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January 15, 2011

Detangling Methods for Natural Hair


Hola Chicas,

After reading through the Best Practices- Detangling Dry or Wet comments, and reflecting on my own experiences and research around the web, there seems to be three common and effective detangling methods. Below, I'll list them and provide tips on how to execute each effectively.

Sink/Mirror Detangling

  • Apply an oil (olive, coconut, jojoba, grapeseed, avocado, etc.) to soften the hair and add slip. Be liberal. Some like to dampen the hair with water first, some don't. I don't.
  • Separate the hair into 4-8 sections for easier handling
  • Choose a section and detangle gently with fingers, removing the larger knots
  • Comb through with a wide tooth or shower comb (some follow up with a paddle or denman brush to remove shed hairs)
  • Twist this section and move on to the next. Repeat until your entire head is lubed up, detangled, and twisted.
  • Once in the shower, you can (1) shampoo and condition in the twists/sections, (2) take them all down and be careful not to re-tangle with excessive handling during the wash and condition process, or (3) take down one section at time, shampoo, condition, re-twist. I personally take them all down and handle gently.
Shower Detangling
  • Thoroughly saturate hair with water in the shower, and divide into two (left and right)
  • Cleanse hair with shampoo-- one side at a time
  • Apply slippery conditioner of the day to both sides in a smooshing motion
  • Pass head back under the shower stream for a moment, for better distribution and added slip
  • Clip the hair up and out of the way while you complete shower rituals
  • Take down the right side and finger detangle a bit -- detangling the rest under the water stream with Ouidad Double Detangler (or a wide tooth comb) after the big knots are out. Follow up with the left side. If the conditioner is washed away and tangles are left, add more conditioner, and repeat. The power of the water stream and the slip of the conditioner should make detangling a breeze!

Damp Detangling
  • Spritz the hair with water and apply a conditioner or moisturizing butter to soften and add slip
  • Separate the hair into 4-8 sections for easier handling
  • Choose a section and detangle gently with fingers, removing the larger knots
  • Comb through with a wide tooth or shower comb (some use a paddle brush)
  • Twist this section and move on to the next
  • Once in the shower, you can (1) shampoo and condition in the twists/sections, (2) take them all down and be careful not to re-tangle with excessive handling during the wash and condition process, or (3) take down one section at time, shampoo, condition, re-twist. I take them all down and handle gently.

Healthy natural hair is a process, not a goal. Our hair needs change with the seasons, with age, and with life circumstances. I was already juggling hubby, the blog, my therapy clients, a (neglected) social life, and my resolution to cook more*. Enter G Money. I now have even less time to dedicate to pampering my tresses. My hair has sadly taken a back seat (gone are the days of 3x a week conditioning and styling, and bi-weekly hennas) to other responsibilities, but my limited time has helped me assess my past routines and cut the fat. Less is always more. I can't stress that enough, and it's high time I practice what I preach. Despite the massive post-partum shedding (which is overwhelming and quite depressing), my hair is thriving with my current low manipulation, and dry detangling routine:

I wash every 3 weeks:
  • Detangle dry (with oil, my fingers, and a wide tooth comb), wash, and condition.
  • Chunky twists on damp hair with a leave-in conditioner (10-12 total)
  • Remove the twists and rock messy (high and low) buns for a week or more, using a scarf to keep my edges smooth at night
  • Dry Twist-n-Curl- remove bun, detangle with a moisturizing curl cream, twist (10), set ends on rollers- for special occasions or when I grow bored of the bun. I pineapple at night to preserve the look.
  • Bun again (when the TnC gets old and frizzy)
  • Dry Twist-n-Curl again
In the 3 week time frame, I probably do a dry Twist-n-Curl three times... usually on weekends. I like this routine because my hair always looks good despite the fact that I've spent almost zero time on it. The dry set will last 4-5 days as long as I pineapple every night.

