Because hair care regimens weren't complicated enough, now you're telling us we need to add in another
step? Well, says London-based stylist Michael Van Clarke
, all those products we rely on to tame our hair, aren't actually caring for it, hence the need for a pre-wash treatment. "A lot of the products on the hair market now are actually cosmetic products — they're not 'hair care,' they're more 'hair makeup,'" he says. "They use cheaper ingredients like silicone and synthetic treatments as a quick way to create an illusion in hair. People believe their hair is healthier, but it's actually not — it just appears healthier that day."
According to Van Clarke, this overuse of "hair makeup" can cause weaker, more brittle strands. That's because ingredients like silicone displace the moisture in the hair shaft, he says, which makes hair less flexible and breaks down its internal structure.
A pre-wash treatment works by adding that hydration back into the hair. Van Clarke suggests using it every other shampoo. He advises clients to add it to the hair at night — if you apply it a couple of hours before bedtime, it will absorb into the hair completely — and then wash it out in the morning. This is then followed by their usual shampoo and conditioning routine. Another suggestion, says Van Clarke, is to put it in your hair before you hit the gym — you know you are going to wash your hair afterwards, so it's an easy way to add the treatment to your routine.
While your hair will feel healthier after using, Van Clarke says the biggest benefit is that hair will stay healthier for longer. I.e., the hair at your root is when it's the most pristine — it hasn't been touched by chemicals, sun, dryness, and other damage. As your hair grows, it gets more and more damaged so by the time it reaches your mid-shaft and ends, it's in the worst shape. Van Clarke says using a pre-wash treatment will keep the quality of the root hair further down the hair shaft, resulting in thicker, shinier, smoother hair as it grows. Now, if you'll excuse us, we need to go wash our hair...
Michael Van Clarke 3" More Inches Pre-Wash Treatment, $38, available at Bloomingdale's; Burt's Bees Avocado Butter Pre-Shampoo Hair Treatment, $8.99, available at Drugstore.com.