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This may seem basic but the detangling process is so important that I thought it was worth saying a few words on the subject.

Combing afro hair is a matter of patience and perseverance

Someone asked me a question about detangling the other day. She was detangling her DRY hair and wondered why it was breaking off and her head was sore.

With this one question, I was transported back in time to when I was a young child and my mum used to try combing my hair dry. She raked various combs through my hair – narrow-tooth, afro comb, you name it, she tried it!

I remember having a tender scalp and the broken hairs that scattered across the floor – I still wince at the thought of that comb being dragged across my scalp. My hair was a real bone of contention back then, never doing what it was ‘supposed’ to do. These days I know better. My hair responds better to wet detangling, by a mile!

So what’s the big deal about detangling? Well, this can be the make or BREAK of your hair! We all know by now that growing long black hair is more about retaining the ends of your hair rather than stumbling on some magical method of growing it. If you want length, you have to treat it right – and that means being extra careful with the ends.

Detangling your hair in the wrong way (for you) can lead to you losing all the length you’ve worked so hard to achieve. If you’re too rough or you use the wrong tools, you could end up with hair that’s breaking and more damaged than ever.

Problem is, there’s more than one way to detangle coily black hair. There’s wet detangling, dry detangling, finger detangling, combing or brushing.

It’s difficult to pin down a method that works for everybody because (as I’ve said previously), we’re all different and our hair has different needs.

I’ve also said before that wet detangling is the best method. I just want to state again that this is not true for everybody. I still think that many of us detangle while our hair is wet, and I think this is much easier on delicate hair strands especially if you have really dry hair. But some people do find it easier to detangle their hair dry. There’s no right and wrong!

If you haven’t chosen a detangling technique yet, try both ways and see which one is best for your tresses.

There are pros and cons for each method of detangling black hair. With wet detangling, there’s a strong argument that it can lead to more breakage because when your hair is wet, it’s at its weakest.

But then again, dry detangling can also lead to breakage because the hair is more brittle and can potentially snap off at the ends – particularly if it’s really damaged.

Whichever method you choose, the important thing is to be gentle with your hair. It’s hard to be patient if you have really thick coils and don’t have time to spend hours tussling with the tangles. But if you want long natural hair, I’m afraid you’ll just have to suck it up and set aside plenty of time to get all the knots out!

Afro hair needs a little TLC

Wet Detangling

It’s fairly self-explanatory: wet detangling is when you saturate your hair with water before you start detangling. The most obvious way to do this is in the shower. Wet detangling usually comes after shampooing at the conditioning stage. Use a conditioner with lots of ‘slip’ to make it easier to glide your comb or your fingers through your hair. If you want to leave the conditioner on for a few minutes, finish washing the rest of your body while the conditioner does its work. Then start the detangling process – you may use a comb or your fingers but remember to be gentle. Start at the bottom of your hair, working your way up towards the roots. When you find a knot, work your comb or fingers gently through that area before you carry on up the hair strand. You may want to add more water as you go, if it helps you to tease out the knots.

Dry Detangling

Again, the clue’s in the title – dry detangling is when you detangle your hair when it’s dry! Actually that’s not strictly true…you add a little oil to the ends of your hair such as olive oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil etc. This softens the ends a little so the hair has a bit more give. Once again, detangle with your fingers or comb from the ends up to the roots. Gently does it! If you find a stubborn tangle, gently ease your comb or fingers through it, starting at the bottom and working through until you can slide your fingers or comb from the roots back down to the ends of your hair. This can take a while so you’ll just have to be patient.

Damp Detangling

There’s another way to detangle your hair, and that is to detangle damp hair. Usually you’ll spritz your hair with water (or a water/oil mixture, or a spot of conditioner), then gently detangle from the ends right up to the roots. The rest is pretty much the same process as when you’re dry detangling.

Sectioning the Hair

Whichever way you detangle, the process is best done in sections. I split my hair into four sections to try to keep it simple – as my hair grows longer and thicker, I think I’ll have to add more. Sectioning the hair while you’re detangling is a big deal in the natural community – many of those who’ve achieved long natural hair swear by it, and I have to admit that my hair seems to have responded well to this.

Finger detangling is when you use your fingers to detangle your hair. As this blog’s getting too long I’ll say more about this in the next part, when I’ll be talking about detangling tools. I’ll also share with you my own method for detangling.

Has this helped? Do you know any other detangling methods? How do you detangle your hair…please leave your comments below!

Coming soon…more on natural oils for black hair. Keep an eye on the blog for the next installation on natural oils!

Also, please check out the Natural Hair Forum UK if you get a minute – go to http://www.blackbeautyhaircareforum.org.uk/ & ask questions, join the community and support natural hair in the UK!

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