In the first part of my blog on detangling black hair, I mentioned some of the methods of detangling natural black hair – wet detangling, dry detangling and detangling damp hair.
In this part, I’ll talk about detangling tools. The tools you use to detangle your hair are important too. I mean, who knew that your combs could actually be damaging your hair?
So if you choose to detangle your hair using a comb, make sure it’s not doing more harm than good – if your comb is worn or has seams, you may be tearing your hair to shreds!
I had to ditch all the old combs that have been part of my life for so long – the plastic afro comb that I’ve had for years, and the metal one with the Black Power fist on the end (I was so proud of that when I bought it). I also threw out my wide tooth-comb, which was my favourite comb ever, and my cheap fishtail comb.
Before you run that comb through your tresses, check to ensure that the comb has no seams running down the inside of the teeth. These tiny hairline seams in the plastic may seem harmless enough but in fact, they could be damaging your hair. The seams catch at the cuticles and can lead to split ends and shredded hairs. The same is true of old combs where the plastic has worn away or if it has tiny nodules or scars across the surface. Sorry, but they gotta go – that is, if you want to retain the length of your hair!I’ve heard somewhere that metal combs can also damage the hair because there may be sharp edges. I can’t confirm this but I can imagine that a hard material rubbing against my delicate hair is probably not so good so I’m steering clear of metal combs too.
Some people use a brush to smooth down the hair. Again this is down to personal choice – and personally, I’d rather have the odd stray frizzy hair than to take the risk of damage by pulling through my hair with a brush.
Anyway, there’s another way to smooth down your hair without going anywhere near a brush. Try tying a satin scarf around it while it’s still damp. When you take the scarf off again, you’ll notice how straight and sleek it is where the scarf lay…and you didn’t even have to rub your hair up the wrong way to achieve it!
I no longer use any detangling tools in my hair, except if I’m parting my hair. This will probably change as my hair grows and I may start using a wide-tooth comb, but for now finger detangling is best for my hair – and since I’ve been using this method I’ve noticed fewer single-strand knots and breakage.
Finger detangling uses the fingers exclusively when you’re detangling your hair instead of a comb or brush – although some people use this method to detangle their hair before combing or brushing to make the process much less painful and protracted.
Whether you’re wet or dry detangling, feel your hair first and see how it responds to tension before you go diving in there and pulling at your hair. If you’re dry detangling, as I touched on in the first part of this blog, then use an oil to lube up the hair! It’ll allow your hair to be flexible enough to withstand the stress that you put on your hair when you’re detangling.
If you’re wet detangling, add as little or as much water or conditioner as you need to reduce the amount of tension you have to put on your hair.
Effectively finger combing is simply replacing a comb with your fingers, so follow the same process and run your fingers through your hair, detangling it gently. And I mean gently! I always detangle from the tips to the roots and that’s what I would suggest – but some prefer to go from the roots to the tips. It all depends on what works for you.
How I detangle My Hair
I use the wet detangling method and never use a comb. Since I’ve been finger detangling, I have fewer single-strand knots, which used to plague me.You’ll have to work out your own method of detangling – try different things and see what works for your own hair.
I detangle my hair thoroughly once a week after I’ve washed my hair while I’m still in the shower. My hair is soaking wet and I allow the conditioner to sit for a while.
I ensure that my hair has lots of slip by using a good conditioner. You’ll know instantly whether the conditioner has given your hair enough slip because it will give the strands a slippery, oily feel that you can run your fingers through.
My hair is divided into sections and I begin to run my fingers gently through the strands. I use all my fingers, using them like a flexible comb for more or less tension – whatever is needed for that particular section. I start at the ends of the hair and work my way up.
If I come to a nasty tangle I use both hands to separate out the matted hair almost as if I’m unpicking a puzzle. This can take some time and it takes a lot of patience. Once I’ve worked it through, I begin detangling again at the ends until I can run my fingers all the way down from the roots to the tips. If it’s really hard to detangle a knot, I run my hair under the water again and the force of the water helps me untangle the knots.
When I’ve gone through the entire section from the ends to the roots I run my fingers through the strands at a horizontal angle, just to make sure that my hair is completely free of knots. I pin the hair up again and start on the next section. The whole process takes about 40 minutes and I have to admit, it’s pretty frustrating but my patience is really beginning to reap rewards 🙂
Detangling my hair thoroughly leaves it pretty much tangle-free for the rest of the week. Even better, it’s becoming easier and easier to detangle my hair over time, so it’s definitely worth taking that little extra time to do it properly.
If I do come across the odd tangle during the week, I spritz my hair and gently run my fingers through the knotted area until the tangles have worked free. Using protective styles such as buns and twists helps me to keep the knots at bay.
There are lots more ways to detangle your hair. Some people detangle their hair in dozens of small sections, others detangle the whole head at once. I guess that depends on how thick or long your hair is.
Other people detangle from the roots down to the tips, although that certainly wouldn’t work for my hair.
In the end, you have to do what’s best for your hair. Even if someone advises you to do one thing but your hair doesn’t respond well, then do what’s best for you.
How do you detangle your hair? How long do you spend detangling it? Feel free to add your comments below!
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I found a really old Denman brush from my school days and tried that for a while. Yes, I know I said I’d never use a comb/brush to detangle my hair but for old times’ sake I thought I’d give it a whirl. So I gave it a try for a month or so and at first I was really surprised by the results. It was easier than I thought it would be. I detangled in the shower on conditioned hair and it cut my detangling time considerably. I also found that my curls were super defined. :))
The downside was that because the bristles are detachable, the plastic part at the top kept slipping off – maybe that’s because the brush is so old. Another downside is that it led to more breakage than usual, especially over time. For these reasons I’ve given the Denman a nudge for now. However I’m definitely keeping it on the backburner. It’s a handy little tool to keep around & use sparingly.