Part I: What is a Prepoo?

The Prepoo Explained – All About Preshampoo Oil Treatments

A pre-poo (short for preshampoo treatment) is very similar to traditional hot oil treatments (HOT) except your oil of choice is applied to your hair before shampooing, hence the name “prepoo.”  One thing I would like to point out is that oils are not the only substances used for a prepoo treatment. Some women prefer to use other food items that have shown to be beneficial for hair, such as honey, avocados, yogurt, or bananas.  Also, there are retail hair products that are made specifically to be used on the hair before shampooing such as Burt Bees Avocado Butter Preshampoo Treatment and Umberto Collagen Preshampoo Treatment. Another option some women choose is to deep condition with regular conditioner (some even add oils) on dry hair prior to shampooing.  All of the aforementioned are considered prepoos because they are treatments done to the hair prior to shampooing.

pre-pooMy personal is to use warm extra virgin coconut oil (EVCO) and more recently hemp oil.  EVCO has a number of proven benefits for the hair as it is known to penetrate the hair cuticle and provide some conditioning along with lubrication.  My experience has been that after using EVCO for my prepoo my hair is well moisturized, soft, easy to detangle, and never feels stripped after shampooing.  Other awesome options are extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), Jojoba, Sweet Almond or Grapeseed oils.  I prefer pure natural oils over retail oil mixtures that are marketed as ‘hot oil treatments’ because these products normally contain many filler ingredients that are not beneficial for your hair at all. You really have to pay attention to how your hair responds to different oils to determine which would be best for you. I tried all of the natural oils I mentioned above before settling on coconut oil.  I believe EVCO to be most effective when it has been warmed before apply to the hair and because I use warm oil for my prepoo, it is technically the same as doing a hot oil treatment, and some people call it an oil rinse.  It is all the same thing…except that oil rinsers and hot oil treaters normally do it after shampooing and/or conditioning.   Sometimes the terminology of the healthy hair world can be overly complicated and to be honest, the terminology is not that important.

As mentioned I recently began to use hemp oil to prepoo, so I will briefly mention its benefits as well.  Hemp oil is one of several oils known to contain a high amount of ceramides, a lipid molecule made of a fatty acid attached to sphingosine.  The cuticle of hair is the thin protective, outmost layer of the hair shaft and it is partially comprised of ceramides.  A study has shown that synthetic ceramides improve the condition of the hair even though it is deposited in small amounts and only in the cuticle layer[1].  Although my choice is to use either EVCO or hemp oil by themselves, you can create your own special mixture of different oils if you so desire.  In short, just to recap a prepoo is any hair treatment performed prior to shampooing and arguably the most popular items used are natural oils.[i]

[1] Johnson, Dale H.  (1997).  Hair and Hair Care.  New York:  Marcel Dekker Inc.

Author: EbonyCPrincess

EbonyCPrincess, a self proclaimed hair care enthusiast who began her quest for long healthy hair in 2009. Her hair is relaxed and type 4b (kinky, very tightly coiled). You can find more information about Ebony and her journey on her personal blog, or her YouTube channel (

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  1. Nice effective post, pre-pooing is one of the best steps that helped me manage my hair apart from switching to a sulfate free shampoo. I pre-poo the night before my wash with a conditioner and hair trigger growth erixer. It’s good because my hair is getting both a pre-poo treatment as well as a hot oil treatment. Whoop!

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    • Hi, nice article, but Im older now with the will to keep trying to save my thinning hair so I will give this preepoo a chance you never know. I just wish I were practicing it long before

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  2. I have been prepooing with EVOO, honey and conditioner mixture since I started my HHJ. I must say it feels great on my hair but I don’t see much difference after shampooing. Is that weird or am I just not paying attention? Again. I’m new to all of this. Any thoughts?

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  3. Hi,

    Thank you so much for writing this. I’m transitioning and finding the whole natural hair process difficult. I have a few questions and would really appreciate your feedback:
    1) I found pure coconut oil in the cooking aisle in the grocery store. the only ingredient is coconut oil (solid at room temp and liquid above). Is this consider EVCO?
    2. How do you warm up your oils and for how long?
    3. If you prepoo should you still deep condition after shampooing?
    4. How often should you prepoo and for how long?

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    • Hello Danielle,
      You are welcome.
      1) Some coconut oil is refined, some is unrefined, some is virgin and some is extra virgin. What you have is great for the hair since it is pure but I cannot tell you if it is extra virgin coconut oil (EVCO) without seeing the label.

      2) Part II describes in detail how I prepoo, including how to warm it.

      3) Absolutely. Honestly if I were to eliminate one, it would be the prepoo (although I always prepoo with every wash). Deep conditioning is paramount.

      4) I prepoo before every wash and the length of time varies. I often do it overnight or more recently, by using a hair steamer for about 15 minutes. Again, check out part II for more details.

      If you have any additional questions, feel free to ask, sorry for the delay in responding!

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    • no such thing as extra virgin coconut oil It a marketing scheme. coconut oil is just virgin. If it says unrefined and virgin it is the best.

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