut oil is especially beneficial for dry and breakage-prone hair.
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil contains polyphenolsi  They are naturally occurring micronutrients found in plants which aid in digestion, improve brain function, and prevent cancer. and has antioxidanti  They are the molecules that help fight free radicals in the body formed during the oxidation process and prevent cell damage. and anti-inflammatory effects. Upon topical application, olive oil can reduce oxidative damagei  It results from the imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants present in the body and may lead to cell death. and promote dermal reconstructioni  A process involving the use of tissue-engineered skin substitutes to reconstruct or restore damaged skin tissue. (2). This makes it an excellent choice for scalp massages.
  • Jojoba Oil: Jojoba oil contains wax esters.i  It is a combination of fatty acids and fatty alcohols found in jojoba oil and is widely used in cosmetic formulations. These have anti-inflammatory benefits and are beneficial for wound healing and preventing skin infections (3). These esters may help relieve dry and itchy scalps and maintain your overall hair health.
  • Grape Seed Oil: Animal studies found that the proanthocyanidinsi  Chemical compounds found in plants, dietary fruits, vegetables and nuts known to promote heart health. in grape seeds might induce hair growth (4). Although further studies are required to arrive at a concrete conclusion, you may use grapeseed oil to keep your hair healthy and promote hair growth.
  • Peppermint Essential Oil: Peppermint essential oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It can soothe multiple scalp issues and promote hair growth (5). However, make sure you always dilute the essential oil with any carrier oil before using it.
protip_icon Quick Tip
If you use peppermint oil, mix it with a carrier oil like almond or jojoba oil in a 1:4 ratio.

2. Pre-Poo Hair Butters

Hair butters like shea, mango, aloe, and cocoa butters are known for their intensive moisturizing properties (6). These butters are often used in deep conditioners and hair masks and may help hydrate and nourish your hair. You may use these products on their own or mix them with other ingredients to customize a DIY hair mask for your hair type.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Since hair butter is a heavy sealanti  An oil that is used to hold moisture in hair strands and form a barrier to keep the moisture trapped in the hair shaft. , it is best to avoid using it before trying a straightened hairstyle as it may weigh down the hair.

3. DIY Pre-Poo Hair Masks

1. Banana And Olive Oil Pre-Poo Hair Mask

Banana and olive oil for pre-poo hair mask
Image: Shutterstock

Banana improves hair shine and manageability, while olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties (7), (2). This hair mask is nourishing and moisturizes the hair, tames frizz, and repairs hair damage.

You Will Need

  • 1 medium banana (mashed)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Blend the mashed banana and olive oil.
  2. Apply this pre-poo to your hair. Saturate each strand.
  3. Leave it on for 30 minutes.
  4. Wash off with a mild shampoo.

2. Avocado And Jojoba Oil Hair Mask

Avocados are beneficial for your health, and they are popularly used as a base in hair masks. The wax esters in jojoba oil may help keep your scalp healthy (3).

You Will Need

  • 1 small, ripe avocado (mashed)
  • 2 tablespoons of jojoba oil


  1. Mix the mashed avocado and jojoba oil.
  2. Coat your hair with the mixture. Cover each strand.
  3. Leave it on for 30 minutes.
  4. Rinse off the hair mask and wash with a gentle shampoo.

3. Aloe Vera And Coconut Oil Hair Mask

Aloe vera and coconut oil for strong hair
Image: Shutterstock

Aloe vera gel has moisturizing properties, and coconut oil minimizes protein loss from the hair and penetrates deep into the shafts (8), (1). This hair mask can hydrate and strengthen the hair.

You Will Need

  • 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil


  1. Blend the aloe vera pulp with the coconut oil until you get a smooth mixture.
  2. Apply the hair mask from root to tip. Gently massage it onto your scalp.
  3. Leave it on for at least an hour.
  4. Rinse off with warm water and shampoo.

Boluwatife Adesina, a beauty blogger, wrote about her experience of using aloe vera for pre-shampoo treatment. She wrote, “My hair was super moisturized at the end of my washday, although I had particles left in my hair but then it melted in with time (i).”

4. Flaxseed, Jojoba, And Coconut Oils Pre-Poo Treatment

Animal studies found that flaxseed oil might promote hair growth (9). This blend of oils can strengthen your hair, minimize breakage, and promote growth.

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of jojoba oil


  1. Mix the oils.
  2. Massage the oil blend onto your scalp. Coat the hair strands evenly.
  3. Leave it on for 30 minutes.
  4. Wash your hair with a mild shampoo.

5. Coconut Milk Hair Mask

Coconut milk is rich in proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals that aid hair growth and help maintain its overall health (10). It may also make your strands softer and add more bounce.

You Will Need

  • ½ cup of coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil


  1. Mix the coconut milk, honey, and coconut oil together in a bowl.
  2. Apply the mixture to damp hair and massage it into your scalp.
  3. Apply firm but gentle while massaging the scalp with your fingertips in small circular motions.
  4. Cover your hair with a shower cap or a warm towel and leave it on for 30-45 minutes.
  5. Rinse your hair thoroughly with cool water, then shampoo and condition as usual.

Once you have the pre-poo treatment oils and masks, follow this step-by-step guide on pre-pooing your hair.

How To Pre-Poo: A Few Tips

Woman detangling wet locks with comb
Image: Shutterstock
  1. Divide your hair into multiple sections.
  2. Coat the sections with the pre-poo oil or mask.
  3. If you are using an oil, gently massage your scalp with your fingertips in a circular motion for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Detangle your locks with a wide-toothed comb. This also spreads the pre-poo oil or mask.
  5. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes before shampooing. If you are using an oil, you can leave it on overnight.
  6. Rinse your hair thoroughly and wash it with your regular shampoo. Follow up with a conditioner.

