Should You Pre-Poo Your Transitioning Hair?

Should You Pre Poo Your Hair

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聽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! 聽馃槈 ).聽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聽and聽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聽hair greasy聽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聽some of the reasons.

  • It doesn’t allow proper hair cleansing – It is聽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- Time Watchpoo. 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聽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聽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聽of any sebum. The harsh chemicals in shampoos聽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 Drynessand Adds Moisture– 聽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聽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).


    • Protects you from Hygral Fatigue – Again, if you use coconut oil in your pre-poo, whether as a solo or in a mix, you will be protecting your hair from hygral fatigue. This is the weakening of the hair when you excessively wet it (read this post to know how to improve this condition).



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:

  1. Prepare your oil(s), conditioner or conditioner and oil mix in a container
  2. Separate your hair into sections to聽work on each section separatelyJojoba Oil
  3. Grab a spray bottle with water and lightly moisten your hair (optional)
  4. Apply your oil(s), conditioner or conditioner and oil mix
  5. Once you finish put your hair in a twists, braids or bun
  6. Place a plastic cap on and cover with a scarf, bonnet or something else to create a warm environment.
  7. Leave overnight (protect your bed linen!) or a minimum of 30 minutes
  8. Wash your hair as usual.


Some additional thing you can do to increase the benefits of a pre-poo:

  1. 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聽(a little goes a long way!).
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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, 聽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,聽 all the oils I just mentioned will take several hours to penetrate the hair cuticle. That is why I do it overnight! 聽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聽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. 聽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聽a聽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. 聽That is why using an affordable oil, such as EVOO, can be best. 聽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.



Have done a pre-poo before? Did your hair like it? What did you experience? What did you use for your pre-poo? How did you do it?

26 thoughts on “Should You Pre-Poo Your Transitioning Hair?

  1. I had heard about this a while back, but have never tried it. I had always believed it would be a waste of shampoo trying to get the oil out, but having read this about using the proper oil, I may have to give it a try.

  2. Wow! you give some good advice about taking car of your hair. Especially for people not familiar with all of the good things you demonstrate in your Video. Great Job!

  3. Wow, I can’t say this is something I’d ever even heard of before reading this post, but I’ll be sure to give it a go… does it take a few washes for the benefits to build up, or should I expect to see a difference straight away?

    1. Hello Zoe, pree-pooing benefits those with naturally dry hair such as curly hair. It is also good for those who bleach/dye their hair and want to avoid the dryness that comes with it. I say you will notice the benefits on your first wash, which will increase the more you do it. If your hair is not naturally dry, bleached or dyed you can maybe do this 1-2 a month.

  4. Actually I used to do something like this a long time ago but didn’t keep up the routine. I used to just massage the oil into my scalp and leave it for maybe an hour or so. I didn’t put much on the strands as I felt it would be too greasy. Maybe its time to give it a go again. I think I would try the coconut oil this time. Thanks for the tip.

    1. Hello Emma, I certainly love pre-pooing my hair because it is curly and prone to dryness. Coconut oil is a good choice of vegetable oil.

  5. I learned something new today. I will definitely be trying this during summer for mr and my girls. Thank you for such good information.

  6. I think I’m going to try this. I have trouble keeping moisture in and have cut back shampooing, but then my hair’s not as clean as I’d like. Hopefully this will help, thanks!

  7. I normally oil my hair and keep it overnight before washing it. It takes a lot of time and lot of extra shampoo to clean the oil. But I have never tried Conditioner and Oil Mix method. I must try this. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Hi Demi, I use a sulphate free shampoo and I don’t need extra serving of it to get my hair clean. Are you sure you’re not putting too much oil, or do you love that squeaky clean feeling when you wash your hair? Maybe try using a penetrating oil (evoo or coconut oil). Anyway, it’s a good thing to do to control dryness.

    1. Hi Ronnie,

      This technique works for everyone. If your problem is thinning hair it won’t solve it, but it may strengthen your hair especially if you use a penetrating oil. You also have to consider what oil you’re using, with fine hair you have to use a light oil or you’ll end up with greasy hair.You can also read this post about thinning hair edges (it has some worksheets to help you identify where the problem stems from). In any case, you should consult a doctor to check what the problem is it could be your nervous system, your health or diet. Check it out.

      Take care


  8. Just came across this older blog post and so glad I did! Monica, what would you suggest for this scenario: Post-cancer and years of hair coloring, I have white hair at the roots that won’t hold color for long. After 3 washes (usually about 1.5 weeks), I have white roots again. I believe the color is just sitting on top of low porosity hair and not really sinking in. I even use a protein filler product first, but it makes no difference. I’m thinking of trying grapeseed oil, but I’m not sure if I need to apply the oil first, then wash, then apply my protein filler and color – OR – could I apply the grapeseed oil, let it sit for 20 minutes or so, then apply the protein filler and color over the top of the oil – then wash when I wash the excess color out before styling? Wasn’t sure if leaving the oil in before applying color would work or just make the color slide right off even more. Do you have any thoughts on this? Or any other suggestions besides grapeseed oil? I’ve been wasting money on so many products for years now and just want my color to last the normal 3-6 weeks before having to add all kinds of ugly, scalp-staining touch up products or re-color. Thanks

    1. Hello Jae! First of all, congrats on beating cancer. Yes, it could be because you’re low porosity, but it can also be because you have build up or if the type of hair dye you’re using is temporary (only lasts a few washes). However, you’re telling me that it’s only your roots that that are white again so this means new hair growth. It may be just your hair grows fast. I would look for a professional to do this job.

