The Ultimate Guide To Detangling Natural Hair

Of all hair textures, curly hair seems to have the likeliest propensity to tangle.
The spiral shape of a curl makes it easy to become entangled with other strands next to it. All it takes is one lazy night falling asleep without a bonnet, or using the wrong detangling shampoo, and—before you know it—your hair is a melded mess. Or even worse, a cluster of interwoven hairs, that if not treated delicately, will find their way off of your head and wrapped around the teeth of your comb. How you detangle natural hair is equally as important as the detangling products you rely on to make it a breeze. Regularly detangling natural hair not only helps keep it healthier, but also gives you the frizz-free definition that you’ve been seeking.

The Benefits Of Detangling Natural Hair

There are several reasons why properly detangling natural hair is beneficial. For starters, it helps to keep breakage at bay. The more tangled your hair is, the harder it is to comb through it without breaking pieces off. It also helps hair to stay hydrated. When applying products to tangled hair, there’s a chance that your moisturizers won’t be even distributed if your hair isn’t smoothed out. Combing through your strands both before and after you apply any moisturizers will ensure that every section of your hair gets the moisture it needs.

What Is The Best Way To Detangle Natural Hair?

While the detangling process can vary from person to person, there are some common tactics that will help to smooth out snarls with minimal effort, tugging, and breakage. There are two important factors to consider. First—and probably the number one rule for just about everything related to curly hair—moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Secondly, you want to use the right tools. Follow these steps for detangling natural hair.

Work in small sections.

Yanking at your hair haphazardly is a surefire way to make the detangling process as miserable as possible. Instead, part hair in at least four sections before you begin detangling. It will not only make your hair more manageable to work with, but it also ensures that you’re doing a thorough job removing any knots while helping to maximize curl definition.

Add lots of moisture.

With moisture being the top priority for curly hair, coils should be highly hydrated as you detangle. Avoid any shampoo and conditioner formulas that might leave your hair feeling dry. We love the sulfate-free Goddess Strength Fortifying Shampoo with Castor Oil. It helps nourish and fortify dry, weak curls. Before detangling you can also coat curls with the slip-inducing (smooth glide across hair to reduce tugging) Sacred Tiare 4-in-1 Combing Creme that helps to detangle without breakage.

Use a wide-tooth comb.

A comb designed specifically for detangling will also work, but either way, steer clear of any fine-toothed combs. Curls can be delicate and need a tool that can separate clumps and undo knots without excess tugging and potential breakage.

Start at the ends.

Your natural inclination may be to start combing from root to ends, but many professional hairstylists will suggest detangling in the opposite direction, from the ends upward. This prevents unnecessary pulling of the hair from the root, which can actually cause more damage. This is particularly important if you’re detangling after a protective style. The hair at the root may already be somewhat compromised from weeks of wearing braids, so you don’t want to risk any unnecessary damage with a comb or brush.

Don’t detangle dry.

Always detangle hair while it's wet or at least damp. Try coating hair with a hair oil or a deep conditioning treatment like the Monoi Repairing Hair Mask to give it some slip and to soften it up before combing through.

Keep a spray bottle handy.

On the same note of keeping hair well-hydrated while you detangle, you may need to re-wet your strands as you work. Keep a spray bottle of water nearby that you can spritz onto each section before you comb through. This is particularly useful when you’re detangling natural curls before shampooing or after applying your conditioner. You should also do another spritz and comb pass-through before applying styling products.

Give yourself time.

Removing knots isn’t fun, but rushing through detangling may cause damage and more work in the long run, so take your time. A proper detangle session shouldn’t be an hours-long process, but it’s not something that you want to do when you’re pressed for time, either. Even on the curliest of heads, you can expect to spend about 15 minutes completing a proper comb through.

How Often Should You Detangle Natural Hair?

You most likely won’t be taking a comb or brush to your curls daily, but detangling should happen at least every wash day. There's really no such thing as too much detangling with curly hair. For the most defined curls, detangle in two parts: before shampooing and then again while you condition.

If you’re wearing a wash and go style, gently separate damp hair with your fingers before you shampoo, and then again after you condition using a comb. Aim to detangle every wash day, even if it’s every few days. To do this, start with an oil-based product like the Monoi Repairing Leave-In Conditioner as a pre-shampoo detangling treatment. Use a comb to remove any large tangles and knots before you wash. Doing it beforehand makes it easier to detangle even further at the condition phase, which equates to more definition and less breakage.

Focus your deeper detangling efforts on the conditioning stage of your wash day. This is the time to thoroughly clear any knots before you move on to your leave-in conditioners or other styling products. After your hair and scalp are clean and you’ve applied and rinsed out your conditioner, apply the Black Vanilla 4-in-1 Combing Creme. You can either finger comb it through (this is particularly helpful when you want to feel any knot the comb can’t catch) or use a detangling brush.

The combing creme adds moisture to hair and softens it up so that your comb glides through a lot easier. The smoother your strands are before you get to styling, the more likely you are to get more curl definition and less frizz once your styling products are applied.

If you’re taking down a protective style, you should always do a thorough detangling immediately after. You can also apply these products to your braids or twists as you take them out to help ease the process a bit and make detangling a lot less stressful on your strands. Wetting hair immediately after removing braids or twists might only matte it up further and it will be a lot more difficult to detangle, so do a comb through using an oil or cream before you shampoo instead.

How Do You Detangle Matted Hair Painlessly?

If your hair has become matted, whether it’s from having braids or twists installed for a while or sleeping with your hair uncovered, it is possible to remove snarls and tangles painlessly. The key is to add moisture to it continuously. An oil-laced conditioner like Monoi Repairing Conditioner will give it a nice amount of elasticity and slip to make combing through a lot easier. If possible, create sections and use a comb instead of a brush. Make tiny raking motions from the ends until each section is smoothed out.

Now that you’re clear on how to properly detangle, keep hair from knotting at the drying phase with these tips on How To Dry Natural Hair Without Damage.

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