Can I Pre-Shampoo With Coconut Oil?

Apply oil just to the ends of your hair or throughout.

Photo: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The best pre-shampoo conditioners moisturize and strengthen your hair. That prevents nasty breakage and split ends and gives your hair a healthy glow. It's best to use an oil conditioning treatment as a pre-shampoo. Oil is nearly impossible to rinse away with water alone, and you don't want your hair to look greasy. Not only can you pre-shampoo with coconut oil, it has a specific conditioning advantage over other types of oil. Get ready to go tropical with this fragrant, hair-taming oil.

Coconut Oil Advantages

Don't take just anyone's word for it -- coconut oil treatments prevent hair damage, working its magic for various hair types, a 2003 study in the "Journal of Cosmetic Science" indicated. While many oils only protect your hair by coating the outside, coconut oil also penetrates right into the hair shaft. Researchers noted that coconut oil has a "high affinity for hair proteins." Translation: Coconut oil not only moisturizes, but strengthens your hair by reducing its protein loss.


If someone's been talking up sunflower oil or mineral oil as a pre-shampoo conditioner, give her the facts. During the 2003 study, the result for those oils when compared with coconut oil was a fail. Coconut oil was the only one of the three that proved worthwhile for reducing protein loss when used as a pre-shampoo treatment -- and also when used after shampooing. It worked for both damaged and undamaged hair. Sunflower and mineral oils were basically useless for that purpose.


The amount of coconut oil to use in a pre-shampoo depends on the length of your hair, and whether you plan to use the oil mainly on the ends or throughout. You might need only a tablespoon or two, or you might need 1/4 cup. Warming the oil first may boost the effects. Applying oil to the ends is easy enough, but if you'd like to use it throughout your hair, you can get an even application with a misting bottle. For best results, cover your hair afterward with a plastic shower cap or a clean plastic shopping bag. Kick back and relax for 30 minutes, then wash your hair as usual.


If you'd like, you can blend coconut oil with other substances in your pre-shampoo treatment. Many women swear by olive oil as a conditioner, and you might find this a sweet combination. Another option is vitamin E, a common ingredient in commercial hair conditioners. Add your own by poking a hole in a few vitamin E gel caps and pouring the liquid into the coconut oil.

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