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What Is Pre-Poo for Curly Hair?

What Is Pre-Poo for Curly Hair?

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Curly hair content has been awash with the term “pre-poo” lately, & for good reasons: pre-pooing is a simple, effective way to nourish & hydrate your hair & take your curls & coils to new heights. 

But what is pre-poo exactly & why do curls look so absolutely luscious after a pre-pooing session?

In this guide, we’re not just breaking down how to pre-poo natural hair—we’re also diving into the theory behind pre-pooing, exploring techniques for different curl types & offering tips for working pre-poo into your hair care routine. 

If your curls seem extra thirsty, pre-pooing might just be the tall drink of hydrating deliciousness they’re craving. 

What Is Pre-Pooing & Why Does Curly Hair Love It?

Before we get into how to pre-poo, let’s explain the concept in more detail. 

Pre-poo is short for “pre-shampoo treatment”—any pre-wash moisturizing treatment that locks in hydration before you hop in the shower & start washing. However, it's important to note pre-poo can serve a variety of functions, including moisturizing, strengthening, detangling, and preparing your hair texture for cleansing, a critical step in reducing breakage, especially when hair is wet.

If you already use a moisturizing wash product like our Hydrating Shampoo, you might be wondering why you may need to add extra moisture to your curls.

  • Curls crave moisture – Your curls want to drink in as much delicious hydration as they can. Hair products for curly hair are hydration-heavy for this very reason—when it comes to moisture, your curls simply can’t get enough.
  • Your scalp needs love, too – Some pre-poo products (like our Jojoba Oil Self-Heating Packs) are designed to provide extra moisture for your hair & your scalp. Scalp care is the key to growing & maintaining healthy hair & pre-poo can double as a scrumptious scalp treatment.

So, what is a pre-poo treatment? It’s the key to maintaining hair elasticity & bounce.

Choosing the Right Pre-Poo Products

People with straight or wavy hair can also benefit from the hydration boost of a pre-poo. But what is pre-poo for curly hair? Which products are made especially for your curls & coils?

As you shop for formulas made specifically for different curl types, stay on the lookout for ingredients like:

  • Elasticity-promoting Oat Extract
  • Smoothing Hibiscus Flower Extract
  • Ultra-nourishing Murumuru Seed Butter

What do all of these ingredients have in common? They’re moisture-forward. They’re designed to wiggle into your hair cuticle & lock in long-lasting hydration that will keep your curls sleek & buoyant until your next wash day. 

Plus, you can use just about any moisturizing product to pre-poo your hair, like:

  • A conditioner (leave-in or traditional)
  • A pre-wash treatment
  • A hair mask
  • A specially-formulated pre-poo product

Step-by-Step Guide to Pre-Pooing

If you’ve never used a pre-shampoo hair treatment before, buckle up: It’s time to learn how to pre-poo your hair to discover healthy hydration & that irresistible bounce.

@patternbeauty Introducing the Bounce Back Pre-Poo, the newest addition to our HEAT collection. When your curls crave versatility, there's no time to question if your ringlets will return. This pre-poo is packed with elasticity promoting Oat Extract & frizz-smoothing Hibiscus Flower Extract to help spring coils back into action after heat styling. Shop now exclusively on PATTERNBEAUTY.com #patternbeauty #exploreyourpattern #curlreversion ♬ original sound - PATTERN

Step 1: Gather Materials

First, gather all the materials you typically use on wash day, like:

Plus, you can’t forget your cozy post-wash wear, like our Designer Robe or Satin Cap.

Step 2: Just Add Water (or Don’t!)

Before you get started, make sure to read the instructions on your product bottle. Some pre-poo products need to be applied to wet hair, while some go on dry hair. 

For products to bring back curls that need a wet work surface, consider rinsing with warm water instead of cold water. Why?

  • Warm water helps hair cuticles—structural sections of the hair shaft—open up.
  • Open cuticles are like tilled soil. They’re receptive to the deep hydration that curls need to bounce & shine, just like tilled earth is primed for absorbing tons of water for growing seeds.
  • Opening the hair cuticle is especially important for low-porosity hair (hair that has a hard time absorbing products). Warm water is key if you’re looking to make the most of your moisturizing moment.

If your product says to apply to dry hair, consider warming up your environment first: steam up the bathroom by running a hot shower or a humidifier for a few minutes.

Step 3: Work It In

Once you dispense your pre-poo product, work it thoroughly into your hair:

  • Treat yourself to a scalp massage – Hair care is self-care—& a pre-poo session is a chance to do both. Work in the product in sections to make sure you massage your entire scalp thoroughly.
  • Consider sectioning your hair – Once you’re done massaging, start working on your hair shafts. You can even use a clip to section off parts of your hair to achieve even coverage.
  • Don’t forget your ends – You want your pre-poo product to cover every inch of your hair—including your ends. Make sure to spread your product down your entire hair shaft, working that delicious moisture into the whole strand.

Pro tip: Consider filming yourself during the application process, then watch your video back to make sure you didn’t miss a spot. 

