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Combing vs Finger Detangling: Which is Better?

Avatar • Jan 18, 2012


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By Cipriana of Urbanbushbabes.com

To comb or not to comb that is the question! Well for those who know my hair practices the answer is obvious. For those who don’t, let me just say the comb has become a distant memory…….comb what, comb who?  All jokes aside for my hair I feel finger detangling on dry hair has become a necessity, not an option at this stage of the game.

Type 4 hair is the most fragile of all hair types because every curling point along the strand is a potential point of breakage and the curlier the hair the more potential points of breakage. In additiona, we curlies have to factor in dryness that results from a lack of sebum traveling down our highly textured strands. (Sebum is an oily substance, released from microscopic subaceous glands on the scalp, that lubrciate the skin and hair.)

Given these factors I prefer finger detangling, and I personally have seen a huge improvement in density, length and health of my hair due to finger detangling. But I’m not here to delude you — finger detangling does add more time to your detangling sessions and I know this is not what most people want to hear but sometimes more work is required to reach your personal hair goals.

Fingers can feel more tangles that you can try to undo as opposed to a comb that sometimes will not pick up until it is too late and SNAP your strand. Now I tried finger detangling years ago and it was an epic fail and this was only because I was not properly and thoroughly taking the time to completely detangle my hair. The result was patches of dreads in some areas of my hair which eventually I had to cut out. Now I have mastered my detangling method so well I can take a section of finger detangled hair and run a fine tooth comb clean through (I would never suggest a fine tooth comb ya’ll, just making a point). If you have never tried finger detangling and want to give it a shot here is what I would suggest; after finger detangling a small section of hair run a wide tooth comb through that section to test your work. If it goes through, then you’ve done the job right. If not, you have more work to do.

Although finger detangling is my preferred method, I know that time is a prohibitive factor. Keep in mind that longer hair equals more work and time — and if you don’t want to put in that time, shorter hair might be the best option. But if you take the time to master finger detangling it can change the life of your hair.

Do you detangle with your comb or your fingers? Which method do you prefer and why?

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Brittney
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Brittney

Ive tried finger detangling on dry hair- when I can’t keeps my hands out of it- and it only ends in sorrow for me. I always end up with a crazy knot that I end up having to cut out. I’ve learned that I can’t play with my hair when it dry for this reason. Its much easier for me to detangle when wet, but even then I use a comb. I find its easier than anything else. I comb my hair under running water.

Natalie
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Natalie

I only detangle after my DC, I will first detangle with my hands and then go over with a wide toothed comb, plait my hair into sections and rinse. I get lots of SSK and breakage if I try to dry detangle.

LillianMae
Guest

I’m with you, Cipriana.

Finger detangling has become part of my routine. I lose less hair that way. I finger detangle, in sections, as I do my oil wash pre-poo (I use amla oil). By the time I get to rinsing out my Deep Conditioner, I lightly comb through a section at a time with my shower comb. I lose little if any hair. It freaked me out at first but after doing it so much, I now attribute minimal hair loss to finger detangling.

Lola
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Lola

Finger detangling definitely reduces breakage. I do it dry before washing. However, I get breakage when styling.

luminous
Guest
luminous

I tried finger detangling and I failed. It takes me all day to finger detangle, literally 8–10 hours. My hair hates being manipulated dry. I use a denman-type brush to detangle my hair. I detangle after shampoo with tons of conditioner in my hair, it still takes about 1.5 hours.

CurlyintheA
Guest

I almost gave up on finger detangling after experiencing bad matting in the crown. Maybe i’m not doing it right?txs for the tips.

http:www.hairnista.blogspot.com

J Kenn (SpeakingTALL)
Guest

Finger Detangler all the way! I used to use the comb each time I washed and conditioned my hair,but I gave up that practice almost 9 months ago because 1.) For me it’s less frustrating than using the comb, 2.) less time consuming, and 3.) it’s gentler on my hair with less breakage.

I get the same results with finger detangling as I did wit the comb! It’s what works for me!

Jade
Guest

I finger detangle sometimes, but only the ends of my hair seem to tangle, so maybe I just need a trim.

