Water, The Great Frenemy?
…by Susan Walker of Earthtones Naturals
Before discussing what may be the most important step in your hair
care regimen, I want to touch on an important practice that could make a
huge difference in how your hair looks and feels after it’s washed and
The reality is that if you want to have beautiful natural hair, you
need to invest the time upfront to do what is necessary to take care of
it. Your hair cleansing and conditioning process is not to be done
hurriedly and without attention. You do need to make time for this
because if it’s not done properly, dry brittle hair with resulting
breakage could ensue.
Every time we shampoo and condition our hair or even add significant
amounts of water to our hair the hair shaft needs to expand in order to
accommodate the extra water. When our hair dries the opposite occurs –
the hair contracts. Repeating this process over and over again can
create damage to the hair cuticle initially because it can be chipped
off. Subsequent damage can be caused to the hair fiber leading to split
ends and breakage. Textured hair tends to absorb more water during this
process than other hair types and is therefore more susceptible to
damage. This contraction and expansion of the hair fiber is known as hygral fatigue.
Textured hair needs moisture; it thrives on it to ensure proper
hydration. Additionally, when cleansing your hair water is pretty much a
requirement if it’s to be done properly. So how can we minimize or
prevent this damage that occurs from wetting our hair? Research has
shown that using specific oils can protect the hair fiber against hygral
fatigue. Not every oil has this ability but a well-researched oil is
good old coconut oil.
How does this work? When coconut oil is applied to the hair
as a pre-shampoo or pre-wetting treatment a small amount of the oil can
be absorbed into the hair and can penetrate under the cuticle when the
hair fiber swells. Coconut oil has a strong affinity for hair proteins
and can protect the hair by binding to these proteins. This reduces the
protein’s ability to bind to water molecules resulting in less swelling,
less contracting and less trauma.
Try using coconut oil as a pre-shampoo treatment the next time you
cleanse your hair. Coconut oil is typically solid at room temperature so
you’ll need to heat it to liquefy it.
How to Pre-poo:
1. Apply coconut oil to the hair in sections.
2. Place a plastic cap over the hair and allow the oil to penetrate into the hair
shaft for at least 30 minutes.
3. Shampoo and condition as usual!
Pre-shampooing my hair with this treatment has improved my hair’s
ability to maintain moisture and the shine softness to my styled hair.
It’s made a huge difference.
I forgot, I prepoo with a mix of oils…mustard, amla, coconut, blackseed and a few other are in that color applicator bottle lol
I prepoo on dry hair for 30 mins or so and then I slather on my DC (concentrating on ends primarily) on top of that…bun hair and leave alone for a few hours until I shower… rinse dc, poo wash and quick conditioner (to which I add my acv (2oz to 7oz water) mix directly on top… Hair is like butta afterwards… I do not seal during the week as I just bun and moisturize and I am good (fine-haired gyal)…my nioxin bliss thermal heat protectant and my infusium 23 work just great as a detangler (no combs nec)… I do NOT use heat!!!
Thanks for the article CN, What about the people who Co-wash, I wash my hair my homemade shampoo which consist of Castor soap, olive oil and castor oil probably twice a month. I probably co-wash my hair twice or thrice a week. My process is simple wet, conditioner and rinse out. Depending on how my hair feels, I will DC with Aussie Moist. My leave in is Cantu, Castor oil on my roots and Coconut oil on the end. My hair is still dry!!
So Wht oils do you reccomend for sisterlocks? I have locks so I don't want any detanglers or anything tht will loosen my locks. Can you advise?
Thanks for the advice. I was also wondering would it have the same results to use coconut milk instead of coconut oil? I said that because it's already in my house and 100% organic coconut oil is $8 or more where I live.
When I pre-poo, I shed less hair. Bottom line, this works for my hair so I'm sticking with it. Yes, it's a little time consuming, but my hair is healthier from the effort. I don't roll with the philosophy of dissing something that works. My pre-poo of choice is coconut oil. I haven't tried EVOO. As long as my hair responds to coconut oil, I'll stick with it.
