What is pre-poo for hair?
I first stumbled across this thing called “pre-poo” on Pinterest and was first taken aback by the name. A bit of an odd combination of words, I thought. What it meant was something completely different to what I had imagined (that puzzled look on your face, is also mine) – it is basically a treatment for your hair before you apply shampoo or conditioner, hence the condensed term pre-poo. It is usually composed to a water-based conditioner, oil or any blend of ingredients applied to the hair before washing. The ingredients all depend on what your preferences are and what your hair needs. They can be left in your hair anywhere between 20 minutes to overnight.
But… this goes against everything we know about shampooing! The justification behind pre-pooing is that you are prepping your hair for the manipulation to come after shampooing and conditioning. A lot of shampoos contain sulfate which can strip the hair and leave it dry, or the adverse, cause your scalp to produce more sebum to keep it hydrated, hence making your hair oilier. Pre-pooing is meant to help your hair retain the moisture that would otherwise be “stripped” away. People who pre-poo argue that their hair feels softer, easier to detangle, more hydrated and retains moisture during the washing process.
Many people, hairdressers especially, will argue against this “pre-poo” process as shampoo will end up washing the product off anyway. Hairdressers will also have you know that the purpose of shampooing is to open the hair cuticle and lift dirt, and the second shampoo will remove the dirt and grime, which leaves the hair open to be treated by a mask or conditioner that will lock in the moisture and seal the cuticle. It is therefore more effective to apply these treatments after a shampoo to keep the hair hydrated.
While we know all this about the shampoo and conditioner regimen, pre-pooing remains a growing trend so I will investigate it anyway. It must be our generation’s obsession with natural remedies and going organic. Though, I did write an article a while ago about using coconut oil as an overnight leave-in treatment which is pretty much another pre-poo method but worded differently. Here are some other natural ingredients commonly used in pre-poo:
Olive Oil is known for its moisturising properties as it is rich in vitamins A, E and antioxidants which helps protect the keratin in hair and seals in the moisture. This adds strength and shine to the hair and reduces breakage and split ends. As a pre-poo, it is recommended to apply olive oil and leave it in for 20 minutes to increase moisture and elasticity of your hair. You can also add honey or lemon juice. Olive oil mixed with lemon juice can help treat dandruff as the acidic nature of the lemon juice will loosen the dandruff while olive oil moisturises he exfoliated layer of the skin.
Egg is packed with protein which helps to moisturise dry hair and acts as an emulsifier that binds other ingredients you may use as hair treatments. It helps the ingredients stick to the hair and penetrate the hair follicles. Mix egg with an essential oil, plain yogurt or mayo to make a simple mask. Leave on for 20-45 minutes and rinse with cool water so it doesn’t cook on your head.
Banana is rich in minerals like potassium, zinc, iron and manganese. It is also full of vitamins A, B, C and E which leaves your hair silky and shiny. One way to create a banana mask for dry and damaged hair is to mix banana pulp with a few drops of almond oil and leave it in for 10-15 minutes.
Coconut milk is rich in essential vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C and E that leaves your hair feeling extremely conditioned. To mix as a pre-poo, combine coconut milk with coconut oil and honey. Leave it in from 20-30 minutes before washing.
Avocado is full of goodness that helps to strengthen and moisturise hair, with vitamin A, D, E and B6 and monounsaturated fatty acids that moisturise and nourish hair. It is also high in proteins, amino acids, magnesium, folic acid copper and iron. This work well to protect your hair from environmental stress and damage. Simply mix a ripe avocado or avocado oil with an oil of your choice, some honey and an egg to create an avocado mask that you can leave on overnight or for 30 minutes in the morning before rinsing it out.
Mango butter is an emollient and moisturiser with lots of good fatty acids to keep your hair moisturised and hydrated. It contains vitamins A, C and E which is known to be beneficial for hair. Mango butter acts as a great base for pre-poo that you can mix with honey and shea butter.
Shea butter can be used on dry and oily scalps. On a dry scalp it will moisturise and on an oily scalp it will reduce excessive oil production. It can be mixed with coconut oil, castor oil or honey as a pre-poo.
Castor oil has natural antibacterial properties and is high in Vitamin E, proteins, and Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids. It can help to alleviate dryness and frizz in the hair. It is quite thick so not much of it needs to be used for it to effectively penetrate the scalp. Leave on overnight and wash off in the morning.
There are many people who vouch for pre-pooing as a method of adding and retaining moisture to the hair, while others simply think it is a fad. It all comes down to the individual and preferences in the end. What works for one person’s hair may not work for another, but it is still worth considering if you are looking for a remedy that works for you. I found this trend to be more popular among those with coarser hair that needed taming. If you decide to give pre-poo a go, please drop us a comment below and let us know your results!