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Curly Nikki

Best Detangling Tips & Tools for Natural Hair

By January 27th, 202136 Comments
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!>>>

Denman Brush
The Denman Brush is a detangling tool that’s been around for quite some time now and has been reviewed extensively on CurlTalk.
What makes it so popular is the efficiency with which it can detangle
due to its somewhat flexible teeth and the fact that it can capture the
shed hair to prevent your hair from matting. For some naturals whose
hair can’t tolerate all the teeth, the brush can also be opened to
remove columns of teeth and make the spacing between them wider to
minimize damage done to the hair. These brushes are commonly known as
modified Denmans. However, if snagging is your primary concern then
consider purchasing the D31 or the D41 as opposed to the popular D3 as
it is better suited for detangling since its teeth are more widely

Like most detangling tools, the Denman brush can wreak havoc on your
ends if used too often without caution, which is why I prefer to use it
as the final step on my hair to smooth it out before styling. In my
opinion, the Denman is just about the best darn ‘clumper’ there ever
was. Even my fingers can’t create the smooth and elongated ringlets that
my Denman can and I am not the only one who uses it for this purpose.
There are plenty of videos on YouTube of women who do just that.

Tangle Teezer
As a detangler, the Tangle Teezer
does what it’s supposed to do very efficiently. The tangles literally
melt because the teeth are extremely flexible. Instead of just getting
stuck in the tangles or ripping them out, the Teezer gently coaxes
tangles until they unwind. The noise it makes can be misleading. That
scratching sound can freak you out a few times and cause you to
periodically check the brush to check to be sure you haven’t ripped out a
huge chunk of hair. It also does a decent job at catching the shed

My main issues with this product are the lack of a handle and the
design and spacing of the teeth. I loved this product when I first used
it and might have gone overboard with its use because the split ends
appeared soon after. It was then that the rose colored glasses came off
and I took a closer look at this brush. The teeth for one are not as
smooth as I would have liked. Unlike the seamless teeth of the Denman
and wide toothed combs, some ends of the teeth on the Teezer are jagged
and could snag the hair. The teeth are also quite close together and you
don’t have the option of removing some of them for modification.

I find it quite annoying that there is no handle. While I understand
and appreciate what they attempted to do by making the teezer the
perfect shape to fit in your palm, the design got really annoying in
record time. When wet, the plastic it is made of becomes very slippery
and the slip and slide game of the Teezer whizzing all around the
bathtub begins.

Wide toothed comb
The wide toothed comb
seems to be the most preferred product by many naturals for detangling.
The reason it is so widely loved is because it can detangle efficiently
and remove shed hair, while minimizing damagewith widely spaced teeth
that are large and seamless. While on the subject of combs, an honorable
mention must go to the Ouidad Double Detangler
that has the same concept of a wide toothed comb however it has a
second column of teeth that are staggered to maximize detangling.

Paddle brush
Although not a popular option, I still felt that this product should be mentioned. While the paddle brush
does get the shed hair out, there are many problems with its design
that make it unsuitable for detangling curly hair. For one, most paddle
brushes have little balls at the end of the teeth which can snag on the
hair. The teeth also don’t flex at all which can cause them to rip out
tangles. They can also be quite large, heavy and cumbersome.

Detangling Methods

Dry Detangling

This method is preferred by naturals whose hair tangles easily or who
are about to shampoo their hair. Dry detangling is done by applying
oil, conditioner, or a mixture of the two to the hair, then detangling
it before cleansing. This method is great for several reasons:

  • It can be done in front of the mirror and out of the shower to make it easier to see and remove the tangles.
  • There is less chance for breakage since the hair is strongest when dry.
  • The oils and or conditioner not only act as a lubricant for easier
    detangling, but they also help to moisturize the hair to reduce the
    dryness and matting that shampooing can cause.

Wet Detangling

The second method involves detangling the hair when it is wet and
well lubricated with conditioner that has good slip. The reason why this
method is so well loved is because:

  • When the hair is wet it is more elastic and it is easier to detangle.
  • The conditioner and the water creates more slip than oil and conditioner.

For maximum results, however, why not do both? A good dry detangling
session before washing will help to improve your results when you
detangle wet with plenty of conditioner after cleansing.
Now that you have read about the different detangling tools and the
methods, I wish you all the best in your detangling endeavors.

How do you detangle? What are your go-to detangling tools and methods?


