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The Innovation Blog

Highlighting the inventiveness and trends shaping our industry and its future.

Capitalizing on the Pre-Shampoo Trend

Consumers are craving more products, in more variety, for their hair than ever before. They desire more innovative products that can deliver the glossy, shiny, perfectly textured locks everyone wants. The latest trend to sweep the haircare world? Pre-shampoo treatments, or haircare products designed to intensively treat tresses for a variety of needs before a typical shampoo and conditioning.


For formulators looking to offer exciting new haircare products that tap into the personalization trend and the consumer desire for green products, pre-shampoos are a perfect line to focus on in 2019.

What’s a pre-poo?

Pre-shampoos, or “pre-poos,” are hair products designed to help protect hair and promote health, vitality, and appearance in a more intensive way than the average conditioner could.

Typically applied to dry hair up to a half an hour, or even as much as up to a day before sudsing in the shower, pre-shampoo treatments are typically formulated with a variety of enriched oils, active ingredients, or hydrating ingredients.

Hair masks vs. pre-shampoos: solving different needs

While, at first glance, pre-shampoos might seem similar to hair masks, these two trending haircare products aim to attack very different needs for consumers.

Pre-shampoos are typically lighter formulations, blending elements of hair oils and hair conditioners.

While both hair masks and pre-shampoos help hair by coating strands in beneficial products, hair masks are mainly for conditioning. As a result, hair masks often have a much heavier, thicker formulation than pre-shampoos. Relying on emollients, silicones, oils, and butters to hydrate dry hair, hair masks are marked by their thick, viscous, and often creamy texture. However, for consumers struggling with greasy or flatter hair, masks might not be the best solution.

On the other hand, pre-shampoos are typically lighter formulations, blending elements of hair oils and hair conditioners. Pre-shampoos are also applied solely to dry hair, unlike the wet hair needed for masks, and are usually left on for a longer period of time to reap the full effects. Additionally, pre-shampoos can be used to detangle hair. For consumers thicker or coarser hair texture, pre-shampoos are especially helpful for solving issues, as these hair textures can be washed less frequently.

Combating claims

Hair is constantly exposed to an assortment of damaging factors: sunlight, swimming in chlorinated water, dips in temperature, damage from heat-based styling tools, the chemicals from hair dyes, a build-up of styling products, and the broken strands and shafts that naturally result from rubbing wet hair with a towel. Pre-shampoos aim to aid in the management, nourishment, and repair of frazzled, damaged hair strands, via a once-weekly treatment that can be done at home.

While there are as many pre-shampoo products as there are claims, pre-shampoo formulations typically fall into three key categories: protective and preventative, moisturizing, and build-up removal.

Protective and preventive  

These all-in-one pre-poo treatments help protect hair and alleviate the problems caused by the dry heat of styling tools or the chemicals from hair dyes. With a goal of improving hair elasticity, strength, and creating strands more resilient to styling tools, protective and preventive pre-shampoos typically feature hardy ingredients like marine algae, which offers a naturally created shield of protection to the hair shaft.


Most consumers reaching for a pre-shampoo product want to revive dry, damaged strands without weighing hair down, or creating lifeless, greasy locks. Moisturizing pre-shampoo treatments help hydrate hair strands by coating the shaft in beneficial products that are lighter than conditioner and also help seal the cuticle shut.

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Natural ingredients like olive oil are particularly popular for moisturizing pre-poos, as this natural emollient quickly and effectively adds moisture, hydration, and shine to even the dullest manes.

Buildup removal

The third category in the pre-shampoo product world are formulations that improve hair strand appearance and promote scalp health by removing styling product buildup, excess oil, and dead skin. For consumers looking to “strip” their hair after too many dye jobs, or just too much hair gel, a weekly pre-shampoo product harnessing the power of exfoliants like glycolic acid is a wallet-friendly method for maintaining hair and head health.

Looking a-head?

Pardon the wordplay, but consumers are more focused than ever on finding the exact products to suit their individual hair and scalp needs.

As the customization and personalization trend in haircare continues to reign supreme in 2019, pre-shampoos highlighting the powers of natural ingredients are an excellent way for formulators and product planners to help consumers amplify their hair care routines in the new year – and maximize their results.

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