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Pre-Shampoo Products: What Are They And Should You Use Them?

photo of woman getting pre shampoo treatment in salon

In the wide world of hair care, there’s one myth that’s sneakily persistent: Shampoo can fix whatever hair woes you’ve got, whether you have dark brown hair or ash blonde. Although we always preach the gospel of a well-rounded hair routine to achieve your goals, every beautiful blowout starts in the shower. More specifically, it begins with a pre-shampoo treatment.

They haven’t gotten the good press of leave-in conditioner or split-end solutions, but pre-shampoo products help ensure you’re starting with hair that’s healthy, clean, and ready for anything you can throw at (ahem, apply to) it. 

Ready to learn more about what pre-poo products are and how you can incorporate them into your daily routine? Keep reading.

Shop Our Best Pre-Shampoo Products

What is a pre-shampoo treatment?

As the name implies, this product category incorporates almost anything applied to your hair before washing it. They generally live in your shower and can come in clear and creamy formulas. Often, pre-shampoo products support the aims of your shampoo and conditioner. A hair care system that targets dandruff may have an oil that comes first, while a blowout system can rely on pre-shampoo gloss for the first step.

Hair professionals often layer products in the way an average woman almost never does, so think of the pre-shampoo formula as an easy way of emulating the greats.

Who needs pre-shampoo hair treatments?

If you’re washing your hair before bed or mixing up shampoos and conditioners, a pre-shampoo product probably won’t make a difference in the way your hair looks or feels. In salon-quality systems, each product compounds the effect of the one before it. If you make a commitment to using the same hair care lines all the way through your routine, you'll probably see more of an impact from the line's pre-wash scrub.

As far as what kind of pre-shampoo formula you need, think about how you’d like your hair to look at the very end. Do you want a visibly flake-free scalp? Is a glossy blowout the end result? Your chosen product will need to reflect that.

Which pre-shampoo product is right for you?

Don’t panic if you’re not sure which formula works with your hair. Below, we have a few favorite recommendations from the L'Oréal portfolio of brands. For personalized advice, be sure to loop in your stylist before trying something new.

Biolage R.A.W. Scalp Care Rebalance Scalp Oil

Make scalp care a priority with a formula designed for those with a scalp moisture imbalance. Formulated with peppermint, lemongrass, and fennel essential oils, this blend provides a soothing, cooling sensation while resulting in a healthy look and feel.

Biolage R.A.W. Scalp Care Rebalance Scalp Oil, $30.00 MSRP

Kérastase Soin Premier Thérapiste Strengthening Pre-Shampoo

Get your hair a therapist! Soin Premier Thérapiste Pre-Shampoo is formulated for very damaged, over-processed hair. Applied before shampooing, this bathtub must-have will help protect your hair fiber without weighing down your mane.

Kérastase Soin Premier Thérapiste Strengthening Pre-Shampoo, $40.00 MSRP

Mizani Scalp Care Pre-Treatment

The Mizani Scalp Care Pre-Treatment helps lift and remove excess buildup from the scalp. Infused with aloe, avocado oil, and eucalyptus oil, it works as the first step toward caring for scalp whether you have fine hair or coarse hair. Follow up your pre-treatment with the Scalp Care Shampoo and Conditioner. Shampoo and condition as normal.

Mizani Scalp Care Pre-Treatment, $25.99 MSRP

Kérastase Scrub Energisant

You scrub your elbows, knees, and heels—even your face! Why not include your scalp in the mix, especially if you tend to shampoo every few days and refresh with dry shampoo in between. Formulated with sea salt, vitamin b6, and salicylic acid, Kérastase's Scrub Energisant hair scrub specifically targets oily scalps by replacing traditional shampoo once a week. After using it, you'll see lifted roots, volumized hair, and a shiny-looking finish.

Kérastase Scrub Energisant, available in salon

Redken Glow Dry Pre-Shampoo Gloss Hair Scrub

For a shine-enhancing blow dry, start your hair care routine with the Glow Dry Pre-Shampoo Gloss Hair Scrub. Brayden Pelletier, Redken stylist, is a huge fan of this one.

“A pre-scrub actually helps kind of like you would use a pre-mask on your skin,” Pelletier explains.

Follow with the Diamond Oil Glow Dry Gloss Shampoo and Conditioner to achieve the best results.

Redken Glow Dry Pre-Shampoo Gloss Hair Scrub, available in salon

Kérastase Chronologiste Gommage Exfoliating Pre-Shampoo

For revitalizing, exfoliating care, try Kérastase Chronologiste Exfoliating Pre-Shampoo for scalp and hair. The rinse-out pre-shampoo formula can help breathe new life into all hair types. The line’s Bain Chronologiste Shampoo and Crème Chronologiste Hair Mask should follow.

Kérastase Chronologiste Gommage Exfoliating Pre-Shampoo, $46.00

Shu Uemura Art Of Hair Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil

Shu Uemura’s Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil is a multi-use elixir moisturizes and protects with intense nutrition. Rapidly absorbed into the hair fiber, it rebalances the moisture level of dry hair. It’s even formulated for daily use, if you happen to love washing your hair every day.

Shu Uemura Art Of Hair Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil, $69.00 MSRP

Matrix Total Results The Re-Bond Pre-Conditioner

If you’re a hair color addict, you may find yourself with residual damaged hair. Matrix’s Total Results The Re-Bond system is designed to repair internal strength after damage from three lightening services when used as directed for two weeks. Color-treated hair has never looked better.

Matrix Total Results The Re-Bond Pre-Conditioner, $18.00 MSRP 

Need more advice about pre-shampoo treatments? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.