Google Header -->
Skip to main content
Curly Nikki

How Do You Detangle Your Natural Hair?

By January 27th, 202144 Comments

How Do You Detangle Your Natural Hair?
Hola Chicas,

Over the years I’ve tried many detangling methods– dry, wet, with a paddle brush, using a denman, fingers only, in sections, under the water stream, hell, I’ve even tried oil rinsing! I’ve done it all, but with my current length and density, the following works best for me:

  • I get in the shower with loose, dry hair (usually an old Twist-n-Curl).
  • I wet it down, apply loads of conditioner, and let it marinate.
  • I then split my hair down the middle, and start with the left side.
  • I section out the back (pinning the rest of the left side up and out of the way) and detangle with my fingers and Ouidad comb under the shower stream.
  • I two strand twist that section and repeat with the other two sections on that side (one above my ear, and one by my face).
  • Repeat with the right side.
  • I end up with three product free, thoroughly detangled, twisted sections on each side– 6 total.
  • I then get out of the shower,and blot dry. I take down one twisted section at a time, and apply my leave-in/styler prior to re-twisting it (I usually turn one twisted section into two twists).

This routine allows me to slowly and gently detangle small sections at a time, resulting in fewer hairs loss. Twisting the detangled sections keeps my curls from knotting back up (I used to skip this step, making my efforts futile), and makes for a much quicker styling session.

What about you chicas? Share your detangling routine!

-Provide a brief description of your hair.
-What is your most effective detangling technique?
-Has it changed over time?
-What’s your current length/thickness?

**For transitioners needing detangling help, check out this great thread started by Laleepop14!**


  • Kayla says:

    Also, I'm a 4a/4b girl. My hair is dense. I have thick,medium, AND fine strands. Yeah, I know. It's crazy.

  • Kayla says:

    I'm 14 and just started doing my own hair about 7 months ago. Since I keep my hair in twists for 3 weeks, I finger detangle on dry hair w/ coconut oil. I section it off in small sections and finger detangle. When I'm done, I twist the detangled section up and move on to the next.

    I guess that would be considered a pre-poo. I do that process the day before wash day. It cuts down a lot of time! 🙂

    I love getting to know my hair and finding what's right/wrong for it. Nothing but trial and error.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am a 4a/4b natural with collarbone length hair. Once a week, I section my dry, stretched hair and finger-detangle with EVCO to get shed hairs and tangles out. It takes about 30 minutes.

    After detangling, I loosely twist each section and shampoo. After shampooing, I ACV rinse, apply a leave-in and braid for a braid-out. I air-dry overnight and unravel the braids the next day. I rock the braid-out as is or style it into a bun or updo. I wear my styles for a week without re-braiding/re-doing them. Then I wash my hair and start the process over.

    I'm loving my low-maintenance natural hair! 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    My hair is almost at bra strap length and untangling it lately has been super time consuming PLUS I have been shedding A LOT of hair. I used to untangle with a wide tooth comb in the shower but have been using my denman brush so that I can cut down on fairy knots …this is not working for me. I feel like everytime I wash and untangle myhair I am causing more split ends…I am trying to grow my hair really long but untangling takes over an hour. What should I do…btw I pre-poo and cowash often.

  • Anonymous says:

    The fastest and easiest way to detangle is the Tangle Teezer. I used it for the first time. I detangled outside of the shower and used a good detangling leave in. Mind you my hair had not been combed in 2 weeks and I did not section my hair when I washed and conditioned. I highly recommend. You can purchase at Sallys. My hair is about shoulder length and much more coarse in the crown. Easy breezy, tangle teez.

  • Anonymous says:

    the mix also has sweet almond oil..

  • Anonymous says:

    i might be the LAZIEST natural in the world. I'm seriously a 4c (whoop whoop Ghana!!). I go for weeks without really doing anything to my fro apart from spritzing with water and reshaping (with light pats of my hand) in the morning. So after a month of not combing =*locs*.lool. I drench my hair in water and wash with condiitioner without bothering to detangle. Then I saturate my hair with conditioner and leave in for like 5 hours with a plastic bag on top as i do random things. then i wash out as normal. dont really need to use shampoo at this point. use more conditioner to wash it in the shower. then i slather with shea butter, jojoba and grapseed oil mix and sheamisture smoothie. then i use a brush to go through sections of my hair tying up eeach section with a scrunchie as i finish. then i go back over each section brushing carefully and then twisting it up. i seal my end with jamaican black castor oil. honestly i lose about the same amount of hair i normally would after a week of brushing.loool. to each her own. i do not recommend this but just wanted to show you that laziness isnt horrible for your hair sometimes. lool. my hair is about 2 inchs from my head if you see me rocking a fro and prob bra strap length if i straighten it now (which i do only twice a year for trims- loving the low maintenance).

