Pre Poo Treatments for Natural Hair + DIY Recipes Using Ayurvedic Oils

Home » Hair Care » Pre Poo Treatments for Natural Hair + DIY Recipes Using Ayurvedic Oils

Pre poo is an abbreviated term for “pre-shampoo”, and involves applying a treatment to your natural hair before shampooing. The treatment will then help to prevent your shampoo from stripping your hair of its natural moisture. The process is similar to the Ayurvedic practice of hair oiling, but with pre poo you can use gels or butters as well as oils. In this post I explain exactly how and why you should pre poo your hair, and what products you could use.

pre poo for natural 2b hair or 2a hair curls

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here.

How to Pre Poo Your Hair

Simply apply your chosen pre-shampoo which will either be a gel, butter or oil, to dry hair. Depending on how thick or long your hair is, you may wish to apply the pre poo to your hair in sections. This makes it easier to distribute the product evenly throughout the hair.

There are some good wide tooth combs available that make it easier for you to distribute oils and butters evenly throughout your hair. I tested out and reviewed 15 different wide tooth combs and found that the Jack Dean Pompadour Streaker Comb was the best one for this process. You can see all the combs I reviewed here.

Once you have fully saturated your hair you may wish to used the wide tooth comb to make sure the hair is completely detangled. At this stage the longer you leave the product on your hair the better but it is recommended you wait at least 30 minutes.

Is it OK to pre poo overnight?

Yes, leaving the oil, gel or butter on your hair overnight is the best way to ensure your hair is fully moisturised. Simply put your hair in a plastic cap and leave it until the morning to allow the treatment to work while you sleep.

Can you pre-poo on dirty hair?

Pre poo is supposed to be applied to dry hair so you should not wash your hair first. There are some over the counter products that can be used on damp or wet hair if you wanted to rinse your hair first however it’s better to apply the treatment directly to dry hair. The oil will also help to remove toxins and impurities from your hair.

How often should you pre-poo?

This will depend on the overall condition of your hair. If you have particularly dry hair you can pre poo every wash day before shampooing your hair. If this is a new process for you, you will notice once you regularly start applying treatments your natural hair will be less frizzy and more moisturised.

Do you deep condition after a pre-poo?

Yes, this is especially important if you have high porosity hair. This is because high porosity hair is more likely to experience hydral fatigue, which is when your hair gets damaged due to excessive moisture going in and out of the hair shaft. High porosity hair has very open cuticles meaning moisture can enter and exit the hair shaft easily.

Signs of hygral fatigue include reduced hair elasticity, excessive hair shedding and hair that has a mushy or gummy feeling when it’s soaking wet. A good deep conditioning treatment containing protein will help protect high porosity hair from hygral fatigue by sealing the cuticles.

If you are not sure whether you have high or low porosity hair, try the hair porosity quiz below!

Hair Porosity Quiz

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What's Your Hair Porosity?

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How would you describe the appearance of your hair?

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What is your main hair problem?

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Does your hair tend to break easily?

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Do you regularly use hair dyes or relaxers?

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Would you say your hair has been heat damaged from straighteners, curling tongs, or over styling?

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How long does it take for your hair to air dry?

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Which of these statements best describes your hair

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Related: 13 Best Oils for Low Porosity Hair

Can you co wash after pre poo?

Your hair will be oily from the treatment so you need to use an effective shampoo to remove the oil from your hair. I use the Curly Girl Method on my hair so I use a co-wash after the treatment and find it’s effective. You may want to rinse your hair in warm water first though to remove as much of the treatment as possible with water.

If you want to check out some of the co wash products I’m using as part of the Curly Girl Method check out my post on how to use the Curly Girl Method for wavy hair.

Can you pre poo with honey?

Yes! Honey is a humectant and an emollient so it will help your hair to retain moisture. You can add honey to oil and use the mixture as a pre-shampoo treatment on your hair. Honey is also a popular ingredient in DIY hair masks and deep conditioners.


Why You Should Pre Poo Your Hair

Applying a conditioner after shampooing isn’t always enough to restore moisture to your hair, which is why pre-pooing is important.

Applying an extra treatment to your hair may seem like more work but it’s worth the effort. This extra protective layer helps to prevent the hair from being stripped of its natural oils in the shampooing process. In time your natural hair will show signs of being more moisturised with less frizz and more defined curls.

Anyone can benefit from pre-poo regardless of their hair type or porosity. If you have dry, tangled, or damaged hair you will notice the benefits the most.

Is pre poo good for low porosity hair?

Yes. Pre-pooing tends to be more familiar to those who have curly or kinky hair which is low porosity. This is because the treatment works very well for this hair type as it helps to seal in moisture.

My own hair is high porosity and I have 2b hair type and find that pre poo also works well for me. Regardless of your hair type pre poo can be beneficial for you.


Types of Pre Poo You Can Use

There are three different types of pre-shampoo you can use: oils, butters and gels. You can also make your own products using a combination of these, for example mixing olive oil, castor oil, avocado oil or coconut oil (cocos nucifera) with either aloe vera gel, shea butter, or mango butter.