I haven’t used my denman brush in a year, and the only comb that ever gets a little action is my shower comb, used after I finger detangle to help spread conditioner.

hyspin
Guest
hyspin

I am a comb person finger detangling seems to take too long, I feel the longer I am in my hair the more manipulation which means more damage I am consider a type 4a‑b. I will finger detangle in the shower just cause the running water gives me a chance to remove minor knots that have the potential of becoming big bad knots, and hair flow through better. When detangling while cleansing my hair also allows me to assess the stretch of my hair, and any problem areas. Once out the shower I go to a shower/wide tooth comb. and… Read more »

Miss Bee
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Miss Bee

I finger detangle and finger style 100 percent of the time. Using my hands allows me to feel for split ends or knots better and I have way less breakage and frustration.

WMH
Guest
WMH

I think my first two comments are lost in cyber space so here is a summary just in case they don’t pop up later. 1. Natural almost 6 years and finger detangling exclusively for a little more than a year. 2. After the first 4 months of finger detangling I ran a comb through it to make sure I was getting all the tangles and knots…the comb glided through the hair smoothly. 3. It usally takes about 30–35 minutes at most to get through my entire head of hair. After shampooing and while the conditioner is still in my hair… Read more »

WMH
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WMH

In my earlier post, I forgot to mention:

5. I have barely any shed hair when finger detangling compared to when I detangled with a comb. This leads me to believe that most of what I thought was shed hair was probably breakage plus hair that was pulled from the root with the comb.
6. I only detangle once a week (for the last 6 years) after washing and conditioning even if I decide to add a midweek co-wash.

Ms.Trece'
Guest

I have to get better with the finger detangling part. It is time consuming. I know it’s better than using a comb. I have 4b4c hair.

Asea
Guest
Asea

I started finger detangling exclusively about 6 or so months ago. Along with altering other hair habits my hair loathed, finger detangling has made a tremendous difference in my hair! The only thing I use a comb for is to coil my ends when I braid it up at night. My hair is collar bone length stretched, medium density and very tightly coiled and very, very fine, and LOVES finger detangling. My routine is to spritz with water, prepoo with a castor, avocado & coconut oil mixture, and finger detangle. It takes about an hour. Then I braid it in… Read more »

CuteKinks
Guest

I use a comb. It works for me so I’ve never even felt the need to try finger combing.

kiesh
Guest

I use a wide tooth comb then follow with the denman for my detangling sessions which are usually biweekly when I shampoo. I like for my ends to be completely smooth and tangle free. I finger detangle on the weeks in between when I just cowash b/c my hair doesn’t get all that tangled. I would go to a no-poo method if I didn’t have seborrhea dermatitis which = flaky/scaly scalp.

mangomadness
Guest
mangomadness

I finger-detangle on sectioned (10 parts), oiled or conditioner-coated hair before shampooing. I’ve been finger-detangling for over a year and it takes me 30–45 mins to do my whole head. Finger-detangling has greatly reduced detangling-related breakage in my medium length, afro-textured hair.

Etty
Guest
Etty

Can you finger comb a 3 inches TWA with 4a/4b hair?
I tried but it was just a mess.

LillianMae
Guest

Seems like the shorter your hair the easier it would be to finger comb. Also less time consuming.

Etty
Guest
Etty

Really?? Well, I guess I have to try again.

African Violet
Guest
African Violet

I do it more times than not. On the days that I wash my hair, I actually don’t use my fingers to detangle–I just do my normal wash, condition, and leave-in steps. When I detangle with the leave-in, I use a wide-tooth comb. On the days when I’m styling my hair (without washing it first), I detangle with my fingers. I first create about four or five sections then start working my fingers through the smaller sections of the larger sections. The only time I consistently use my fingers is for parting my hair, whether I’ve just washed it or… Read more »

Salomey
Guest

I try best not to manipulate my hair dry, but sometimes (not very often at all) I just comb through a braid out for an afro if I’m not feeling blow-drying. If I take hair out I only manipulate it when I make it elastic‑y again by spraying with water, putting in my leave-in conditioner and sealing it in.. then I manipulate my hair to whatever style I want. It works this way cause the hair becomes less taught, springy, and knots slip apart quite easily 🙂 Finger detangling on dry hair? Not gonna happen for me, too much time… Read more »

