When naturalistas begin cutting corners regimen-wise, typically the first thing to fall off is the pre-poo.

Take it from me — I’m a walking example.

In the crunch to maximize time by allocating it to the parts of my wash day that “really matter”, I began neglecting my regular pre-poo treatments. I would skip the pre-poo, and run straight into the shower and proceed to douse and detangle my hair with half a bottle of Aussie Moist (the big bottle). This worked for a while; until I got tired of buying a new bottle of Aussie every week. I started realizing that my hair wasn’t retaining as much moisture and would still feel a little parched even after deep conditioning. After a little brainstorming and evaluation, I reached the conclusion that my hair was feeling wack because I stopped pre-pooing.

So I started back up — and my hair has been on point ever since.

Before I get into the reasons why you should pre-poo, let’s backtrack a little and break it down:

Pre-Poo: A pre-shampoo treatment consisting of  a water-based conditioner, oil, or DIY blend that is applied to the hair before washing. Pre-poo treatments can sit on the hair anywhere from 20 minutes to overnight, depending on the hair’s needs. Your preferences, hair type, and hair needs will dictate what ingredients or products you pre-poo with.

Often times, not pre-pooing can be to blame for some of hair’s biggest problems — breakage, dryness, brittle ends, rough-feeling hair, and uncontrollable frizz. If your hair isn’t behaving or feeling quite like it used to, it may be time to incorporate or re-incorporate the pre-poo into your wash day regimen. Here’s why:

Softening and Easy Detangling

During pre-poo treatments the hair softens and becomes coated, which allows for the strands to glide past each other a lot easier. This in turn makes for easier detangling sessions, which not only makes the hair more smooth, it makes your wash day a breeze. Soft, detangled tresses are easier to manage during washing and conditioning.

Hydration & Moisture Retention During Wash Process

In the summer months, constant sun exposure, pool time, sea salt water breezes and other elements can zap the moisture from the hair. Pre-poo treatments (when done with oils, conditioners, or DIY blends that penetrate the hair) restore hydration levels in the hair and help prevent moisture loss during washing. The end result? Hair that doesn’t feel stripped after it has been cleaned.

Improved Styling 

Because pre-poo treatments help the hair hold on to more moisture, styles come out infinitely better than they would have otherwise. Whether it be a twist-out or a wash and go, hair that maintains proper moisture levels always comes out better. Wash and go’s are less frizzy, and kinks, curls and coils will clump together for improved definition. Twist-outs are plumper and braidouts will be wavier. Even hair prepped for heat styling will have added protection against heat damage, thanks to the maintained hydration within the hair.

Longer Lasting Strength & Moisture

Pre-poo treatments that penetrate the hair improve strength by not only fortifying the hair with vitamins and nutrients, but by improving elasticity. Additionally, pre-poo treatments aid in moisture retention throughout wash day and beyond. Hair will be softer, shinier and stronger for longer.

Now that we’ve squared away the benefits of pre-pooing, I’ll share some of my favorite products for pre-pooing:

  • Virgin Unrefined Coconut Oil
  • Infusium 23 Pro-Vitamin B5 Formula Leave-In Treatment
  • Darshana Natural Indian Hair Oil
  • One n’ Only Argan Oil Restorative Mask
  • Proclaim Argan Oil Intense Hydrating Mask
  • Eva NYC Therapy Session Hair Mask
  • Sprinkle with Grace Salted Caramel Deep Conditioning Hair Mask
  • Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser Strength Reconstructing Butter
  • Kurlee Belle Banana Nut & Avocado Deep Treatment
    Depending upon my hair’s needs, I rotate between oils and conditioners. Right now, since the sun is out more and temperatures are warming up (while the air remains dry), I’m combining the Infusium with conditioners for double duty benefits.

    Lastly, a few pre-poo tips:

  • Oil pre-poo treatments should sit for a minimum of 30-45 minutes, but work best when done overnight to allow enough time for full penetration.
  • Kill two birds with one stone and use your pre-poo product to gently detangle your hair.
  • Pre-poo with heat or steam for added conditioning benefits when possible.
  • Have fun! Okay, not really, but you can get tons of things done while pre-pooing. I’m not above running errands while pre-pooing under a beanie, or while writing blog posts (like now).

    What’s your favorite product or recipe for pre-pooing?

    Christina Patrice

    Born, raised, and living in Los Angeles, Christina is BGLH's resident transitioning expert and product junkie. In addition to loving all things hair, she is a fitness novice and advocate of wearing sandals year-round. For more information on transitioning, natural hair, and her own hair journey, visit Or, if you like pictures follow Christina on Instagram @maneobjective.

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    37 Comments on "9 of the Best Products for Pre-Pooing Natural Hair"

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    Pass The Deutschy
    Great info, I live in Germany and it’s hard to get black hair products so great to see Garnier listed as it’s easily available. Been on this site most of today and appreciate the balance of information here, not just promoting products specifically for black hair but products that are good full stop -meaning I can look after my hair without worrying I can’t get something specific, making my hair care routine cheaper. I’ll be recommending this site to friends especially as here I have a lot of white friends with mixed children who ask me for advice. It’s nice… Read more »

    It’s an anti bacterial, cleanses and stimulates follicles, increases, circulation to scalp, which all promote healthy hair growth

    Naturally Mia

    Thanks Nicki. Helpful to know. I also just read something that said it helps to get rid of any dirt or fungus shampooing leaves behind.