My advice? Try each detangling method (modify to your needs and schedule) and see which works best. How will you know which one is for you? Trust me, it'll be obvious-- excessive amounts of hair in the comb, hair blocking the shower drain, or tiny broken pieces on the sink, are all red flags. I quickly learned that I can't damp detangle. My hair gets stiff, brittle, and tangles more. Others can't shower detangle-- they loose excessive amounts of hair due to matting and shedding. Still others can't dry detangle due to breakage and impossible knotting. Some thrive on daily co-washing, others grow to waist length with once a month wash sessions. Natural hair care is trial and error. In the words of Wanda Sykes, 'it can be a damn science lab', and you won't know what works until you experiment a bit. I usually try routines for a month, assess, and proceed from there. Hopefully the list above will give you a starting point for your detangling routine!

*P.S. How are you guys doing on your new year's resolutions? Maybe mine should have been to work out less, be more impatient, and stress more. I've got those on lock.

35 Chime in!:

Jamila Reddy said...

LOL at your "should have been" new years resolutions. i definitely feel you on that.

Anonymous said...

Excellent tips Nikki! I'm a dry detangler too.

Anonymous said...

very helpful post! Thanks so much :)

*all my love*
A

Lori said...

Love this! Thanks a million!

Anonymous said...

I shower detangle about once a week. Thanks for this post though, I may try the damp detangling in the future.

Anonymous said...

i don't really do any of these =/...i usually detangle after shampooing once my conditioner is in, then i twist it and sit under a heat cap,then rinse with the twist in. i tried the shower thing once or twice i always felt like i had to rush through it before the hot water runs out or before i faint LOL now i just detangle sitting in the middle of the floor while looking at TV.

Barbara Naturally Speaking said...

I detangle in the shower with conditioner, olive oil, and a wide tooth comb. I know the feeling about shortening routines do to so many responsibilities. My new years resolution involves cowash and major styling on my hair to every 2 weeks instead of every 2 days or even 1 x week, at least while it's cold. I'm holding strong. I had to laugh at what your resolutions should have been. I know the feeling.

Barbara of barbaranaturallyspeaking.com

Annie Gracie said...

It's interesting...I never really knew or understood the science of natural hair until I got into Youtube and hair care forums. I learn something new everyday it seems! I cannot dry detangle per se unless my hair has already been detangled in the shower and styled previously, such as after a twist out. I only just realized the dynamics of detangling my hair to actually REMOVE the shed hair! I never really thought of it that way...with that purpose, although I knew that hair came out when I detangled anyway. All that being said, now that I'm looking at it from a different perspective, I detangle in the shower with a wide tooth comb and then use the Denman to remove shed hair. It makes a world of difference!

Anonymous said...

I do number one and my hair is stronger, healthier, and splits less. I use EVOO.

Anonymous said...

I detangle my hair while it's dry. I have never had any problems doing it that way. Sometimes I add a little conditioner and oil just to soften it up a little, but that is only when I am really in the mood to pamper my hair. My new years hair resolution was to see how my hair will do if I only wash it once a month. I wanted to try to keep it in protective styles longer just to make myself leave it alone. My hair is shoulder length but seems SO thin to me. I decided to take more vitamins and make sure that I am getting good nutrients in my diet. We shall see!!

Anonymous said...

THanks Nikki! This is just what I needed. I'm going to try them all and hope that one works for me.

Monika said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Becca said...

Ditto Monika! I love that you're transparent and don't pretend to be this natural hair know it all. I respect that and also trust you. Thanks for the blog Nikki!

honeybrown1976 said...

I shower detangle once or twice a week with conditioner (as I co-wash or as I rinse out my DC) with a wide-toothed comb. Thanks for the post for other options.

Breanna said...

I like the way fellow Youtuber Naptural85 does her detangling, I tried it before and it came out nice.


httpv://www.youtube.com/user/Naptural85#p/search/1/PQEAUNj0Exw

Anonymous said...

Awesome post! I do Sink/Mirror detangling. I dampen my hair after apply oil and then finger detangle (no combs/brushed for me). I shampoo and ACV rinse in the twisted sections, towel blot, apply my leave-in and style. My regimen is super simple and yields great results.

Breanna said...

Hopefully I did the link right this time lol.......

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQEAUNj0Exw

CURLYNIKKI said...

hey breanna, I love that vid. I'm trying to reach her to get permission to embed. Maybe you could reach her b4 me?

Thanks ladies for your comments and for sharing your experiences! And Monika and Becca, thank you! I'm not an expert, I'm always learning and researching too. Plus, my hair, like every one else's, continues to evolve.

later gators,
nik

Anonymous said...