SA
Guest
SA

I’ve been finger-detangling/combing exclusively for over a year, I prefer it much better than ‘traditional’ combing. My hair retains length better, if there’s any tangles or knots that needs to be worked out I can easily work thru it with my fingers instead of letting a comb rip thru it, and since I’m a bit tender-headed using my fingers is much more gentle not only for my hair but my scalp too. My hair type is 3c/4a– medium strands– medium density– and about an inch from waist-length. It takes me 15–20 mins max to finger-detangle/comb my hair in sections while… Read more »

cygnet
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cygnet

I tried finger detangling on dry, damp, and wet hair. I quit when I felt that I was doing it more harm than good and saw that I seemed to be losing just as much hair to my hands as I did to the comb, if not more! Instead, I do the following to each section: 1. I put just enough Elasta Mango and Olive oil on my hands to coat them so that they slide easily over my hair. 2. Using my fingers, I gently work the hair apart by parting the section into smaller parts, working first horizontally,… Read more »

mangomadness
Guest
mangomadness

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOwuT3vzxP0

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A63jWC0GYEI

Jodi
Guest

I used to finger detangle my hair exclusively then I grew tired of how time consuming it takes and switched to a seamless wide-toothed comb. Big mistake, my hair is natural collarbone length 3b/3c type super thick, but my individual hair strands are fine and medium density. It was pure pandomonium, I had so many splits after 6 months of combing my hair, I had to cut off all of the split ends and go back to finger combing. Now I finger comb my hair exclusively and don’t mind how time consuming it can be because my hair is retaining… Read more »

Create House
Guest

I think finger detangling is not completely for me. When my hair is dry I can do it somewhat, but when wet I just need the comb. I don’t think it’s as much about what you use as it is how you use it. As long as you’re not yanking the comb through your hair you should be fine. I use the comb for most tangles, but anything I can’t get the comb through I use my fingers. Otherwise, I barely use a comb at all.

Nia
Guest
Nia

Detangling with my hair full of conditioner under running water seems to work best for me.

Fatma
Guest

Hello, I happened to have the most dirset and thin frizzy hair, I sweat a lot, because I walk to where i need to be and work out. And sometimes end up with dandruff flakes. I tried about eveything and still end up with the same result. I’m thinking about bying more expensive shampoos, to see if the would give me better result but I wouldn’t know what to choose. I’m not sure what type of shampoo, conditioner, leave in conditioner or natural oil I should consider purchasing. Any advice or option will be of great help.I read and heard… Read more »

CLAW
Guest
CLAW

For the last 4 to 6 months I have been finger combing my hair then running a wide tooth comb through it both when dry before cleaning it or while wet during the cleaning process. I rather like the finger combing but wasn’t sure if I’ve been doing it correct however reading the article and comments let me know that I’m on the right path. My goal is to eventually finger comb only.

Blak
Guest

Your top 10 is write on point. Tips 7 and 8 resonate with me the most, becuase so often we as ladies see a beautiful head of hair and want to emulate the regimen of that sistah girl, in hopes we’ll achieve the same results. That’s why I love the fact that so many women are visually documenting their natural hair journey, that way we can see the diversity in textures and regimens.

fluffy in flight
Guest
fluffy in flight

Finger detangling all the way. Haven’t used a come to detangle for going on to 2 years. I lose less hair, and doing it that way is a breeze for me, since my fingers are quick in finding knots and tangles. The only time i use a come is to part my hair and that’s with a rat tail comb.

draya
Guest
draya

i use a wide tooth shower comb twice a month on hair that is drenched in conditioner. i’ve always done this, and then i twist it and finger detangle when necessary. my hair grows like a weed and i’ve never had problems growing it. i think that as long as you’re careful with the comb, and not trying to rip it through your hair, and you comb from the ends up, you should be fine. even finger detangling, if done incorrectly, can damage your hair. it’s not always the tools you use, but how you use them.

