Just admit it. You’ve neglected your hair. Now it’s matted, knotted and just down right “unmanageable”. This happens because, as we all know, detangling natural hair can be so tiresome. Sometimes, we just don’t have the time or patience to detangle so we choose to ignore it. Out of sight, out of mind right? Now you are looking at something on your head that resembles a bird’s nest.
However, the term “unmanageable” is just completely wrong. Your natural hair may need a little more TLC right now, but it can always be managed. You just have to make a conscious decision to slow down and trust the detangling process. Now, you have two options here, cut it all off or deal with the consequences of your inaction. If you're reading this blog, most likely you’ve chosen the latter. There is nothing to fear! While it will be a process, detangling your hair is not a hard task. We’re going to discuss what exactly you can do to avoid this happening but if just so happens to again, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge of how to tame the beast that is matted, tangled natural hair.
Hammer Down on Your Regimen
The best way to combat knotting, wild tresses is to really crack down on your routine. If you find that your hair is drying out, matting up or tangling more frequently, it may be a good idea to switch up your routine or product layering so you have more of a chance to retain moisture. Retaining moisture is the key to more elasticity, stronger hair shaft and upholding styles. Every great natural hair regimen has the top three components:
- A shampoo that does not strip the hair of its natural oils
- A nourishing deep conditioner that penetrates the hair shaft
- Oils that won’t sit on the scalp and can seal in moisture
These three factors will help you build a foundation that will allow all the other hair products you use to flourish.
So let’s begin on day 1, wash day. The steps you take during wash days will set you up either for success or failure. Before you even go to wash your hair, the first thing you want to do is to determine if you need a pre-poo (honestly, you can always use a pre poo, there are only benefits). A pre-poo is when you apply a treatment or oil to your hair BEFORE you go in with your shampoo. While some use actual pre-poo marketed products, a pre-poo can consist of your favorite deep conditioner, oil or your very own DIY concoction. While we are very partial to a bomb deep conditioner, in our opinion, less is more! We recommend using the Hydrating AvoKiwi Oil Blend. This oil is lightweight in texture but a heavyweight in penetrating the hair shaft. The kiwi extract in this blend does wonders in getting into your hair and staying there.
Now during your pre-poo, this is not the time for any hair tools. Using hair tools while your hair is still tangled will only lead to breakage and even more frustration. You want to use your fingers at this point to eliminate any unnecessary pulling or tugging. Be sure that you are also working in small sections as this will help you get to every kink, single strand knot and all the shed hair that is caught up in the mist. After you have properly finger-detangled during your pre-poo, it is now time to shampoo your hair. Keep your hair sectioned while you are shampooing. Many times when you skip this step, your hair will just become tangled again and now you have lost all progress made. Sections are your friend!
Slip, Slip, Slip
When thinking about products to use while detangling the keyword here is SLIP. While it may be obvious, many products tend to fall to the wayside in this category. Now, as you know, your hair must be wet when you are detangling simply because you will need all the assistance you can get once your hair is tangled beyond recognition. A product with good slip will work with the moisture of your wet hair to soften dry, tangled strands. Softened strands gild through your fingers easily and allow you to work on bigger knots without using too much force or causing damaging tension. You want to be sure that you add ample amounts of product to each section so you have enough to work with when you are paying close attention to individual knots and clumps of matted hair.
Depending on when you are detangling can really determine what product you’ll use as well. For example, if you are finding that your hair needs a severe detangling (i.e. its matted, your hands cannot comb through or you just removed a protective style) it’s better to just go ahead and wash your hair altogether. If this is the case, I would recommend using a deep conditioner as your pre-poo. This way your hair will have more time to soak in the nutrients while being manipulated. Our top recommendation for detangling with a deep conditioner is our Curl-Defining Ice Cream Treatment Deep Conditioner. Beside the amazing nourishing benefits of flaxseed and acai, this deep conditioner is full of slippery ingredients. This Ice Cream Treatment is jam packed with various butters such as mango seed butter, shea butter and Amazonian murumuru butter, just to name a few. These ingredients add an element of slip that is ideal for getting through the real hard and seemingly impossible knots.
If you are trying to detangle but you don’t have time for a full wash day routine, all you’ll need is a spray bottle, a great moisturizing product, your fingers and some patience. Section your hair into 5 or 6 parts and start dousing the part you are working on in water. Now we actually recommend our Hydrating Conditioner as a product that is perfect for detangling the hair. The avocado oil, shea butter and coconut oil included in this formula provide enough slip to get the job done. Be sure to finger detangle during this process as well before going in with any type of hair tools.
Pro-Tip: While NaturAll does not have any detangling sprays, we do have a quick DIY hack. In a spritzer bottle, add water (to really add some moisture, try aloe vera juice), our Hydrating Conditioner and a lightweight oil and BOOM! Your very own detangling spray.
Tools of the Trade
After you have gone through each section with your fingers and you have addressed all of the single strand knots, snags and shedded hair, it is now safe enough to use hair tools to finish your detangling process. We want to emphasize that detangling with your fingers may seem tedious but length retention will come with if you just take that extra step. Some of the best tools to use while you are detangling is a wide toothed comb, a denman brush or our very own Detangling Brush. Our Detangling Brush not only comes with wide teeth but the best part is it moves with your hair. As you glide the brush, it expands so your hair is not being pulled on harshly. Make sure your hair still has ample amounts of water and product so the brush does not have any friction.
How to Avoid Stress Around Detangling
The best way to avoid a heavy duty detangling session is to simply prevent the tangles from happening. Now, I know this may seem impossible. To a degree, with natural hair, it is. What you can do is prevent your hair from tangling to the point of being matted and “unmanageable”. Prevention is the name of the game and we have a few tips to help.
The first thing you have to keep in mind is protecting your hair while you are sleeping. This is the number one culprit for snags and knots, especially if you sleep on cotton. While it is widely known that naturals benefit from wrapping their hair in a scarf, bonnet or durag, it is also important how you treat your hair under the wrap. Before bed, be sure to section your hair into large areas and loosely twist or braid the section. Your hair will stay stretched and it will be less inclined to intertwine with itself. Along with twisting up your hair, keep the scalp moisturized! A moisturized scalp is the foundation of healthy hair and healthy hair is much easier to manage.
Another tip is to make it a point to detangle every day! Battles win wars and you have to take smaller steps to help the bigger picture. Each day when you refresh your hair with your favorite hydration routine, run your fingers through your hair. Now of course you want to ruin the integrity of your style but you always want to assess the state of your hair in between wash days. You want to remove any shed hair, release any knotted patches and separate your curls and coils from each other. All of this can be done in about 10 minutes. Ten minutes a day will eliminate hours of detangling during wash day and that is the name of the game right!?
Be Patient, Be Gentle
Listen, no natural hair journey will be a walk in the park 100% of the time. We all have lives. Whether it's tending to our children, climbing the ladder at work or simply taking an hour to enjoy your own company. There will always be reasons to neglect your hair but you will always have to deal with the consequences afterward. Be kind to yourself and take the time to treat your hair gently. Much like a garden you have to tend to it with ample amounts of TLC before it produces the results you desire. Really try to solidify fool proof routines for every natural hair occurrence and you will conquer each and every step!