Wash day is simultaneously the bane of my existence and the joy of my heart. I know that it’s for the greater good, but the lazy-I-just-want-to-relax-on-the-weekends part of me dreads it. Jumping in and out of the shower, underneath the steamer*, detangling, styling, it really does go on forever sometimes.
When I close my eyes and envision the perfect wash day it looks really good…in theory. But in practice thinking about all the steps it involves, it almost makes me want to skip it all together. Then I have to do another envisioning exercise. This time I imagine my ideal, healthy, bouncy hair and that’s enough to make me drag my butt up and to the bathroom every week and pamper my hair.
So, when I first started reading up on pre-shampoo treatments (pre-poo for short) I knew it would be yet another love-hate addition to the mix.
After all, wash day is your chance to give your hair what it’s been missing all week. Of course you’ve been moisturizing and sealing and your hair loves all of the extra TLC you can give it especially with the added opportunity for the products to really sink in and be absorbed.
Queue in pre-poo treatments. The idea of deep conditioning* or doing a hot oil treatment has always made sense for the end of your wash. After all it’s your last chance to leave behind all of that wash-day goodness for your hair to absorb. However, doing it before the shampoo step does seem a little backwards.
However, a prepoo has the benefit of preventing your hair from drying out too much if you use sulfate containing shampoos or cleansers, plus that hit of oil or conditioner also helps immensely with detangling and moisture retention after your wash.
Depending on the treatment you choose the pre-poo step can be an awesome prep for your hair. Applying the chosen treatment, especially oil on dry hair is also an added bonus because the hair will absorb the product better.
With all of that being said, how do you know if your pre-poo should include a deep conditioner or a hot oil treatment? The option you choose will depend on what you are trying to achieve for your mane.
Choose Conditioner If:
You are trying to cut down on the manipulation damage that wash day can cause. So, for example, if you have chemically processed hair in the middle of a stretch, and want to keep the detangling down to an easy minimum using a deep conditioner* before your wash could be your secret.
By moisturizing the hair first you’re giving it extra nutrients that would usually be stripped away through shampooing. The results will be softer, easier to manage hair. Double the deep condition may seem like a bit of overkill, however over time you should see a definite improvement in your hair as it will be super moisturized and much easier to detangle.
Another scenario that comes to mind in favor of a conditioner pre-poo treatment is that when you need a hard protein treatment, you will also need to add some moisture back into your hair afterwards.
Your pre-poo can be in the form of eggs or store-bought conditioner. Topping off a protein treatment with a moisturizing shampoo and following up with your normal deep conditioner* can help to get your hair back to it’s moisture-protein balance (especially if your hair is super protein sensitive).
Choose an Oil Treatment If:
You’re looking for the benefits of a standard hot oil treatment. As noted earlier, working on dry hair will really give the oil the opportunity to absorb without water acting as a repellent for your strands.
As you know, oil is greasy, meaning it’s harder to get out without using a shampoo. Using it as a pre-poo treatment allows for you to have the best of both worlds.
A lot of popular natural oils (like argan oil*, olive oil* and coconut oil*) are high in fatty acids making these the healthiest ones for your hair as well. They double as a method of reducing water loss from your hair (i.e. moisture retention) and can help to prevent hygral fatigue.
It is often best to apply warm oil treatments to your hair. This is also a good choice for chemically processed hai, which is why a lot of people with relaxed and colored hair are no strangers to the hot oil treatment.
Also, those who are prone to dry hair may see a boost in moisture by applying regular hot oil treatments. A lot of these oils are available at your neighborhood grocery store , so there is definitely a money saving element to this option.
The Best of Both Worlds:
It is indeed possible to avoid choosing between the two at all, as a lot of people mix a little bit of oil in with their pre-poo conditioner. Others turn to fresher treatments such as honey or avocado.
You can buy packaged pre-shampoo treatments made specifically for that purpose or turn to some of the cheaper conditioner alternatives like V05. No matter what kind of pre-poo treatment you decide on, they can definitely be a welcome bonus to your wash-day…even if it does add on another step or two.