Pre-Shampoo Treatment or Deep Conditioner: Which is better?

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There’s a whole world of haircare products dedicated to conditioning your hair, and it seems like that category has grown dramatically in the last few years. Between bond repair products, pre-shampoo oils, and more, everyone can find a product that works for your hair!

I alternate between using pre-shampoo oils and deep conditioners, but have you ever wondered which one would be better for you?

Deep Conditioners

pros: easy to use, is applied to freshly shampooed clean hair to maximize product penetration, usually applied in the shower or at a shampoo bowl in the salon so the heat/steam from the water can help soften the hair to allow absorption

cons: requires a hair wash prior to use, can make your hair feel heavy or weighed down, may add time in the shower since they often need about 5-10 minutes to sit on the hair

Pre-Shampoo Oils

pros: designed to be applied directly on dry hair, can easily be worked into a busy routine because it doesn’t add more shower time, often extremely oily so very softening for the hair

cons: can be messy to apply if it’s a spray, may not leave your hair as soft as a deep conditioner would because that depends on the shampoo and conditioner that you follow up with

Both are good, both offer benefits to the hair, but which is right for you?

If your hair is broken, snapping off, dry, colored/lightened, a pre-shampoo treatment is a great way to soften, moisturize, and support the hair prior to going in with shampoo. It’s like putting a nice strong bandaid on the delicate parts to protect them.

If your hair feels weak, dry, lifeless, and looks damaged, try a deep conditioner. Not only does it feel good to work the product through your hair while in the shower, but you can be sure to really coat each and every strand as you work it in.

Between both of these products, either one would be good to work into a routine! As far as frequency goes, it really depends on what your hair condition is. Very damaged hair could benefit from weekly treatments, and otherwise healthy hair could benefit from once-a-month treatments!

My favorite pre-shampoo oil is by Rene Furtuerer. I love that it’s in a spray, but I do find that it can make quite a mess as I spray it in. I drape a towel over my shoulders to try to catch the overspray. And I love any of the deep conditioners listed in this post!


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Rachel says · 10.03.23

Thank you for sharing your knowledge along with product recs! I have genuinely loved the products I bought based off your recommendation. Is it possible to damage your hair by using a deep conditioner too often?