how to prepoo fine natural hair
Growth & Retention

Why & How to Pre-Poo Fine Natural Hair

The Pre-Poo is an important part of wash day….

how to prepoo fine natural hair

Like every part of the hair care regimen for fine natural hair, the pre-poo is not to be under estimated. It’s as important as deep conditioning and just like I would never skip deep conditioning, I’d never skip the pre-poo portion of my hair care routine.

Benefits of the Pre-Poo

The pre-poo is the first step to beginning wash day. I can’t speak for those with heftier strands but for those of us with fine hair,  pre-pooing (also known as pre-shampooing or pre-washing if you don’t shampoo) can literally make the difference between long, strong hair and hair that’s breaking from the simple manipulation of washing.

Pre-pooing your hair has a number of benefits:
  • It serves to protect the hair from hygral fatigue (damage caused when the hair shaft shrinks/swells during the wash process)
  • Helps hair to detangle easier
  • Protects the moisture and protein integrity of the hair
  • Reduces the likelihood of breakage caused by dryness

For those of us with fine natural hair, it is already vulnerable to breakage. You don’t want to miss out on the benefits derived from the pre-poo.

Recommended Pre-Poo Products

Now that we know why it’s important for those of us with fine natural hair to pre-poo, let’s take a look at the products that can be used to get the job done.

With fine natural hair, less is definitely more. It’s best to use those products that will protect the hair from damage (and breakage) during the wash cycle, but will not weigh the hair down.

Coconut Oil
The most popular of products for pre-pooing is coconut oil. Coconut oil is capable of penetrating the hair shaft which results in moisture and protein retention.

Dabur Enriched Hair Oils
Vatika oils distributed by Indian company Dabur, are enriched with herbal ingredients such as: henna, neem, amla, brahmi, rosemary and lemon. Dabur Vatika oils are available with Almond, Olive, Cactus or Coconut oils.

The ingredients in Vatika oils can be very enriching for the hair. Henna strengthens and adds “weight” to fine hair. Neem and Amla help prevent hair loss. Brahmi helps boost hair growth. Almond oil softens the hair and helps to keep it moisturized. Cactus oil provides the hair with volume and fullness (just what fine hair needs!) Lemon regulates the flow of sebum in the scalp to help keep it dandruff free.

There are other oils that can be used to pre-poo but coconut oil is most recommended due to it’s penetrating properties so I’ve made regular ‘ole coconut oil and Vatika coconut oil my staples. Plus, other singular oils may be too heavy for fine hair.

Side note: If you want something that it ALL natural, skip the Dabur and just use coconut oil that you can infuse with the following herbs: Neem, Amla, Henna, Lemon essential oil

In addition to coconut oil, a conditioner can be used to pre-poo. Because I like to focus on “less is more,” I’d never use a pre-poo conditioner containing harsh chemicals. Some may disagree but I have found that when it comes to my fine natural hair, it prefers all natural (or almost all natural) products. That’s because this conditioner will be left on my hair for a lengthy period of time.  The conditioners that I recommend for pre-pooing:

  • Carol’s Daughter conditioners (any of them will do but I really like the Coco Crème conditioner)
  • Giovanni Eco Chic Smooth As Silk Deeper Moisture Conditioner
  • Shea Moisture 10 in 1 Superfruit Complex Masque
  • Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingling Conditioner

How to Pre-Poo

In addition to the recommended pre-poo products, I recommend the following pre-poo regimens for fine natural hair (I alternate and follow these to the letter):

Combine oil of your choice with a conditioner and apply to hair. Then, allow the pre-poo to sit on your hair for a minimum of 3 hours to over night.

Steam hair in sections followed by immediately applying oil and a silicone free conditioner (like the ones listed above) to the hair. This allows the hair shaft to open up and receive the products better. Put on a plastic cap and allow it to sit for a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour.

Apply an all natural conditioner to your hair and allow it to remain in your hair for a minimum of 1 hour. You can put on a plastic cap to keep the hair moist but it’s not necessary if you are only leaving the conditioner in for an hour.

Each of these pre-poo methods are great for protecting fine natural hair and will aid dry, thirsty, weakened hair during the wash process.

In the following video I share how I pre-poo using one of these methods:

NOTES for each method:

– Put hair in a bun or several large bantu knots when sitting with your pre-poo in. The idea is to ensure your ends are not exposed.

– Do not finger detangle the hair with the pre-poo. Just smooth pre-poo into your hair. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to detangle either during the conditioner rinse out process or during the styling process (more on that in a future post).

– When using an oil and conditioner, you can combine them  or opt to apply them separately.

– An alternative to steaming your hair is sitting under a dryer for 5 minutes with a plastic cap on. I shared how I did this in my WEEK 14 wash day chronicle.

Pre-pooing fine natural hair is just the 1st step of your wash day. It may even be done the day before you actually wash your hair. Regardless to how long you allow it to remain, please don’t skip this process. Your fine natural hair needs it.

The next step on wash day is the actual washing of your hair.


Michelle Smith
Michelle is a Christian special needs mom residing in the NYC area who shares useful tips to grow and maintain fine natural hair. She's a published author and Creator of Fine Natural Hair and Faith, inspiring others with faith for living along side knowledge on how to care for their "crown."

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