When my editor first assigned this story to me, I honestly thought that she was talking about some sort of bizarre defecation trend hitting the internet. Thankfully, pre-poo is short for pre-shampoo, or the process of prepping your hair before a shampoo, or else I was seriously considering handing in my notice and getting a nice and stable job in accounting, which would have made my parents very happy.

Pre-pooing can include masks, oils, scrubs and treatments that you use on your scalp and hair before a shower. While it might seem counterintuitive to apply something to your hair before washing it, this extra step can make a huge difference in the overall texture of your hair, simplify your styling routine and even reduce hair fall and damage.

Here’s Why You Should Be Pre-pooing 

Clean hair is great, but squeaky clean is a step too far. The main goal of a pre-poo is to keep your hair protected and hydrated during your cleansing routine. This is especially important for those with damaged, dry, curly or kinky hair. Shampoos can strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and brittle, so pre-pooing acts as a base or protective barrier against over-cleansing.

By sealing and protecting the hair, your pre-pooing treatment can help prevent excess breakage and hair loss in the shower. This additional step can also help improve your hair texture and sheen.

How do you pre-poo? 

Pre-pooing can be broken down into two categories: clarifying and hydrating. If you want to refresh your scalp, a clarifying treatment like a scrub, or a detoxifying hair serum can help. This step works to remove buildup from your hair that is often left behind by shampoos and conditioners which tend to use a lot of heavy cream- or oil-based products.

If your main objective is to add hydration, hot oil treatments and masks are a great option. Oils like coconut, argan, olive, and castor can protect your hair from drying out during the cleansing process. 

A clarifying pre-poo treatment should be left on on for no longer than 20 minutes, while a moisturising formula can do its magic in half an hour. Apply your pre-poo product on dry hair and wrap your hair in a shower cap before your shower. The heat and steam from the shower combined with the shower cap will help it seep into your hair follicles and accelerate the absorption process, while you soap and cleanse your body.

How Often Should You Pre-poo? 

This depends on your hair type and what pre-poo treatment you’re using. Clarifying formulas should be limited to once or twice a month, while moisturising masks and creams can be added to your routine more frequently, depending on your hair type. For example, if you have fine to medium hair, you will probably find that everyday pre-pooing is not necessary as it can make your hair look and feel greasy.

Another thing to note is that when pre-pooing, do not use the same type of treatment as your shampoo. In other words, if you’re using a moisturising shampoo, combine it with a clarifying treatment.

Just like when it comes to skincare, pre-pooing too can and should be customised to suit your unique needs. Just experiment with different application methods until you find what works best for your scalp and hair type.