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How to Reduce Your Detangling Time

Avatar • Jan 24, 2012


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By Jc of The Natural Haven

Reducing the time it takes to detangle hair is a priority for some naturals. Detangling wet hair is one way to do this but care has to be taken to avoid breakage given the hair can easily over stretch and shrinkage is operating in full force.

Combing out conditioner soaked hair is the most common method used in natural salons as time is of the essence, with stylists aiming to complete detangling within 30 minutes for most lengths.

Here are some tips and tricks on how you can achieve a quick detangle and develop confidence with handling your hair fully wet/shrunken.

1. Detangle and section

Before wetting your hair, lightly detangle it while it is dry.  Any tangles that can be easily sorted out by this process will reduce the upcoming work during wet detangling. You do not have to address any major tangles at this point, just  the ones that are quick and obvious.  Feel free to use oil to help the process and if your hair is longer,  section the hair into 8 or more sections (braid, twist or clip depending on your shrinkage/preference). You can then proceed to shampoo and condition or co-wash your hair as you prefer.

2. Cover ALL your hair in conditioner

The backbone of this routine is conditioner and the key is to ensure that your conditioner is able to coat every single strand. To do this, you will need to unbraid or unravel each twist from your sections and apply a liberal amount of conditioner to the hair before  rebraiding or retwisting. Do only one section at a time to avoid unnecessary shrinkage. Selecting a conditioner with good slip is essential as it will spread easily over the hair and help with the combing process.

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hyspin
hyspin
8 years ago

actually I am curious on on alternative section options I find once the hair fully covered by conditioner it wont hold any twist or braid, I honestly want to avoid bringing more items into shower like clips (its a cutter thing). Do bantu knots stay put or will I have to try using clips?

Alexia
8 years ago
Reply to  hyspin

try plastic clamps.

Toya O
Toya O
8 years ago
Reply to  Alexia

I do bantu knots and they work well for me! I don’t have a shelf in my shower, so I don’t like bringing extra things with me either!

b.
b.
8 years ago
Reply to  hyspin

Ouchless bands (elastics that have cloth on them — Goody makes some) are another option if you have large sections of hair to hold.

Alexia
8 years ago

You know what, letting the conditioner set on my hair before washing out is something I’ve never done. I always slathered it on and got right to detangling with a wide-toothed shower comb. I’ll add this step the next time I do my wash/detangle, thanks!

df
df
8 years ago
Reply to  Alexia

Yeah, I somehow never thought of that either! Great tips JC!

Mary
Mary
8 years ago

Oh how I wish this worked for me, it’s so much faster than doing it dry. I tried conditioner for months before I realized wet detangling just gives me a ton on ssks on my ends.

crimsonpeach
crimsonpeach
8 years ago

I do all of these things and my detangling time/struggle still isn’t ideal. I always get breakage and knots and I’m taking 2+ hrs and my hair isn’t long yet.

I’m currently addicted to detangling vids and haven’t found a method/product/tool that helps. Aussie Moist 3 minute miracle is the closest but not ideal.

Detangling is the only thing that makes me reconsider relaxing.

ChrsLvsBks
ChrsLvsBks
8 years ago
Reply to  crimsonpeach

I am not sure how you wear your hair prior to detangling but wearing medium size to large size braids or twists beforehand my help. First, your hair is stretched. Braids stretch better for most. Second, you may have less knotting with stretched hair. Third, try conditioners targeted as intensive (minus protein), hydrating or moisturizing. They are usually thicker and provide enough moisture when left on for the recommended timeframe.

crimsonpeach
crimsonpeach
8 years ago
Reply to  ChrsLvsBks

I always keep my hair stretched. Learned my lesson the hard way after attempting wash and go’s.

I’m still on the hunt for the right conditioner/oil. Something is out there! lol

Gayle Allen
Gayle Allen
7 years ago
Reply to  ChrsLvsBks

I agree with you. I’ve tried almost everything listed and still detangling is a tedious process. For me wash — n- go’s are less of a hassle than a twist out … don’t know why??? Another thing you might consider is . .. the length of time between wash time. I find that if I go longer than a week its not as bad and the amount of shedding hair is smaller.

