How to Properly Untangle Your Hair

Tangled hair can be frustrating, especially if you have naturally wavy or curly hair. Long, dry and fine hair types also can get tangled easily. Damaged hair creates friction and you are more likely to get tangles if you dye your hair or use other harsh chemicals.

Untangling matted hair can be a painful and time-consuming task. You must resist the urge to use too much force or rush through the process as this can lead to breakage, split ends, and damaged hair. Proper untangling minimizes hair breakage, makes the styling process easier and helps retain your hair’s strength and length.

The frequency when hair detangling is necessary varies on hair type and texture. A good practice is to untangle your hair on wash days to remove the shed strands caught within the hair and release tangles.

Where to Start?

1) Pre-shower untangling: Use your fingers to detangle your hair prior to washing to prevent existing tangles from worsening and to make untangling with a comb much easier. Section the hair for better control and slowly run your fingers through each section, to locate problematic spots. When you locate knots, saturate problem areas with a regular conditioner or apply your favorite hair oil to help. Try to loosen the hair around the knot to unravel it gently. To avoid putting too much stress on your scalp, hold a section of your hair with one hand while you comb through your hair with the other hand.

2) Shampoo: Gently massage the scalp with the pads of your fingers and let the lather run down your hair. Try not to scrub your hair while washing it to prevent post-shower knots.

3) Conditioning: After rinsing out the shampoo, saturate your hair with conditioner and leave it on for a few minutes. The conditioner will decrease friction, making your hair slippery and easier to comb. Check with your fingers to see if there are any tangles left to remove. Use a wide-tooth comb and work through the hair starting from the tips and gradually moving upward to the roots. If you are working on stubborn knots, put on more conditioner and let it sit for a few minutes. Finish the process with a cool water rinse to seal the cuticle and keep your hair smooth and less prone to tangling.

Detangling Shampoo and Conditioner

Harsh, sulfate-based shampoos can cause dryness and porous hair that is more prone to tangling. Instead, use a mild, moisturizing shampoo without SLS to preserve moisture and keep hair feeling soft and silky. Use a conditioner that has plenty of “slip” for easier detangling, and to enhance the silkiness and manageability. Look for products that are specifically designed to untangle knotted hair.

4) Towel-drying: Wrap the towel around your head and let it absorb the excess moisture from your hair.  Squeeze and blot your hair gently with a towel rather than rubbing it forcefully, as the rubbing motion can rough up the cuticle causing new tangles and knots.

Leave-in Conditioner for Tangled Hair

Apply a leave-in conditioner to towel dried hair and comb through it again, to ensure that all the knots are out.  If you meet resistance, gently work the tangle out. On days that you don’t wash your hair, apply a leave-in conditioner prior to styling to allow the comb to glide through your strands easily. Select a product which will not coat your hair with chemicals or residue and can be used on both wet and dry hair.

Prevent Tangles from Happening

Regular Conditioning

Use conditioner after every shampoo to smooth the cuticle layer of your hair. Healthy and properly conditioned hair is silky and pliable and less likely to tangle.

Deep Conditioning

Deep condition your hair at least once a week to help restore natural oils, prevent tangles, and keep your hair smooth and easy to style.

Sleeping Habits that Prevent Knots and Tangles

Sleeping with your hair down contributes to matting, especially if you have long hair. To prevent hair strands from matting together while you sleep, loosely braid your hair or tie it up in a ponytail before you go to bed. Opt for silk or satin pillowcases to lessen friction between your hair and the pillow to minimize knots and tangles.

Protect Your Hair in the Wind

Cover your hair with a satin scarf or a hat on windy days to reduce exposure to wind and prevent your tresses from getting messed up. Braids are a good option during windy weather. You can let your hair down when you arrive at your destination.

Trim Your Hair on a Regular Basis

The roughness of dry and split ends contribute to knotty hair. Keep your strands healthy by trimming away split ends every four to six weeks.

Use Safe Hair Accessories

Wear your hair up using only non-damaging hair accessories. Avoid using uncovered elastic bands, and hair accessories with sharp edges, as they can cause damage, making your hair more prone to matting.

3 thoughts on “How to Properly Untangle Your Hair

  1. My hair is so long . I think, I need to cut everything off cause I’m so tired of always brushing the knots out. I get normal trims, I solid have part closes , I never utilize heat on it , I profound condition it once every week . What am I doing wrong??

  2. Thank You for these tips on untangling my hair. I don’t know what happened but it is so knotted up. I’m doing the oil /finger tip/conditioner thing as I read this over. i’m scared it won’t untangle

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