Why & How to Pre-Poo Fine Natural Hair

The Pre-Poo is an important part of wash day – especially if you have fine natural hair. In this article you’ll find updated tips for how to pre poo natural hair and why you should do so. This article was originally written in 2015 but has been significantly updated for clarity and even better results.

how to pre poo 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 almost never skip the pre-poo portion of my hair care routine.

Benefits of a Pre-Shampoo Treatment

The pre-poo is the first step to beginning wash day.

I can’t speak for those with a heftier hair type but for those of us with fine curly hair strands, 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

When you pre-poo your hair, a number of things take place:

  • It serves to protect the hair from hygral fatigue (hair damage caused when the hair shaft shrinks/swells during the wash process)
  • Helps set hair up for easy detangling
  • Protects the moisture and protein integrity of the hair
  • Prevents the stripping of hair of its natural oils (especially if you are using a clarifying shampoo)
  • Reduces the likelihood of breakage caused by dryness
  • Helps your deep conditioner to be more effective when the time comes

For those of us with fine natural hair already vulnerable to breakage, the best way to protect our hair during the cleansing process is to pre-poo. You don’t want to miss out on the benefits derived from a pre wash treatment for natural hair.

How to Pre Poo Natural Hair – 3 Methods

Now that you can see just how many benefits the pre-poo has, let’s look at how to pre treat natural hair before washing using 1 of 3 methods.

These routines are especially helpful for those with fine natural hair (I sometimes alternate between the three):

How to Pre Poo With Oil – METHOD 1

Using an oil, oil blend or oil-based products of your choice, distribute through your hair with a silicone free conditioner and apply to hair. Then, allow the pre-poo to sit on your hair for a minimum of 3 hours to over night.

Pre Poo With Conditioner – METHOD 2

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 pre-poo product to your hair and allow it to remain in your hair for a minimum of 1 hour (or following the manufacturers instructions).

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

Here’s a demo of me showing how to pre poo natural hair using coconut oil:

YouTube video

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.

– 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 which I shared a while back.

How to Prepare Natural Hair for Wash Day Using Hair Oils

While there are a few different methods for how to pre poo natural hair, for best results, you want to use oils. That doesn’t mean a product that isn’t solely oil based won’t work.

Also, while your favorite oil may some of the lighter oils like Jojoba Oil or Argan oil, these are not the best oils you want to use to pre-poo with. Save those for doing a hot oil treatment or sealing. T

These oils along with Shea Butter, Mango Butter and others are better for creating DIY recipes and mixing up hair masks.

The actual best pre-poo oil is coconut oil.

Many people use coconut oil to seal with and while coconut oil is one of the greatest natural resources, it’s not great for sealing because it can mimic a protein treatment, leaving your hair feeling hard

For the best sealing oils, read this post: 9 Best Sealants for Natural Hair

Effective 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 some examples of an effective pre-poo product. These products will help you to elevate your pre-poo routine which is just one extra step you can take before your wash routine for extra moisture to transform dry hair.

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 natural hair is coconut oil. Coconut oil is capable of penetrating the hair shaft which results in moisture and protein retention.


In addition to coconut oil, a conditioner can be used to pre-poo. However, not just any conditioner. There are pre-poo products that are conditioner based but formulated to do the work of a pre-poo.

Below are some pre-poo products that can be used on all hair types, including low porosity hair.

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. These include Henna, Neem, Amla, Brahmi and oils.

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 natural hair but coconut oil is most recommended due to it’s penetrating properties. So, I’ve vacillated between making regular ‘ole coconut oil and Vatika coconut oil my go to’s.

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

OLAPLEX Hair Perfector No 3

OLAPLEX’s hair perfecter isn’t a pre-poo in the traditional sense of what a pre-poo is. Yet, it’s still a pre-poo since it’s a treatment applied BEFORE cleansing your hair.

This product works by temporarily repairing broken bonds along the hair shaft. It doesn’t treat the hair follicles. Those are within the scalp. OLAPLEX Hair Perfector No 3 specifically targets weak, hair, especially hair damaged from chemical treatments.

Related read: OLAPLEX for Curly Hair

Carol’s Daughter Goddess Strength Ultra Shield Pre-Shampoo Treatment

This product is a creamy treatment formulated specifically for those with naturally curly hair. It contains Castor Oil, Ginger and Black Cumin Seed helps to pre-condition the hair before washing. It also also provides a protective barrier around each hair strand.

Many Amazon reviewers reported softer, more manageable hair with use.

African Pride Moisture Miracle Aloe & Coconut Water Pre-Shampoo

This pre-shampoo product helps to minimize hair breakage while offering a bit of conditioning prior to washing with it. It was designed specially for us natural girls with coils and curls, containing Aloe Vera and coconut water.

Pre-pooing your 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 of how long you allow it to remain, please don’t skip this process. Your natural hair needs this wash day routine. Especially, if you have fine natural hair.

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

Yet, these tips for how to pre poo natural hair will help you to prep your hair in advance.

how to prepoo fine natural hair

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