Detangling is a topic that is often discussed in the natural hair community. There are different methods of detangling with different tools that can ease the manageability and process of styling our curls. But sometimes we wonder, am I detangling too often or can I comb my hair more frequently? Our curly girl, amesthyt, asked a great question about detangling on our Curly Q&A.
What would happen if I didn't comb my hair for a while? (1-2 weeks) The reason I ask is because I was on Pinterest and I saw a picture of a girl with really long curly hair [pictured above], who said she hadn't combed her hair in two years.
*Editor's Note: The woman our reader was referring to told Black Girl Long Hair that while she hadn't combed her hair in two years, she does detangle using her fingers.
The short answer is that not detangling your hair can cause it to loc over time and how fast depends on the texture and style. If you are wearing your hair loose (twist outs, wash and go’s, braid outs, etc.), I would not go any longer than a week without combing. Your hair sheds daily and that hair needs to come out before it gets tangled or matted. If you are wearing your hair in a protective style (braids, twists, cornrows, etc.) then I would keep that style in no longer than six weeks and gently detangle my hair with an oil while taking down the style. Since the hair is protected in a style, your hair will not be as tangled, therefore requiring less detangling maintenance.
If you are concerned about detangling your hair too often or over-manipulating your hair, there are ways to avoid that. You can try finger detangling and slowly work your way from the ends to the roots with a slippery conditioner. If you are finger detangling when styling, use the same method but use a leave-in conditioner. If you prefer to use a tool rather than your fingers, I recommend using a wide tooth comb.
Read more: Lazy Naturals Guide to Detangling
Wash & go vs. stretched
Your styling process can also affect how often you should detangle. In my personal experience, I noticed my hair was prone to tangle more with a wash and go than it did in stretched styles. My wash and go style usually will not last too long so I would find myself detangling and restyling my hair in the middle of the week. That does not happen for me with my stretched styles. I can usually wait until my next wash day, which is every week. I also noticed that if I used the LOC method during every wash day, my hair was moisturized and I did not experience a hefty amount of shed hair and knots.
Your curl pattern
You also have to consider your hair type before making a decision about how often you should detangle. If your hair has a tighter curl, you should be pay attention to how often you comb it, because it is more prone to single strand knots. That does not mean you should comb your hair every day, but detangling no more than two times a week with moisturizing products should keep your hair detangled and easy for you to manage. However, you should always do what is best for your hair, because you know your hair better than anyone else.If you're starting from scratch and have yet to find a detangling method that works for you, I suggest testing different methods and writing down your results. Going back through your reviews later will help jog your memory to find the best method for you.
Read more: The Curly Girl Guide to Detangling