Most of us know the hair basics: shampoo, deep conditioner, leave-in conditioner, and sometimes deep conditioner. But are you pre-poo savvy? Not sure about you, but I was a little hesitant about adding another step to my streamlined haircare routine (even as a beauty editor). But after recently chopping off my hair—and shaving time off my morning prep—I figured my scalp and strands deserved a little extra TLC. I caught up with a few experts to break down the dos and don’ts of pre-shampoo treatments…plus, find out if they are actually worth the hassle.
What Is It?
“Generally speaking, a pre-shampoo treatment are either oils or masks that you apply on dry hair,” explains Caroline Greyl of Leonor Greyl. “[It’s often forgotten] that water can avoid the penetration of oils. You usually leave treatments on 5 minutes to overnight—even if it has been washed out it has had time to act. L’Huile de Leonor Greyl was truly a pioneer product ahead of its time.”
Make Your Own Schedule
“[How often you apply] depends on the texture of your hair and your current hair health,” shares Kattia Solano, owner of The Butterfly Studio in NYC. “I would recommend doing a pre-treatment roughly 1-2 times a week.” Also important to note—cleanliness isn’t necessarily key. “The length in between your shampoos will not affect the pre-treatment product. However, you should be washing your hair at least every other day in order to avoid stripping away your hair’s natural oils.”
Show Your Scalp Love
“When applying your treatments always use a shower cap for the 15-30 minutes,” explains Micki Charles, a senior stylist at Cutler/Redken Salon. “[The shower cap] will help your strands by using your own body heat to help slightly lift the cuticle for better absorption into the hair shaft. Pre-shampoo treatments are equally beneficial for your scalp and hair shaft. Since we tend to pay attention to our hair more than our scalps, it’s a great idea to focus on the scalp.”
Opt for Dry over Damp Strands
“Treatments are better on dry hair as the water can act as a barrier preventing the penetration of the product, especially with oils,” says Greyl. “You also have pre-shampoo scalp oils – I recommend using these once a week so they won’t turn your scalp oily, a great one is Leonor Greyl Regenerescence Naturelle.”
Double Up on Rinsing
“Usually with these kinds of treatments you can wash your hair how you normally would,” shares Solano. “Depending on the consistency of the treatment and how well you really worked it into your hair you may want to shampoo two times. You will be able to feel if you still have a product in your hair after you rinse it out.”
Apply Hot Oil With Caution
“[Hot oil treatment] contains nothing more than classic oils besides the fact that they are hot,” explains Greyl. “I would avoid putting them on directly on the scalp since it can be aggressive due to the temperature.”
Calling All Curly Girls
“Coarse or curly hair tends to be the most dry textures, so these treatments should be part of your hair care regime,” explains Charles. “Curly hair tends to break and be more brittle, so added moisture pre-shampoo will help protect the hair against the harsher ingredients of cleansers.”
When In Doubt, DIY
“There are many variations you can create,” shares Solano. “I love is an all-oil treatment for extra conditioning. You can mix together ingredients that you already have in your kitchen—think extra virgin olive oil with avocado oil or almond with coconut oil as combinations. The protein in avocado and almonds helps to strengthen the hair. You can also break open a capsule of Vitamin E and add it into the mix for additional hair nourishment.”
But, You’ll Still Need Trims
“[Unfortunately] treatments cannot eliminate split ends that are already there,” debunks Greyl. “On the other hand, [weekly usage] can definitely reduce split ends from reoccurring frequently.” Charles agrees adding, “Hair treatments maintains both moisture and protein will help the overall health of your hair. With regular trims and heat protection products for styling, you will be on your way to shiny bouncy hair.”
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website’s content and editorial direction since 2013. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra’s expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.