George
Guest
George

My best friend has natural hair–she always has an afro comb in her bag~boy, its cute!

George from nairobi,Kenya

Adwoa
Guest

I use both finger detangling and wide tooth combing/denman. But I cannot do without the denman at least once a month. The problem is I don’t wear enough protective styles ( I love all styles ending in _out) and I allow my hair to shrink up when in twists. I’m now kinda getting into stretched out styles to see if it will make all detangling any less of a pain. Otherwise I might have to BC again and keep the hair short. Now my hair stretched out is halfway between armpit length and nipple length and to be honest wash… Read more »

Adwoa
Guest

I forgot to add my hair is type 4 kinky coily

Cedric
Guest

The hair loss condition runs in fameilis and has a strong genetic component to its causation. It is believed to be related to an excess of male hormones in the body (Androgens). The hair starts thinning usually around the age of twelve, but it may be delayed up to the age of 40. Up to 50 % of the population may have experienced some degree of hair loss before entering into the 6th decade of their life. Some time with the seasonal effects hail loss occurs for the more info see the source.

Ami
Guest
Ami

I have been dry finger detangling for maybe a few months along with a wide tooth comb. Now I am trying to do it exclusively. But I don’t know if Im doing it right!! Please help! This is what I do: I take a medium section of hair (complete head is in 5 sections, taking about half of that) and I basically run my fingers through it looking for tangles. If I find one I undo it and continue till that section is complete. I have watch YT videos on finger detangling but none of them do it this way.… Read more »

Henry
Guest

great message but if i’d known what i was gntiteg myself into by watching this video i would have just gone ahead and slammed my head repeatedly into a brick wall

ayomidejpw
Guest
ayomidejpw

I do both. I finger detangle with oil before I wash then comb with loads of conditioner under running water after I wash. I tried finger detangle only and it was a nightmare trying to twist my hair. My ends detangle fine but it’s what going on at the roots that concern me and finger detangle doesn’t cut it.

Jodi
Guest

Try sectioning your hair depending on the length and thickness into small sections and finger detangle each section. Than once each section is completely detangled braid or two-strand twist it up to keep the hair stretched and move onto the next section, repeat the process until your entire head has been detangled. Keep your hair in the twists or braids until you style your hair again. Performing this necessary step will keep your curly hair stretched while keeping it from shrinking and tangling up on itself. And if you try this method you will find out due to experimentation that… Read more »

tenisha
Guest

Interestingly enough this was posted while I was washing and detangling my hair lol
I stood there wondering if I should use my wide tooth comb or my fingers. I opted to do both.

But the longer my hair has become I’ve used the comb less for detangling, and I’m pretty sure it will soon become obsolete in my regimen.

Salomey
Guest

Just re-read my above comment, and have to say LOL. I should have given finger-detangling a go earlier!! My hair was shorter back then so it didn’t matter but now it is about armpit length (yay :D!!) and I noticed that with a comb, even with my Tangle Teezer it seems I can’t as thoroughly detanle with them and I get breakage at the ends due to having to pull them through a longer way. I’m about to try finger detangling right now in an oil/conditioner pre-poo and then hop in the shower to rinse it out before shampooing/ deep… Read more »

tishushu
Guest
tishushu

I am really having a hard time understanding how to finger detangle 3 inches of 4a/4b hair. Is there a tutorial for us twa’s?

Ari
Guest
Ari

I just try to start from my ends even though it’s not much and move up to the roots then go all the way through. I too have a TWA and I’ve only been natural for 6 months. I don’t really think I have an honest opinion on finger detangling because that’s the only way i’ve ever detangled my hair…i’m thinking about trying a Denman though.

mlank64
Guest
mlank64

I finger detangle pretty much 100% of the time. Maybe ever so often I might use a wide tooth comb when I’m co-washing, but, I havent’ done that in a while. I recently started doing a pre-poo treatment with avocado or grapeseed oil and finger detangle on dry hair and let it marinate for an hour and preceed to wash out with a conditioner. I use the mud wash 1 a month and henna once a month. I think I’ve retained a considerable amount of hair implementing this regimen. With the pre-poo oil treatment and detangling, I noticed I retained… Read more »

Jackie
Guest

I believe this theory because you do less damage to the strands of your hair especialy like breakage.

