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Curly Nikki

Detangling Naturally Curly Hair

By January 27th, 20219 Comments

I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about detangling naturally curly and kinky hair. Below, you will find an article that I posted last year, complete with amendments.
Over these past 3 years of natural hair care, I’ve had my share of detangling session nightmares. I know I touched a bit on detangling in my routine, but I want to take this time to share my experiences, so that you can hopefully save the blood, sweat and tears-literally.

Detangling Session Lifesavers:
  1. Find a slippery conditioner! Whenever I mention slip or slippery, I mean that seaweed-y feeling that allows your fingers or comb to glide through like magic, with little hair loss. This is KEY. In many natural hair products, marshmallow root is the slippery agent (Jessicurl WDT is a good example).
  2. Let it marinate. If you have the time, let the conditioner sit and start working before you take a comb to that head. When I first hop in the shower, I usually wet my head down for 2 minutes or so. I hold my head back and under the shower stream, letting the water cascade through my hair. I then take A LOT of conditioner and apply it from root to tip…trying not to manipulate it too much, I just smoosh it through. This takes us to the next lifesaver:
  3. Add a little H20. After my hair is thoroughly saturated with conditioner, I pass my head under the shower stream again…but just for a second. This simple act is the corner stone of my detangling session. It has turned what use to be a nightmare, into a walk in the park! I don’t know why it works, but it does!!!! You can either collect water in your hands and apply it to your conditioner laden hair, or (just for a few seconds) pass your head on the shower stream. Either way, just make sure your hair feels soaking wet, heavy, and very slippery. Something about the water makes the detangling elements of the conditioner kick in to high gear! Causal mechanisms are unknown, lol. I’m sure this would work the same if you diluted your conditioner before using…
  4. Don a plastic cap. As soon as you’ve added a bit of water to your hair, throw on a plastic baggy while you handle your shower business. This step is optional, but I feel that it does work better than simply clipping my hair up and out of the way. If your bathroom gets really steamy, this can act as a mini-DT.
  5. Detangle under the shower stream. This may not work for some, but it has been a God send for me. I use either my fingers, or my wide tooth comb (Jilbere Shower Comb- Sally’s Beauty) and start with the right half of my head. By now, you probably know that I always divide my hair into two. I usually start with the front right side, and slowly detangle under the water pressure…ends up, or top down, if you’re under the pressured water, it doesn’t matter…those tangles are going to melt away. It only takes about 3 minutes per side…if that.
  6. A chilly final rinse. Although I never use hot water on my hair, it is usually set to luke warm during steps 1-5. But in order to seal those cuticles and smooth the hair, you must do the final rinse under COLD water. Ouch! I know, but it helps, trust me.

There you have it ladies. As always, this routine may not be for everyone, but it has saved me lots of time, and lots of hair ;0)

I posted the above in Oct. 2008 under Hair Tips. Since then, I’ve attempted to (1) use the Jilbere Comb solely (no finger detangling), (2), use the denman solely, and (3) comb/brush while NOT under the shower stream. I’ve come to the conclusion that my hair doesn’t like to be combed or brushed wet- although I can detangle my hair much quicker, I lose more of it. When I use my fingers, under the shower stream, the tangles melt away, and I experience little hair shed, and less breakage.
Lately, I’ve been dividing my hair into 4 sections (2 on each side), as opposed to 2. I’m liking the results and will probably continue to do so.
Everything else in my detangling routine still holds. Another tip: Make sure to keep your hair soaking wet when styling.

Later Gators,


  • tangled hair techs says:

    Thanks for the post. we have found that the best detanglers for very matted tangled hair are products like the Take Down Remover/Detangler cream.

    Most conditioners are not created to safely detangle severely matted tangled hair. In fact, they could make the matts worse.

  • Unknown says:

    Don’t forget to prepoo it helps with detangling too!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Karua: When I detangle in the shower..I will lather up really well..then comb through..but not with my hair under the stream. Sometimes i do, sometimes I don’t. But if you do, then after wards, just put a lil more condish in, but leave it in..hope this helps.


  • Kalamari says:

    If you’re detangling under the shower stream, doesn’t the water wash away most/all of the conditioner in only a couple minutes? I find that if that happens I have to add even more conditioner just to get it slippery again 🙁

  • Anonymous says:

    Nik, thanks for posting this! I pretty much do the same thing as you’ve listed…sometimes I slack on the plastic cap..and sadly..I hardly EVER do the cold rinse (tisk tisk..I know). I tried it a few times and thought I was gonna die LOL. I’m gonna give a go again..


  • ChocolateOrchid says:

    Thanks for this great post!! This is so “on time”. I’ve added oil rinsing to my routine and this seems to have helped w/my detangling issues. But now that you mention sectioning, I will be adding that to take it over the top.
    Thanks again!!

  • Maria says:

    I’ll have to try the cold water at the end. I’m not too thrilled about it, but I’ll try it! LOL

  • CURLYNIKKI says:

    Thanks Ibell!! Was it called Aussie Slip? I’ve never seen it, and you know I’m a PJ, lol, Let me know if you find some. I love me a slippery conditioner 😀

  • Anonymous says:

    Except for the plastic cap part, this is what I did when my hair was longer and I was living in apartments with better water pressure than I have now. Back then Aussie Slip was a Godsend; I’m told they don’t sell it anymore though.

    Nikki, your blog is great! Keep up the good work! 🙂

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