Great information as always. Not sure whichc method I should follow because my hair is acting up right now.

Eva said...

LOL at your shoulda resolutions. I should've resolved to eat out more, get fat, and hold grudges!

sassncurlz said...

Great post! I have been contemplating on dry detangling for awhile, now with these tips I can finally give it a try!

Breanna said...

I was just curious has anyone tried the product called "Tangle Tweezer" thats used to detangle hair? I just brought it this evening after hearing good things on BGLH and just wondered if you ladies have used this to detangle your hair with as well?

CURLYNIKKI said...

Intriguing. I just went to the Tangle Teezer website and may have to check that out.

Shakirah said...

Great post! I've been successful with detangling after i wash and condition in four sections, finger detangle while the conditioner is in, band in eight sections to dry after I apply my kckt as my leave-in, seal ends with darcy botanicals cherry kernel and palm fruit butter...once mostly dry, i finish detangling with my trusty afro pick, section by section.

Breanna said...

I brought mine at Sally's Beauty Store for $9.99, if you have a Sally's card it's $9.49. I'll wash my hair tomorrow and see how it works on me.

Annie Gracie said...

I call myself trying to dry detangle after a twist out today and OMG...! It was over before it started. I couldn't detangle a strand! Huge FAIL! I ended up throwing deep conditioner and sitting with a towel wrapped around for an hour. Finished detangling in the shower!

Itsjustmish8 said...

Thanks for the info. I try to detangle during the condition process after shampoo. I will try your method CurlyNikki and see how is it works for me!

Sharmer said...

I totally swear by the shower method. Best way to detangle as far as I am concerned

Anonymous said...

Excellent information Nikki! Off to try the dry detangling method now!

Georgia said...

Great idea for a thread. Thanks for this :-D I need as much help as I can get.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post! It comes at a great time because I have been shedding hair big time lately and I don't know what to do anymore! For me shower detangling = massive sheds, dry detangling = massive sheds. My hair is mid-back length but with all the shedding I am losing an insane amount of volume and it is driving me postal!

Carla said...

I'm constantly looking for new methods for my hair. Since I sweat like a pig at the gym, I have to wash my hair no less (and no more) than twice a week (shampoo once, co-wash the other). I would like to wash more, but its too long and it will get too dry and end up losing more hair than I have to with the constant detangling. We all have to find what works for us and our lifestyles.

Anonymous said...

I am still trynna figure it out, I use the kimmay method and it has worked well for me, it is long as heck though and I hear the method, gets longer when as ur hair gets longer, she said the method takes basically all day! I can't do that, so I will have to do something else or modify it! So I basically put olive oil the night before n leave in (overnight)and then do the shower detangling, never really remember using any other method cause I always had the hairdresser wash and straighten my hair n now I am just starting to do my own hair. I feel people on the shower thing though, I swear I be about to fall out, and have to stop n take a break:( but the water really is good for my hair n makes the comb go through it real smoothly!:)

Anonymous said...

my hair is very easy to de-tangle when wet but then again it's about close to 4" (when stretched). It's not your texture Nikki but I think it's 4a in the mid back and front but 4b on the sides and top front/back setion and very dense. I'm puzzled but happy. I'm still new to handling my natural hair and I don't like a lot of fuss (saving it for when it gets longer) so I don't fret a lot about it...I finger curl it in the front and back and be done.

mangomadness said...

My Tips:
-If you use a tool (comb/brush), to detangle try finger combing first to get rid of major knots and lessen breakage.
-If detangling after shampooing doesn’t work for you, try detangling *before* shampooing or *after* DCing.
-If detangling in the shower doesn’t work for you, try detangling in front of a mirror.
-If detangling with conditioner-soaked hair doesn’t work for you, try detangling with an oil/water mix or an aloe vera gel/oil mix.
-If detangling on soaking wet hair doesn’t work for you, try the “damp detangling method”: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKvF_YOyR98).
-Keeping your hair in stretched styles makes detangling infinitely easier.

/////////////////////

Here is a good article on finger detangling method:
(http://datfunkyfro.blogspot.com/2011/02/focus-onfinger-detangling.html)

Here are some YouTube videos on finger detangling:
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZAAizJfhg4)
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_8ZLVFt7fc)

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