  • Channing says:

    I forgot to add I rub the 4 sections down heavy w/coconut oil the night before I plan to wash…

    then I wash my hair w/ clarifying shampoo [i know, i'm breakin all sorts of natural hair rules ut I promise my hair has never been better] then follow up with a DC mixed w/honey and evoo

  • Channing says:

    My hair is marker sized curls in the front half [ear to ear] and around a 2in or so perimiter in the back and pen sized in the middle. Straight it is btw apl and bsl because i'm gradually cutting out color I had in the front. marker curl strands are fine, pen curls are course and my hair is extra thick.

    Honestly, I may be the only natural who does this but I detangle dry. I section my hair into 4's, take one section grab like a 2in section spray some detangler [i use some SoftSheeen ouchless something or another] and comb through w/ a wide tooth comb then follow with a med size, then i braid the section and reapeat. Then wash and condition as usual w/my hair in braids.

    This is my newest method, I've tried all the wet variations but they just didn't work for me, I do not like handling wet hair and it just takes WAAAY too long no matter how I did it. I love my hair but I am just not interested in spending hours [plural] doing it. This cuts my entire detangle/wash time down to half maybe less and my broken hairs i used to get…gone!

  • Anonymous says:

    I part my hair into four sections, and detangle before wetting in the shower. I secure each section with clips.
    Next, I hop in the shower and wet each section and wash my scalp and the length of my hair with shampoo. Once done washing a section, I make a small loose bun and secure the section with a clip.. I repeat these steps for the conditioning phase.

    Tangle-free results!

  • momo7 says:

    -Provide a brief description of your hair.
    …Tighter curls in the middle (two patches that are a headache to detangle OMG) and looser curls in the back, front, top, etc.
    …Low/Medium porosity (btwn the two)
    …fine in the looser parts and seemingly coarse in the tighter parts (the middle)

    -What is your most effective detangling technique?
    …wet hair in the shower (already in 4 or 6 sections/clips/wrapped around itself)…co-wash/shampoo each section…apply conditioner to each section…wash body…wet hair a little and use my fingers to detangle each section (I sometimes use a paddle brush but detangling with my fingers is MUCH easier and no breakage)…rinse out leaving a film (about 10%-20%)…apply leave in mixture to each section out of shower.

    -Has it changed over time?
    Yes, I used to just comb my hair back with conditioner and a denman when I went on one of many cutting sprees years ago. Now it seems to just change between the amount of sections I use (btwn 4 and 6) and how I section it (annoying as ^#$%#).

    -What's your current length/thickness?

    My hair is very thick. When stretched it's grazing my armpit now I guess. It was under the shoulder blade (or whatever lol). I clip when I don't like how my ends feel so that could change often?! =) I just want to maintain (improve) a healthy head of hair (and scalp). I still say, if I had the face for it, I'd chop all my hair off in a hot second! I just may do it one day though. The shortest I've cut it was above the ear….this time may be just plain old bald. lmbo

  • amaka says:

    For me what I've found works best for detangling is Marseille soap – it's 72% olive oil soap. My hair is type 4a/b and is about 7 inches stretched so not hugely long but enough to make detangling a chore.

    I jump in the shower with my hair in 5 or 6 sections, wet it and then smooth my hair with the block of soap. Alternatively i just kind of rub my hands on the soap and then smooth it onto my hair (this way it doesn't generate so much of a lather), working through each section – first detangling with fingers then with comb.

    After that I then wash it out the soap (using shower pressure to get rid of any last tangles) and then put Hello Hydration on that section before working on the next bit with the soap. I tried using HH to detangle before and whilst it was pretty good, I just think the soap is better. Really I add HH just to condition my hair, and make sure it doesn't tangle up again whilst I'm doing the other bits, but most of the detangling work has been done by the soap. No comb tugging, little hair lost, and a quicker job all round.

    It doesn't feel harsh at all, leaves my hair feeling clean (without the feeling of residue that I can get from cowashing) and unlike HH, which I am going through really quickly, because it's a big 500g block and I use very little each time, this thing is probably going to last the whole year. And it only costs £5.

  • theboldandcurly says:

    Hello Everyone!