I pre-poo with either coconut oil or the African Pride Olive Oil. Pre-pooing is AMAZING! I feel like my hair is much softer and it seems to shampoo better (lather up more quickly) after pre-pooing. This is a MUST for my transitioning hair.
This article is great and I will be sure to continue to use coconut oil for pre-pooing! Thanks for posting!
Thanks for this article. I have read so many great things about coconut oil and have made an effort to incorporate it in EVERY part of my hair regimen. I prepoo with Original Moxie's Emolliance Penetrating moisture (which has herbs, castor and coconut oil), and a hibiscus oil mix (which also includes coconut oil). I will never leave prepooing out of my reggie, because it has made a difference with the softness and moisture retention of my hair.
i pre poo each time i wash (2x a week) and alternate using coconut oil and ojon restorative hair treatment. it makes a world of difference. i am caucasian with very dry, frizzy, color treated 2c/3a hair and have had excellent results with this.
I wouldn't say it's pointless for Caucasian hair. Indians have been pre-pooing with Coconut oil for ages, that's where a lot of these concepts come from.
This might seem like a silly question – but I gather that pre-poo'ing is pointless for Caucasian hair? (type 3B, fwiw)
I don't pre-poo notice no significant difference on the results and behaviour in my hair but that maybe because most of the significant difference is in the apple cider vinegar rinse not adding the oil.
Plus my for head doesn't like coconut oil. I also think it because I oil my hair at the at the end of the process (and some times I do oil rinses) and if your think about it the hair stays in my hair until next wash so it kind of eliminates the need for pre-poo before washing.
Will try this on all our hair! My girls and I are going natural.
I just started pre pooing again about a month ago. It really has made a big difference in my hair. Coconut oil used to work well with my hair but something changed because it doesn't feel right in my hair anymore but if I mix it with another oil it works just fine, so I pre poo with a mix of evco & evoo every week.
Mary in Md
Thanks, Susan. My biggest challenge is tangles and knots. I would like to wear more out styles. But, I want to minimize breakage and knots so these styles will have as little impact on length retention as possible.
So do I apply the pre-poo treatment on dry or damp hair??
Thanks everyone for your comments!
@Mary in Md there are so many different ways to take care of your hair and the key in understanding why you are using a specific technique. Can you give more info on what types of recommendations you are looking for? What would you say are your current hair challenges?
I started pre-pooing with EVCO and argan oil. After I rinse, cleanse and condition; I add a leave in and sweet almond oil and EVOO in sections. The next day I add shea butter in sections and my twists stay moisturized for a week. It may seem like a lot, but if you take care of your hair, it will behave and repay!
I do pre-poo. every time i prepare to shampoo and deep condition my hair, I use coconut oil to pre-poo and oh my gosh. The difference is tremendous. I am exceptionally prone to dry hair. My hair, when not conditioned properly, makes a loud scratchy sound when rubbed together.
When I use coconut oil to pre-poo, it makes my hair so soft, and shiny. I only use coconut oil though. Anything else doesn't give the same results.
So I highly suggest pre-pooing.
Mary in Md
I start my wash regimen with finger detangling that includes adding coconut oil, EVOO and conditioner. I always wash finger detangled hair in braids or twists. During my last wash day session, I added extra conditioner and did the deep conditioning treatment before the cowash step. The jury is still out on whether this is preferable to doing the deep treatment after the cowash/shampoo step.
I've been reading a lot about the CG method, in part, because I'd like to find what works to keep the frizz factor down between wash days. Lately, I've been dampening my hair really thoroughly using a version of the Kimaytube leave-in (though I use similar ingredients, I don't like measuring), some extra EVOO and sometimes a little Blue Magic Coconut Oil hair grease (Don't judge me! LOL). My hair is soft, shiny and frizz controlled almost all day, though not sleek like it gets with EcoStyler gel. I use ECO Styler only when I have a business meeting and want the extra sleekness.