Neecy
8 years ago
Reply to  crimsonpeach

OH MY GOD. I thought I was in this situation alone. I spend COUNTLESS hours detangling, taking my time, doing it in small sections, using only my fingers, coating every strand with conditioner, and I’m just like you. I still get breakage and knots. I swear I want to cry every time i see a piece of breakage. Just like you too, the only thing that makes me consider relaxing is detangling. ‑_____- ugh.

crimsonpeach
crimsonpeach
8 years ago
Reply to  Neecy

They only way I could detangle in smaller sections is if I detangled strand by strand. LOL

We will make it through. It takes some of us longer than others. I’m getting a trim next week so hopefully that helps some. I won’t let my hair defeat me!

mangomadness
mangomadness
8 years ago
Reply to  crimsonpeach

You will always get breakage and knots–the key is to minimize them. Try detangling (fingers, fingers+comb, etc) in sections(clipped, banded, twisted, etc) before cleansing (shampoo, co-wash).

b.
b.
8 years ago
Reply to  crimsonpeach

One thing that makes a difference for me is how wet/dry my hair is. It can’t be too wet or too dry…it works best for me when DAMP. HTH

Like mangomadness said…the knots and tangles won’t go away 100% though.

Asea
Asea
8 years ago

I know it’s simplistic, but I’ve found, for myself, the one thing that has significantly decreased my detangling time is to not let it get so tangled in the first place by not wearing all my hair out so much, moisturizing/smoothing daily, and clipping back, twisting or braiding most nights. I do my detangling (finger only, no comb) in sections (usually 8) only on dry hair, saturated with my oil pre-poo (avocado/coconut and lil bit of castor). It’s pretty easy for me. On a good day it takes about 30 mins. On a challenging day (after wearing some crazy hairstyle… Read more »

Eboni
Eboni
8 years ago
Reply to  Asea

+1 on the first part! keeping my hair in twists prevents my hair from tangling throughout the week, therefore I won’t have to deal with as many (if any) knots on wash day 🙂

mangomadness
mangomadness
8 years ago

I reduce detangling time by keeping my hair optimally stretched (via braid-outs, band-outs or tension blow-outs) and wearing my hair via a high bun a day or two before wash day. For me, stretched hair is much easier to detangle than super coily, soaking wet, post-shampoo hair.

I detangle on stretched, sectioned (10 parts), conditioner-coated hair before shampooing (in 10 twisted sections). These two methods are key to caring for my medium length, afro-textured hair.

mangomadness
mangomadness
8 years ago

P.S. I do this OUTSIDE of the shower ((at the sink infront of a mirror) so I…can see what I’m doing, don’t get impatient and rip my hair out and conserve water.

Moglet
Moglet
8 years ago

I have major problems with wet detangling so I find detangling on dry hair (because I wear my hair in twists) by the time I wash it out of twists, every 4 weeks it is usually semi stretched with coconut oil, that works a lot better than wet detangling. I also found that wet detangling even with tons of conditioner (tried lots of different kinds hello hydration, trader joes, giovanni) was a disaster. Tons of SSK,major breakage, not for me man!

transnat
8 years ago

i use herbal essence hello hydration conditioner to detangle i start at the back and work my way to the front on dry hair smooth each section then comb through

Jocelyn
Jocelyn
8 years ago

These are the steps I take as well. I’ve gotten my detangling down to 17 mins! Patience is key. Baby your hair and it will repay you in kind!