    I tried this method today (detangling in the shower, then twisting) and it worked miracles. Usually I wait until after I have applied coconut oil and shea butter and parted before I detangle. This method was much easier and when I got out the shower all i had to do was untwist, finger comb my product and "wa-la" Celie syndrome! 🙂

  • BeautifulKinksandcoils says:

    I have 2c-3a, verry thick, hip length, dry hair.
    I do pretty much the same as you except I half braid down usually. Another way to do it is to detangle, braid, and then shampoo and condition.

  • modest-goddess says:

    Super thick 4a coils, about 10 inches stretched, shrinks to 3-4 inches. Dampen, add conditioner or Cantu Shea Butter, Part with fingers, do 12 to 16 braids, shampoo scalp, ACV rinse, squeeze Herbal Essence into braids, rinse.

    Unbraid section, add coconut oil, comb/Denman, twist

  • NaturallyU says:

    4b hair. Part into 4 sections with ponytails and load each section with conditioner. Leave conditioner on for 15 minutes. Step into shower and wash or co-wash each section at a time. Exit shower, apply leave in to each section and detangle each section with a with wide tooth comb. Simple and effective. : )

  • curlyq145 says:

    Not sure of texture but I think 3c/4a! When my hair was shorter I would just wet and finger detangle. My hair has grown some and I noticed that I was losing a lot of hair so I started sectioning it after putting in lots of conditioner and let it sit for about 5 minutes. i then finger comb a little and use a wide tooth comb and twist and then wet hair while still in twists. I'm trying to keep track of the hair loss to see if my previous method alone was the culprit. I hope so cause then I will know that I have started doing it right and hopefully be able to retain more length!

  • Notthecoolmom says:

    I have thick 4a mostly 4b hair. Length, I don't know, chin length on the sides and to my nose in the front. I find that it's best to put my hair in 6-8 sections and load w/ conditioner and oil before washing, detangle that way and then wash and condition in those sections in the shower. I have thick coarse hair so if I do not do it this way it will shrink and tangle on itself and it would take twice as long to do everything.

  • Dannielle says:

    My hair is type 4 with s shaped as well as coiled curls. It was MBL when I straightened it in late January. I have found that my hair detangles fastest with I have washed it with a sulfate and soap free shampoo. I have been using fingers only and sulfate free shampoos since March. My hair seems to be the much healthier and easier to detangle since I changed my regimen from any shampoo/conditoner and a denman brush for detangling. By the way, I detangle with any conditioner after feeling for any knots before shampooing.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have very thick tightly coiled neck length hair – as soon as it gets wet it shrinks 85% and also knots up. I am finding it impossible to detangle- it takes at least 50 mins. I use Hello Hydration – only thing that works and a wide tooth comb and a Denman sometimes. Really it can take days to fully detangle and even after detangling it can still need detangling twice before it can be styled. Patience is the name of the game for me.

  • Anonymous says:

    ooh that was a typo! I meant SL-APL stretched

  • Anonymous says:

    My hair ranges from BSL-APL stretched. It also ranges from tight 3c to tight 4a mixed in together too much for my detangling comfort. There are also two distinct textures, with the one on my crown being more difficult to keep wet & detangle. I prefer to detangle in the shower because my hair dries really quickly and spraying it down repeatedly is annoying. However I do detangle wet hair outside of the shower sometimes. Either way I have to work a good slippery conditioner in and give a bit of time to marinate as you say. I do 4-6 sections and I also twist a detangled section before I move on so it won't re-tangle. I go over a section with my fingers first, then I follow it with a paddle brush to get ALL of the shed hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have 3c/4a, thick, neck length natural hair and I shampoo/detangle/deep condition once a week.

    I used to detangle with conditioner and a denman brush but it took me longer than now and I had to pay more attention in order not to damage or break it.

    Now I use almost exclusively my fingers and I use less conditioner than I used to. I have 2 similar techniques:

    1) pre-poo with a consistent amount of olive oil (and a bit of coconut, just because it's cheaper this way) for half an hour / 1 hour on dry hair. I add a little bit of conditioner on top of it so that it will be much easier to rinse.(conditioner dissolves oil more than shampoo, especially if left marinating).

    When I enter the shower, the combination oil/hot water literally melts my knots and I am able to finger detangle in no time. The oil is washed away easily after a non sulfate shampoo and a conditioner, or shampoo + DC. If I want to, I brush or comb my sections in the final conditioner or final DC process. When I use my leave in I don't need to seal my hair with oil (as there is a non oily, good enough quantity left in my hair from the pre-poo).

    2) If I am feeling lazy I oil rinse. I enter the shower, drench my hair with warm water throughly witout touching it. Then I take a lot of any oil (I like olive)and apply it to every section. I easily use oil + warm water to finger detangle.