Danielle
Guest
Danielle

I find finger detangling to be time consuming and ineffective for my hair. I haven’t had any issues with combing. I don’t think there is anything wrong with combing natural hair. However, I do think it depends on what type of combs you use and how gentle you are with your hair. You see, I comb my hair with the Magic Star Jumbo Rake (Hercules). For those of you who haven’t heard of it, I would definitely suggest you check it out online because this comb is the TRUTH! This is my secret that has helped me tremendously when I… Read more »

Shae
Guest
Shae

My hair is barely 1 inch long. How soon should I start finger detangling. I want to try the Curly Girl Method.

imani
Guest
imani

I do both! I find that there are times when I need my fingers to get to the more matted pieces and then there times when the comb is more appropriate for the less tangled portions that don’t need as much work. it doesn’t have to be 1 or the other .I get the best of both worlds from both techniques

Natural Glory
Guest
Natural Glory

I agree with you. There are times that my hair needs just my fingers, but there are other times when the shedded hair needs to come out via comb. Your hair will tell you exactly what it needs.

Dana
Guest

I hit a hair plateau recently and was noticing more tiny bits of broken hair than longer strands. I decided to finger detangle yesterday and while I was in the bathroom from 9 pm to 1 am, I noticed far less little pieces in the sink but the same amount of longer strands. That was on just washed and conditioned 3c/possibly 4a hair (Carol’s Daughter Monoi gift set). I’ve twisted with the repairing hair mask and slept overnight so we’ll see how it goes! Pretty satisfied already though.

Deja
Guest
Deja

I’ve finger detangled since I lost my shower comb few months after being natural (I’m a year and 2 months now) and have never thought about combing your hair again. When you think of our history it make sense to finer detangle, its what our people used in Africa and during slavery. Combs didn’t become popularized for us until perms did. As I thought more about combs, I think they can’t be used for detangling because our hair texture can’t run thro a comb unless its already detangled so it defeats the purpose of one. Anyway that’s my 2 cents.… Read more »

Deja
Guest
Deja

*my hair
*finger detangling
Sorry for the typos!

trackback

[…] Another reason I really don’t comb my hair is that I spend a lot of money on combs. Yes I said I spend a lot of money on combs. I do this because they break a lot. I told you me and my hair don’t get along. The timeless question. If you don’t comb your hair then how do you get it to look like the way it does? Finger detangling . Finger detangling your hair is a completely different hair care experience and takes some time to get used to. This is not a life decision eventually I will go back… Read more »

Treacle
Guest
Treacle

I’d like to see someone who uses this method acknowledge and say if/how they live or deal with meshing with 4c hair. Without a comb — even occasionally — doesn’t the hair just loc in some parts eventually? Is that just part of the experience. Someone … please…? …& does that mean smoother styles (like using say curlformers) become impossible?

starzzzy
Guest
starzzzy

Keeping my hair stretched is the only way I can deal with tbe extreme webbing and meshing it does. And no one in any article or youtube video talks about how to deal with hair that meshes and locs itself. Pretty much I’ve decided to keep my hair in twists (yarn,marley) then leave it out for two weeks before doing twists again. It’s the only way I won’t be locing my hair or big chopping from annoyance/loooong styling and washing times. Make sure you get a good seamless comb and some good slippery conditioner for detangling.

CurlyCurlz
Guest
CurlyCurlz

For the last few months I have been finger detangling my hair and what a difference. I have started to wash my hair with conditioner daily and shampooing twice a week (mixing it with oil). My 3C curls have never felt or looked better.

Romana
Guest
Romana

Lol @Deja, Africans carved combs out of wood, am pretty sure African American slaves so too ????. I do know my history after all I am African and live in Africa. Oh well am going to try this interesting technique with my very kinky hair.

Romana
Guest
Romana

Lol @Deja, Africans carved combs out of wood, am pretty sure African American slaves did so too ????. I do know my history after all I am African and live in Africa. Oh well am going to try this interesting technique with my very kinky hair.

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