I love the look that ECO Styler creates. But, I find it makes my detangling process more difficult. I lose less hair during my detangling when I use the grease.
I'm also trying to determine if I get the best results doing cowashes vs shampoos. I don't think I even own any harsh sulfate shampoos. I had been faithfully cowashing. Then switched to shampoo washes because my hair seemed shinier. Then it seemed I was losing more hair during the detangling process and wasn't sure of what was causing it. I have seen an improvement since I've gone back to cowashes and use grease rather than gel to control frizz.
As you can tell, I'm moving around a lot of variables (shampooing vs cowashing, grease vs gel, deep treat before wash vs after wash). I'm still experimenting to find out what works best. If anyone has any thoughts/experiences they'd like to share, I'd love to hear them. BTW, I have a mix of 4a/b hair just in case that informs the comments you may have.
I pre-poo and detangle with Herbal Essense Hello Hydration. My hair loooooves it and its hella cheap.
The only time I pre-poo with coconut oil is when I'm heading to the salon the next day (a no-chemical salon that starts your appointment with a steaming treatment!)
Great Info!!! I will be adding this step!!
i always always prepoo…it makes washing my hair so much easier. I usually prepoo with a condition and some type of oil and leave on my hair for however long i feel like. @ Anon 5:23pm i think imma try your method with steaming before washing…it sounds relaxing :o)
When you pre-poo with coconut oil, do you add the shampoo and conditioner right to your hair after taking the cap off or do you rinse it first then shampoo and condition?
I don't understand the anger at people who voice their opinions, is it really that serious? Some people get defensive about their choices, almost like you want to convince yourself. Whatev-lol
@Tiffany B. it may not be neccessary to YOU but it has actually helped some women (me included). So before you get on your soap box do us a favor and keep your negativity to yourself. People have a CHOICE to do whatever they want. Nobody is forcing them or you to do any of these methods.
LOL @Tiffany B.
I used to pre-poo but fell off the wagon last year when trying to save time and reduce steps. I really need to add this to my routine again but maybe with EVOO versus coconut oil as my hair doesn't particularly like coconut oil.
Thanks for sharing and reminding me of this helpful step.
Thank you for the very informative post! However, I am allergic to coconut so instead I use Lustrasilk Growth Therapy & water and part my hair in four sections and do a chunky flat twist on that section after my hair has been moistened with the oil (or grease) and still damp from the water. After 20 mins or so, I take down the braids and add a few of my favorite conditioners to my hair and let that sit for 20 mins also. From being a natural as a kid to now in my early 20's, I can totally tell the difference from then to now. My hair has never been so soft , HEALTHY, and manageable even with my 4b hair type. This will permanently be my wash routine for sure.
I want to write an article called Why All This Is "Extraness" Is Not Necessary aka How To Avoid Hair Slavery
I pre-poo w/Coconut oil religiously. After I apply the oil, instead of the cap I sit under my Heutiful (instead of steaming with conditioner after washing)and proceed to wash and condition. Makes all of the difference for my fine hair!
I tried this years after going natural and didn't notice a difference and didn't want the extra step so I stopped. I do rinse and pomade almost every morning and get great results. Good article.
I wanted to love Extra Virgin Coconut oil but alas, it wasn't meant to be for me. I mean, my hair broke/fell off in CLUMPS. Huge Clumps!! Since I discovered Palma Christi Castor though (I'm not buying the JBCO hype yet), I've been in detangling heaven. My hair is shiny, moisturized (thank GOD!) and it feels strong. I can finger detangle my head in about 15-20 minutes now so you can be that pre-poo/castor oil will be a staple in my regimen. The results I noticed with this were instant but figuring out the right ratio so I don't have a pimply hairline will take a little while :))
You can definitely use another oil instead of coconut oil. Olive oil has been shown to penetrate into the hair shaft so you can try this one. Not all oils may work due to the size of the molecules. Some will just sit on top of the hair, others will penetrate. The ones that penetrate are the ones you want to use.
