Pre-Poo at Home for Hydrated, Soft & Shiny Hair

Pre-poo - Dr. Axe

Pre-poo might sound like something you do to aid digestion, and while it is done in the bathroom, it’s a method that benefits the health of your hair, not your bowels.

Pre-pooing is what you do before shampooing your hair in order to provide moisture and improve hair texture. By locking in hydration and strengthening hair follicles, pre-pooing can leave you with healthier and shiner locks.

What Is Pre-Poo?

Pre-shampooing, or pre-pooing, involves applying a treatment to your dry hair before you get into the shower and shampoo as usual. This may seem strange, but shampoo can actually strip your hair of moisture, so the purpose is to promote hydration and prevent dry, damaged locks.

Using the pre-poo method helps lock in moisture and protects your hair from dryness or damage, leaving you with shinier, healthier-looking hair.


When it comes to choosing a pre-poo treatment, you have plenty of options. Really, you can just use ingredients that you already have in your home.

Oils, butters and even foods can be combined to create a nourishing, hydrating hair mask. Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients that work best for pre-pooing at home:


Using oils for pre-shampooing is an excellent way to hydrate your hair and repair damage from the sun or products containing chemicals (like hair dye). Doing a pre-poo with oils can be especially helpful for thick, curly hair because it locks in moisture that will last even after you wash it, which helps to tame frizz.

These oils also feature long-chain fatty acids and have antibacterial properties.

Some oil options include:

If your hair is prone to greasiness, go lighter on the oil and avoid applying it to your scalp. Lighter oils are less likely to leave your hair limp.

You can also use essential oils for hair health.


The same butters that are used on the skin to support hydration can be used on your locks. They help soften your hair, boost shine and reduce damage that can lead to split ends and dulness.

Some of the best butters to use for your pre-poo hair treatment include:

  • cocoa butter
  • shea butter
  • hempseed butter
  • almond butter
  • mango butter

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera works as a natural treatment for dry hair and itchy scalp. It may help reduce dandruff and promote the regeneration of skin tissue that’s around the hair follicles.

For people with dry, itchy scalp and damaged hair, using aloe vera gel in your pre-poo recipe or treatment can be very beneficial.


There are some foods that help hydrate hair and are commonly used in hair treatments or masks. They can be mashed or combined with other pre-poo recipe ingredients, like oils and butters.

Some foods (be sure they’re organic) that are great additions to a pre-pooing treatment include:

  • banana
  • avocado
  • yogurt
  • apple cider vinegar
  • honey
  • egg


1. Adds Moisture

Having a protective and hydrating layer over your hair before shampooing helps prevent the stripping nature of hair cleansers and allows your hair to keep its moisture.

Research indicates that the hydrating effects of plant oils and butters on hair can promote overall hair health. They serve as a protective barrier and promote scalp and hair repair.

2. Reduces Knots and Breakage

Research shows that vegetable oils play an important role in protecting hair from damage. Oils are able to penetrate the hair follicles and nourish strands, leading to a reduction of breakage, split ends and knots.

Using the pre-poo method works as a natural detangler and boosts the overall health of your hair.

3. Boosts Shine

The natural hydration of oils, butters, aloe vera and nourishing foods in your hair helps lock in moisture, prevent brittle hair and boost shine.

4. Promotes Softness

If your hair feels coarse because of constant shampooing, or maybe from environmental damage and the use of hair products, pre-shampooing can help promote softness. Pre-shampoo treatment recipes have nutrient-dense, moisturizing and soothing ingredients that soften your hair naturally.

5. Tames Frizz and Flyaways

If you have unruly or curly hair, using the pre-poo method may help tame frizz and flyaways by adding moisture to your locks and helping keep your hair in place.

One study found that using coconut oil on your hair can help reduce protein loss for damaged hair, which can lead to stronger, healthier locks.

How to Pre-Poo

In order to use this technique, you pre-poo before getting into the shower by applying a treatment to your dry hair. This is similar to the way you color your hair, if you’ve ever done that yourself.

Simply follow these steps:

Step One

Use clips to divide your hair into four sections, two at the bottom of your hair and two at the top. Taking down one section at a time, coat the strands with your treatment or oil.

As you apply, massage the oil or ingredient of your choice into your hair, and then move on to the next section.

Step Two

Use a wide tooth comb or a brush to detangle your hair while the oil penetrates your strands. Then let the treatment sit for about 30 minutes, if possible.

If you don’t have time to wait before showering, you can pre-poo before bed, put on a hair cap and then shower in the morning.

Step Three

The final step is to wash your hair as usual. It can be shampooed and conditioned like always, and be sure to rinse it thoroughly.

DIY Recipes

You can have fun creating your very own pre-poo treatment by mixing nourishing ingredients for your hair. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Mash half an avocado and combine with coconut oil.
  • Mix 2–3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a half cup of water.
  • Mash half a banana, and combine with any light oil, such as jojoba oil or coconut oil.
  • Combine shea butter and olive oil. Mix in 5 drops of rosemary essential oil to boost hair thickness and growth.
  • Whisk olive oil and raw honey.

Risks and Side Effects

It’s completely safe to use the pre-poo method before showering and washing your hair as usual. If you experience any skin irritation or sensitivity after using a specific ingredient, discontinue use immediately.

If you notice that your hair is becoming weighed down or greasy after pre-shampooing, opt for light oils, and stick to the lower ends of your stands.


  • Pre-pooing is when you apply a nourishing treatment to your hair before shampooing. The treatment can be made with a number of hydrating ingredients, including coconut oil, avocado oil, argan oil, shea butter, aloe vera gel and banana.
  • The pre-poo method is great for boosting hair health, promoting shine and minimizing hair damage. It can also help tame frizz and promote softness.

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