  • Stacy says:

    I use both my fingers and a comb

  • hunnybun says:

    wet detangling all the way. Dry or damp causes too much breakage. My tangles literally melt when my hair is soaking wet and loaded with HEHH. I finger detangle and if I feel I need to i break out the denman and it goes through my hair like butter.

  • Mrs. Echols says:

    I do both methods of dry detangling and wet…i also use the Denman brush and I absolutely love it. I have the tangle teezer and unfortunately I don't like it as much because it doesn't have a handle. I use coconut oil and ahea butter as a moisturizer regimen and love those products. I had to educate myself a lot on moisture and what works best for my hair.

  • Hilary B. says:

    I detangle using my fingers first, then my seamless shower comb in the shower while my hair is packed with conditioner. I've read that it's best to do while hair is dry 'cause it's less fragile, but I find that a lot less hair is left in the comb when I detangle in the shower.

  • Cassandra [C.] says:

    I detangle throughout the process. First i gently pull all the shed hair out of my dry hair [doesn't work to well if hair is wet]. Then shampoo, all the while finger detangling. Then apply DC, and finger comb to ensure even coverage. Leave that in for about 30 minutes, then rinse out, again while running fingers through the hair. Lastly, apply leave-in and comb out hair and style.

    total time: ~1 hr

  • naturalily says:

    I have a Goody Ouchless Curly/Wet hair brush. I bought it when my
    granddaughter started to come to my house to stay. She's bi-racial and
    although we are a curly headed family, I had no idea how to deal with
    her very curly looooooong tight ringlets without hurting her. She'd
    arrive at my house with all that beautiful hair in this mass of tangles
    and the first thing I'd do was put her in the tub wet her head with her
    "special" conditioner and then for the next 45 minutes try to as gently
    as possible get those damn knots out!!!!! Poor baby! I'd be apologizing
    the whole time while she kept telling me it was okay, that it didn't
    hurt TOO much. Then I'd put it in two tight side braids that I knew
    would last out the week till I saw her again. I finally found the Goody
    brush and it worked like a dream—-on my (not as curly) hair too. When
    her youngest sister —who isn't mixed but has even tighter, coarser
    teenier coils, started spending weekends at my house I knew just what to
    do with her hair.

    The Goody brush has "give" so it doesn't pull as badly as some brushes.
    There are balls at the end of the bristles but they are all in one,and
    don't come off to expose the scratchy wire underneath (I think the
    bristle is solid plastic or nylon or whatever), the bristles are also
    widely spaced which is a plus in my book and it really stands up to a
    beating! I've had it for at least 9 years and besides one of the
    bristles that bends a little out of whack it is still going strong. It
    has been dropped from conditioner slippery hands, thrown, stepped on,
    sat on, just taken all kinds of abuse—-I LOVE it!!!

  • Chan says:

    I primarily use my fingers. I start dry detangling with oils and conditioner..after I cleanse, I add a deep conditioner and finger detangle further to remove shed hairs and then deep condition.. It's very time consuming but produce the least amount of breakage.

  • Unknown says:

    Tools- Tool Structure Shower Detangler Comb
    Tool Structure Double Dip Detangle Comb both at Sallys. MUST HAVE – leave in organic leave in conditioner with MSN at LOVE IT & Coffee Shampoo and Coffee Mocha Conditioner all of these are miracle workers for my hair soft, moist, and detangles! Hair type SUPER curly 4 Fresh wash to my ear stretched BSL so you get an idea… needed

  • Anonymous says:

    I prepoo with my conditioner of choice honey & coconut oil for 30 minutes with a plastic cap, scarf & bonnet or overnight if I get lazy. I then proceed to finger detangle & then follow up with my denman brush to help smooth my hair. I then twist each section & wash my hair in the twist.

    Brooke B.

  • hairscapades says:

    Anon @ 11:26, IKR?!?!?! I should get one just as an art piece!! LOL!!

    Abstract, awesome! Thanks!!


  • magomadness says:

    I detangle before cleansing my hair. Here's my detangling routine:
    — Stand in front of the bathroom mirror
    — Separate dry, stretched hair into 12 sections
    — For each section—smooth on conditioner, finger-detangle & twist

    Conditioner = Shea Moisture Purification Masque or Lily of the Dessert aloe vera gel/castor oil mix

    This method works perfectly for my hair [very tightly coiled; ~12 inches long]. The products listed above have great slip and impart lots moisture to my hair. Detangling takes me about 1 hour or less.

