When you have natural hair, detangling it can be one of the most frustrating and tiresome projects.
And yes, it’s a project.
If you have natural hair, many of us probably have the same stories.
We’ve spent hours trying to gently detangle without ripping our hair out.
We’ve had to give our arms periodic breaks when they get tired from staying up too long.
While detangling our hair can sometimes be downright annoying, it doesn’t have to be if we follow the right steps.
If you’re tired of detangling your hair the hard way, here are a few ways you can make it easier.
The Right Products
Detangling your hair is more than just brushing a wide-tooth comb or brush through it.
It starts with the right products.
If you have natural hair, you’re mostly left with two options.
One, you could use a detangler.
Two, you could use a hydrating conditioner.
Detanglers are just as they sound.
These products are essentially a moisturizer that is going to help soften your hair and help release the knots and tangles.
A few popular detanglers for natural hair are: SheaMoisture’s Raw Shea Butter Moisturizing Detangler, Kinky-Curly Knot Today Leave In Detangler, and Honey Baby Naturals Knot My Honey Instant Detangler.
These aren’t your only options.
If you’ve tried these and are looking for other great detanglers for natural hair, there are a few others to consider.
While you might feel like your process requires a detangler, that’s not completely true.
As mentioned, you can also get the process done with a series of great conditioners.
What makes a conditioner the right product for the job is the amount of “slip” it provides.
Some conditioners, at least the bad ones, can leave your hair feeling dry and brittle.
You don’t want this.
You want a conditioner that will allow you to glide through your locks.
Some great conditioners to try are: Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Moisturizing and Detangling Conditioner, Aunt Jackie’s In Control Moisturizing & Softening Conditioner, and Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner.
The products used for detangling are absolutely necessary, but it’s equally important to make sure you have the right tools as well.
The Right Tools
Even if you have all the right products, you won’t get that far without the proper tools.
First, you’re going to need whatever tool you plan on detangling with.
When it comes to this step in the process, you have options.
You might be thinking that a wide-tooth comb is the best option to start with.
A wide-tooth comb is a mistake to start with unless you want to spend unnecessary time trying to detangle your hair.
First, you want to start with a tool that is specifically meant for detangling.
Detangling brushes are heaven-sent.
When I say these brushes were specifically made to make our lives easier, they were.
There’s a combination of reasons why these brushes work so well.
First, the multiple bristles help get through multiple strands of hair to quicken the process.
Two, the amount of bristles also minimize how much hair breakage you’re experiencing.
Another benefit to these detangling brushes is that they’re durable.
We’ve all had those insane moments where we try to detangle our hair with a regular comb.
Have you snapped it in half?
Have you noticed when the teeth suddenly start breaking in your hair?
You don’t have to worry about that with detangling brushes.
All in all, detangling brushes offer speed, flexibility, and durability when using them in our hair.
And while they’re essential to making the process smoother, they’re not the only tool you’re going to need.
The second tool you’re going to need is a spray bottle.
We’re not talking about those bottles that spray out similarly to perfume.
You’ll need a longer mist from a product like this.
As we’ll discuss later, wet or damp hair is an important part to the detangling process, but no one is telling you to hop in the shower before.
Using a spray bottle to wet your hair is all you need to do.
The third tool you’ll need are hair clips.
If you have natural hair, you know that it is impossible to handle all of your hair at once.
Get yourself a set of alligator or butterfly clips so you can focus on one section of hair at a time.
Lastly, and this might sound a bit scary, you’ll need a pair of hair scissors.
Now, this might seem like a red flag to most, but it’s absolutely necessary.
Most tangles can be detangled, but not all of them.
If you’ve ever experienced a single-strand knot, you know that they’re the worst.
And that they’re practically impossible to get rid of.
If you have never experienced this type of knot, think about knotting a piece of thread.
Once the knot is created, it’s impossible to get out.
More so, attempting to get it out actually makes it worse.
So while you want to take your time with regular knots, single-strand knots are going to have to be cut off at the ends.
Now, once you have the proper tools and products, you’re ready to begin detangling your hair.
Step One: Wet/Dampen Your Hair
Let’s get started.
The first thing you’re going to want to do when detangling your hair is wet it.
Now, it shouldn’t be dripping wet, but it should still be more than a few minutes from drying.
First, wet hair is actually weaker than dry hair.
Our hair is made up of proteins called keratin, and they become weaker when our hair is wet.
This might make you wonder why we detangle our hair while it’s wet.
While it is true that our hair is weaker while wet, it instantly becomes softer as well.
This is why you don’t want to soak your hair, but you do want to make sure it’s damp.
It will help create a happy medium where your hair isn’t completely weak, but it’s also more pliable and flexible to work with.
To best wet your hair, you’re going to use that spray bottle we discussed earlier.
