Finger Detangling Curly Hair

FACT- I experience 80% less shed hair when I finger detangle! 

  • A good, slippery wash out conditioner
  • An oil (optional) 
  • Your 10 digits
  • A spray bottle 
  • Time
  • Moisturizing shampoos make finger detangling easy because it softens and makes the hair more manageable.
  • Adding coconut or olive oil to dry hair the night before washing can aid in the detangling process. These oils provide lots of slip and make the hair soft. 
  • Part hair into small sections. The smaller the section, the easier it is to detangle.
  • Always use a wash out/instant conditioner. Do not be afraid to pile on the conditioner! The more the better. 
Read on for more tips!>>>

Detangling Tips for Length Retention- Natural Hair Care

by Michelle of Radiant-Brown-Beauty

Let’s face it. Detangling your hair can be a chore. Sometimes you just don’t wanna! But, it’s inevitable. You've gotta let down your mane and get to detangling and removing shed hair… eventually.  If you never detangle your hair, it would eventually mat up. I’m not an expert on locs, but I think the only reason you wouldn’t want to detangle your hair is because you want to loc it.  At any rate, let’s assume detangled tresses and length retention are your goals. Hence the title of this post!

Read On and Chime in>>>

Detangling Natural Hair- Wet or Dry?

We are often taught not to put a comb to our hair unless it is drenched in conditioner. We are also taught never to brush the hair when wet. So which is it? In what state is our hair weaker or stronger? To answer this question, we must understand the structure of the hair strand. Each strand of hair is made up of keratin proteins. Keratin has a long strand of amino acids made up of cohesive chains held together by the following chemical bonds: hydrogen, saline, hydrophobic, and the strongest of the bonds, disulfide bridges.

Read On!>>>

Finger Detangling 101

Finger detangling is a delicate and intricate procedure. If done properly, it is entirely possible to go without combs and have an exclusive finger combing routine. This is especially beneficial for women who have hair that easily breaks during the detangling process. It is also possible to incorporate finger combing as a first part to your detangling routine prior to combing in order to reduce breakage.

Here are two very good videos that demonstrate the process of finger detangling on dry hair and wet or damp hair:

Read On!>>>

Breaking One of the Detangling Commandments

(Please excuse the possessive “natural’s”, LOL!)

by Shelli of Hairscapades

Okay, so I may be (figuratively) hung, drawn, and quartered for this one. Alright … alright … I’m being dramatic. But … I’m about to suggest something that will probably go counter to a “natural hair” great commandment that most have probably read over and over again.


See, what had happened was … I’ve been detangling from TIPS to ROOTS for forever. Aaaaaaand, it has served me well for the most part. But, the last few wash days, I started breaking this rule. Let me premise this by saying that I primarily use my fingers and only pull out the Ouidad Double Detangler once my hair is pretty thoroughly detangled. However, my detangling sessions were becoming more tedious and lengthy due to the length of my hair. I would slather on tons of conditioner, but starting from the tips resulted in me having to work the shed strands in each section down the length of my hair over and over … AND OVER again.

Read On!>>>

The Ouch-Free Guide to Detangling Natural Hair

One of the most labor intensive aspects of the natural hair journey is detangling. It can also be the most confusing. Let's go ahead and break it down:

Step 1
When trying to decide the best course of action for detangling your hair, it is always best to start with an understanding of how your hair behaves.

Ask yourself, is your hair:
  • curly, or tightly coiled?
  • transitioning or completely natural?
  • incredibly tangle prone when loose in water?
  • weak, brittle, or easily broken?

Never Underestimate the Power of the Shower Stream

by Shelli of Hairscapades

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple of months now to highlight, share and co-sign on a trick that I read on CurlyNikki long ago, but only started employing more recently. There are several viable and effective options for detangling naturally curly hair: dry with oil, slightly damp with oil and/or conditioner, wet and saturated with conditioner, fingers, wide-tooth comb, Denman, etc. I’m not going to go into the various techniques here, but if you want to learn more, check out this detailed post on CurlyNikki: Detangling Methods for Natural Hair.

Best Detangling Tips & Tools for Natural Hair

by NaturallyChelsea via Naturallycurly

Detangling is one of the dreaded tasks that every natural must do if she wishes to properly maintain her hair but let’s face it- it can be a pain in the posterior. It is a constant battle between getting the tangles out and removing shed hair but not snagging the hair or over manipulating it. With all of this headache associated with this process I thought it would be helpful to give a thorough breakdown of the tools and methods that can help us get through this ordeal while keeping as much hair as possible on our heads and out of our combs and brushes.

