Have you ever wondered why locked hair can grow very long? Well I like to think that it's for two reasons: the first is that shed hair is not lost, and the second is simply that locked hair is uncombed natural hair with little to no manipulation.

Before I went natural, I combed my hair every single day without fail. I'd use very fine-toothed combs to lay my hair down - that is, the few strands that I still had left after chemical and mechanical damage. Looking back now, four years after my last relaxer, I can confidently say that combing my hair was one of my most detrimental hair practices.

Combs caused severe mechanical damage to my strands. They literally shred my individual strands to pieces

Here's what I've learned from my experiences: combs caused severe mechanical damage to my strands. They literally shred my individual strands to pieces, leaving them frail and tattered. For me, weak strands resulted in lots of breakage, which in turn resulted in minimal length retention. Here are a few alternatives I've found to combs:

Opt for finger-detangling rather than brushing

Our fingers are our greatest friends when it comes to natural hair care. Finger detangling simply refers to the practice of frequently using your fingers to separate your strands and prevent them from knotting. It may take longer than brushing, but trust me, your strands will thank you.

If you must use combs, use seamless wide toothed combs

Seamless combs are those whose teeth do not have a fine line of demarcation where the pieces of plastic meet. These lines of demarcation can be razor-sharp and cause damage to our strands. Seamless combs tend to be higher in quality and therefore more expensive, but at the end of the day, they do save your strands.

If not seamless combs, try wide-toothed combs

Wide-toothed combs are those that literally look like rakes. You want to have your combs teeth as far apart as possible - literally half of an inch or so! If used correctly, wide-toothed combs lightly detangle our hair without causing too much mechanical damage.

One of my greatest secrets to my long, coily hair is that I hardly ever comb my hair. This doesn't mean that my hair is unkempt but rather that I gently use my fingers to style my hair in low manipulation styles. I've found this tactic helpful in retaining length.  

Have you tried to go without a comb? If not, what styling tools do you use?