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Curly Nikki

Combing Frequency and Natural Hair

By January 27th, 202138 Comments

Combing Frequency and Natural Hair
Bonni writes:

My question is simple.

How often do you find yourself combing your hair during a styling session?

I am trying to incorporate low-manipulation tactics, but I swear every step of doing my hair requires a comb. I pre-detangle with my fingers after the pre-poo, put my hair in sections, detangle with water (and conditioner), wash, condition, and comb through again. Then I comb through my leave-in for even distribution, and finally it’s time to put in a bun. Yes, all of that for a bun! Am I overdoing it?! Help!


  • Anonymous says:

    for anon 3:09, I prepoo with coconut oil because it's supposed to prevent hygral fatigue, the oil keeps my hair from drying out from shampooing, and my hair is alot easier to detangle.
    I rarely comb even when I'm detangling on wash day. My fingers just work so much better. The comb o9nly seems to tangle my hair more. I do comb when I'm prepping my hair for curlformers though

  • Unknown says:

    i comb twice, once a week on wash days..i comb once in the shower with conditoner and water for detangaling and then again after i put in my deep conditoner for even distribution (if im styling for twists or something then ill comb the second time after i appy my leave-ins)

  • Mahogany Soul says:

    i comb my hair once a week in the shower when my hair is coated in conditioner and oil.

  • lisa says:

    That does sound like a lot of combing. Perhaps you can eliminate the pre-detangle. I prepoo with oil every two weeks when I wash. I have 3c/4a super porous, thick, fluffy hair. I moisturize my hair and scalp with oils and butters daily but I only wash every 2 weeks. It's just what my hair likes. Anyway, the prepoo, makes your hair slippery let it sit for 15 minutes or so under a cap to really let it seep in. Then when you wash your hair is already sliding apart on it's own. I don't do any detangling until I saturate my hair in conditioner and it feels nice and slippery. Than I detangle in six sections on each side with only my fingers. Most naturals think I'm nuts when I say I don't use a comb or brush but I think everyone should try it just once before they assume their hair won't do it. I used to break combs. It can take longer than using a comb but if you start from the bottom and your hair is slippery with conditioner you find that the knots are already sliding out on their own. I kid you not. When I start rinsing my shampoo out visible knots are already sliding out on their own.

    After I detangle and rinse my conditioner out I only finger detangle when styling. Since you like to bun you probably would brush a little bit just to get your hair smooth but with your leave in the brush should glide through your hair without snagging. I do use a lot of leave in, some oil or shea and I take my sweet time.

    Maybe you aren't as radical as me to give up the comb totally. But the prepoo treatment with oil may make your detangling much easier.

    Good luck. 🙂

  • Sabrina R Perkins says:

    I've cut back on the combing myself. I used to comb with detangling conditioner about 5 or 6 times a week. I've cut down to 3 or 4 times but I was always GENTLE. I've retained lenght the entire time and truly think if you are gentle it's not a problem.

  • indigo. says:

    The ONLY time I detangle is when I get to the leave in step of my regimen. A little finger combing is okay, but the only time my denman wanna be brush or any type of comb touches my head is when I'm putting in my leave in.

  • Kitty says:

    I use a comb to detangle on wash days. Then when I style I use a Goody ouchless brush on misted hair. My hair doesn't seem to mind manipulation much. Kinda likes it sometimes. I give it a rest when it needs it.

  • Anonymous says:

    I only comb when im in the shower, and I am co-washing it.

  • Anonymous says:

    I only comb through my thoroughly wet, conditioner saturated hair. As a matter of fact, my comb never leaves the shower stall. All styling outside of the shower is done with fingers only. Even while in the shower I detangel with my fingers before touching my curls with a comb. As a result, I pretty much only lose naturally shed hairs with little to no breakage.–mel

  • iri9109 says:

    i only comb 1x a week or less during detangling on wash day. and thats if i dont decide to just use my fingers. if you already detangled before you washed, why cant you just use your hands to distribute the leave-in?

  • honeybrown1976 says:

    I only comb my hair when wet (3x a week) to detangle and it's often with conditioner. I never comb dry hair.

  • Unknown says:

    Wow! So much new info I have learned from reading the comments alone… Anywho… I comb my hair 2-3 times a day! If not when it comes time to detangle I will not have an hair left on my head. My 3c better known as kinky curly needs a comb, for me finger combing is more damaging than a real comb. It definitely depends on the person. Good luck hun…

  • Anonymous says:

    I comb once per styling session, which means once a week, on wash day. I detangle with my fingers before I wash, and comb afterwards (with a shower comb) while my hair is still damp with water and leave-in conditioner. These days I only style once a week or once every few weeks, because I'm wearing my hair in twists for the winter. But even when I was wearing it in a bun or pony-puff daily, I would only comb once a week. All other styling/detangling during the week was done with my fingers.

  • Anonymous says:

    I used to detangle once a week with my fingers, wide tooth comb and a modified "Denman". After hearing some people with hair similar to mine say they detangle very rarely, I realized I was doing too much.