Good Pre-Shampoo Oils

Oils are excellent for adding moisture to dry hair, and since some of the oil remains on your hair even after washing, it continues to add hydration even after wash day.

The best oils to use as pre poo for natural hair include:

My favourite oil which I use regularly is castor oil. This is because castor oil is known to help with hair growth and is useful for people with thinning hair. The oil nourishes the hair follicles and helps to prevent further hair loss. The brand of castor oil I use is Pukka Castor Oil – you can read my full review here.

Good Pre-Shampoo Gel

The best pre shampoo gel would be aloe vera. Not only does aloe help to moisturise the hair but it also has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. This means it is excellent at preventing dandruff as it helps to reduce itching and inflammation.

Good Pre-Shampoo Butters

Hair butters can be effective at strengthening the hair shaft preventing it from breaking. They also rebuild damaged hair follicles and help to promote hair growth, making the hair strands appear thicker.

The best hair butters to use as pre poo for natural hair include:

What is a good pre poo for 4C hair?

Type 4 hair is coily hair. The images below can help you find out what your hair type is. A good pre poo for type 4 hair is Jamaican Black Castor Oil. This oil helps to thicken, moisturise and strengthen the hair as well as encourage hair growth. It stimulates blood flow to the hair follicles encouraging faster growth as well as treating dandruff and a dry, itchy scalp.

2b hair type
2a hair type, pre poo for natural hair

Jamaican Black Castor Oil is a popular pre poo for natural 4C hair, and the Sunny Isle Jamaican Black Castor Oil is an excellent one to try.

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Sunny Isle Jamaican Black Castor Oil 8 oz
  • Original Oil
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  • Stimulates hair growth including eyelashes & Eyebrows
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  • 8oz Bottle

Last update on 2021-10-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


If you prefer to buy over the counter pre-poo treatments to save time, there are some excellent ones to choose from.

The Mane Choice Heavenly Halo Herbal Hair Tonic Pre-Poo

The Mane Choice Heavenly Halo Herbal Hair Tonic & Soy Milk Deep Hydration Pre-Poo is one of the best pre-shampoo products available. As well as providing deep hydration it helps to support healthy hair growth and retention.

This pre poo contains Umutanga Oil, Palmarosa Oil, Yashtimadhu Root, Yucca Root and Burdock Root oil, and is made without mineral oils, parabens, petroleum, sulphates or formaldehydes.

Last update on 2021-10-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

African Pride Moisture Miracle Pre- Shampoo

The African Pride Moisture Miracle Aloe & Coconut Water Pre-Shampoo is a very popular choice among women with curly hair. It contains coconut oil and baobab oil to repair, hydrate and lock extra moisture into the hair.

For the best results leave this treatment on overnight and then rinse out with lukewarm water. It was made specifically for natural curls and coils, so if you have type 3 or type 4 hair, this is the perfect addition to your hair care routine.

Last update on 2021-10-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dr. Miracle’s Strong & Healthy Detangling Pre-Shampoo

The Dr. Miracle’s Strong & Healthy Detangling Pre-Shampoo is another good choice and contains aloe vera, mallow root and coconut water. It hydrates and restores moisture to dry damaged hair, and helps to detangle the hair prior to shampooing.

Last update on 2021-10-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


DIY Pre Poo Recipes for Natural Hair

I like to make my own pre poo recipes using natural ingredients. Taking a deep conditioner and mixing it together with hair oil also makes a good pre poo for natural hair.

If you don’t want to go out and buy too many ingredients I have found that regular sunflower seed oil (helianthus annuus) works fine for pre poo as well.

I put together 24 pre poo recipes using completely natural ingredients that you can try at home. Feel free to download them and print them out! You can also order a copy of my eBook, The Beginners Guide to Ayurvedic Hair Care if you want to learn more about your hair type and how you can use natural oils and herbs to improve your hair!

Pre Poo 2a hair type 2b curls
hair mask 2a hair type 2b curls, pre poo for natural hair
Ayurvedic Hair Care Guide (2)
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  • Learn which herbs and oils work best for your hair
  • Find out what hair problems you are more susceptible to
  • Discover how your hair is connected to your bones
  • Find out the best foods to include or avoid to get beautiful hair
  • Create your own hair products
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WHICH NATURAL OIL IS RIGHT FOR YOUR HAIR TYPE?

Take the quiz below to discover which natural oil is the best one for your hair!

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What is the Right Oil for Your Hair Type?

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My hair is...

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The shape of my hair is...

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My hair structure is...

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My hair porosity is...

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I would describe my scalp as being...

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The texture of my hair is...

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More on the Benefits of Applying Treatments Before Shampoo

Olivia Herlihy

Olivia is the owner of UK Beauty Room and founder three other successful websites. She gained an online following after creating a natural haircare routine which completely transformed her hair. Olivia has since written an eBook on Ayurvedic hair care to help others use the same formula to improve their own hair.

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