Whilst your fingers may not be a tool per se, they do a great job at getting the tangles out. Because you are utilizing an actual part of your body it is easier for you to feel a tangle and gently pry it apart. Also it is easier to use the correct amount of force and adjust the distance between the “teeth” of your makeshift comb by widening or closing your fingers. It is the best option for persons with fine hair that splits and breaks easily. Also for frequent wash and goers this is one of the best ways to retain your curl pattern whilst washing to avoid having to use a lot of product to get it back. This by far is the gentlest way to detangle your hair but it is also the lengthiest. Most curlies who finger detangle can attest to the lengthy detangling times but then again they probably have the nicest ends.

Read On!>>>

Natural Hair Breakage- 5 Tips for Prevention

If you’re looking to rock longer (or in my case, BIGGER!) hair, your time is better spent focusing on length retention. There’s not much you can do to force your scalp to grow hair faster, but you CAN focus on hair care habits that prevent breakage and make sure every inch you grow is maintained throughout the months and years. Although the entire length of my hair is rarely exposed to the elements (yay shrinkage!), there are five important things I do to handle my coils with care.

1. Don’t go guerilla during washing
There comes a morning in every natural’s life when you wake up and realize your TWA has transformed into a massive force field of gloriously textured hair. It seemed like just the other day you could wash and condition in six minutes, right? Well, “just the other day” was actually two years ago, and now you must find efficient ways to care for your coils without losing your sanity. Don’t attack your hair! Grab some butterfly clips and divide your hair into manageable sections. No more swirling your hands around an entire sudsy head.

Read On!>>>

Transitioning: Tips For A Good Detangling Sesh

Bennii Blast of The Culture Pine

During my long term transition, there have been several occasions where I have experienced what I like to call the triple d’s: ‘Dreaded-Detangling-Days’, which fell upon me earlier on in my transition. I’m sure I’m not alone in experiencing this so I know you recognise that feeling of having every nerve in your body being worked beyond belief. Yes – it IS that serious!

Read On!>>>

Finger Combing Tight Curly Natural Hair

by Alicia James of

One of the scariest things about having tight curly/coily hair is tangles, tangles, and more tangles. Most of us with natural hair always opt for the hairstyle that will keep our hair manageable when it comes to wash day.

Read On>>>

Minimizing Tangles from a Wash & Go

"Minimizing Knots and Tangles From A Wash and Go- 
Tight Curly/Coily Natural Hair"

by Alicia James of

In the beginning of my natural hair journey all I wore was a wash and go. I didn’t know anything about twist outs, braid outs, bantu knot outs, etc. I had just big chopped, and was looking for a simple, but beautiful hairstyle. The longer my hair got, and the more I experimented with my hair, the less I leaned on the wash and go. It seemed to me that the tangles and knots were excessive and it didn’t last more than a day. It was even more frustrating that my hair literally stays wet an entire day. By the time I went to bed, parts of my hair were still wet. I would wake up with smooshed hair and crazy tangles. I found myself constantly ripping my hair out just to achieve this so called “amazing low manipulation hairstyle”. Eventually I gave up on it, and said it was a style I could not do, because the tangles and knots were too much.


A New Detangling Tip for Natural Hair

by Shelli of Hairscapades

I’ve mentioned a few times that I have been experiencing some pretty beastly detangling sessions in the last month or two. I mean, whether dry or wet, I’ve been battling matted, snarled, knotted hair like a mug!! Well, these shower skirmishes have required me to pull out ALL of my detangling big guns and invent a new one!! But before I list my tips, I wanted to share a link to a great article published on CurlyNikki last June: Tips on Detangling the Worst Knots.

Now, that article espouses the use of a wide-tooth comb to remove tangles, and that’s great for many. However, I’ve found my fine strands fare much better with finger detangling. So, that is something I think you have to judge for yourself.

So, without further ado, here are a few techniques that I’ve found help me tackle terrible tangles.


Finger Detangling 101

by Shelli of Hairscapades

As many of you know, I’m a fan of finger detangling. I started employing this method of detangling almost exclusively in February 2011 when I joined the Curly Nikki presents Kim Coles’ Grow Out Challenge. Prior to that, I used a wide tooth comb in the shower with conditioner saturated hair. However, last year I started experimenting with finger detangling and just found it to be far more gentle on my fine strands. I definitely attribute part of my length retention over the last year to it.

