Things people get excited about: time-saving beauty tips, multitasking products, and getting out of the door in less than 10 minutes. A thing no one gets excited about: making their beauty routine longer. But what if we told you that there was a secret hair product that could solve your dry hair problem in one go? Enter pre-shampoo, the extra step that just might make all the difference. We caught up with two hair experts—Annabel Kingsley, trichologist at Philip Kingsley, and Eric Spengler, senior vice president of research and development at Living Proof—to learn all about this magical treatment and why it’ll make your hair soft and shiny again. Is it worth the extra time? You can decide for yourself—but we’re leaning toward hell yes.
Keep scrolling to learn all about pre-shampoo!
First things first—what exactly is pre-shampoo, and why would anyone want to use it? “Pre-shampoo conditioning treatments help to remoisturize the hair shaft to improve elasticity, strength, resilience, and manageability—all of which diminish over time due to general wear and tear and daily styling,” Kingsley explains. “Hair should in fact stretch a third of its length when wet before breaking, but this is rarely the case.” Philip Kingsley’s cult-favorite Elasticizer ($50) helps your strands stay stretchy by dousing them with moisture, as well as smoothing the cuticle and protecting the inner cortex. (Fun fact: The renowned trichologist created the product especially for Audrey Hepburn, who asked for an endless supply to be sent to her home in Switzerland.)
Another benefit? Helping your color last longer. Spengler says that Living Proof’s new Pre-Shampoo Treatment ($26) is perfect for anyone with color-treated hair. “It will dramatically seal in color, so your hair color will stay more vibrant and truer, longer,” he says. He also cites its ability to reduce breakage: In clinical studies, it proved to reduce breakage by 85% after one use. Basically, if your hair is tired and breaks easily, or even if you’re just trying to grow out your hair, pre-shampoo is the knight in shining armor you’ve been waiting for.
All pre-shampoos are different, but all of them generally work the same way—they coat your strands to protect them and soak in to strengthen them, then are rinsed away. Living Proof’s formula has a color-seal complex to protect hair color from fading in particular. “It’s more powerful than any color-care shampoo, and its sealing action is firmly in place on your hair when it’s needed most: right before you get in the shower,” Spengler promises. Another major benefit is moisture, which in turn increases stretch, strength, and bounce. If frizziness is the bane of your existence, Kingsley says a pre-shampoo also smoothes the hair cuticle and makes it less porous, which in turn increases manageability and shine. Though most of us consider shampooing a normal everyday ritual (okay, maybe every other day, or every third day), it’s not exactly the gentlest thing for your hair; in fact, Spengler says the majority of hair color is lost by simply rinsing your hair with water, not even the shampoo itself.
Great news: Anyone can use pre-shampoo! However, if you have dry, damaged, porous, brittle, breaking, or dull hair, Kingsley says you’ll notice the benefits of a pre-shampoo conditioner even more. “Strands will snap much less easily, the ends will appear healthier and less split, and the hair will be easier to manage and have more shine,” she promises. As for application, all you have to do is scoop or squeeze out the treatment, apply it evenly throughout your hair, wait a few minutes depending on the treatment, hop in the shower, and shampoo and condition per usual.
Yes, we realize that adding an extra product to your haircare routine isn’t exactly music to your bank account’s ears. Which is why, if you want to dip your toe in, you can try using a hydrating oil in place of a pricey pre-shampoo. Women in India have been applying oil to their strands before shampooing for years, as well as women with curly or kinky strands. Make sure to only use coconut oil, avocado oil, or olive oil.
Keep scrolling to shop some products you can use before your shampoo!
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