LBell
LBell
8 years ago

In all the years I’ve been natural it has never taken me HOURS to detangle. I have fine-stranded, mostly 4b hair and the longest my loose hair has ever gotten was about 9–10 inches. At that length I would detangle as I twisted but the two steps together took about 4 hours. Is it that some people have thicker heads of hair? Thicker strands? Longer strands? All of the above? Is the goal to have no breakage whatsoever and so people are taking an extra-long time? Is the goal to have every single one of 100K strands separate from each… Read more »

Melissa C.
Melissa C.
8 years ago

I agree — it’s much easier to detangle my hair if I don’t let it become a tangled mess, but that happens often when my scarf comes off during the night, though. I am almost 3 years natural come this April and have found Shea Moisture products to be the best on my 4 type hair (hair type dependent upon location). I’ve tried so many products, but these really work for me. I like to detangle my strands as water runs through my hair in the shower with a wide toothed comb. I’ll pat the outside of my tresses kinda… Read more »

thegoodbadugly
8 years ago
Reply to  Melissa C.

Have u ever tried the CES as a post-poo detangler? your hair description is similar to mine. i washed my hair loose, applied 2 tbsp to sopping wet hair, wait 5–10 mins and it was very easy to comb thru. Unfortunately, i returned it to walgreens because leaving it in for styling or using it as a daily moisturizer gave me the crunchiest, driest, shrunken twists ever in my life! don’t like to have to use too many different things for my regimen.

Melissa C.
Melissa C.
8 years ago

I forgot to add I also have crazy thick hair as well — In comparison to some of the pictures I feel like my hair may be twice as thick than average. (The thicker the hair, the more tangled?) I find it difficult to finger comb only and have only found success with finger combing after using a wide toothed comb and product. LBell, I do wonder if the goal is to have no breakage or loose hairs at all… it happens to me on occasion, but not consistently. If I braid my hair completely, I have at least 30… Read more »

Tangled Hair Techs
8 years ago

Thanks for sharing this post. These days so much of hair loss in women and children is self inflicted. Improper removal of braids and weaves is a big factor as well as not detangling the hair prior to wetting hair. This is so very essential in reducing the amount of hair lost, and more importantly so increasing the amount of length retained. As professional hair detanglers we always get calls from women who shampoo their hair without combing it through and the hair just matts up horribly. Very tangled matted hair can cause split ends, knots and breakag. However we… Read more »

MThompson
MThompson
8 years ago

Once I discovered the Tangle Teezer it knocked at leadt an hour off my detangling time. I just drench my hair in cheap conditioner like Suave and spraying my hair with water. But the key is to section your hair off so you won’t retangle it

Toni
Toni
8 years ago

I tried this method and I must say that it works great!!! I have been natural for 2 years now and detangling was always hard for me as soon as I got some length to my hair. It would usually take me between 2–2 1/2 hrs to detangle. After using this method it took me about 20–30 minutes… Thank you so much for posting this!!!!

lovelylauz02
lovelylauz02
8 years ago

I would honestly LOSE.MY.MIND if I had to spend hours detangling my hair.

Right now I do the shampoo, buffer with conditioner, section and detangle. The next time I detangle my hair I will dampen my hair, cover with conditioner and probably olive oil, let that set for about 15–20 minutes and finger/comb detangle from there, braid my hair up and ACV rinse in the shower after I rinse the conditioner out (my scalp LOVES ACV rinses.)

lovelylauz02
lovelylauz02
8 years ago

Oh, my hair is the THICK coily, kinky version of a mess. Wash and gos are a NO NO for my hair… unless I want to be in that group of ya’ll who spend 3 hours detangling hair and have a head full of SSKs (no thank you). I keep my hair stretched and protective style about 50 percent of the time.

blb1980
blb1980
7 years ago

I transitioned to natural in May 2010. There is so much about detangling here that I did not know about. I never knew it was ok to detangle dry. I always thought wet (water) with a lot of conditioner AFTER a wash. I never did any before wash detangling. Although I have 12 inches of length in the back (a lot less on the sides) from root to tip, my hair is severely damaged and thin from improper care — wearing wet ponies and loose buns all week only to find a heap of tangles, knots and a clumps/mass of… Read more »

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