Here are a few more tips to get the best out of your pre-poo routine.

More Pre-Poo Tips For The Best Results

Woman using hair steamer to enhance hair moisturization.
Image: Shutterstock
  • Always apply the pre-poo treatment to dry hair.
  • Wait for at least 30 minutes to an hour before washing it off.
  • If you are using a hot oil massage pre-poo, it is recommended that you leave it overnight and wash it off in the morning.
  • Massage your scalp to stimulate the hair follicles.
  • Use a hair steamer, heating cap, or a hot towel to open up the hair cuticles for better penetration.
  • Always saturate your hair from root to tip with the pre-poo oil or mask.

Infographic: Effective Pre-Poo Treatments And Tips To Nourish Your Hair

If you want to revive your dull and damaged locks, you can never go wrong with a pre-poo treatment. It is especially effective for those with curly or coily hair. Check out the infographic below for the best pre-poo treatments, along with some tips to follow while using them.

effective pre-poo treatments and tips to use them (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

If you have damaged, brittle, and over-processed hair and don’t know how to restore its health, try pre-poo treatments discussed in the article. Pre-poo treatments are extremely hydrating and nourishing as they involve using rich plant butters and oils. You can buy commercially available deep conditioners or follow the DIY recipes discussed in the article to care for your hair. Pre-pooing also works best for kinky and low-porosity hair. Try them, and we are sure you will love how your hair feels after the treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is pre-poo necessary?

A pre-poo is necessary when the hair is fragile and requires special attention. It will preserve and moisturize your hair while you are doing your cleaning regimen.

What is the difference between co-wash and pre-poo?

Co-washing is the practice of solely using conditioner to wash your hair. It entirely skips the shampooing part. As we all know, conditioners are designed to add moisture to your hair, resulting in a healthy shine to your locks. This can be highly beneficial if you have curly, textured, or dry hair.

On the other hand, pre-poo means pre-shampoo treatment. It is a protective moisturizing treatment you use on your hair and scalp before washing or “shampooing” it, making it a significant opening step in your wash day routine. In addition, it can perform wonders when used to repair dry, damaged, or frizzy hair.

Can you use pre-poo as a leave-in?

No, using pre-poo as a leave-in might be overdoing it and may make your hair too oily and leave them feeling dull and flat. Pre-poo treatments are meant to be used only before shampooing. The only pre-poo you can leave in is a hot oil treatment, and that too only overnight. If you are looking for a leave-in treatment after shampoo, try using hair serums.

Is pre-poo the same as hot oil treatment?

No, pre-poo and hot oil treatment are not the same. Hot oil treatment is only a kind of pre-poo treatment. Pre-poo can also involve the usage of hair butter, aloe vera, and DIY recipes.

Key Takeaways

  • A pre-poo treatment moisturizes and protects your hair. There are different treatments for different hair types.
  • These treatments can also nourish the scalp and detangle and condition your hair.
  • You can use pre-poo oils, hair butters, and hair masks made with natural ingredients.
  • When applying oils or masks to your hair, separate your hair into sections to thoroughly coat all the strands.
What Is Pre-Poo? Its Benefits, Types, & Tips To Help

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team

Learn how to pre-poo your hair with olive oil. Click on this easy-to-follow video to learn how to do it properly and get beautiful land shiny hair.

Personal Experience: Source


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage
  2. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils
  3. Jojoba in dermatology: a succinct review
  4. Proanthocyanidins from grape seeds promote proliferation of mouse hair follicle cells in vitro and convert hair cycle in vivo
  5. Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth without Toxic Signs
  6. A Real-World, Non-interventional Indian Study Evaluating Intensive Plant-Based Butter Moisturizing Cream in Psoriasis
  7. Traditional and Medicinal Uses of Banana
  8. Aloe Vera: A Short Review
  9. Effects of Linum usitatissimum L. ingestion and oil topical application on hair growth in rabbit https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283730350_Effects_of_Linum_usitatissimum_L_ingestion_and_oil_topical_application_on_hair_growth_in_rabbit
  10. Coconut Milk
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Dr. Shruti Chavan is a consulting dermatologist at Dr.Sheth's Skin and Hair Clinic since 6 years. She is a co-committee member of CDSI (Cosmetic dermatologist Society of India). She is highly skilled in non-surgical facial skin rejuvenation and face lift by the use of injection treatments and lasers.

Read full bio of Dr. Shruti Chavan
Ramona Sinha
Ramona is an editor at StyleCraze with 11 years of experience in writing and editing. She has authored over 200 articles on skin and hair care. She graduated from the University of Calcutta, West Bengal, and did her post-graduation from the University of Kalyani, West Bengal.

Read full bio of Ramona Sinha
Eshna Das
Eshna DasAssociate Editor
Eshna is an associate editor and a certified skin care coach. She has over three years of experience, a triple main bachelor’s degree in psychology, English, and journalism from Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru, and a master’s degree in psychology from Sampurna Montfort College, Bengaluru.

Read full bio of Eshna Das
Monomita Chakraborty
Monomita ChakrabortyBeauty & Lifestyle Writer
Monomita has a graduate degree in mass communication and video production from St. Anthony's College, Shillong, and a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the Royal Global University, Guwahati. She is also a certified skincare coach with a keen interest in skin, hair, tattoos, nail art, and lifestyle trends.

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