Detangling refers to the process of unraveling knots and tangles in your hair. For many of us in the natural hair community, detangling is a necessarily evil and a grueling process only because it can be time consuming and labor intensive. Each knot and tangle must be gently undone using the right techniques in order to prevent breakage. 

Detangling techniques vary greatly with the diversity of curl patterns, lengths, and density in the natural hair community. Some naturalistas argue that detangling with a light oil is best while others say conditioner-drenched hair is best. While each head of hair is different, I’ve found my hair is at its best when I detangle it before I shampoo.

While each head of hair is different, I’ve found my hair is at its best when I detangle it before I shampoo.

4 reasons why I prefer a pre-shampoo detangling session 

1. My stretched hair is easier to manipulate

My Type 4 hair is very coily and shrinks up to 80% of its true length. For this reason, I keep it stretched in low manipulation styles such as two-strand twists and twist-outs. When it’s time to detangle my hair, my hair tends not to be as knotted as it could possibly be. Stretching my coils in low manipulation styles means my hair does not tangle as much as it would if I wore it out in an afro everyday.

2. My dry hair is stronger before I shampoo

I don’t know about you but my hair is like a wet rug. The moment it comes into contact with water, it will shrivel up and easily bend out of shape. However, when dry it can stand up against a whirlwind! This is why I prefer to detangle it prior to shampooing. When my hair is dry, I can easily pick out knots and shed hair because my hair is sturdier and easier to manipulate with minimal breakage. 

3. I can wash off any detangling products afterwards

Oftentimes, depending on how my hair feels, I’ll add an oil or heavy cream to the length of my strands in order to aid in the detangling process. If my strands are heavily knotted and feel dry and crunchy from wearing my hair out, I’ll add some coconut oil or shea butter blend to my hair for some added slip. Detangling before I shampoo means I can drench my coils and then wash off the excess product. Detangling with a light oil also serves as my pre-poo treatment. Double win!

4. Allows me to section my hair before washing

My type 4 hair is best washed in sections in order to prevent matting. When I detangle my hair before I shampoo, I’m able to put my hair up and away in loose braids once each section is complete. I usually have about 4-6 braids before I jump into the shower. As I wash my hair, I simply move from section to section. I find this method a lot more efficient and time-saving.

Do you detangle your hair before or after you shampoo? We’d love to know why so feel free to leave us a note down below!