Few of us are exempt from experiencing the frustrating effects of a stubborn hair tangle. Whether it’s a result of a professional updo followed by an all-night party, or a symptom of a curly head in need of a haircut, it can be managed without taking extreme measures or breaking out the peanut butter! Before you start snipping, read on for several detangling steps that don’t involve scissors.

Isolate The Knot

Go in front of a mirror to get a good look at the knot. It’s helpful to pull back the rest of your hair so that you can clearly locate the snarl and not be distracted by the rest of your strands.

Work The Knot

Next, start working hair away from the knot, but be careful how you go about this. Pulling on the hair strands above the knot will only tighten the knot. Instead, focus on pulling strands from the bottom of the knot to the top. Once you’ve done what you could here, move on to the next step.

Add Slip

You know how when you’re applying conditioner to your hair, and your fingers slide right through? We call that slip. So, you know what to do here: Grab your conditioner or a detangling product (we’re partial to Kinky-Curly Knot Today“>, and proceed to apply a generous amount to the knot. Adding slip will help hair strands slide and loosen with less friction. After you apply conditioner, repeat the process of gently pulling strands apart again from the bottom of the knot to the top. Depending on the size and tightness of the tangle, this may or may not be the last step.

Utilize Your Hair Tools

If your knot is still being stubborn, now’s the time for tough love. Use a spray bottle to spray the knot with water, and apply some more conditioner as well. Then, grab a comb and stick one “tooth” smack dab in the middle of the knot, and gently pull the tooth through the tangled hair. Comb from the bottom of the knot to the top by sticking the tooth in the snarl.

Be Patient

You may need to use a combination of loosening the knot with the comb and then pulling the loose hairs out with your fingers. If your patience is wearing thin, take a break and step away, then come back when you’re feeling up to it. A short fuse and a tough knot are a recipe for disaster.

Above all else, prevention is the key. If your hair is generally unruly and/or difficult to manage, don’t sleep with it loose. Take care to moisturize your hair every day, and be conscious of your tresses when you feel them rubbing against your clothes or furniture, as these movements could lead to snags and knots. If you do wind up with a tangle, take your time working out the snarl. It’s not a bad idea to try to detangle before every wash; it may seem like a laborious task, but it’s definitely worth it.