Pre-Poo vs. Hot Oil Treatment: What’s the Difference?

There are so many different terms and treatments involved in natural hair that I don’t blame anybody that’s totally confused when they first start their hair journeys. I was definitely in that same place almost two years ago.

Today we’re going to discuss the difference between hot oil treatments and pre-poos. They both involve oil (sometimes), so which is which and how do you do both? Keep reading to find out more. 

hot oil treatment and prepoo 12.10 edit

Hot Oil Treatment

I remember hot oil treatments from back in my relaxer days. I would do one maybe once every 3 months, feel accomplished & say I would start adding them to my regimen, then I would forget about them for the next 3 months. 

Here’s some information about hot oil treatments:

  • • Hot oil treatments are good to do for dry and brittle hair
  • • The purpose of doing a hot oil treatment is to add and retain moisture in the hair and utilize the individual benefits of each oil that you decide to use
  • • Hot oil treatments help with dry scalp and frizz, and they also provide body and shine to hair
  • When to do a hot oil treatment: Some people do hot oil treatments before washing their hair, some do them after conditioning. I did a hot oil treatment for the sake of writing about it for this post (and because I haven’t done one in a while) and I did mine instead of doing a normal deep condition
  • • You can make your own oil mix for a hot oil treatment or you could buy an oil mix and apply it to your hair 
  • • These treatments are best applied with an applicator bottle- boil a pot of water until it’s bubbling before placing your oil mix into it. While its easier to microwave, I read that microwaving your oils can actually take away from their benefits. 
  • How often should you do a hot oil treatment? I’d probably recommend doing one once a week to really help boost moisture retention 
  • My results: I left my oil treatment on (underneath a shower cap, conditioning cap, and big furry hat) for about an hour before washing off. 
  • • I immediately noticed that I had less breakage, although I wish I would have kept the treatment on longer. 
  • • My hair was also shinier and easier to work through. I simply rinsed my hair before doing the LOC method and my curls were more defined. 
Freshly rinsed curls with no products added after hot oil treatment


For those of you who are scratching your head like what the hell is a pre-poo, I got you. Pre-pooing simply means doing a treatment BEFORE shampooing your hair to prevent it from being stripped of natural oils (learn more about what is a pre-poo).


Like I explained above, a hot oil treatment can be a pre-poo because you can apply it to your hair before you shampoo. However, there are a few things that can be considered a pre-poo.

  • Some examples:
    • • Oil/Oil mix
    • • Water/Conditioner mix
    • • Conditioner/Oil mix
    • • Shea Butter/Oil mix
    • etc
  • • You can get pretty creative with pre-poos, whose main purpose is to prevent your hair from being stripped by harsh shampoo. 
  • • You can also pre-poo overnight before your wash day. It gives time for nutrients to fully coat your strands. Just make sure to thoroughly wash your hair to prevent any product build up. 
  • • It’s best to pre-poo hair in sections, especially if you’re applying pre-poo to dry hair. 
  • How often should you pre-poo? Every time you shampoo if you can remember. This is an especially good step to use if you have a harsh sulfate or black soap shampoo. 

Which is best?

To be honest, you have to know yourself, your hair, and your hair regimen to determine which of these extra steps to add into your regimen. You can actually do both, but you also want to make sure that you don’t over saturate your hair and cause product build up.

If it helps, I personally pre-poo my hair every time I shampoo (about twice a month), and I want to begin doing hot oil treatments twice monthly as well. Comment below and let us know which of the two is your favorite, and what products you use to prepoo and for hot oil treatments!


Victoria Sallie
About Victoria Sallie 393 Articles
Hi! My name is Victoria Sallie, and I am the founder of Talk Tresses. I began this blog as a way to document my hair journey, but it's become so much more than that. Make sure to comment or e-mail us here if you have any questions. Thanks for stopping by!