Pre-Shampoo Treatments: The Best Ways to Pamper Your Hair BEFORE You Wash It

Who doesn’t want a head start on great hair?
Publish date:
November 11, 2015
hair treatments, scalp, kerastase, clay, dr. hauschka, Alterna, Pre-shampoo Treatments, Dessange

I don’t always wash my hair in the shower. In fact, I’d wager 80% of my showers are done with a plastic cap blocking water from hitting my hair. This is mostly because my blowouts really last a long time, but also because if I don’t overdo the shampooing, my greasies stay much more balanced.

Because of this, using traditional deep conditioners doesn’t always pan out, and most of the time, I simply overlook that corner of the shower. But there’s a class of hair products that completely obliterate this problem: pre-shampoo treatments.

There’s something for every type of hair and every type of wallet thickness but one thing they all have in common is nourishing hair strands before you even wash.

For Super-Dry Hair: Alterna Moisture Intense Oil Creme Pre-Shampoo Treatment

This was love at first pump. I’m no stranger to the glory of Alterna products, which are extremely high-quality, but I was a bit worried that this product would be heavy. That was not the case at all, as a few pumps distributed in damp hair 20 minutes before a shampoo gave me the softness, shine, and bergamot-y, long-lasting scent that I adore.

The formula contains abyssinian oil, an up-and-coming oil with some serious conditioning properties from its high levels of erucic fatty acids, which spread quickly on skin and hair and are lighter feeling. You don’t need much, so this product is a good investment as it will last for dozens of uses.

For Super-Oily Hair: Dessange Paris Purifying Clay Balancing Pre-Shampoo Treatment

What a great deal! This $12 Target exclusive is a recent French pharmacy import under the L’Oréal umbrella. It’s a goopy green paste that you brush onto your roots for 10 minutes to control oil and add body.

I have to say, this was a lot easier to use than anticipated and really got things squeaky-clean. I could see this becoming a weekly habit, for sure.

Flaky Probs: Kérastase Chronologiste Gommage Pre-Shampoo Scalp Treatment

Cheap? Nope. But does it work? Oh yes!

I really liked going to town on my scalp with these little scrubby particles (fish-safe apricot) before washing after a very long shampoo hiatus. It’s relaxing, loosens any scalp debris, and left my hair baby-soft—which, though that feels nice and signifies health, shoots down my blowout's volume, so next time I would only use it on a curly day.

Yes, I’m saying I don’t always want my hair to be baby-soft despite wanting it to be exceptionally healthy. Very adult, such reasonable.

Earthy Babes, Sign Here: Dr. Hauschka Strengthening Hair Treatment

It’s so hard not to like Dr.Hauschka products. The super complex herbal and floral scents in each product alone are enough to lock me down for good.

Pop this oil on for 20 minutes before a shower and treat yourself to chamomile, rosemary, and neem that not only smell nice, but go to work on your scalp. Rosemary is, after, all one of the most important essential oils to hair and scalp health. Neem will help you balance any fungal or microbiota issues that could be trapping follicles and causing them to shed more frequently.

Super-Damaged Hair: Phillip Kingsley Elasticizer Pre-Shampoo Treatment

This product delivers a dose of elastin to help repair your hair’s elasticity by improving its water retention and stretching ability. When delivered in an olive and castor oil base, you get extra moisture to work while you wait, and the benefits don't shampoo out—things felt spiffy to the max! Again" damp hair, 20 minutes, then wash and style as normal.

If these formulas can help you take that extra step to keep hair healthy without having to stew in the shower, I declare them easier to use than typical hair treatments. I like the ease of use and also how my hair felt truly wearable after each test, as post-shampoo deep conditioners can really weigh me down sometimes.

Photos: Maria Penaloza