The Best Oil to Use Before You Shampoo Is…

coconut Pre-poo

Don’t try looking it up in the dictionary because you won’t find it.

This strange-sounding phrase (not to be confused with anything potty related) was invented by the natural hair community.

Yes, it may sound odd, but there’s nothing odd about the results.

I have always been a fan of pre-pooing my hair, which is the process of adding oils or conditioner to strengthen your strands during the shampoo process.

I notice significantly less breakage when I perform this routine and never shampoo my hair without a pre-treatment.

Usually I use olive oil or some kind of cheap, rinse-out conditioner for the process, but I recently learned from the Natural Hair Rules blog, that coconut oil has been proven to actually be the best oil to use for pre-pooing your hair.

Who knew?

If you want to read the in-depth, scientific reasoning, you can peep this article.

If you’d rather not, here’s the Cliff Notes version…  :)

Why It’s Useful

Coconut oil prevents protein loss, and it also penetrates the hair shaft better than many other oils.  So adding this to your hair prior to shampooing it, will give you the best protection from breakage before you shampoo your hair.

I personally don’t use coconut oil in my regimen.  I know a lot of naturals and transitioners swear by it, but it’s just never done anything for my hair.

You also have to be careful in colder climates/months because it hardens in cold weather, and will do the same on your hair.  Of course, using it as a pre-poo won’t matter because you’re rinsing it out anyway.

Looks like I have a reason to give this product another try. :)


  1. says

    I’m just starting the pre poo to add to my hair regimen. I don’t use coconut oil, I use castor oil instead. It definitely makes a difference for my hair. My hair isn’t dry and it’s actually holds moisture. I think castor oil is the one for me.

  2. Lisa says

    I’ve been natural all of my life but have struggled with hair care for most of that time. Thank you for the tips. I’m hoping that this will finally help me resolve my “hair issues”. 😉

  3. Neisha Casely says

    Hello, I’m a new transitioner and I I’ve never heard of prepooing. Where can I find coconut oil to buy??

  4. says

    Pre-pooing with oil First select a carrier oil that works best with your hair. Examples of carrier oils that work well for pre-poo treatments include: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and my personal favorite, grape seed oil. Divide your hair into 4-6 twists. Untwist each section one at a time and apply oil from root to tip before re-twisting. Place a plastic shower cap over the hair for 30 min. Shampoo/wash hair as usual.

  5. says

    I actually got the idea for a pre-treatment from my roommate in college who is from India! She has the shiniest, thickest hair i’d ever seen. She told me about how her mother would oil her hair everyother night before shampooing it. I started with olive oil back in college when I was still relaxed. I even got my roommate during medical school into it. Now that i’m transitioning I use coconut oil and I think my hair is shiner and more moisturized when I pre-oil it overnight before shampooing or cowashing! I love it!

  6. says

    If you want to skip the heated dryer another way to prepare your hair for a shampoo is to apply your oil solution warmed up onto your hair. This can be called a hot oil pre- poo or a hot oil rinse which will leave your hair softer, shinier, and more manageable after 30-60 minutes. Check out YouTube for great recipes or visit your local beauty supply store because places like Sally Beauty Supply sell oils in one time use microwaveable containers as shown below.

  7. Natasha says

    I just started to use the Dark & Lovely Au Nautral products, which are great for my hair. I use the shampoo and the conditioner and my hair does pretty good with the whole line of products. My mom told me to use prue coconut oil because my hair looked dry while doing the bantu knots. I just did what I call “The Big Chop” on wednesday of this week, and I am starting to get use to it. Prior, to me doing the big chop I was without a perm since march. I stopped using any kind of heat on my hair, and already I am seeing a big difference in my hair. The only thing I miss about my long is when I need to get up and go I used to pull it up in a ponytail, and now I can’t.

  8. says

    My Hair is thin balding pattern at the top the other parts of my hair is thick the top is thin how can I do a two twist and cover the the top that is thin I haven’t had a perm in over a year. Help need some ideals how to cover the top.