Make sure every area of your hair is wet, and while water is a great place to start, the process is made even better when combined with one of the detanglers or conditioners we mentioned before.
Step Two: Apply A Slippery Conditioner
The second thing you’re going to want to do is add your favorite detangler or conditioner to your hair.
Now, some might put this step after step three on this list, but it’s up to you and your hair.
Sometimes, we let our hair get away from us, especially if it’s been braided down beneath a wig or a weave.
And when it finally comes time to detangle it, we’re left with severely matted hair.
If that’s the case for you, apply the conditioner first.
You want to try to get it to infiltrate every inch of your hair.
And yes, infiltrate, because this is war!
The water will help the conditioner get between the strands and instantly soften the hair.
What you can also do is add some of the conditioner to your spray bottle.
Combine a good amount of water and a bit of your conditioner and shake, shake, shake.
Spraying this through your hair will help break through some of the matted areas as well.
And if your hair isn’t matted, step three could actually become your step one, but the process would continue in the same manner.
Step Three: Section Your Hair
The next step in the process of detangling hair is sectioning it.
Depending on the length and thickness of your hair, you’ll want to separate it into about 6 or more sections.
And here’s why.
Based on your hair texture, detangled hair can easily look like tangled hair.
Essentially, it’s impossible to know what areas of your hair you’ve detangled and what areas you haven’t.
By detangling in sections, not only are you making sure that every part of your hair is detangled, but you’ll also be sure that you haven’t gone to detangle the same area twice.
Another great reason to section your hair is to avoid breakage.
Trying to detangle too much hair can cause you to use unnecessary force.
And trust us, your arms are stronger than your hair so you will break it.
By sectioning your hair, the areas will be more manageable which will help you remain patient and gentle with your locks.
While you can section your hair in any matter you want, I’ve found that it’s easier to break your head into four quadrants first.
Try sectioning straight down the middle and then straight across.
You can easily break these four sections into smaller sections when and if necessary.
Step Four: Detangle With Your Hands First
Now, I wouldn’t recommend that you immediately begin detangling with a comb or a brush.
The first thing you’ll want to do is begin detangling with your hands first.
And there’s a reason for it.
Hair tools can be so impersonal.
And while I might be talking about them like they’re a person, they can’t feel anything in the same manner that your hands can.
Because it’s a tool, it’s hard to feel when you’re actually ripping your hair out versus detangling it.
Using your fingers gives you a hand up.
It allows you to feel certain areas that may require more attention and delicacy.
This will essentially help you lose less hair in the detangling process.
While it might take a while longer, you’ll probably be more satisfied that you didn’t lose any unnecessary hair.
Step Five: Detangle With A Brush
Now is the time to really get the work done.
The entire process boils down to actually detangling your hair which you can do with any detangling brush of your choice.
And even for this step, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.
For some reason, when it comes to working on our hair, our natural instinct is to start at the top and work our way down.
We instantly bring whatever tool we’re using to the crown of our heads and slide it downwards.
When detangling your hair, this is the biggest mistake you could make.
Imagine working on a section of hair that contains around ten knots – five at the top and five at the bottom.
If you start working at the top, you might think you’re smoothing out the knots, but in reality, you’re moving them down and making them form bigger knots with those at the bottom of your hair.
This is why the biggest rule to detangling your hair is starting at the ends.
What you want to do is start at the bottom and hold the hair just above the section you’re working on.
This stops you from continuously tugging at your scalp.
As you smooth out any knots and detangle your hair, keep moving upwards until the entire section is knot-free.
How To Prevent Bad Tangles
While detangling is an absolutely necessary part of having natural hair, you can also make sure that you minimize the amount of tangles that appear when it’s time.
There are a few easy ways you can prevent really bad knots and tangles and it’s mostly while you’re asleep.
One, you should always be using a satin head wrap or bonnet and pillowcase.
Tangles often happen when our hair experiences friction, and having a cotton head wrap will do that to you.
Instead, you want to use satin products that are soft and gentle on the hair and on your edges.
You also want to use a satin pillowcase.
We’ve probably all had those mornings where we clearly slept crazy because our headwrap is no longer on our heads.
In case this happens, a satin pillowcase will help protect your hair because it won’t cause the same friction a regular cotton case would.
Lastly, don’t ever sleep with your hair out.
While you might be too lazy to maneuver it into something, putting your hair into a protective style before you sleep is essential.
Whether it’s braids or twists, this can easily diminish the amount of tangles that might appear in our hair.
How To Detangle Natural Hair Conclusion
Whether you’re newly natural or you’ve been natural for years, detangling our hair is never something we look forward to.
Even so, it doesn’t have to be something we dread.
Detangling our hair is an important part to make sure our hair stays healthy and strong.
And you only need a few things to get it done.
Between this list, the right products and tools, and patience, your natural hair will be detangled in no time.