When we think about clean and rejuvenated hair, we likely think of our wash routine - shampooing and conditioning. But there are many things we can do before we head into the shower, to restore vitality to our locks. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Have you heard of viral pre-poo treatments? Don’t worry, it’s not what it sounds like.

TikTok has been all abuzz lately about how best to improve hair health – apparently, it’s not about what you use as a shampoo and conditioner, but what you do before that: your pre-shampoo routine.

We spoke with Zahra Darwish, trichologist at Vivandi Trichology Centre, Dubai, to see how much stock we should put into the latest TikTok obsession. It turns out, the trend is catching on for a reason.

Does a pre-shampoo routine matter?

People who use a lot of sprays and gels regularly can end up accumulating product on their scalp, which is why they should consider adding a double-cleanse to their hair care routine. Image Credit: Pexels/Karolina Grabowska

Darwish explained: “Healthy hair means a healthy scalp, and unless the condition of your scalp is healthy, you can’t have healthy hair growth… many people do care about their hair but forget their scalp.”

However, with the right pre-shampoo treatment, which targets both the scalp and the hair, you can hydrate, clarify and protect before you cleanse, helping you achieve a shinier and softer texture.

The key is to finding out why you’re doing a pre-poo: is it to add moisture to your hair, or clarify and detox your scalp? Based on your goals, you can then consider oils, masks or conditioners, and clarifying treatments to give your hair the best chance of success.

Whatever your reason may be for a pre-poo, there are some ground rules to follow when you finally head into the shower. Darwish advised: “The most important rule is to always use warm water to shampoo, and finish off with cool water while rinsing the conditioner, to seal the hair cuticles. Do not comb your hair during or even after the shower, while the hair is wet. You can cause severe damage to your hair cuticles and hair shafts this way.”

Even before you pre-poo, there are steps you can take for better hair maintenance. In general, the best way to care for your hair is to ensure good lifestyle choices. Darwish said: “It’s best to make sure to have a healthy diet with a good amount of protein, essential fatty acids and carbohydrates. Don’t forget to protect your hair from the sun, and stay away from hot tools and chemicals. Your hair will forever be grateful to you.”

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Our expert shared several key aspects of a pre-shampoo regimen that you can incorporate into your wash routine, based on your needs. We list them here, along with top-rated products on Amazon that you can purchase during Beauty Week, with a Prime membership, for free, fast delivery.

1. Hair oils

As a first step, adding oil to your hair care routine is a good idea. Darwish advises oiling the hair and scalp once or twice a week. But she recommends approaching it with a little caution: “If you wish to use oil on your scalp, first of all, you should know what oil is suitable for you, as oiling the scalp is not a ‘one size fits all’ [solution]. Make sure that you leave the oil on your hair and scalp for up to a maximum of two to three hours. Then, you have to do a double-cleanse for the assurance of removal of all the oil, since if it’s not removed correctly, this can cause irritation on the scalp.” Those looking to add moisture to their hair can start off with a hydrating oil, like coconut, argan, and olive. Rosemary oil, on the other hand, has been known to stimulate hair follicles and help reduce hair loss.

2. Hair masks

Cream-based conditioners and hair masks are another great option, especially if you’re on the look-out for a formula that hydrates, detangles and strengthens the hair. If you already have dry or tangled hair, you risk your hair becoming even drier when you go straight to a shampoo. That’s why it’s important to add this moisturising step before your hair wash routine. Darwish said: “Hair masks are great for people with dry and fragile hair. They keep the hair hydrated and nourished. But never forget that you have to use a conditioner after rinsing your mask.”

3. Scalp scrubs

Every so often, your pre-shampoo routine should involve exfoliating your scalp. Darwish advised: “Scrubbing the scalp once a week is extremely important to remove excess sebum and dandruff from the scalp. If you have a dry scalp condition, make sure to get expert advice, as it can worsen. It is recommended to use a scrub before shampoo.” A scalp massager or brush can help you achieve proper exfoliation, while aiding in detangling your hair – something else that Darwish recommends you do, before shampooing.

4. Clarifiers

Finally, cleansing your hair and scalp to remove build-up, especially from heavy cream- or oil-based products, is important before you shampoo your hair. Darwish said: “To use a revitalising shampoo that keeps both the hair and scalp clean, before using the right shampoo for your hair type and scalp condition, is important. With this, you will deep-cleanse your hair and make sure… all the ingredients from your shampoo are absorbed into your hair and scalp. Also, it can help serums to penetrate into the deeper layers of the scalp and hair, if you are using any.”

This penultimate step is especially vital for people who use a lot of sprays and gels, added our expert. She said: “Those who are using a lot of hair care products need to double-cleanse their hair and scalp. Also, if you are exercising on a daily basis and you are among those who sweat a lot, you have to cleanse your scalp after each exercise. And no – this will not make your hair fall.”

After this last step, continue with your regular shampoo and conditioning routine, and exit the washroom with your hair feeling luxurious and rejuvenated.

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