    Camilla Mills

    Is it okay to add honey and olive oil to my conditioner for a pre-poo??


    has anyone tried using coconut oil and olive oil together as a pre poo? If so, would you recommend it?

    Pass The Deutschy

    I would, OO is drying but CO is moisturising so it will balance out.

    Mitchell Matthew

    im actually pre-pooing my hair right now. In my spray bottle which is a mixture of water, olive oil, coconut oil and some sweet almond oil. im also working on making a mixture involving shea moisture’s deep condititioner


    Yesss!! I would def recommend coconut oil as a prepoo. I haven’t tried olive oil as one but I’m pretty sure it is just as effective bc both oils are penetrating oils, which means they will enter into the hair shaft vs “coating”.


    Any reason why jamaican castor oil is not listed here as a preferred pre-poo? Used for my daughter and noticed increased softness. Not sure if there are any suggestions for the oily pillow problem. Would a shower cap under her sleep cap be discouraged?

    Pass The Deutschy

    Castor oil is da bomb so much better than olive oil for skin and hair.


    A shower cap is a great idea!! Plus it would help lock in the heat when paired with a scarf or bonnet. Her hair probably would be even more softer too!! 🙂


    I did my big chop 4 months ago and i use coconut oil and castor oil for my pre-poo, i just leave it on over night and wash it off the next day.


    Have been pre pooing using different oils for the last eight months. It is the bomb. My hair has never been so soft


    Darshana Natural Indian Hair Oil for my Pre Poo regimen! Thank You!


    I cowash daily in the summer. Should I prepoo before each cowash?


    I just use straight up coconut oil. Just rub and massage mine in from root to tip, finger detangle, section my hair off in 4 big twists, Then I just put a scarf on and go to bed that’s it. All I gotta do the next day is shampoo it out. So easy.

    sarah hayes
    I use coconut oil, but I can’t do overnight because the trapped moisture makes my psoriasis/seborhic dermatitis act up. I end up scratching the entire night so I usually do it for about half an hour to an hour. It is great for loosening the built up flakes. Plus it keeps the medicated shampoos I use from stripping my hair. Prepoos are a staple in my hair care regimen. I always detangle as I apply the coconut oil for my prepoo and twist each section. I then wash and condition my hair while still in twists to save time and… Read more »

    Unrefined hemp seed oil can help to get rid of psoriasis. You can also ingest it! I use it and I feel so good! Do some research on it and see if you should have a go at it! 🙂

    Pass The Deutschy

    If you have allergies possibly look at switching the coconut oil as it can flare up allergic skin, xx


    I vary my pre-poo based on if I’m using shampoo or a cleansing conditioner.
    I always use ayurvedic oil with essential oils on my scalp but I’ll use conditioner on my ends if I’m shampooing or just oil on my ends if co-cleansing.


    I’m not a pre-poo kind of girl but I might try it w/ Virgin Coconut oil just for the hell of it.


    I like to pre-poo with olive oil mixed with a few drops of peppermint and rosemary oil.

    Naturally Mia

    Why peppermint oil?


    This is 6 months later, but peppermint oil can stimulate hair growth.


    My current (first and only, and LOVED) pre-poo is Carol’s Daughter Olive Oil Infusion (Khoret Amen smoothie and oil). The smell is soothing and warming, my hair detangles effortlessly with the product in and even after rinsed/washed out, and it makes my hair sooo soft.


    Quick question: Where do people buy coconut oil? I live in Canada, btw, but I haven’t seen any in the grocery stores

    Naturally Mia

    Where in Canada do you live? I live in Toronto and coconut oil is VERY easy to come across. Just about anywhere from your local grocery store, health food store, drug store, department store (i.e. Walmart), etc. Just remember to pick up Extra Virgin Coconut oil, ideally that is cold pressed and organic.

    Michelle St.Hill

    I live in BC, Canada and have found at Coconut oil in ‘President Choice’ affiliated stores SuperStore, Loblaw, Sobeys, No Frills -, Health food stores and at Costco’s.
    It is usually in a jar, not a bottle therefore, not in the oil section of the supermarket and will be solid at normal room temperature, white in colour and when warm it turns to a more liquid form. Most Caribbean stores should also carry it. If all else fails, Google.
    Hope that helps.

    dapinkboot is the best for coconut oil! They sell 54 fl for $21.99!


    Thanks for all the suggestions!


    Usually in the vitamin isle in drugstores, vitamin shops or the good ole Amazon site.


    Whole food/organic food stores or in the Asian section of your local grocery stores. You may even try going directly to an Asian supermarket. If all else fails, order online.


    I live in Canada too. You can buy coconut oil at health food stores( ex S&H health food), bulk barn, West Indian stores, grocery stores ex No Frills, and hair store ex Beauty Supply Warehouse. Hope this helps


    try any healthfood stores, asian supermarket or no frills. if not order them online…


    pre-pooing as we speak :3 don’t forget avocado oil, especially if your skin or scalp is sensitive to coconut oil


    The Virgin Coconut Oil is just awesome!


    I can’t do the overnight thing so I usually pre-poo with a mixture of oils for at least 2 hours. I have been doing it almost from the beginning of my natural hair journey.