    After detangling, I condition under a plastic cap/hat combo for a bit (15 minutes or overnight). Then–while my hair is still in the twists–I rinse the conditioner from my hair and cleanse my scalp with shampoo. After that I finish up my hair care routine [moisturize, braid, seal, air-dry & style].

  • Abstract says:

    @ Anon 11:26 – That's great news! @ Shelli- I'll be sure to comment! Thanks!

  • Anonymous says:

    I love my good old wide tooth comb for detangling–that's it! I finger detangle almost daily or every other day, and use the wide tooth comb on wash day when my hair is loaded with conditioner.


  • Anonymous says:

    Shelli and Abstract – Those Esty combs are freaking gorgeous!

  • Gwenn4ya says:

    Once I began to find products (shampoo, conditioners, moisturizers, and oils) that my hair loved, then it was a breeze with detangling. I used my fingers often, but I will admit that I feel much better when I can run my denman through it! I also use a wide tooth comb and I detangle wet. Low manipulation is what helped me get to the point I am today. Being in the military kind of forces me to do that because of this dang gone cap! I love when the weekend comes or when I'm able to wear my hair anyway I'd like to (of course within limitations). I'm not so concerned with the shed hairs anymore, especially now that I'm educated about them. Good article!

  • hairscapades says:

    Abstract, that is soooo cool!! I wrote that so long ago and wanted to know if anyone had tried those combs!! Please let me know how it works out for you!! This is the post on my site if you can/want to comment there!!

    Thank you!!


  • PC says:

    Anon – you're right in that natural hair does well with little manipulation. The way to tell the difference between a broken hair and a shed hair is that on one end, a shed hair has a little while bulb(the root); a broken hair doesn't. Other than gentleness and efficacy, finger detangling is good because it helps you to better differentiate between shed and broken hairs. Broken hairs are the ones that snap or give you a hard time; shed hairs just slide right out.

  • Anonymous says:

    I find that finger detangling on wet or dry hair helps avoid breakage. And not being super thorough. I used to use a wide tooth comb and conditioner but after the detangling I'd find quite a bit of hair in the comb and I eat right (better) and I drink a lot of water. Maybe I haven't found the right conditioner. Nonetheless, I haven't quite figured out the difference between breaking and shedding so I attribute any hair that disconnects as breakage (i.e. not good). My theory is that natural hair is not meant to be pulled/touched. Isn't low manipulation the best manipulation? Something to think about.

  • Taylor says:

    I always wet detangle because my hair feels so fragile and rough when dry.. I have my trusty fingers, wide tooth combs, and rattail comb for parting sometimes. I had a trusty hard bristled brush, but he got cleaned one day and I never touched him again 😉

  • Erika A. says:

    I like dry, finger detangling with olive oil before I wash my hair. My preferred method is wet detangling with V05 Moisture Milk conditioner & a seamless wide-tooth comb. I used to use a Denman brush to wet detangle, but it was damaging my hair. Now I use a Denman to clump & smooth my curls when styling only.

  • DiJah says:

    My hair is thick so wet detangling is my go-to choice, whether is be a thick conditioner and my wide tooth goody comb in the shower or some Knot Today and my comb, or plain ol' water with my comb or fake-denman.

  • Abstract says:

    I typically lightly finger detangle on wash day on dry hair with EVCO. I'm thinking about returning to also using a bit of water + cheap conditioner mixture. After washing, I detangle with conditioner and a wide tooth comb. I hear a lot about the Ouidad double detangler. Does anyone know if it is seamless??? Shelli, I recently ordered a wide tooth wood comb from the Epstone page on Etsy that you previously posted about. Thanks for the info! It hasn't come in the mail just yet but I'm hoping it will work well 🙂

  • hairscapades says:

    I have fine strands that seem to easily get split ends, so I've been finger detangling almost exclusively for the year and a half. I begin with dry detangling to pre-poo/DC on dry hair with Aubrey HSR or GPB conditioner mixed with Vatika oil (until a few months ago, I just used Vatika oil to pre-poo, but I LOVE my new method of doing my pre-poo & DC together). Than, after I use a diluted DevaCare No Poo to wash, I'll use another conditioner … whatever is handy and has a lot of slip (usually HE HH or Aussie Moist) to finish finger detangling wet. So, totally agree with the author about having the best of both worlds and detangling wet and dry:)!