  9. olivia says

    I did the Big Chop in February and again in April 2013. I have 4C hair (maybe 4-D-E-or F (lol) I also hennaed my hair to cover my gray. It’s been quite a journey finding the right products that work. Creams and butters shrink my hair very much. My hair is very dry now and slow growing. When I wash my hair it gets matted and spongey feeling. Is that how the 4-ish hair supposed to feel or is my hair maybe damaged???? I am soooooo discouraged and feel like giving up. Please advise

    • Cinnimom says

      Hi Olivia:

      I understand your hair dilemma. I have 3C/4A Hair, but my daughters have between 4B/4C Hair blends, and we are all natural. I am familiar with the struggle. The key is Moisture. If you don’t properly moisturize, All Black hair will turn “Brillo” on you :) The “Pre-Poo” step is a big help with this. Using Carrier oils like Olive, Coconut, Grapeseed or Jojoba Oil in your hair and letting it set for 20-30mins Before you Wash allows for Penetration into the hair shaft and helps protect the strands. The Shrinkage that black hair does is a result of the drying process as water evaporates and the more moisture the strands are able to retain, the less “DRY” it will feel and ACTUALLY be. Making ANY Hair Type more Managable and Soft. I also add Oil IMMEDIATELY After Rincing out my Regular Conditioner as an extra opportunity to penetrate my strands B4 while Still Wet. Then Add Styling Products. Afterwards, I’ll use Sealing Oils like Castor and Avacado Oils to help with growth and restore sheen and texture on my “REFRESH-Days” when I’m just adding a bit of Water Mist. Hang in there, You’ll find your Best Plan. :-)

  10. says

    Pre-pooing with oil First select a carrier oil that works best with your hair. Examples of carrier oils that work well for pre-poo treatments include: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and my personal favorite, grape seed oil. Divide your hair into 4-6 twists. Untwist each section one at a time and apply oil from root to tip before re-twisting. Place a plastic shower cap over the hair for 30 min. Shampoo/wash hair as usual.

    • ashley says

      Do u wet hair then split into sections and apply olive oil r do u split and apply olive oil on dry hair? I have tried the olive oil once ans omg it sure did make my hair so soft….dif will do again esp. With all my scalp issues and problems ive been havin over last 2 yrs. Thanks

  11. Jacqui says

    I’ll be 49 this October and went natural due to health issues… and I love my natural hair! Just did the big chop so I’m sporting a TWA (and wigs). I had been very discouraged until I found your website… and it brought me to tears. I’m finding answers to my every question, every dilemma, every fear. Please, please don’t let up or stop helping us! I believe I can do this and I’m on my way to great hair! I pray that God bless everything you do and make you a great success! Thank you so much!!!

  12. more says

    it never did anything for my fine 4c hair! byt then again most of what yall rave about does nothing for my hair lol

  13. says

    Since then, my routine has evolved to include a myriad of pre-poo boosters. Today, I experiment with oils, powders, and other products to make my pre-poo that much more powerful. Specifically, I like to include coconut oil for it’s ability to penetrate and add protein to the hair strand. Amla oil, just because it works well every time I’ve used it. High powered, thick conditioners because I like for my conditioners to “stick” to the hair and have a bigger impact. Additionally, sometimes I break open some vitamin e capsules or pour a few drops of honey to the mix for good measure. Pretty much anything I feel comfortable adding to my deep conditioner is fair game for my pre-poo mix.

  14. says

    Yes, I do pre-poo. I use it as a way to condition and detangle my hair prior to washing/conditioning. It makes the washing/conditioning process much easier. I just use whatever extra oil I have on hand and heat it up first. Right now, I’m using grapeseed oil. However, my favorite oil is coconut oil. Sometimes I also use a bargain conditioner in addition to the oil, such as Vo5 or Tressemme.

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