Finger detangling allows me to “feel” tangles so that I can carefully separate the hair and ease them out. With a comb, unless I hit a major snare that would stop the comb or brush in its tracks, I realized that I had more than likely been tearing through tangles. As I finger detangle now, I wince to think of the damage I was doing in the past with a comb because I didn’t feel the knots and ties. For those with hair of hardier stock, this may not be a problem. But, at the very least, I believe that combing through significant tangles prior to finger detangling disrupts the cuticle and, on the more severe end of the spectrum, causes breakage.

I finger detangle at a variety of stages. During my weekly pre-poo session, I “dry” detangle with Vatika oil and de-shed (remove “captured” shed hair) as I demonstrated in How I Pre-Poo. Dry detangling was something I would have NEVER though that I would do!! But, because my hair is almost always stretched from TnCs, twist-outs or bunned WnG and was well detangled the prior wash session, I am able to gently detangle and de-shed my dry hair with oil. That first finger-detangling session tends to take care of most of the heavy-hitters. Then, I will finish detangling under the water stream while rinsing my deep conditioner and finally after I apply my leave-in. As my hair is pretty detangled once I get to the leave-in step, I will sometimes gently “chase” my finger detangling with a wide-tooth comb. However, I don’t use the comb regularly. I have discovered that making certain that I do a final detangle after I apply my leave-in results in an easier detangling session the next wash day.

Anywho, here are a few tutorials that show how others finger detangle. As you’ll see, there is no one “right” way to do it. There are a variety of techniques, so you just have to figure out what works best for you!

Do you finger detangle? If so, how and why? If not, do you think that you would try it?

Finger Detangling Natural Hair

Watch the lovely NaturalChica as she shares her finger detangling routine with us--

Do you finger detangle?

CN *Sings*:

...and I say hell yeah...

How to Detangle Natural Hair

I heart Naptural85!
Check out her detangling routine and tips... and note, she starts with a thorough finger detangle!

"Here's my updated routine on how I detangle my natural hair. This is long over due, since my hair has grown, I have had to change things up slightly in my detangling process. Also, the natural products I use to detangle are different than what I used in the past! So I hope this helps!"

Thanks to Sarah for the submission!

Dry, Damp or Wet Detangling Natural Hair

Tosha writes:

I'm confused. I've read several places that our hair is at its weakest when wet and manipulation should be kept to a minimal. Many of these articles recommend I detangle my hair while dry. Other articles mention the fragile nature of hair and argue against dry detangling. These articles recommend I detangle my wet hair with lots of conditioner. I lose hair using both methods. Which is the right one? How are you ladies detangling your hair?

CN Says:

Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong answer. It's going to sound like a cop out (and a bit cliche), but 'no two heads are alike'. I've had success with both methods. I wrote an article on this earlier this year. See below!


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 and lubricate 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, bottom up, removing knots, tangles and shed hairs
  • OPTIONAL- Comb through with a wide tooth comb or paddle brush to be sure all shed hairs have been removed
  • 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 (bottom up) -- detangling the rest under the water stream with your fingers or a shower comb (or Ouidad Double Detangler). 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 dry 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, moving from ends to roots, removing the knots and tangles
  • OPTIONAL- 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.

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! No matter which you choose, remember to be gentle, dammit!

What's your detangling routine? How's it working for you?
Don't forget to describe your hair (length and things of that nature)!

The Best Tool for Detangling and Curl Definition

Leeza writes:

I have a question about hair detangling and curl definition. I dislike the Tangle Teezer and Denman Brush due to them both ripping and breaking off my hair (4a/4b/4c). However, I loved the curl definition they both offered. Are there any other tools out there that can give me curl definition without the breakage? Thanks in advance.

CN Says:

Them 10 digits! I've used everything from the Tangle Teezer to the K Cutter, but always come back to finger detangling. It's much, much more time consuming, but totally worth the effort. And although I don't wash and go anymore, trust that finger styling will lend itself to some amazing definition.

I notice that when I ditch all the tools, I retain length and enjoy much welcomed volume. My ends never look as good as they do when I've been finger detangling for a few months. But time constraints and Baby G often lead to amnesia and I find myself back in the grips of 'the next best detangling tool'.

The Denman, aka Shredder, wasn't the best detangler, but left me with the most gorgeous clumpy curls. Unfortunately, it also left my already fine hair feeling even more sparse. After a few months of regular detangling and styling use, I experienced a for real set back.

The Tangle Teezer detangles like a friggin' dream. It's quick, doesn't pull out a ton of hair and gives your dry hair the look of a blow-out. All good, right? No. After a few weeks of use, I noticed my ends looked like I'd sent them through a paper shredder. It tortured my fine strands and again, I experienced a set back.