    I have never tried the Denman … but I jumped on the Tangle Teezer bandwagon early last year and returned the TT within a month as my recently cut hair (significant cut too) was riddled with splits. No bueno! I own the Double Detangler too and a shower comb …. it's very rare, but every now and again … like, twice in the last 12 months, I'll use the shower comb in a pinch. My fiancé loves the Double Detangler though and uses it to comb his hair and "massage" his scalp before cutting his hair! LOL!!


  • Anonymous says:

    I use the denman d3 brush for my final detangle and to clump my curls,but before I use my denman I use the good old trusty wide tooth comb by goody that is made for detangling thick curly hair I love it everyone in my household loves it and steals it from me.

    Megan Montgomery

  • s.perry722 says:

    I'm probably one of the few that uses a paddle brush along with some slippery conditioner! Best method for me thus far and I've been natural 3+ years. I finger detangle first, as I have fine hair, and then I paddle brush it to get the shed hairs out. I've been having the BEST flat twist outs ever since I've been using this method.

  • PC says:

    I detangle wet in the shower with conditioner on wash day (before washing)- fingers, wide-toothed comb, and denman (just modified it the other day). A lot I know, but I wear twists and twist outs exclusively and of course you gotta be completely tangle free to get a good twist out. What I was not doing, however, was detangling daily when I put my twists back in. I think shed hairs were getting captured alongside the other hairs, and causing breakage and making detangling on wash day more difficult. So now I'm finger detangling daily; today was day 2 for my twist out and it looked great. Hoping I'm on the right track 😉

  • honeybrown1976 says:

    I detangle my hair with a wide-toothed comb (with a little assistance from my fingers) while damp with a leave-in. Dry detangling is a no-no for me.

  • Anonymous says:

    You ladies need to get the Quidad (doesn't shred or tear the hair–and the comb will NOT BREAK), it's the bomb along with finger detangling!

  • Nikell says:

    I like to detangle while my hair is wet and while it has conditioner in it. Or, I'll hit it w/ a little leave in conditioner and detangle with my wide tooth comb.

  • @NaturalHairMojo says:

    DEFINITELY a fan of finger detangling, followed by lots of conditioner and a Tangle Teezer. I finish with my modified Denman if I find any small areas I've missed once I'm out of the shower.

  • Anonymous says:

    One word-Ouidad

  • LM says:

    I am still experimenting with my detangling/wash routine. By the time wash day comes around, I am in an old twist out. I first dry, finger detangle in about 6 sections with a water based moisturizing cream (shea moisture curl enhancing smoothie)and EVOO, because it gives me alot of slip and adds moisture to limit breakage. I then mist the section with a little water to dampen it, add more cream, and follow up with a wide toothed comb to ensure thorough detangling. I finish by twisting or braiding each section. All of this is done the night before wash day and takes me around 4 hours. on wash day, I either finger or comb detangle after applying my deep conditioner. I have to detangle again, either with a wide toothed comb or my fingers, after moisturizing and sealing to set my hair in twists or braids. I am still trying to figure out the best method for my hair and trying to cut down on detangling time if that's possible.

  • BrianaHicks says:

    I detangle my hair on wash days by lightly raking out big tangle with my fingers while putting my hair into 4-6 flat twists. I then wash my hair with diluted ACV WITHOUT removing the twists.
    Once I'm finished washing my hair, I take out a twist, add a light, creamy, leave-in-conditioner (Kinky Kurly Knot Today or Parvenu T-Tree Oil Growth Creme are my favorites), then detangle some more with my fingers and/or a wide-tooth comb.
    I finish up with EVOO, and re-twist that section of hair (sometimes into more twist, depending on what I want to do with my hair).

  • Bobby says:

    I detangle with Tresseme silicone free conditioner while wet with a wide tooth comb!

  • DiscoveringNatural says:

    I use my fingers to detangle. This is how I finger detangle (photo-loaded…) ->

  • Anonymous says:

    I tend to do "semi-damp" detangling; I wet my hair slightly for my pre-poo treatment, then coat with coconut oil to detangle. I only detangle once because I wash my hair in twists, only taking them loose to ensure the product is out before promptly twisting them back up and moving on to the next twist. Anyone else use this method?

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