    Then I proceed to the rest.

    I also get good moisture retention with this method, and detangling with oil seems to protect my hair during the process /lubricate it and give it more elasticity.


  • Anonymous says:

    carefully, slowly, with a ton of conditioner with a lot of slip and using my fingers only. I find that combs/brushes might be too damaging for my fine strands (but I have very thick hair) and break up my curl pattern too much. I do this about once a week and it feels great!

  • Eleven35 Bath & Beauty says:

    I wash my hair with Trader Joe's tingling shampoo once a week and co-wash my hair 2-3 times a week with HH (I workout and my hair can get really dry); I step into the shower and let it soak under the water, I apply the HH (or whatever condish I have)and finger it thru. I do this twice and on the 2nd time, I do not wash out all the condish. Step out the shower and with a WIDE tooth comb starting from front to back, I gently comb thru my hair and then style.

    My hair is 4a/4b with looser curls in the front and back, it can retain a lot of water and takes forever to dry. My curls are ear length unstretched; I transition all of last year and finally cut off my ragged relaxed ends between Jan. & March of this year.

  • Unknown says:

    I have thick hair, but it's fine. My curls are compact spirals (4a/b) on the crown and front, and looser s-shaped 3c curls on the sides and back. I have about 9 months of growth. It's probably about 6-7 inches long all around (stretched).

    For detangling, I start with an 2- or 3-day-old twist out. I load my hair with cheapish conditioner — usually Organics Coconut or Suave Coconut — and then comb from tip to root, working in horizontal rows from back to crown and then front with a wide-tooth comb or with my fingers. I rinse thoroughly, and then usually add back a little conditioner (these days, MOP Mixed Greens or Mill Creek Botanicals) as a leave-in.

    I WAS a faithful Denman detangler, but its less effective now. Could be the length, or because I've just worn the poor thing out so it is "giving" too much, IDK.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have 4a/b neck length hair with shrinkage. It may be shoulder length straightened, but I am not sure. It takes me 40 – 60 minutes to de-tangle my hair! I mostly finger de-tangle, but I also use a Jibere a little bit. I put my hair in four braids, wash the roots (in the braids), coat my hair with conditioner, and de-tangle one section at a time under the shower stream (using 1/2 a bottle of Hello Hydration). I wish I could shorten this process, but I'm afraid my hair will break!

  • ChrLvsBks says:

    My hair is shoulder length, dense & medium textured.

    Once my hair is wet, it is easily detangled. I use my fingers to detangle more often than not. When I add conditioner, I will sometimes comb through with Jibere detanling comb once to ensure conditoner gets to all the strands. My hair usually takes a couple of minutes to detangle.

    My routine has not changed since starting to wear my hair curly (August -09).

  • ChrLvsBks says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Beverly says:

    I forgot to add my hair is armpit length stretched and ranges from 3b-4a… in the back it shrinks a whole lot BC in 2 days!

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been natural for 15 years now,and I just figured out how to detangle my hair. I use the denman in the shower with loads of conditioner on my hair. I do it in sections, but I'm only careful about my front part. It ends up being about 5 or 6 twists, then, I untwist and rinse, then retwist. Blot dry, and then twist my hair.

  • A. says:

    My hair is BSL in the back…

  • Monet says:

    **Forgot to add, I often have to continue wetting my hair with a spray bottle of water as I'm detangling at the sink.
    And I wear a shower cap over the first conditioner for at least 30 minutes before rinsing.

  • A. says:

    I'm 3c/4a… REALLY loose curl in the top – better clump in the back.. something special in the middle. 🙂

    I get in the shower and let the water saturate my hair.

    I apply Aussie Moist 3 minute miracle and detangle my whole head from tip to root with my jilbere comb. I rinse thoroughly and then add aussie moist conditioner. I do a quick rinse (only about 20% rinsed)under cool water, squeezed excess water and pony my hair.

    I find that leaving the conditioner in my hair before getting out of the shower aids the saturation of my conditioner for better styling and more definition.

  • Monet says:

    I have shorter 4a/4b hair, so it takes a long time:
    After washing, I give my hair a final rinse in the shower so that it's saturated.
    Then I stand in front of the bathroom mirror and load my hair with conditioner/olive or coconut oil.
    I finger-detangle small sections and go over them with a modified Denman brush and then 2-strand twist.
    I rinse this out and then apply my leave-in conditioner to the twists and let them air dry.
    If they need neatening, I'll redo them while still wet, adding more of the leave-in.

