How To Pre Poo

The why, when, and how to pre poo are all quite simple on the surface, but there is more that you need to know so make sure you keep reading!

Pre Poo, or pre-shampoo, is a method often used by those following a No Poo or Low Poo hair care regime to keep their hair in good condition. If your hair is especially dry or damaged, pre pooing can help restore moisture, increase strength, and protect your hair from the actual washing process.

Low porosity hair will benefit from different pre-poos than high porosity hair, thus proving the theory that the type of pre poo you use will depend upon your hair type and the condition of your hair, to begin with.

This article will take you through each part of the process so that you can make the very most of your crowning glory.

Read on to discover just some of the ways to pre poo, and the benefits that this can bring to your hair.

How To Pre Poo

Pre Poo is the shortened form of pre-shampoo.

We are all used to washing and conditioning our hair when needed, to keep it clean, healthy, and moisturized. When our hair is in good condition this is often all that is needed.

A pre-poo though, is helpful for those with:

  1. Dry hair
  2. Sun damaged hair
  3. Chemically damaged hair
  4. Curly/wavy hair
  5. Broken and thinning hair

Although most No Poo washes are kind to your hair, sometimes, if your hair falls into any of the above categories, a pre poo can help restore it to its former glory.

If you’re asked is pre pooing necessary, then whilst not imperative, it certainly will help you to repair damaged and breakage prone hair.

The very act of washing can cause breakage.

For example, repeatedly scrubbing hair together to move around the wash liquid, squeezing the hair downwards to remove excess water after rinsing, and brushing wet hair are all ways that a simple wash can damage our hair.

Therefore, protecting your hair before washing is simply a sensible precaution.

A pre poo can:

  • Add moisture to your hair
  • Protect hair against the drying nature of shampoo
  • Protect hair against chemicals in swimming pools
  • Protect your hair from sea salt
  • Help make detangling hair easier
  • Help improve your scalps health
  • Improve hair after heat damage
  • Improve hair after coloring

These are just some of the reasons that a pre poo is used.

Pre Poo Treatments

There are many types of pre poo treatments.

Some of the most popular pre poo treatments are listed below:

  • Olive Oil: Great for scalp massages and protecting hair from damage. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • Coconut Oil: Lighter than olive oil, so better for use by those with fine hair or those with curls that are easily weighed down. Penetrates into the hair well.
  • Aloe Vera Gel: Brilliant for those with scalp problems such as dandruff. Anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal. Moisturizing for hair and easily grown for a continuous supply.
  • Butters: Often heavier than oils, but providing a formula that helps soften the texture and add shine.
  • Egg: The protein in eggs can help repair and strengthen your hair.
  • Banana: Potassium-rich, banana is well known as a hair rescuer.
  • Rice Water: Almost the holy grail of pre-poo. Rice water conditions, strengthens, protects, repairs, and adds shine and elasticity through its amino acids and vitamins.
  • Flax Seeds: These help with elasticity and are said to help with hair growth

Pre poo products are like a hair mask that you use before shampooing, rather than afterwards. They should be left on your hair for more than 30 minutes to achieve the best results.

Some products work best if you can leave them on your hair overnight.

Be aware though that with the high protein contents of rice water and egg, these are probably better being left on for up to an hour, since too much protein can leave some hair ‘crunchy. (sources 1,2,3).

What Does Pre Poo Mean?

You may not be familiar with pre-pooing. So what does pre shampoo actually mean?

In reality, pre-poo is very much like using a hair mask, but using it before you shampoo, rather than afterward.

It is normally used on dry hair to nourish and protect your hair before shampooing.

Oils especially are able to coat your hair, retain moisture, and combat the sometimes drying effects of shampoo.

If you use baking soda to wash, followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse, then a pre-poo every now and again will help keep your tresses looking and feeling beautiful.

Benefits Of Pre Poo

Why should you pre poo is an easy question to answer since it has so many benefits for your hair and scalp, that your hair will look better almost immediately.

Some of the benefits of pre poo are listed below, and show why is pre poo important:

  • Scalp: Many ingredients in homemade pre-poos are anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory. This makes them great ways of keeping your scalp healthy and therefore aiding hair growth and reducing hair loss.
  • Condition: Pre-pooing can improve the overall condition of your hair.
  • Moisture: Honey and Aloe, amongst others, are used in a pre-poo to moisturize hair.
  • Strength: Proteins in egg and rice water especially can strengthen hair.
  • Elasticity: Some pre-poo ingredients are known to increase the elasticity of your hair, making your curls bouncy and defined.
  • Protection: Oils and butter coat the hair in a pre-poo. This means that the following wash can be less drying than shampooing alone.
  • Smoothing/No frizz: With the added moisture, your hair is less likely to frizz.
  • Hygral Fatigue: Pre-pooing can help to avoid hygral fatigue. This is where the hair takes up too much moisture too regularly which can lead to the hair stretching and breaking

When Should You Pre Poo?