    Now, I don't use a comb or brush for detangling or styling–I just use my fingers. My fingers are very good at getting shed hair out without causing excess damage. I never used a camb or brush for styling before– my fingers can even make nice parts (It took some practice).

    If I ever decide pick up a comb again, I will use a wide tooth comb. I'll detangle with it once a month and use my fingers at all other times.

    There is no need for me to comb my highly textured hair as much as I did in the past. It was too much manipulation. My routine was 'low manipulation' before but now its even lower mnipulation. Haha

    I happen to think the OP is doing to much but–"To each her own."

  • Anonymous says:

    If you're experiencing a lot of breakage or other problems, you are probably doing to much. Nothing is going to be universal for everyone. I personally find the routine described to be a bit much and never have understood the purpose of things like "prepoo". For me that would be unecessary manipulation.
    All that said, I comb my hair with a comb once a week-when I do my entire wash/condition routine. and when I rinse through my hair with conditioner after workouts I will comb through with my fingers to detangle as necessary.
    When I first started reading hair boards there was a lot of "no comb" mantra but that does not work for me nor my lifestyle.

  • bonni says:

    Thanks for all of the responses! It is great to get a feel of what other people are doing!

  • Arianna says:

    ya i would say your definitely overdoing:) just to go in A BUN! everyone has their own style so what you do is what you do, but as someone who likes low maintenence in my hairstyling (and that means its not always perfect to me, which is always an ok thing in life 🙂 i consider it my duty to tell others when they are doing to much with their curls!
    that being said, that you wear a bun most of the time means you will have to let go of that hairstyle, you don't have to brush your hair that much but you will have to accept its own natural shape if low manipulation is your goal
    and as this blog has shown, it doesn't matter what curl type you have! every curl can be worn out!
    so thats it! let ur hair loose! it will mean a lot less manipulation
    I detangle in the shower every 4-5 days and deep condition with either coconut, mayonnaise or honey once a week.

  • The Melanista says:

    Only when I'm detangling do I use a comb. Detangling happens every wash day which about every 2 weeks or if I'm in between styles in the middle of the week. Combing=detangling.

  • Channing says:

    The only way to know if what you're doing is not benefiting your hair is by observing it's condition. If you aren't retaining length or constantly getting split ends/ single strand knots, thinning etc.

    If you are experiencing this then yes you shold probably look into how you handle your hair, if not then I don't see a problem. We all handle our hair in a way we're most comfortable with and adjust accordingly.

    Me personally, I dont keep track of how much I comb, I do it when detangling and during some styling, when I blow dry or flat iron, and when ever else I feel I need to comb…

    But then again I also detangle my hair slighty damp [emphasis on slightly] b/c i have thick hair but fine strands mixed w/some course ones and I've found that dry combing works best on my fine strands and wet on the course section, so slightly damp is the best of both worlds.

    I also seal with vaseline and wash my hair whenever I feel like it, so yea…and I'm happy to say I've retained all my length in the past 6mos. [4a, 3b, 4b, mbl in case anyone was wondering]

  • S.Smith says:

    I detangle with a denman maybe every two weeks.

  • Butterfly3000 says:

    I read somewhere a while back that curly hair should never be combed unless its wet. Since then, I never comb it inbetween poo/condish sessions. If I do need a midweek touch up that requires a comb, I spray with water and apply whatever moisturizer I'm using at the time.

    You may be able to skip the detangle w/water step b4 washing and just go straight into your wash/condish step. After I wash my 4 sections, I add the condish to each section then proceed to detangle and add more condish as nededed. After all that is rinsed, I'll add the deep condish for 30 min. if needed, rinse, add the leave-in with my hands and style. So the only time im using the comb is with my detangle step. If I style in braids or twists then I'll use a comb.

  • The Chocolate Loveliness That Is Fraña says:

    I comb my hair everyday. I have a TWA so I don't finger comb yet. I have a rake comb and my hair is very thick. But I use water and conditioner that I use as a leave (Natures Gate – Aloe) to make sure my hair is soft enough to comb. I do look forward to having hair long enough to finger comb though. 🙂
    I think as long as you take care of your hair, body, and mind. These thing wills do the same. I love my hair and my hair loves me! I'm gonna comb when it needs it.

  • Anonymous says:

    I comb my hair while conditioning and before styling. I usually comb no more than 2-3x/wk with a widetooth comb,but fingercomb daily. I find that fingercombing daily helps me prevent tangles/knots and allows me to massage my scalp a bit to encourage circulation. I always make sure that my hair feels supple, well moisturized and that the strands move freely over themselves before I attempt to run a comb through it. This has helped tremendously with reducing breakage and aiding in length retention. I'm a 3c who has BSL hair when stretched. I think hairtype should be taken into consideration when determining how often to comb. My sis and friend are 4a/b and then use a comb less frequently. Their hair is very healthy and retains length very well.

