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How to Cut Down on Detangling Time by Stretching Natural Hair

Avatar • Sep 14, 2011

by Cipriana of Urban Bush Babes

It was just an ordinary Saturday afternoon and I was watching one of my favorite movies, while performing one of my not so favorite necessities… detangling my hair. I don’t hate detangling but I don’t love it either. I do love the results afterwards which makes it more than bearable! As I was watching the movie I received a text about a last minute business dinner later that day. Great!!! I wasn’t even half way through my detangling session so there was no way I was going to finish before dinner.

Since I had already detangled about a quarter of my hair that quarter was more stretched than the rest of my tangled sections so for the tangled sections to appear similar to the detangled section, I placed my loose twists into “twisted bantu knots” to stretch the rest of my hair. Several hours later I took the bantu knots out and put my hair up into one of my favorite updo styles and kept it moving. When I came home later that night after the dinner I was too tired to stay up and start detangling my hair so I waited until the morning and boy did I discover a wonderful surprise!

As I begin to detangle the sections of hair I hadn’t finished the previous day I noticed the sections were more manageable and easier to get through than usual. Then it clicked, the day before I had placed my tangled loose twist into bantu knots to stretch them a bit. The stretch caused my curls to loosen and I was able to detangle easier and faster than normal, which cut my detangling session in half! This of course would make sense because the curlier and finer the hair the more difficult it is to detangle, but stretch those curls a bit before you detangle and things go much smoother.

As with anything there are precautions to take with stretching tangled hair in preparation for detangling. Here are some guidelines I follow to secure minimal to no breakage.

Protective Styling

Yes, stretching can be done on freeform strands but hair that is worn in a protective style during the week is better for attempting this method because the hair is already somewhat separated. Dry stretching on freeform strands is possible, but it will take more time, patience and effort.

Twisting Over Braiding

When twisting you only have to separate out 2 sections versus 3 when you braid and when messing around with tangled strands the less stress you put on your hair is the better.

Big Sections

Twisting or braiding on tangled stretched hair should be done in large sections. Putting your hair in small braids or twist can result in more breakage because you are placing more stress and manipulation on your strands. The larger the sections you choose for your preferred method the less chance for breakage and more tangles.

Twist Before You Knot

Since my method of stretching for in between washes is bantu knots, I prefer to twist my hair before I knot. I divide my twists into 8 sections and twist up each section until I am left with 8 big twists, then I proceed to bantu knot.

Be Gentle

Remember your hair is tangled which means your strands are in a weaker state and more susceptible to breakage. Never braid or twist tightly because this will cause more harm than good. Your method should be a “casual firm”. Whenever I detangle, the roots of my hair are the most difficult to get through so when wrapping my twists into bantu knots I’m especially gentle at the root.

Oil, Oil, Oil

Do not attempt this method without some type of slip. You don’t have to drown your strands with oil but just enough goes a long way. You never want to attempt “tangle stretching” on super dry hair because it won’t be strong enough to sustain any method of stretching without breaking.

Dry Over Wet

Not only can wet hair cause more tangles but your hair is at its weakest state when wet because of the water weight absorbed by your strands. So never attempt “tangled stretching” when your hair is wet.

Don’t Procrastinate

Tangled Stretching” should be looked at as a step to aid in an easier detangling session, not a method to prolong your style for weeks till your next detangling section. Waiting longer than a couple of days (can be more or less depends how fast your hair reverts due to lifestyle and weather) can do more harm than good because your tangled strands will not stay stretched forever and will revert and you’ll lost that window of an easier detangling session.

Have you applied any of these tips? And do you ever stretch your hair before detangling?

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Masuka M.
9 years ago

Excellent article. Great and practical ideas/tips.

Cipriana
9 years ago
Reply to  Masuka M.

Masuka thank you 🙂 I’m really happy when people find my tips useful or have regimens that they and can share their as well that might work 😀

Shelli
9 years ago

Okay, I don’t have ANYWHERE near the amount of hair as Cipriani, but I agree! My hair is pretty fine, medium density and S‑wave mostly (henna loosened it, always was an S‑wave, but it’s not as tight anymore). BUT, I have found that keeping my hair stretched (with TnCs or WnGs that go into updos/buns within a day or two) really allow me to do light detangling/de-shedding on dry hair (which I do with a Vatika oil pre-poo). I couldn’t imagine dry detangling a couple of years ago when my hair was a little curlier and worn in a WnG… Read more »

mangomadness
mangomadness
9 years ago

I do. I usually put braid outs that are a couple of days old into a bun or updo. I find that the more stretched my hair is, the simpler the detangling session.