If you are just finding out about pre-poo, and want to incorporate it into your hair care regime, knowing when to pre poo can be a little confusing.

The best time for pre pooing your hair really depends upon your hair type, and its condition.

Unless your hair is very dry or badly damaged then starting off doing a pre-poo once per week is likely to be the best option.

If you have dry or damaged hair then pre-pooing twice a week until your hair has recovered is sensible.

If you do your pre-poo on dry hair before washing it is likely that your hair will be relatively dirty. So if you are wondering can you pre poo dirty hair, then rest assured, people, do!

If you feel that your hair really is far too dirty, then rinse with water first, allow your hair to dry, and use your boar bristle brush to detangle and remove any excess sebum and debris, then pre-poo.

Best Pre Poo

The best pre poo is one that has been chosen with your hair type and hair concerns in mind.

However, it is also true that the best pre poo products are those that you make at home from organic ingredients. This way you can tailor the pre-poo to exactly what your hair needs.

If however, you do not have the time (or the desire) to do this, then there is a wide range of great products that can be delivered straight to your door for immediate use.

These are my favorite pre poo products.

1. African Pride Moisture Miracle

One of the best pre-poos for natural hair is the African Pride Moisture Miracle, sold by Amazon.

Click this link to view more details

2. Dr Miracle’s Strong And Healthy Detangling Treatment

For all other hair types, the Dr Miracle’s strong and healthy detangling treatment is well worth a try.

It contains marshmallow root aid de-tangling, and aloe to moisturize your hair and soothe your scalp.

Click here to view details on Amazon

How Long To Pre Poo

Some pre-poos work better over longer periods whilst others should not be left on too long.

For example, oils work best when left on longer (though not on fine hair), whereas a protein pre-poo will likely be too much for your hair if left on for more than an hour.

The length of time that you leave on the pre-poo will depend on:

  • Your hair type
  • Condition of your hair
  • Ingredients used
  • How often you want to pre-poo
  • How long you want to pre-poo

How To Pre Poo Correctly

Pre Poo is a relatively simple process.

Indeed, you are probably already quite au fait with the actual process of mixing up a recipe and sectioning your hair to ensure that every strand is covered by the mixture.

The most important thing when deciding to pre-poo is to choose the right pre-poo for your hair and leave it in for the best time before rinsing.

Here are some useful pre-poo tips:

Olive Oil

Knowing how to pre poo with olive oil is important as olive oil can be too weighty for fine hair or those with loose curls.

However, it is good for moisturizing your hair and scalp and can be left on overnight.

Use sparingly as with any oil it can be difficult to remove.


How to pre poo with oil depends upon the type of oil you choose.

See above and below for more information on olive and coconut oil usage.


If you pre poo with conditioner then follow the instructions on the label for timings.

It is likely that an hour will be sufficient for pre-poo.

You may find that leaving it on overnight will weigh down your hair too much, even after washing.

Coconut Oil

Knowing how to pre poo with coconut oil will let you get the best out of your hair.

Coconut oil is much lighter than olive oil and can be left in overnight to absorb fully into your hair.

It is best for finer hair as it will not weigh it down.

As a lighter oil, it is more easily absorbed.

Argan Oil

Harvested from kernels, argan oil is said to be good for those experiencing hair loss.

It is also used to protect the hair from sun damage.

With its antioxidants and vitamin E, it is beneficial for your scalp

How To Pre Poo Different Hair Types

Each hair type will need a slightly different approach, and/or ingredients to improve the hair using a pre poo.

The following should help you decide on the best pre poo for your and your hair:

1. Low Porosity Hair

How to pre poo low porosity hair is one of the most difficult pre poo concerns that people may have.

Low porosity hair has cuticles that are so tightly bound that it is difficult to get moisture into the hair. This is where an oil or butter pre-poo is the best option to take.

With this type of hair, allowing the pre-poo to work overnight may also help, especially as wearing a shower cap is advisable to keep the butter or oil on the hair rather than your sheets.