I'm not a fan of the wide tooth combs or paddle brushes. Every few months, I get the notion and impulsively pick one up while on a field trip to the Beauty Supply... but the affair never lasts long. Wide tooth combs feel woefully ineffective, both during the process, and after when I discover rogue mats and tangles. Also, I got zero definition from wide tooth combs, just frizzy, peicey curls. Paddle brushes, like the Denman, give great clumpage, but harshly pull through the hair, which of course leads to damage in the long run. I do still like and use the Ouidad Double Detangler. I don't use it often, but if I had to recommend one tool, that'd be it. It provides no help in the definition department but is great at effective, gentle detangling.

Which brings us back to Finger Styling. It rocks... it's time consuming... but it rocks. It'll take a little practice (and a crap load of patience) mastering the technique of detangling solely with your fingers, but you'll enjoy a much happier head of hair. I do it in small sections, working from the ends up, and I'm able to gently remove shed hairs and tangles with minimal (if any) breakage. One of the benefits is that you can actually feel where the knots and problem areas are... that's a major advantage! Also, as long as your finger nails are trimmed, you don't have to worry about snagging your strands on anything sharp or jagged, which reduces breakage and split ends as well.

In the styling department, fingers also win. Have you ever heard of shingling or finger curling? I got the absolute best wash and gos from these techniques.
After applying a leave-in, I'd rake gel (Herbal Essence Totally Twisted Gel) through small sections at a time. The raking motion (which captured chunks of hair between my fingers) would create perfect little spirals.

If you haven't tried finger detangling or styling, and you're dealing with breakage and splits, ditch the tools and take up this practice for a month or more. It may be just the remedy you were looking for.

Top Tools Used to Detangle Natural Hair

by Chai of Back to Curly

A few months back I put together a few tips and methods I’d learned over the years for properly detangling natural hair, the majority of which I still practice today. The basics still apply especially after embarking on this year’s hair challenge, but after recently reading through many of your regimens, I thought it’d be helpful to add to the pile of goodness.

Now, while I’m happy to proclaim that my detangling routine is no longer as arduous a struggle as say…three years ago, it’s still my least anticipated part of my weekly routine. With that said, I still think it’s always important to learn and improve on caring for natural hair no matter if you’re newly natural or 10 years in. Implementing and evaluating hair’s needs on a consistent basis will no doubt save you not only time, but increase overall hair health.


This was by far the most mentioned method to detangling & after my first attempt last week while in the shower I can understand why. After pre-pooing and sectioning hair into quadrants, I began finger detangling & loosening up small & large tangles. According to Miss Priss, you’re able to catch more knots & believe it or not our fingers are in fact “The Original Tool!” So true, but often when fingers aren’t enough hand held tools can be called in to finish the job.

Whenever I think hair reviews for Natural Hair I instantly think EmpressRi, and sure enough she reviewed this comb early last year. This is a great alternative for those who abhor the use of a brush of any kind when detangling or styling hair, the Ouidad according to Isabelle is “kind of like using two shower combs at once in quick succession.” If you’re endowed with thick/dense hair, my guess is this would be ideal. Fine Haired curlies might be safer with a more gentler tool.

Even I have a special place in my heart for this comb and the reason why I stopped using it was simply because I’d failed to carry it with me during my most recent move. This tool works wonders while in the shower using a steady stream of water when hair is soaking wet. Not great for overall curl definition, but gentle enough on hair to free up previous tangles. Ideal for use during the Summer for those wash-n-go’s or when you want an easy no fuss routine, without worrying about excess breakage. Whether you fall into line with the 2a’s or 4c’s, it seems to work well across the board.

This method is popular amongst naturals who love their original Denman brush for detangling & defining, yet prefer a gentler tug when smoothing and eliminating tangles. This is great no matter your hair’s texture & especially if you notice excess breakage or split ends caused by over manipulation. A great how-to on modifying the Denman brush is a vid from A Grl Can Mac.

What We All Agree On…

  • Sectioning is essential
  • A great detangling conditioner with adequate slip helps tremendously (think Aussie Moist, Suave Condish, Herbal Essences)
  • A wide toothed comb will always have your hair’s back…

*Please fill me in! If there are any tips I might’ve glanced over or completely left out, drop 'em in the comments!*

Quickly Detangle 4a Natural Hair

Check out how Naptural85 quickly detangles her self-described 4a hair:

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