For years, I did hot oil and deep conditioning treatments after shampooing and conditioning my hair. That was just the way my hairdressers always did it — wash, condition, THEN slather on oil, stick me under a dryer or bonnet or weird spaceman hot lamp until I’m done, then rinse and repeat. I never questioned it, but it always seemed like a pain to me. You mean I gotta wash it out AGAIN?

I honestly hadn’t even heard of pre-pooing until late last year, when I discovered Healthy Textures, a blog dedicated to the well being and growth of relaxed and natural hair. Although primarily the information and styles are for relaxed textures, the healthy hair tips are great for bellas of all hair types. Not only does the author, Macherie, have an excellent post on the topic — The Benefits of Pre-pooing, but she’s also got a video tutorial! She advises that it’s a great way to use up hot oils, protein conditioners, and old conditioners you haven’t used yet. I came late to the pre-poo party, but now that I’m here, I’m staying! And telling everyone I know about how great pre-shampoo treatments can be.

When I first heard the term pre-poo, I giggled like a five year old for a second, but the concept grabbed me right away. Doing a pre-shampoo treatment saves me so much time. I slather on some hot oil or deep conditioner, cover my curls with a plastic cap, then put on my little hair steaming bonnet. Or I do a pre-poo just as Macherie did in the video, with a wet towel and a plastic cap, and leave it on for as long as an hour while I kick back and watch Best Week Ever or The Soup or Clean House or… you get the picture. It’s marvelous “me” time. Sometimes I double up the beautification and give myself a pedi, or wear a clay mask on my face while I pre-poo, too. Every couple of weeks I make that my Sunday beauty ritual.

I’ve never done an overnight pre-poo, Macherie advises against it… but quite a few bellas on Nappturality, Long Hair Care Forums, and such all seem to have tried that and I haven’t read any complaints on their forums.

So what do I use to pre-poo? My curls love an oil treatment, and lately I’ve been using Lippia Tea Hair Oil from Zosimos Botanicals, a cosmetics, skin care, and hair care company so green that they formulate their products in a wind-powered workshop. $11 for a sizable bottle that’s lasted me through quite a few pre-poos. In West African countries, Lippia tea is traditionally served as a relaxation tonic at the end of the work day. And according to the peeps at Aveda, it’s also popular in Brazilian folk medicine, and has been used “for centuries for its soothing properties to remedy irritation and discomfort.” Zosimos Botanicals blends it with olive oil and perilla seed oil. This stuff smells more like something you’d cook with, but it makes my curls divinely soft when used as a pre-poo.

Of course, you can use any oil you’d like, including the VO5 stuff, Queen Helene, any of the brands you get at Sally’s, or you can turn to your kitchen for regular olive oil, sweet almond oil, or jojoba. Many bellas create their own pre-poo mix, including other known-to-be-nourishing ingredients like honey, rosemary essential oil, castor oil, neem oil, or Indian amla oil — psst, you can get a interesting mix of oils from From Nature With Love.

What has pre-pooing done for me? It’s helped to make my hair softer to the touch and more manageable for comb-throughs. I’ve been noticing less shedding, and my ends aren’t as brittle and prone to knotting up. That’s IF, and only if I keep up my beauty regimen regularly.

So, bellas — do you pre-poo? And if you do, what do you use?

** I found the beautiful afro photo at Nature’s Parlour, a UK natural hair website.

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