A shower cap will capture the heat from your head which will improve the hairs absorption of the oil, allowing all the ingredients to penetrate the hair shaft effectively

2. High Porosity Hair

Knowing how to pre poo high porosity hair is almost the opposite of pre pooing low porosity hair.

The hair will readily take up any moisture, so it is important not to leave the pre-poo mixture on for too long or your hair may feel too heavy once rinsed.

However, you may need to pre-poo more often as although your hair will happily take in moisture, it will just as readily let it seep from your hair over time

3. Curly Hair

The trick of how to pre poo curly hair is knowing the texture and type of your hair.

Coarse and dry hair will need more moisture than fine hair with loose curls.

For the former, try a heavier oil or butter, whilst fine hair will often prefer a lighter oil such as coconut.

Coarse hair will need longer for the pre-poo to work than fine hair so your timings will need to be adjusted to suit.

4. Relaxed Hair

Relaxed hair can often be more likely to suffer from dryness and breakages.

Therefore strength and moisture are the key words when deciding how to pre poo relaxed hair.

An egg, rice water, or banana pre poo will most likely benefit relaxed hair.

However, everyone’s hair is different, one pre-poo per week should be sufficient, but if your hair needs extra moisture, then an oil or honey pre-poo can be done in addition.

5. Dreadlocks

Deciding how to pre poo dreadlocks is a tricky one.

There are so many things that really ought not to go near your dreadlocks that most No Poo followers would automatically reach for.

The key thing to remember with dreadlocks is that anything you put in needs to be water-soluble. Otherwise, you will never remove it from your locks!

Pure aloe vera can be used sparingly.

If your ends are dry, then a small (very small) amount of oil can be used, but not too much or you will weigh the dreadlocks down (sources 1,2).

Pre Poo Recipes

Below are a couple of homemade pre poo recipes showing different types of pre poo.

Although there are several overnight pre poo recipes available that you could use too, I have only listed the most useful pre poo recipes, below.

1. Overnight No Poo Recipe

  • Ingredients
    • 4 tbsp pure Aloe Vera gel
    • 3 tbsp coconut oil
    • 1 tsp argan oil
    • 5 drops vitamin E (optional)
    • 5 drops of essential oil of your choice (optional)
  • Method
    1. Mix all of the ingredients together completely.
    2. Separate hair into manageable sections.
    3. Starting at the roots smooth the mixture throughout your hair.
    4. Make sure all your hair is covered.
    5. Spend 2 minutes massaging your scalp.
    6. Cover your hair with a shower cap.
    7. Keep in overnight before rinsing off thoroughly with warm water.
    8. Use cold water for a final rinse.

2. Flax Seed Pre Poo for curly hair

  • Ingredients
    • ½ cup purified water
    • 1 tbsp flax seeds
    • 3 tbsp shea butter
    • 1 tbsp coconut oil
    • 1 tbsp aloe vera gel
    • 1 tbsp castor oil
    • ½ tbsp honey
  • Method
    1. In a separate pan boil the water and stir in the flax seeds for half an hour before allowing to cool.
    2. Using a double boiler (a saucepan heated by boiling water underneath) pop in the other ingredients having pre melted the shea butter and honey if possible.
    3. Combine the two for your pre poo and let cool completely.
    4. Separate hair and coat every strand with the mixture.
    5. Leave in your hair for 45 minutes.
    6. Rinse.

This recipe can also be used as a regular conditioner for your hair.

There are many other recipes, some simple, some requiring more effort to make, but all pre poo recipes will benefit your hair in some way (source 1).


Deciding how to pre poo effectively depends on your hair type and texture.

Oils and butter penetrate the hair shaft well, but eggs, bananas, and aloe vera are also just as effective if you do not want oils weighing your hair down.

DIY pre poo recipes are easy to make at home, and adding essential oils of your choosing can take your hair to the next level.

If you prefer commercially available products, then these are now easier than ever to get hold of.

Related Questions

How To Pre Poo 4c Hair

Oils/butters are best pre poo for 4C hair as they can easily penetrate through the whole shaft. As 4C hair is tightly curly it is important to make sure that all the pre poo is rinsed out after use.

Katrina Stewardson

Hello! My name is Katrina Stewardson, and I've been obsessed for almost ever with discovering the best natural hair methods for my own hair. For years I longed for one website to tell me everything I needed to know about the amazing No Poo Method movement. I just couldn't find one though, so I decided to create it myself! I dearly hope this website will save all you lovely ladies (and gents!) from wasting hours scrolling the internet looking for natural hair-related information like I did.

Recent Posts