  • Anonymous says:

    i started 2 strand twisting small once a week, i can probably go 2 weeks, only combing is the finger comb to help saturate conditioner in hair while wet, then detangling with leave in, i dont part except for the style part. twist tiny twists and keep a bun or flexi rod set loves it… i used to comb everyday, so if i can do that only once a week, im straight… and my flexi rod set on these tiny twists is the cutest style to me

  • Anonymous says:

    Yes, definitely co-sign on the last two comments. If combing works for you, then do it. I comb everyday. What works for your hair works, so don't believe that what you are doing is wrong just b/c it isn't what the next person does. That includes shampoos, heat, combing, silicone based glossing serums, putting grease on your scalp etc.
    For everyone person who swears that you'll be bald from it, there are plenty who have as much hair as they want doing the same thing.

  • Sherri says:

    I agree with anon 1:20 pm. Unless u are snatching through your hair, combing is ok. I comb every Saturday when I wash and dc. Your gonna lose hair. It just happens. Dont obsess over it.

  • Anonymous says:

    People take these "natural hair rules" a little to serious. If you are gentle and take your time. A comb is not harming your hair. Virtually everything you may do to your hair so called "damages" it to an extent. I do the same thing for my buns and my hair is still retaining length adequately. gl 😉

  • Miss A says:

    I only use a comb a couple of times per month and then only wet hair with conditioner. I rinse my hair under water with take care of a lot of the tangles. The remaining tangles I remove with my fingers. I never comb when styling.

  • Sharmer says:

    Well as far as I'm concerned, as long as you are gentle and bot constantly pulling out hair with the comb I think its ok.

  • Sheena LaShay says:

    I never comb my hair during styling sessions. The only time I use a comb is when I am detangling my hair before I shampoo it.

  • Anonymous says:

    during a styling session, i only comb through once, and that for the inital detangling in the shower. since i do wash and gos, i just detangle, but i smooth product into my hair with my hands.

  • Anonymous says:

    I only use a comb on wash day (once a week–sometimes will go two weeks). After washing & conditioning, I section my hair into 12 sections with my fingers & secure each section with a buttterfly clip. I detangle each section with my fingers followed by a wide-tooth comb, apply leave-in, and loosely twist and pin that section out of the way with a bobby pin until all sections are done. I use my fingers only for parting, braiding and styling after that.

  • b. says:

    Like many have said so far, I only comb when detangling (about 1x/wk). I may put leave-in on my ends and comb them in the meantime if I'm wearing my hair loose. My hair is extremely coily if that helps.

    How taunt are you wearing your buns? That may be a factor in why you are combing your hair so much.

  • vonnie says:

    i comb when i am detangling in the shower with wet hair and conditioner on wash day…that's it. the rest of the time i fluff with my fingers or have it in twists


  • Anonymous says:

    I only comb thru my hair once a week when I wash and style it. Other than that I just use my fingers to retwist it during the week. Yeah thats all a bit much for a bun, hopefully you will figure it out soon. 🙂

  • WMH says:

    It seems like a lot of effort for a bun. No matter how many times I co-wash or dampen my hair during a week, I only detangle once a week (sometimes it's once every other week). I wash, condition and detangle (in the shower most of the time), rinse out and then put in my leave-in conditioner and/or styling butters. I don't see the point in running a comb through my hair more than once during that washing session. It's curly hair and its nature is to curl and tangle. From that point, all of my styling is done with my fingers. Even during the week when I do my daily buns for work, I only use my fingers to manipulate the hair into a bun. Then I use whatever conditioner or butter I want to smooth out my edges with the palm of my hand, a fine tooth comb or a scarf for a few minutes. This low manipulation regimen has been my routine now for 4 years (with occasional braidouts) and I really think it's been key to retaining my length.

  • Bitty Boss says:

    I comb about twice a week when I am washing/co-washing my hair. Other than that, it's finger combing or protective styling. During my combing sessions I only comb to detangle. After my hair is detangled, I only use my fingers from that point. I feel like this has aided in my retention and it keeps my hair happy.

  • Unknown says:

    I only comb my hair when its wash or co-wash day. I cowash every 4-5 days and I wash every 2 weeks. For co-washing, I just get in the shower (I usually don't do pre-detangling), lather on the conditioner, massage my scalp then rinse. Then i put my detangling conditioner just on my hair and ends (my detang may be what I just used as a cowash) and I let that sit while I complete my shower. After I am done cleansing my body, I detangle my hair with a wide-tooth comb. After that, I get out of shower and apply my leave-in (I don't comb that through) distributing with my hands and proceed w/ styling. If I am doing a twist and curl, I put my curl cream on and comb thru gently. If I am doing a bun, I put leave-in, oil, brush thru w/ paddle brush, then apply aloe vera gel under ecostyler gel and use a boar bristle brush to smooth.

    Bottom line is, once I wet set/style my hair I am done combing. When I take it down, I just use my hands to fluff.

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