If you’re not completely new in your transitioning journey you most likely have heard of pre-poo. For me, this was one of the first natural hair topics I had information on and was one of the first things I implemented in my transitioning hair routine. At the time, it felt instinctively right to do it even though I didn’t have much information about it. However, having been on this journey for quite some time now, I know that some find it unnecessary or too time-consuming. So, I guess you maybe wondering if you should pre-poo your hair or not?
It’s really nothing complicated and, in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t involve anything resembling poop (For real! 😉 ). Let me explain, pre-poo is a treatment or step in your hair routine which involves applying an oil, oil mix, a conditioner or a conditioner and oil mix on your hair prior to shampooing it. Sounds complicated?! It’s not, really. Just read back again, slowly…. Got it now? It’s a very simple step, isn’t it?! Now that we got this out of the way, let’s move on.
Why Shouldn’t You Pre-Poo?
I’m sure that if this is the first time you’re hearing about this practice you might be thinking that applying oils will only make the hair greasy and in fact, more shampoo would be needed to clean it properly. This isn’t necessarily the case, however, there are many people who don’t do it or do it, but not on a regular basis. Let’s discuss some of the reasons.
- It doesn’t allow proper hair cleansing – It is argued that by coating the hair with oils these will seat on the hair strand, won’t be easily and effectively washed and the hair will stay “dirty”, maybe greasy, and will attract more dirt. This is certainly a valid judgement and while this hasn’t been the case for me, I would like to say this depends greatly on the oils you use. Penetrating oils are the best ones for you to use, they penetrate the hair shaft and nourish your hair. Try them and see how your hair feels.
- It is too time-consuming – This could be the most named reason for skipping or totally avoiding the pre- poo. I personally do it overnight, but you could do it 30 minutes prior to cleansing your hair. I don’t think that this takes up a lot of your time as you can maximise your time and do something else while you wait. However, we all have our reasons and all I can say is that the benefits far outweigh any disadvantages. If you haven’t done it yet, try it and feel the difference in your hair.
Why Should You Pre-Poo?
If you want my honest opinion and a personal account of my experience, I will tell you that pre-pooing has many benefits. As I told you before, this was one of the first things I implemented in my hair routine and I am not disappointed. As a fellow transitioner, you know that this journey is not easy and one of the things that come with having to deal with two textures is the dreaded breakage at the line of demarcation.
There are several accounts of transitioners losing oodles of hair because it is so fragile where the two textures meet. All I can tell you is that this did not happen to me. Of course, that are other practices that also had in impact here, but I believe the fact that I started doing this even before I changed into a sulphate-free shampoo helped my hair tremendously. It avoided my hair getting dryer and weaker at the line of demarcation. Here are few advantages:
- Protects Hair – Shampoos can take a toll on your hair by denying it of any sebum. The harsh chemicals in shampoos remove natural oils that already have difficulties travelling along the hair. When you pre-poo you are effectively protecting your hair from this ever happening.
- Easier to Detangle – Once your hair is coated with your oil, conditioner or preferred mixes your strands will slide/slip pass each other making it harder for them to tangle and easy for you to detangle, and you now how hard it can be with two textures.
- Reduces Dryness and Adds Moisture– Since you’re not removing all sebum from the hair you will notice that it won’t feel as dry, it will reduce breakage and will increase moisture in your hair.
- Hair Nourishment – pre-pooing provides your hair with vital nourishment that will make it softer, stronger, more manageable and less prone to breakage. Oils and conditioners are infused with vital nutrients that will strengthen and give elasticity to your hair.
- Good for High Porosity Hair – If you have high porosity hair (read this post and do the test) pre-pooing your hair with penetrating oils such as extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or coconut oil, which has been proven to protect against protein loss, will help you retain that moisture you have hard time holding on to (read this post to know how to improve hair porosity).
How Should You Do It?
Pre-pooing is a very simple step you can include in your hair routine, and as mentioned before you can basically use any oil(s) and/or conditioner, it depends on your liking. Here are the steps:
- Prepare your oil(s), conditioner or conditioner and oil mix in a container
- Separate your hair into sections to work on each section separately
- Grab a spray bottle with water and lightly moisten your hair (optional)
- Apply your oil(s), conditioner or conditioner and oil mix
- Once you finish put your hair in a twists, braids or bun
- Place a plastic cap on and cover with a scarf, bonnet or something else to create a warm environment.
- Leave overnight (protect your bed linen!) or a minimum of 30 minutes
- Wash your hair as usual.
Some additional thing you can do to increase the benefits of a pre-poo:
- Massage Oil on the scalp – Many oils will help stimulate the hair follicles and increase blood flow which will promote hair growth. Just make sure not to apply too much because it can clog your pores (a little goes a long way!).
- Mix other ingredients – You can also mix in honey (increases moisture) or a few drops of your chosen essential oil (many reduce dandruff and itchiness and increase hair growth).
- Warm it up – Warming up your pre-poo oil/conditioner/mix before applying it will help open the cuticle layers of the hair and facilitate the penetration of the oils and/or detangling and emollients agents present in the conditioner. If you prefer you can simply use a hooded dryer or steamer.
- Swap – You can use a leave-in conditioner or an old mask you don’t like instead of the conditioner.
What to Use in the Pre-Poo
Oil or Oil Mix
You can use any vegetable oil you like such as EVOO, coconut, avocado, jojoba, grape seed, almond, argan or castor oil. I initially started with, and still use, EVOO because I had it at home, it is affordable to buy when compared to other oils and it penetrates the hair shaft. As I said before not all oils are the same and your hair will benefit more if you use penetrating oils. Apart from coconut, which takes about 30 mn, all the oils I just mentioned will take several hours to penetrate the hair cuticle. That is why I do it overnight! You can, of course, make your own mix of preferred vegetable oils.
Tip: Castor oil is a very thick oil, which can make your hair feel greasy even after you wash it and some people complain that it causes them an itchy scalp. To avoid this dilute/mix it with another oil(s).
Here is a video from MichelleB explaining why she started pre-pooing her hair and showing how she does it.
Using a conditioner will give your hair instant slip and facilitate the detangling process as conditioners are filled with such agents. You probably don’t need to let it sit for 30 minutes, but many naturals still like to do it overnight. The best thing you can do you is to try it both ways and see how your hair responds and act accordingly.
Conditioner and Oil Mix
As the name entails, you will mix a conditioner and your favourite oil or oils together. If this is your chosen method you can get the best of both, amazing slip and proper hair nourishment. Here is a video by Naturally Curious demonstrating how she does this.
Note: One disadvantage of the Conditioner and Conditioner/oil mix is that you can end up spending some money with conditioners, even if you use a cheap one for your pre-poos. Don’t forget that you will still have to condition your hair once you cleanse it. That is why using an affordable oil, such as EVOO, can be best. Another option would be to dampen your hair as you probably wouldn’t need to use as much conditioner.
I hope you have now come to see the benefits of including a pre-poo in your hair routine. As always if you have any question include them in your comments below.