As a type 4 naturalista I totally understand the struggle with single strand knots and matting. Some naturalistas argue for detangling coily hair when it’s wet while others advocate for dry detangling. While I’ve been a big fan of dry detangling for the past 3 years of my natural hair journey, I’m finding that as my hair has grown longer, I’ve come to appreciate wet detangling.
Dry vs. wet detangling
Just to be clear, dry detangling and wet detangling aren’t all that different. In the former you detangle your hair when it’s nearly dry and in the latter you detangle your hair when it is dripping wet, maybe even as you wash it. This particular aspect of natural hair care can be contentious. Naturalistas who detangle dry hair claim that their hair is better able to handle the manipulation and less likely to break. Naturalistas who detangle wet hair claim the opposite. They say that their hair is better able to handle manipulation when it is wet, as it is softer and more pliable.
I’ve used both methods with success over the past five years of my natural hair journey. When my hair was shorter, I enjoyed both dry and wet detangling. However, when my hair was about 10-13 inches, I found that dry detangling was an efficient way of getting rid of knots. However, now that my hair is approaching 20 inches, it seems to do better with wet detangling. The key, I guess, is to learn to be responsive to your hair’s needs as they change over time.
4 things you need to detangle
Now that we have an idea of what I mean by “wet detangling”, here are four things that will make your wet detangling sessions a lot easier.
Prior to detangling, deep condition your hair with a moisturizing treatment. Feel free to add ingredients such as butters, honey, and oils to add more slip. I’ve found that my strands are easier to manipulate when I infuse my hair with moisture prior to thoroughly deep conditioning. My hair feels like my knots have melted away.
A thorough monthly session
Set aside two or so hours each month to thoroughly work your way through your strands one at a time. I know this might sound like much but it makes every other detangling session in between easier for the rest of the month!
If you attempt to detangle your entire mane all at once, you’ll get frustrated. Trust me, I’ve been there! Instead, section your hair and work on each section at a time. As you work your way through each section of hair, be sure to braid it up loosely and pin it out of the way, which leads me to my fourth and final point.
A stretched style
As best as you can, try to keep your hair stretched after detangling. There’s no point whatsoever in spending your precious time picking out knots and tangles only to have your hair shrink and matt again. As Type 4 naturals, stretched styles keep our hair from coiling back up onto itself. Let your hair dry out in a stretched style to avoid tangles.
Do you detangle your hair when it’s wet or when it’s dry? What methods and techniques have you found effective? Leave us a note down below, we’d love to know!