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Are Some Detangling Tools Harmful to Natural Hair?

Avatar • Mar 20, 2015

 

Source: Curlyincollege.com

Source: Curlyincollege.com

Stop for a minute and think about the most challenging aspect of your hair routine. Is it washing your hair? Is it styling? Well, for me it is detangling. I can thoroughly wash my hair in 20 minutes, even less if I wash my hair every 5–7 days. I can make my styles as simple or as complicated as I choose, so on a busy day I spend no more than 5 minutes refreshing a simple protective style. Detangling, however, is something that “takes as long it takes”. By this I mean, the length, texture and thickness of hair dictate the amount of time and effort needed to remove tangles and knots. As a result, some women can accomplish the task in half of an hour, while for others it may take two hours. So, how do we resolve this challenge? Well, if manufacturers of hair utensils are to be believed, it is investing in detanglers designed to help you easily remove knots. These tools, however, can sometime be more harmful than helpful.

The Hair Detangler Revolution

The go-to detangler for hair, the traditional comb, is by no means a new invention. Over time, however, inventors have enhanced the comb in an effort to make hair care easier. As natural hair styling in the United States and other countries around the world, particularly over the last 15 years, became more popular, so too did the demand for hair detanglers designed to manage tightly coiled hair textures.

The Denman

The Denman brush, which actually functions more like a comb than a brush, is great at separating small sections of hair. This can be quite useful for some styles and for thorough detangling. However, due to the texture of my hair, it would take me two hours to detangle my hair using a Denman, a situation I know would lean to impatience, carelessness and ultimately damage on my part. That being said, my hair never incurred any damage from using the Denman, so although it wasn’t practical I did find it to be hair friendly.

The Infamous Teezer

A few years ago just about every hair vlogger I followed posted a video on the Tangle Teezer. Women were over the moon that this little comb was able to help cut their detangling sessions in half. I was one of those women who jumped on the Tangle Teezer bandwagon and swore that it would be my new go to hair detangler. Then six months passed and I noticed hair breakage and a lack of length retention. I was still vigilant about deep conditioning and protective styling so I couldn’t figure out why my hair seemed to be stalling, even regressing, in terms of progress. The only thing that I changed in my routine was the Tangle Teezer, which I later learned, also led to damage for other women with tightly coiled hair texture. Now, I’m not saying it’s a bad product. It has a near five star rating on Amazon, so clearly it’s working well for many people. The important thing to keep in mind with hair detanglers is that not all hair textures will benefit from an otherwise decent product.

The Verdict

Hair detanglers that try to reinvent the basic design of the comb can be beneficial but they can also create problems for your hair care routine. For the last 3 years, I have consistently used a wide tooth seamless comb and decreased my hair detangling time, while minimizing damage. I have learned that fine tooth detangling tools aren’t necessary because at the end of my day my hair knots and tangles as easily as the wind blows. I simply need a device that will help me to remove shed hair and major tangles. So the next time you come across a detangling comb or brush that seems too good to be true, remember it probably isn’t as wonderful as you think it is.

Have you had success with hair detanglers other than the traditional comb? What are your favorite hair detangling devices?

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Chevanne
5 years ago

I used to be fixated on having completely detangled hair and had a wide tooth brush with stiff bristles to do the job. It worked, but even more than breakage, it pulled my hair OUT. The density of my hair overall decreased. From there, I stopped using it, got a much wider tooth comb for detangling after conditioner application, but my mainstay is finger detangling with coconut oil. Just spritz with plain water until slightly damn, divide into sections and use warmed coconut oil. Works like a charm.

Miss Q
Miss Q
5 years ago

My most favorite would have to be GoKnots detangler or Michel Mercier Professional Detangling Hair Brush. It’s all I use now. Looks like a brush, but not really a brush. Quality of my hair has improved and no damage. I didn’t think it would work, but I don’t dread detangling my hair now. I have very short patience when it comes to detangling my hair.

OXxo
OXxo
5 years ago

Fingers and wide tooth comb. I have no time for brushes of any sort.

Thoink
Thoink
5 years ago

I absolutely love my paddle brush. I do a lot of protective styling, mainly crochet braids, so I need something that can detangle my hair thoroughly enough that I can cornrow it (to put in the style) and remove dirt and shed hairs (after take down) without incident; in this case, my fingers/wide tooth comb just aren’t enough. If I’m styling my hair as is, however, I pretty much stick to fingers as I usually stretch my hair to style anyway, which reduces a lot of tangling. It’s always a struggle with super coily hair though, lol. I swear I… Read more »

Rose
Rose
5 years ago

I can detangle my whole head of APL, 4c, THICK hair in 15 minutes with the help of 1) WEN and water, 2) Paddle Brush, 3) wide tooth comb. These three things are like magic on my hair. The WEN conditioner makes my hair milky soft, slippery, and moisturized. The water adds elasticity to my hair. I SWEAR by WEN. The paddle brush untangles the bunching that occurs at the ends of my coils. The tight mass of coils are not entirely tangled, however, going at it with a regular comb just breaks the hair. A paddle brush smooths product… Read more »

Nappy4ever
Nappy4ever
5 years ago
Reply to  Rose

a paddle brush? no

Edith Spencer
Edith Spencer
5 years ago

Wide tooth combo- once in the shower while conditioning, and again before blow drying and twisting my hair (I know, I know- I just hate waiting for my hair to dry AND I get a bigger afro this way.)

Annalise
Annalise
5 years ago

Thank you. I have been wondering if I really need to research, buy, and maybe modify, a Denman. I’m thinking I don’t.

fancycoils
fancycoils
5 years ago

When I first cut off my relaxed ends, I wore curly styles courtesy of magnetic rollers. For this style, a smooth set is key; therefore, I used a comb to thoroughly detangle and smooth my hair. I had been using an Ace seamless comb for years & years and that was my weapon of choice. I also have some upgraded H&S seamless combs. When I was doing this I never had knots and detangling was easy. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with my natural coily hair and I don’t like any style on me other than a wash & go… Read more »

Bigantic
Bigantic
5 years ago

I used The Wet Brush and comb a few weeks ago and im still dealing with breakage today.
Im kindof over anything other than finger detangling.
Im too scarred to try anything else.

A
A
5 years ago

I really liked the tangle teezer when it first came out. Like you, it was my go to hair detangler and it cut my wash day down by hours! I was so stoked! I had to back away when I kept hearing stories from women with hair types similar to mine who kept experiencing breakage and splitting ends. I really hope someone came come up with a tangle teezer alternative. I miss that brush

Adeola | www.coilsandglory.com

yes, some tools are just unnecessary. regular combs are ok
http://www.coilsandglory.com

Robin
Robin
5 years ago

My fingers are the best detangling devices for my hair and patience level. Using my fingers forces me to be gentle. Also, I don’t call it “detangling.” I call it “removing shed hair,” which is mostly what I’m trying to do. If I approach the task with the mindset of removing all tangles, I get too aggressive and I start ripping apart coils that aren’t even tangled in the first place, they’re just coiled up together — and they become knotted/tangled when I tear into them. So, I don’t detangle. I remove shed hair, and avoid causing tangles. I haven’t… Read more »

mangomadness
mangomadness
5 years ago

I finger detangle or use a Hercules Sagemann Magic Star Jumbo Rake Comb. Finger detangling is the best for my hair.

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