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Blake Lively

Michael Simon/startraksphoto.com

We shampoo, condition and even complete deep-cleansing masks once a week—all to get weightless, gorgeous hair like Blake Lively. We thought that this discipline put us at the peak of our hair care game—until we started noticing pre-shampoos on the shelves. Suddenly, we feel remarkably remiss; what the heck is this stuff and should we be adding it to our AM lineup?

The first thing to know is that pre-shampoos aren't entirely new—often, they function like a traditional scalp treatment. Some exfoliate the scalp while simultaneously hydrating the shafts of the hair; others are geared to reduce scalp irritation and buildup.

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According to Laini Reeves, hairstylist to celebrities like Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, those who use styling products every day can benefit from using a scalp-cleansing pre-shampoo once a week to help clear the scalp of buildup. "Just be sure you're not following it with the use of a clarifying shampoo, since it's also formulated to cleanse the scalp and can leave the head and hair too dry," Reeves said.

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Those who tend to wash their hair less frequently may also benefit from these pre-cleanse treatments, Reeves said, noting that girls with natural curls may want to reach for a more nourishing formulation, like one with avocado oil, to help keep hair hydrated.

In short, if your hair and scalp are already healthy and you don't use styling products daily, you can likely skip this extra hair care step. But if the scalp begins to feel dry or flaky, or hair starts to look limp after loading up on styling products, this extra step—whether dubbed pre-shampoo or scalp treatment—can help clear the way for hair more, well, lively.

Burt's Bees Avocado Butter Pre-Shampoo Hair Treatment, $9; Kérastase Chronologiste Exfoliating Pre-Shampoo Scalp Treatment, $44; Sachajuan Scalp Treatment, $45