      As for the protein treatment, you can do it at home. In this scenario, an oil pre-poo should be done first, then your shampoo and then do your protein treatment (if needed follow with a moisturising one). Make sure you shampoo your hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove all possible build up and water minerals, it will allow better penetration of the protein and colour treatment (if using permanent dye). I wouldn’t colour on the same day though. I would leave that for the next week/wash day but don’t do any oil pre-poo on that day it will probably interfere with the dye intake.

      For your pre-poos, you can use olive oil or coconut oil as they penetrate the hair strand. You can also use grapeseed oil if you prefer, but it doesn’t penetrate it’s just a light oil.

      I hope this helps, Jae. 馃檪

  9. Hi! I enjoy your articles and find them to be very informative! I have noticed recently that my hair doesn鈥檛 have its usual bounce. I had long hair and have since cut it to above shoulder length just touching my shoulders. The guy who cut my hair asked me what I put in my hair and I only use coconut oil as soon as I get out of the shower on my wet hair and comb it through and leave it on. He said that was probably weighing my hair down, and building up. And suggested a clarifying shampoo. I鈥檝e read your article about the clarifying shampoos you suggested and I am going to definitely be trying out one of them if I can find it. I wanted to ask you a question though. I want to permanently dye my hair this time as I鈥檝e been using Demi-permanent color. Should I do the oil pre-poo first, (I鈥檒l probably do it overnight like you) use clarifying shampoo after, and then wait a week before dying my hair? Thanks for the info!

    1. Oh by the way, I have naturally curly hair so my hair gets dry easily. I want to retain moisture and I鈥檝e never done an oil pre-poo before. I don鈥檛 want to weight my hair down like I鈥檝e been apparently been doing, so do you think that it would still be good to use it for pre-poo as long as I use the right clarifying shampoo? How much oil do you recommend? Thanks again!

      1. A clarifying shampoo shouldn’t be used very often. There are sulphate free shampoos capable of removing oil from your hair. In time, yes, you will need to use a clarifying shampoo as oils also build up on the hair along with other product residue and water minerals. How often you use it depends on how often and how much oil you use on your hair regimen. You don’t need to apply much oil for your pre-poo. Here are some tips to make your treatment more effective. Also, pay attention to how your hair feels and reacts, some people report having a sensitivity to coconut oil after extended use and even hair breakage. Olive oil is also a good choice for a pre-poo since it also penetrates the hair, it just needs a bit longer than coconut oil. I hope this was helpful.

    2. Hi Nancy! Better than an oil pre-poo treatment is doing a protein treatment to strengthen your hair to receive the colour treatment as it weakens your hair. You can, of course, also do an oil pre-poo, clarify and deep condition for protein. Take care! 馃檪

  10. Hi Monica! I’m absolutely loving your blog. After reading all your post I have a few questions. In one of the paragraphs you say “Apart from coconut, all oils I mentioned before can penetrate the hair but will need more than 30 minutes to do it.” What means that? Does it means that coconut oil doesn’t penetrate the strands as the others oils mentioned? I am a bit confused because you also say after that coconut oil is a good oil for making a pre-poo.

    The other doubt is about build up. How can I know if I have build up? And also, if a pre-poo is supposed to be done BEFORE washing the hair, does it penetrate even there is build up in the hair? Should it be more effective after washing the hair, so there is no build up avoiding the penetration? Could you please make this clear for me? I am so confused and don’t know where to start. Thanks in advance!!!

    1. Hello Ignacia, I’m glad you love the blog. Sorry, if I wasn’t clear enough, I’m Portuguese and sometimes things can get lost or confused during translation. I may need to revise this article. 馃槢 To Clarify, coconut oil can penetrate the hair cuticle in 30mn contrary, for instance, to olive oil which takes much longer.

      As for the pre-poo, according to science and hair professionals in the field, coconut oil can penetrate the hair even if it’s dirty. A coconut oil pre-poo protects your hair against sebum depletion and protein loss from the process of washing. If you do it after shampooing your hair gets all greasy and you’ll need to wash again and won’t get any moisture from the products you’ll use after. Also, if you’re using products based in natural/naturally derived ingredients that have water-soluble ingredients and you’re using a well-formulated sulphate free shampoo it will take some time before you need to remove build up. Here is a post about clarifying and when to know you need to clarify your hair.

      Hope I could make things clear enough for you. 馃檪

  11. Hello Monica, so i read your blog “STOP! Over night conditioning is damaging to your hair!” and you go on to say why you should not leave conditioner in your hair for more then 30 mins, but absolutely not over night and now i am confused because here you state that you can use conditioner for pre poo? I love your blogs! They are very educational, but im thinking i missed something and was seeing if you can clarify? Thank you!

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