Detangling, verb, the process of eliminating tangles or shed hairs in the hair so as to prevent matting and knots which can lead to breakage.
Let’s be honest here for a minute…when it comes to detangling your hair, one of two things happen: either you are completely clueless as to how to go about it that you’re losing way too much hair or you’ve got it down to a tee that the amount of shed hairs you lose is more or less a fairly acceptable amount you can feel at ease with when putting your head to sleep at night – no nightmares of hair loss or someone chopping all your hair off without your consent, catch my drift? Of course, the amount of shed hairs you have is dependent on factors such as nutrition, illness, hormones (menstrual cycle and pregnancy) and even stress so it’s best to have a rough idea of what your natural shedding is like on a regular basis (i.e. every wash day) so you can easily notice when you’re losing a lot more than usual. Detangling is an essential part of natural hair maintenance so the faster you get a hang of it, the better for your hair…and your sanity.
Like the name suggests, dry detangling is done on dry hair. This works particularly well when you need to change from one style to the next, when preparing your hair for a protective style like braids or weaves (think no heat blow dry, for example) or even when preparing your hair for wash day.
The second alternative involves detangling your hair when wet. This can be done in the shower just using water only or using conditioner to add the right amount of slip needed to make it easier to detangle. A mix of 250ml water, 2 ½ tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 2 ½ tablespoons of aloe vera juice also works well, I personally prefer this to using conditioner.
*Note – Most sites argue that natural hair is weakest specifically when dry or wet. I’ve tried both methods and I can honestly say I feel it doesn’t matter, either way you still need to be as gentle as possible with your hair, but it’s worth a shot to try them both out and see which one works for you.
Detangling with a comb/brush
Using a comb or brush is mostly a rare occasion for any naturalista mostly because, well, using them can hurt like hell if you’re going about it the wrong way. It’s not a secret that unlike straight hair, combs don’t simply glide through our kinks, curls or coils so it’s important to be extra careful. If you fancy using a comb, make sure it’s a wide tooth comb or if you prefer a brush, invest in a Denman brush (can be a little pricy, but apparently it’s worth it), a tangle teezer or any brush with evenly spaced bristles with no balls at the tips. Beware of densely spaced brushes with balls at the tips, they can easily rip your hair out…ouch! If you really must, I’d suggest using a wide tooth comb…as for the tangle teezer or brush, use at own risk.
Can I just start by saying finger detangling is the ish? No really, it is. Your fingertips may wind up looking like the second best thing since prunes once you’re done if wet detangling, but to say your fingers are the best tools you’ll ever have is an understatement. They are boss, and here’s why: using your fingers allows you to be as tender as possible with your hair compared to when using a comb or brush as that generally requires some form of power or force which is what you don’t need when working with natural hair.
1. Clip your nails
Always make sure your nails are smooth and clear of any chipped ends that could get caught in your hair while detangling. The last thing you want is strands of hair getting caught in your nails or breakage caused as a result of unkempt nails.
2. Oil your fingers
As is with finger combing, if you’re going to detangle your hair when dry, lightly coat your finger tips with your favourite oil before detangling. This helps add some slip and makes it much simpler to work with your hair.
3. Detangle in sections
Work in sections…not only is it hair smart, it’s also efficient.
4. Use your thumbs
Make sure to lodge the section of hair you want to detangle between your thumbs and index fingers and use the pads of your thumbs to work through your hair gently in a downward motion.
5. Ends to roots
I find that the best way to detangle is starting from the ends and working your way up to the roots. Try it, your hair will thank you.
6. Be patient, don’t rush
Take your sweet time, beauty doesn’t need to come with pain or tears. No one ever said you have to go all Fast and the Furious when detangling, sometimes Driving Miss Daisy will get you a whole lot further.
As with anything that concerns natural hair, detangling takes time to get used to, especially finding a technique you are not only comfortable with, but also one that works for your hair. The more practice you put in, the better (and faster) you will be at it 🙂