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Should Pre-Shampoos Be Done With Conditioner or Oil?

Avatar • Aug 15, 2011

By Jc of The Natural Haven

Browsing through forums, vlogs and blogs, hair care can rapidly get complicated. I am all for simplifying your routine and making hair care more pleasurable!

One very grey area is the pre-wash treatment of hair (or prepoo meaning pre-shampoo for the uninitiated). I have seen a whole string of concoctions to prepare hair but I will narrow it down to two main groups

1. Oil applied to hair prior to wetting
2. Conditioner (or a conditoner/oil mix) applied to hair prior to washing

So, should you go for an oil or a conditoner or a conditioner oil mix? Well let us see what you get with each!

1. Oil
Role 1
: I have previously talked hair damage caused by hair expanding when wet then contracting again when dry (hygral fatigue). Certain oils like coconut oil and olive oil are known to penetrate slightly under the cuticle and help reduce the expansion of hair when wet (J Cosmet Sci, pp 169–184, 2001).

Role 2: Shampoos work by lifting oil off from the surface of hair (see diagrams here). However for some people this leaves the hair feeling stripped. A prepoo treatment with oil is essentially creating greasy hair. Greasy hair usually means that one shampoo application will still leave some oil behind. This little bit of oil allows hair to not feel ‘stripped’.

Role 3: Hair treated with coconut oil as a pre-wash has been shown to be less susceptible to breakage after washing. (J Cosmet Sci, pp 327–339, 1999)

Words of caution for Oil Prepoo — Not all oils can prevent or reduce hygral fatigue. Oils require several hours to penetrate the hair. Some people have naturally greasy hair and will not like the feel of extra oil on hair.

2. Conditioner mix
Role
: Conditioners have a high component of water (usually over 50%). Applying a conditioner or a conditioner oil mix to hair prior to shampoo is therefore unlikely to be as effective in reducing hygral fatigue compared to an oil on its own. However there is no research on this at the moment.

The principle role of conditioner applied to hair prior to washing is to create a greasy layer similar to role 2 above.

Words of caution for Conditioner Prepoo — Build up can occur as a result of the different charges in conditioner (positive) and shampoo (negative) (J Soc Cosmet Chem, pp 263–278, 1993). Wherever possible rinse out the conditioner thoroughly before using the shampoo. Applying one directly over the other can create build up.

What are your thoughts ladies? Which method works best for you? Pre-pooing with conditioner or oil?
Check the Natural Haven for more great articles on natural haircare!

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Scientist on a hairy mission!

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JJ
JJ
8 years ago

Interesting read. I prefer an oil prepoo — when I can I apply the olive oil to wet hair and leave it overnight before rinsing out and using the slip to detangle, then shampoo. Gives me great results, but I don’t prepoo often. I don’t use conditioner for prepoo.

sosoulful0125
sosoulful0125
8 years ago

Great break down on both methods. I have tried both methods I would have to say for my hair the oil treatment works the best due to my dry color treated hair. I just love the way my hair feels softer and easier to detangle.

KB
KB
8 years ago

While I was relaxed, I would pre-poo with a mix of mayonnaise, one egg, and a few tablespoons of amla oil. It worked well for me. I only stopped because I’m lazy– I never feel like mixing anything up. Now that I’m 80% natural, I pre-poo with coconut oil only. I haven’t tried my former mix on all of this natural hair. I don’t know how it would react to all the protein.

AGrlCanMac
8 years ago

I prefer an oil pre-wash treatment too. I make a mix of aloe vera gel, coconut oil and honey.

Viva Charlamagne
8 years ago

I’ve been doing a conditioner/oil mix and I’ve had pretty decent results. I’ve never actually tried the oil mix alone, so I’ll definitely be doing that in the future!

P.S Please check out youtube:vivathedivaTV for a free 8gb video mp3 player giveaway! I’d love for all of my bglh sisters to join in on the fun!

~ Viva

Staseanoelle
Staseanoelle
8 years ago

Reading this information from JC earlier this year helped me so much. I pre poo with a 1:1 Castor and Coconot oil mixture. The Castor is great for more slip. I finger detangle and braid it up and let the oil abosrd for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. My hair is sooooo much smoother and easier to detangle and definitely does not expand as much. I used to pre-poo with conditioner and the results were no where near the sme!

j
j
8 years ago

oil!

lina
lina
8 years ago

i prepoo with coconut oil only — thanks jc for a great post! I have used the conditioner oil combo,and indeed it does create a lot of buildup, even when it is rinsed out well before shampooing. I tend to have to either shampoo twice or use a chelating or clarifying shampoo.
Lina40

afroknots11412
afroknots11412
8 years ago

i use an oil mix with aloe vera gel as my prepoo. really softens my hair and helps with detangling. preps my hair for the washing process.