I pre-poo with extra virgin coconut oil and leave it on over night with a shower cap. When I wash and condition my hair is soft my 4a parts of my hair is soft, so when I detangle with my Jane Carter revitalizing leave in conditioner for detangling before my creamy one it is easy to do without the tangles. There is less hair in the comb and my hair feels strong too.
hmm, i really dont want to add an extra step to my routine but I'll try it with EVOO (my hair hates coconut oil) to see if it's worth it!
I love to prepoo with coconut oil. I apply it the night before, sleep with it under a plastic cap and shampoo and condition the next morning.
i sure do! the night before a wash i do a peppermint water spritz and seal with evoo. this past week i skipped this step because my hair was already twisted and i paid dearly! my hair was dry and brittle for a couple of days before i could get my moisture balance re-established. i can bet you that i won't be skipping that step again!
I have recently started to prepoo with coconut oil before a shampoo or cowash. My hair is softer and retains moisture much better. Definitely worth the time investment.
I always prepoo before I condition wash because it keeps my hair soft & makes my detangling easier. I love the way my hair looks & feels after every wash. If I don't prepoo my hair has to be moisturized every day instead of every 2-3 days.
For the first time last week, I did an oil rinse. I use the curly girl method for the most part. What I did was conditioner washed my hair, rinsed, added almond oil to my hair, rinsed, then deep conditioned. My hair was soooo shiny and still is! It is also very soft and manageable. I will definitely be adding this permanently to my routine.
At the moment I pre poo using EVOO as my hair HATES coconut. I usually pre poo overnight incorporating detangling and then putting my hair in 4/6 chunky plaits. My hair feels much softer for it, much easier to comb and appears to have extra shine once my hair is dry. I plan to try Avocado Oil next
@ AusetAbena – I agree! I regularly apply my oil mixture to my hair (coconut oil, evoo, castor) and it does make a difference. If I have a week where I neglect to oil my hair regularly, I definitely feel a difference when wash day comes. For those that pre-poo on wash day, how long do you keep the oil in before washing?
I pre-poo and deep condition at the same time using a mixture of coconut oil, evoo, jbco, jojoba oil and honey along with Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose conditioner. Keeps my hair well moisturized during and after the washing process.
My hair hates coconut oil, it gets brittle and hard. Do you suggest a different oil like evoo or castor or avocado?
I will be trying this over the weekend! THANKS for sharing! *kisses*
I apply coconut oil to my hair every day, so I feel my hair is constantly being "pre-poo'ed." That way, I feel I am able to wash my hair on a whim because I apply coconut oil every day, sometimes even twice a day. I also dry detangle with coconut oil. The only other pre-poo I have used has been olive oil. I am also interested in try the Chicoro pre-poo/detangler recipe.
I'll be doing this tonight! Got a graduation to attend tomorrow; and I need my hurr to be on point!lol
I love pre-pooing. I use a mixture of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and V05. I do the same steps as the poster. I section my hair into four areas and I apply the mixture. When I do this, I use this time to finger detangle my hair. If you have not finger detangled before… try it out. Here is my post with pictures of how I finger detangle my daughter's hair. http://discoveringnatural.blogspot.com/2012/03/detangling-without-comb.html
I pre-poo with Argon oil for the first time last night & OMG! My hair is so soft, I cant keep my hands out of it. I'm going to be doing it again.
I pre-poo using amla oil…When the oil is almost gone, i stretch it by adding coconut oils. This has worked throughout my 2 year transition and I'm excited to BC on the 30th and see how it goes when I'm fully natural!
Very informative thank you! I'll definitely be trying this!
I pre-poo with Ojon restorative treatment. Best thing I've ever done for my hair so far!