India from MyNaturalSistas
Detangling is a part of having curly and coily hair that many (not all) tend to dread. When you leave the gym after a long day at work, the last thing you want to do is hold your arms in the air for 30 min.-2 hr. Some even take an entire day. It can be exhausting and naturals have come up with creative ways to reduce the amount of time it takes. Eleriero recently solicited detangling advice from us on Curly Q&A.

Question

I have mainly 4a hair (some 4b in the back) and I usually finger detangle, but sometimes (especially for certain styles) I need a better detangling tool. Sometimes I feel like a shower comb doesn't cut it. Any suggestions for more...precise detangling tools?

Answer

The main cause of breakage is manipulation, and if your hair is not properly moisturized then it is more vulnerable to break and split when manipulated. Although keeping your hair moisturized is essential, it is important to acknowledge that most breakage is attributed to mechanical error. One of the main places it occurs is while detangling.

Dry, Damp, and Wet Detangling

Stylist Janelle Sands says that when hair is wet the bonds are broken down and the hair becomes weaker, more fragile, and more malleable. And when detangling hair in a dry state you could potentially be snapping strands or chipping away the cuticle, as hair lacks flexibility in this state, especially if not well lubricated with oil. For the sake of comfort and time, many with coily hair will opt for wet detangling. Based on the stylists I have spoken to, the consensus is that textured hair should but detangled on damp hair. This provides enough lubrication for your hair to be more pliable and eliminates snagging while avoiding over saturation that can cause the strands to hyperextend and become damaged. Try creating a spray bottle mix with your favorite conditioner, oil, and water.

Read moreShould You Detangle Wet or Dry?...It Depends.

Pre-poo

A lot of curlies and coilies swear by pre-pooing. Adding a product that has sufficient slip to your hair and allowing it to adsorb to your strands makes your hair easier to comb. The key to a good pre-poo treatment is giving the product enough time to bond to the hair shaft.

Allow time for absorption

Allowing my hair to become fully saturated with water under the shower stream for 2-4 min. makes a major difference in my detangling sessions. The pressure of the shower stream pushes some of the shed hair down the length of my hair and makes my hair is more pliable. I know my hair is fully saturated when it reaches its fullest elongation under the stream and lays quite flat to my scalp.

Section

Separating your hair with clips will greatly help you to reduce breakage. Detangling your hair in sections gives you more control when combing with your fingers or a tool. Whenever I try to detangle without sectioning, I can feel my hair tug and break, as I might accidentally be pulling strands from a region that I am not focusing on.

Shower Mirror

I do not have a shower mirror yet, but I certainly need one. When I am detangling my roots after starting with my ends and working my way up the length of my hair, sometimes I accidentally snag a cluster of strands from a section that is tucked away with a clip. If you prefer to detangle in the shower, I highly suggest getting a shower mirror so you can clearly observe what the issue might be. 

Other Tool Options

There is a plethora of detangling options. I know you finger detangle and you say a shower comb is not an option, so I suggest other detangling combs or brushes like the Ouidad Double Detangler. I have seen YouTubers with various curl patterns successfully use each one of these tools so you can always search for videos to see how they are used.

Detangling According to Style

I noticed that my hair is more difficult to detangle when it is in a stretched style (e.g. flat-twist out, twist out, or braid out). An old wash and go is much easier for me to detangle and I am aware that this is not true for a lot of naturals. Because my coils are already aligned within their respective clusters while in a wash and go state, the only place my strands have to shrink is upward. When my hair is stretched, my individual curl clusters are not necessarily stretched in a uniform manner that make way for them to shrink back to its natural coily state when introduced to water. Yes, the hair is still retracting back to my scalp, but it is more in a matted form in comparison to my wash and go. I am not saying you need to be a wash and go curly, but what I am saying is that your method of detangling might be contingent on the style your are wearing and how long it has been since your last detangling session.