Step 4: Wait

Let your pre-poo product sit in your hair per the instructions on the bottle. Some products may only need to marinate for a few minutes while others will need more time to fully saturate your cuticle. 

If you’re pressed for time during wash day, you can multitask during this stage by:

  1. Gathering the styling products & tools you’ll need after washing
  2. Tackling other parts of your self-care routine, like brushing your teeth or filing your nails

But if time isn’t of the essence, you can also use your pre-poo waiting period to pamper. Consider:

  • Soaking in a warm bubble bath
  • Enjoying an aromatherapy session
  • Exfoliating your body before hopping into the shower or bath

As you plan your pre-poo process, add your estimated application time to the wait time listed on the bottle to establish a wash day timeline.

Step 5: Wash

Once you’re done with the waiting phase, it’s time to rinse out your product & wash as normal. Hop into the shower or bath, reach for the shampoo & conditioner for curly hair that you normally would & start your post-wash styling if desired. 

But there are a few things to remember in the wash & post-wash process after a pre-poo:

  • Wash thoroughly – Shampooing is all about removing product buildup. Once your pre-poo has done its job—& your cuticles have absorbed all the moisture they need—it has no business sticking around in your hair. Make sure to thoroughly wash to remove the product & prevent buildup.
  • Protect, protect, protect – You just added a ton of delicious moisture to your curls—if you’re using hot tools to style after shampooing & conditioning, make sure to use a Heat Protectant to keep all of that juicy hydration locked away in your hair cuticles.

Pre-Poo Techniques for Different Curly Hair Types

Depending on your curl type, you can use a few different techniques to make the most of your pre-poo experience:

  • Detangle – If your hair type is tight-textured or coily, you might benefit from using a Detangling Nectar. Detangling can help you unlock as much surface area as possible to give your hair shaft plenty of opportunity to drink up pre-poo moisture. Detangling might also be helpful if you’re pre-pooing right after taking out braids or another protective style.
  • Warm water – We touched on using warm water or working in a warm environment to open up your hair cuticles as much as possible. If you have low-porosity, coily or tight-textured hair, this step will significantly improve your moisture absorption during the pre-poo process.
  • Turn up the hydration – Pairing a pre-poo with hydration-forward wash products or even a post-wash Leave-In Conditioner can take your moisture to the next level. If you’re trying to amp up your hydration ahead of a braiding session or because you live in a dry climate, this might be a must—no matter your curl pattern or hair type. 

Tips for Consistent Pre-Pooing in Your Routine

You might be thinking, “I already have a wash day routine. How do I make time for another step in the process?”

Simply put, pre-poo offers an opportunity for even more “you” time. It’s a chance to really invest in self-care & produce undeniably positive results for your hair. But self-care (& hair care) don’t have to be complicated. 

Here are some tips for making the time to pre-poo consistently:

  • Wash on “off” days – If you have one day a week off of work—or one day when you can squeeze in an hour of self-care—consider scheduling your washes for these “off” days to give yourself as much time as possible.
  • Pre-poo once a month – While you certainly could pre-poo before every wash, you definitely don’t have to. If you’re tight on time, consider pre-pooing before every other wash day or even just once a month. Any time you can make time to pre-poo (even if it’s just once in a while) will help you add more delicious hydration to your curls.
  • Treat yourself – If you struggle to make time for self-care overall, consider rewarding yourself every time you do make space for “you” time. Treat yourself to your favorite snack, throw on a special self-care playlist or sport your snazziest outfit after washing as motivation.

Discover Luscious & Bouncy Curls with PATTERN

What is pre-pooing hair? It’s the ticket to understanding how to keep curly hair moisturized, hydrated & effortlessly bouncy that it will turn heads & drop jaws. 

If you’re looking for the perfect pre-poo product for your self-care routine, check out PATTERN’s Bounce Back Pre-Poo specifically designed for curlies, coilies & tight-textured hair. 

At PATTERN, curls & coils are everything we do. We love our natural curls—& we want you to love yours, too. That’s why all of our natural hair care products are designed with hydration, protection & self-love at the forefront. Because you deserve healthy hair products that bring out the best in your unique, beautiful texture & pattern. 

Explore our hair products for curly hair & discover your new fave today.


Vogue India. Why A Cold Water Rinse Is the Hair Care Tip Every Hair Stylist Swears By. https://www.vogue.in/beauty/content/cold-water-benefits-for-strong-hair-tips-hairstylist 

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Reviewed by Ashley Ludgood

With over 12 years of experience in the beauty and fashion industry, Ashley Ludgood brings a wealth of expertise to her current role at PATTERN. Her insights have been featured in reputable publications like American Salon Magazine, American Spa Magazine, and Skin, Inc. Ashley has also shared her knowledge at conferences, including Face & Body, demonstrating her ongoing commitment to contributing to the industry. Having been an integral part of the team at PATTERN for nearly 4 years, Ashley continues to make significant contributions. Holding a degree in Journalism from Northwestern University, she remains passionate about her field. Among her favorite products, Ashley turns to the PATTERN Styling Cream, Moisture Milk, and the Cleansing Shampoo as her go-to essentials.

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