Why You Should Be Pre-Washing Your Hair
Why You Should Be Pre-Washing Your Hair

Why You Should Be Pre-Washing Your Hair

Along with the usual hair masks and serums, the experts say a pre-wash treatment could be one of the most vital steps for protecting against harsh minerals, detoxing the scalp and promoting extra nourishment. Here’s a rundown of the main benefits – plus, the ones we rate.
By Sapna Rao

All products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however we may make commission on some products.

What A Pre-Wash Treatment Is

“A pre-wash hair treatment is something you apply to the hair before getting into the shower. Apply it to your unwashed scalp, lengths and ends, then leave it to soak in before rinsing, shampooing and conditioning as normal.” – Lucie Macleod, founder of Hair Syrup

“For anyone who needs to repair damage, or simply wants to maintain healthier hair, pre-wash treatments are a worthy addition to your routine. Our hair contains millions of disulphide bonds which give it structure, strength, and stability. These can break down due to damage, so supporting them with a pre-wash treatment helps restore and repair it from the inside out.” – Mark Coates, Olaplex international education manager

What It Does

“If you struggle with dryness, damage and tangled hair, shampoo and conditioner alone may not be enough to revive and restore your hair. Incorporating a pre-wash treatment will help lock in more moisture and promote a healthier scalp. This can also encourage growth by adding a layer of protection, while also encouraging softness, vibrancy and adding nourishment. Pre-washing is so simple compared to deep conditioning masks you'd have to apply mid-shower – ideal if you’re looking to streamline your routine.” – Lucie

“These treatments can help remedy a range of problems, whether they’re caused by thermal, chemical or environmental factors. Thermal damage is caused by curling irons, blow dryers, flat irons, etc, while chemical damage is related to colouring the hair or things like perms, relaxers or keratin treatments. Environmental damage can be caused by UV rays, humidity, extreme hot/cold weather conditions and pollution. Therefore, pre-wash treatments are essential to help strengthen and protect the hair's structure and restore both its appearance and texture.” –  Mark 

How To Use Them

“It will vary from product to product, but as for our own, we recommend coating the scalp and lengths of your hair at least an hour prior to washing. Start with the scalp and gradually make your way down from the root to the lengths and ends to ensure all areas are saturated. Once your head is covered, it's time to massage the product into your scalp with your fingers or a scalp-massaging brush. You can then simply leave the oil to absorb and wash  the excess out thoroughly with shampoo, followed by a conditioner then styling your hair as normal.” – Lucie

The Tips & Tricks

“A great tip for getting the most out of your pre-wash treatment is to apply some sort of cap to stop the heat from escaping – a regular shower cap works well. Also, I highly recommend taking the time to massage the product into your scalp. This stimulates blood flow, reduces head-tension and encourages hair growth, plus it ensures you’re applying the product to the areas that are really prone to breakage and dryness.” – Lucie

“To boost the results, prime your hair for deeper repair. For this, our No.0 Intensive Bond Building Hair Treatment is ideal. Alongside the No.3, you can achieve 68% more repair and three-times stronger hair.” – Mark 

The Different Options

“There are plenty of products out there for different hair types – we have several versions to combat a range of hair-related woes. You can even take a quiz on our website to find the best one for you. When choosing your pre-wash, I recommend choosing one that’s silicone free, so that it doesn't coat or prevent the rest of your products from penetrating the shaft.” – Lucie

“Olaplex is compatible with all hair types, from virgin, to coloured, textured, or highly compromised hair. Although a pre-wash product cannot treat thinning hair, hair loss, or promote new growth, it will keep the hair you have looking healthy and strong.”– Mark 

Interested In Giving A Pre-Wash A Go? Here Are Some Worth Trying

No.3 Hair Perfector, £28 | Olaplex

This weekly treatment promises to repair the hair and reduce breakage from within. Apply it from root to tip and let it sit for at least ten minutes. Follow this up with shampoo and conditioner, and to boost results further, use the No.1 product first for an even more intensive treatment.

Available at SpaceNK.com

The Original, £13.95 | Hair Syrup

The ‘original’ from Hair Syrup’s extensive range is specifically designed to nourish, hydrate and protect the hair. Apply it to the full lengths of your hair, like you would a mask – which is made so easy thanks to the nozzle applicator – and watch as it gets to work combating frizz to give hair a sleeker finish. 

Available at BeautyBay.com

Macadamia Oil, £25 | Bread Beauty Supply

At first glance, this nourishing product might seem like any other serum or oil, but what makes it special is its versatility. In this case, it works great as a pre-shampoo to add extra shine and moisture to the strands. Fuelled by its hero ingredient, macadamia nut oil, the product is rich in naturally occurring squalene too, meaning you’ll notice a much softer, glossier feel to your hair afterwards.

Available at CultBeauty.co.uk

NaturalTech Renewing Pro Boost Superactive, £51 | Davines

Before moving onto your regular shampoo and conditioner, set aside 10-15 minutes to apply this treatment. Not only is it great for cleaning and reinvigorating the scalp, it also helps absorb any other products you apply – you’ll see the difference almost immediately.

Available at AllBeauty.com

Dream Filter Treatment, £26 | Colour Wow

Hard minerals are often found in shower water and this, combined with the harsh effects of some sulphate or silicone infused shampoos, means your hair can sometimes look a bit lacklustre, even after a fresh wash. To remedy this, saturate your lengths with this antibacterial hair treatment which will remove any harsh build-up in as little as three minutes. 

Available at LookFantastic.com

Pre-Shampoo Colour Protect Mask, £29 | R+Co

 R+Co’s ChromoHance Complex works to boost colour vibrancy and longevity to keep your hair looking fresher for longer. Along with targeting colour-treated hair, it uses a blend of amino acids and hydrolysed soy protein to give the hair a softer feel, while also improving its elasticity to prevent against damage and maintain a sleeker appearance.

Available at CultBeauty.co.uk

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