  • beautywithcurls says:

    Mine Is Pretty Much The Same Except I Haven't Tried That New Ouidad Comb Yet I Use A Wide Tooth Comb, And Since I Cut My Hair I Don't Always Section It In The Back Before I Do One Side It's Still Nice And Short So It Stays Out The Way For Now :-D(Keep In Mind I Still Section It In Four When I Feel Like Doing Sections,Gotta Love The Crown Of The Head :~D) I Was Lazy Last Week So After The Wash Day I Just Left It In The Big Twists I Use To Dry My Hair Lots Of Days Later I Finally Got Around To Braiding It I Section Hair Piece By Piece And Apply More Conditioner To It And Detangle So My Braids Would Lay Flat And Not Stay In The Curls The Twist Created.

    When It's Long I Section It Into Six Sometimes Four(Yeah My Crown Ain't No Joke,Sometimes It Won't Tolerate Four Sections,LOL) And If The Comb Doesn't Go Through Easy I Add More Conditioner. I Always Take My Time When Detangling My Hair, No Matter How Long I Let It Grow.

  • Laleepop14 says:

    We had a great discussion over in the forums for transitioning hair about detangling. I was having troubles and it was taking me way too long and I was always dread wash/detangle day. Its a post started by me laleepop14, so go check it out. I love to hear all the advice and will try allll the techniques til I find the one that best works for me.

  • puff says:

    my hair is 4a/b – a little looser at the top – and pretty thick. stretched, it's at my shoulders. i detangle by:

    – after washing and rinsing, loading my hair up with a good squeeze or two of herbal essences be curly
    – let the conditioner sit for a couple minutes
    – gently comb through with a wide-tooth comb, starting at the left hand side at the back of my head and working my way through to the front, then down the right hand side of my head – weird pattern, i know, but for whatever reason it makes it quicker and i can keep track of where's been detangled and where hasn't
    – i use my fingers to feel for any particularly tangled patches and work through those first before combing through

    i usually lightly comb through before i do my twists, but that's more to smooth the hair down than anything else. i haven't changed this routine much over time, but i've definitely become more efficient with it with practice 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Type 4 hair is time consuming to detangle. I use a conditioner with lots of slip under heat (10 min) to make sure my hair is throughly saturated. I detangle with a jilibre shower comb in my shower. I detangle starting in the back, crown, and finally the front. I slowly work out knots and snags. If they dont untangle, I take my hair shears and carefully snip them out.

    I used to get upset if I could not get a knot out and stress about it. But once I stopped doing that and acepted that my hair just tangles easily my whole detangling process has been less daunting.

  • Hali S. says:

    I have shoulder length (when straight) 3C (I believe) medium textured hair and since I've been natural I've used many detangling techniques.
    When I first became natural I would just grab a section and detangle, which sometimes resulted in a lot of hair loss. Very seldom did I take the time out to section my hair and detangle in sections.

    Currently, I've stopped detangling in the shower (due to my shower not draining properly) but I’ve come to like detangling outside the shower a lot better.

    * Wet my hair, apply conditioner and let it sit while I cleanse my body
    * Rinse some of the conditioner out
    * Outside of the shower I apply the conditioner I leave in and start detangling in small sections starting at the nap
    * I use my fingers to get out any major tangle and then use my denman to smooth my hair
    * After each section is detangled I’ll 2 stand twist it and move to the next section of hair.
    * If a section gets too dry I take my spray bottle of and spray it with water and continue!

  • CURLYNIKKI says:

    tiffany, when my hair was shorter it was much easier to detangle all at once rather than in sections. I miss that… much less time consuming!

  • Beverly says:

    i part my hair into 4 sections. shampoo with giovanni tea tree starting at the top right. rinse put in some aussie moist then clip it back up with a banana clip move counterclockwise to the next section and repeat. once all 4 have been shampooed and conditioned i let the first one out of the clip run some water through it and detangle with a wide tooth comb. When i finish i clip iot back up with the banana clip. I then keep moving counterclowckwise til all 4 have been detangled and rinsed out! very little hair has been coming out even though I've been wearing my hair out a lot which is great.

  • tiffany says:

    If I'm going to do a wash 'n go, I slather it down with slippy conditioner and comb it in the shower (and not all that meticulously, either).

    If I'm detangling for twists, I use lots of leave-in conditioner and try to do each section while my hair is still wet. As long as it's super-slippy, it doesn't take that long. I use a not-quite-fine-toothed comb. Of course, my hair is only about 8" stretched right now, so I have that going for me.

  • Anonymous says:

    my routine is identical except that i sometimes half braid instead of section at a time is key.

Leave a Reply