Beneath The Clutter
9 years ago

I usually wear 2‑strand twists as my go-to protective style. Generally, I wear them for 2–3 weeks at a time. While wearing them, I wet them down with water and add my leave-in. So, when it’s time to take them down — the amount of time I’ve worn them, the constant wetting and rewetting, and the fact that my shed hair is trapped — have somewhat caused my hair to mat. So, it takes me a long time to detangle. I don’t just untwist 2 pieces and roll. I have to untwist the 2 pieces and then separate those even… Read more »

Asea
Asea
9 years ago

I personally prefer braiding over twisting at night to stretch because I don’t have to add much product to get the sections to stay put lol.

Don’t procrastinate is KEY for me. Taking the time to detangle (I’m on a strict finger detangling only routine for my super fine strands) before it gets big is a must. I had to learn that the hard way!

Erica J
9 years ago

Practical advice. It’s nice that what was a “I’m tired and don’t have time for this…” turned into a “Hey, look what my hair can do!” I always love those moments.

Cipriana
9 years ago
Reply to  Erica J

Thank you Erica and yes I love thoses moments as well in fact I try to have them as much as possible, lol 🙂

LBell
LBell
9 years ago

This is too funny because I just did this last night…

Instead of spritzing my hair damp and putting it into 10–15 plaits, I applied QB Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee to my dry twistout and put it into 7 fat twists that I had to secure with bands at the ends (because my hair is short and they’d unravel otherwise). Today my twistout is a little less defined, but it’s stretched-out and super-soft.

I’m always looking for ways to minimize manipulation without resorting to 24-hour protective styling, so this is a great help.

Cipriana
9 years ago
Reply to  LBell

I’m so glad you are on your way to finding methods that help! Woo Hoo!!! 🙂

sosoulful_0125
sosoulful_0125
9 years ago

I definately agree with this method. Streching and using oils is the key for me! It’s a shame it took 3 years for me to realize this but better now than never.

Cipriana
9 years ago
Reply to  sosoulful_0125

Well you know what definitely better late than never. I took me 5 years to figure it out and I am still discovering so I am glad you are finding a method that works 🙂

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9 years ago

think

sex
sex
9 years ago
3 D.O.L.L.S.
9 years ago

These are some very interesting tips. I will have to try these as I get further into my process. I am fairly new in my transitioning progress, but I will definitely use this as a go to guide when the time comes.

Kimberly B
Kimberly B
9 years ago

i was feverishly stretching large clumps of my hair while reading this article, until i got to the part about using oil. oops. lol

Kimberly B
Kimberly B
9 years ago

i meant to also say, thank you for this article! i wouldn’t have thought to do this tbh.

Cipriana
9 years ago
Reply to  Kimberly B

Lol, yes don’t forget the oil girl!!!! So excited you find this helpful :)))

cam
cam
9 years ago

Ok, so this comment has absolutely nothing to do w/ your article, however, Im pretty sure I just saw you on TV…I think it was a Kmart commercial. That is awesome! Congrats!

anastasia
anastasia
9 years ago

It’s a must to stretch before detangling for me and I do exactly what you are doing- loose twist/bantu knots. Cipriana is my “hair crush” so I’ve been dry detangling w/ oils and I’ll tell ya ladies, my hair is thriving. Sometimes I just look in the mirror and I’m like D…n, this is some beautiful hair!! Yup, I’m type 4a,b,c and lovin it!

Ronnie
Ronnie
8 years ago

I’ve been doing the tightly curly method for months now and while I like the curls and moisturized loose spirals, I’ve noticed that I have not been retaining a lot of length. Maybe it’s just me. When I detangled my hair dry, carefully, with my fingers, then a wide-toothed comb and wore updos, twists or buns, my hair retained length and fast! My hair has hit a plateau at armpit length and I don’t think armpit length is my terminal length. I think the tightly curly method of raking a Denman brush through sopping wet hair saturated with conditioner has… Read more »

Tanya
Tanya
8 years ago
Reply to  Ronnie

I agree with you assessment, Ronnie. I’m a protective styler, but even then I try to avoid using tools to detangle. My strands are fine and tools are too harsh on my hair.

Cathey Poindexter Taylor
Cathey Poindexter Taylor
8 years ago

Great info Cipriana! I will have to follow this.

Ashley Grief
Ashley Grief
8 years ago

While excessive food but not enough physical exercise are usually the culprit, common medical conditions and widespread prescriptions may greatly amplify size.

sbahle
8 years ago

I always find your tips to be SUPER helpful Cipriana, thank you so much. im from South Africa and believe it or not, we don’t have many natural hair sites down her! I LOOOOOOOOOOVE this site and i love all ma natural sisters! you’re all beautiful!!! much love :)!

noman
7 years ago

im realy appericate your work and 100% right your all reserch good article

Alam
6 years ago

i was feverishly stretching large clumps of my hair while reading this article,

Neuza
6 years ago
Reply to  Alam

This is a pretty style, but looks like it’s hard to keep up and do. I have a nappy fro and have never atttmpeed this style. I’ll try it and see how things go!

Brit
Brit
5 years ago

This article is confusing. Pictures could help.

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