I Tried This Pre-Shampoo Treatment for My Fine, Damaged Hair—And I Immediately Noticed Fewer Strands in My Brush

Photo: Getty Images/ Catherine Delahaye
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I’ll admit, when it comes to skin care (even though I’m lucky enough to work in a field when I get products sent to me), I’ll still spend a pretty penny. I’ll sink money and time into a quality skin-care routine. And I also just enjoy the ritual of using them. I’ll fire up a podcast, try on a new mask, unwind and relax.

Now, when it comes to hair care products–I couldn’t (hair) care less? I have very fine, thin blonde hair that I damaged into oblivion in the early 2000s. I just always assume no product or tool will work its magic. And quite often, a shampoo or hairspray can weigh my hair down. And unlike my relaxing skin-care routine, I kind of dread the process of washing, drying and styling my hair. It’s a whole long thing.

All that is to say: I’m much more skeptical about products that claim to repair damaged hair than I am skin-care, and so I guess my skepticism made me the perfect one to try out Coco & Eve’s new Bond Building Pre-Shampoo Treatment ($25). Coco & Eve has been on my radar for a while now because it has such a massive following and hugely popular reviews on Amazon.

How do you use a “bond building-pre shampoo treatment''?

This pre-shampoo treatment comes in a pump bottle and has a consistency similar to a conditioner. You apply before shampoo to damp, towel-dried hair. Make sure to work it through the roots to the ends, and keep it on for at least 10 minutes before rinsing it off. Treat it like you would a hair mask. I like to do my “non-shampoo” routine in the shower while my hair is soaking up the product (shave my legs, lather up my body gel, etc.) while avoiding getting my hair wet. It’s a little tricky to dodge the shower head, but it’s better than sitting around in my living room with a wet head. Then, after rinsing out, just continue with your typical hair care routine.

What I immediately noticed and loved about this treatment was the weight and the smell. So many pre-shampoo treatments are thick and gloopy, but this was nice and lighter—without being too runny. And then of course the smell is key. Coco & Eve’s signature scent is one of the main reasons it became so popular. It basically smells like vacation: coconut-y and light, but not overly sweet.

coco&eve pre shampoo treatment
Photo: Emily Popp

Who benefits most from this type of treatment?

You’ll get the most mileage out of this product if you’re like me and have fragile hair that’s been chemically damaged from coloring, bleaching or overheating. All those things break down hair bonds, and this treatment rebuilds three structural hair bonds: disulphide, ionic and hydrogen bonds.

What is “bond building” in hair, and why does it matter?

Now, to be honest I didn’t at first understand the science behind bond building technology, which is what makes this treatment so reparative. So I reached out to Nassim Belhaq, innovation director at Coco & Eve for a little mini science class. There are three types of bonds this treatment repairs. “Disulfide bonds, which are the bonds in hair that give its strength and shape. Heat and chemical treatment can break these bonds,” explains Belhaq. “Then there are salt/ionic bonds, which are temporary and weak bonds that can be broken when hair is wet or because of pH imbalance." Lastly: "Then there are hydrogen bonds, which are temporary but strong bonds that can be broken by water and heat. It’s responsible for hair strength, moisturization and conditioning,” he explained.

So, what did I think of Coco & Eve's bond-building pre-shampoo treatment?

But the proof is in the pudding, as they say. I used the product for just about two weeks, and even after the first use I noticed a difference. You can see in my before picture that my hair was in rough shape: shattered ends, weighed down, just “tired” looking. And in the after pic, it looks so much healthier. I also have noticed less hair in my hairbrush–something I’ve been dealing with ever since the pandemic, really. Hair breakage is a common side effect of stress.

Bottom line? It didn’t completely transform me into a hair commercial model, but it absolutely made my stressed-out, damaged hair look and feel much healthier. And for $25 and ten minutes at a time, I consider that a major win.

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