HairItIs
8 years ago

My prepoo is really more of a bonus from my detangling session. See, I detangle with my fingers on dry hair with the help of oil (nearly always coconut or Vatika), when I’m taking out my braids or twists from my last style. Once I’ve made my 4 or so big braids for washing, I cover my oiled hair with a plastic cap for 30 minutes at least, but usually a few hours, et voila! Pre-poo!

Shelli
8 years ago
Reply to  HairItIs

I use the same oils (coconut or Vatika) and the same process! And, I find it funny that you are “Hairitis” and I’m “Hairscapades!” LOL!! I have recently started applying JBCO to my ends as well. My hair LOVES JBCO and I think it provides that extra bit of slip and protection for the most fragile part of my hair. I usually sleep in the pre-poo overnight or leave it in a couple of days (baggie at night/banana clip bun during the day). This is not out of necessity. It is laziness. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like washing the… Read more »

E.A.
8 years ago

Maybe I should get on the pre-poo train, I have a half-used can of virgin coconut oil that I don’t know what to do with (wasn’t working well as a moisturizer and my hair doesn’t like to have oil sit on its strands). This could work!

Lisa
Lisa
8 years ago

I pre-poo with coconut oil for ~30 mins after a scalp massage with JBCO.

It seems to be working…

mangomadness
mangomadness
8 years ago

I pre-poo with coconut oil most of the time. I also like pre-pooing with an aloe vera gel/oil mix.

Monica
Monica
8 years ago

I began pre-pooing when I was relaxed as the salon used the Phyto line which featured huile d’ales and phytonectar. Both are great budget, but I’m self employed. Spending $30 for a hair product is a serious commitment. Coating my hair with cheap ($1), generic extra virgin olive oil made a significant different. My hair isn’t curly but pre-pooing made kinks pop and spring like crazy.

I was curious as to why it worked but not curious enough to hit Google Scholar or Pubmed. Thanks, chica.

trackback

[…] another oil. JBCO, castor, grapeseed, watermelon or jojoba oil may be good options. (Check out this article that was just posted on bglhonline.net about […]

glamazini
8 years ago

This post is so timely for me. I am a conditioner mixed with olive oil pre-pooer HEAVY on the condition, light on the oil. As my hair grows I’ve been having issues rinsing the ocnditioner from my scalp so the last wash I did HEAVY on the oil light on the conditioner and OMG my braidout is like it’s not even my hair!!!

Ebony
Ebony
8 years ago

Coconut oil…all day.

Care 4 Curls by Paige
8 years ago

I ALWAYS prepoo with oil & have done so since my natural hair was about 3 months old. My hair strands LOVED this treatment — and now I know why! Lol.

It is strange that you explained why an oil prepoo left on for longer gives better results. I generally prepoo overnight and noticed my hair doesn’t behave right when I skip this step or if I prepoo for a shorter length of time.

Shay
Shay
8 years ago

I pre-poo with my oil mixture (olive oil, castor oil, coconut oil) and mix it with my conditioner (elucence moisturising cond or trader joes moist. bal. cond)
I’ve never tried the oil alone.when i pre-poo using the above it just makes detangling and managing my hair so much easier.

trackback

[…] with Vatika oil and EVOO on my ends instead of JBCO (testing the effect of EVOO after reading this post on bglhonline about olive oil also having a slight ability to penetrate the cuticle). The very tips […]

trackback

[…] didn’t seem to be doing the job. Rece always speaks so highly of EVOO and after reading this post on BGLH that indicated that olive oil also penetrates slightly under the cuticle layer, I decided […]

Ms. Diddy
Ms. Diddy
8 years ago

So after you pre-poo and wash, what next? detangle with conditioner? air dry with a leave-in and detangle? i see some of you detangle dry with the oil, how does that work?

df
df
8 years ago

i pre poo/deep condition with AOHSR and coconut oil…leave it in for about 30 min — 1hr…after, I detangle and water detangle while i’m THROGOUGHLY rinsing out the conditioner then I cleanse my scalp with diluted shampoo…my hair is so soft, strong and moisturized, I don’t even need to do a rinse out…it’s nice…

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Aisa @forusnaturals
6 years ago

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TCole
TCole
6 years ago

I prepoo in wet hair with a mix of coconut oil and flaxseed oil. I leave it in for 30–60 min. It works wonders!

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