Natural Hair

Make Detangling Easy and Get Your Life Back!

August 27, 2019
A black woman holding a brush with curly hair

I’m excited to have Rachel Nelson, founder of Coil Guide, come and provide this topic as a guest on my blog! In this post, she’s going to teach you how to make detangling easy and get your life back!

Detangling is one step I don’t look forward to on wash day. Although it can be a hassle at times, there are a few things you can do to make it a breeze.

Make Detangling Easy

I don’t know about you, but detangling my hair used to make my wash days take FOREVER! Just the thought of it was enough to make me roll my eyes and catch a slight attitude.

I used to hate it, but now it’s not so bad. I realized that detangling natural hair doesn’t have to be a full-time job. Here’s how you can get your life back too!

The Importance of Slip

Slip is exactly how it sounds, it’s how slippery a product makes your hair. It’s the most important factor in detangling natural hair! If your product doesn’t have a good amount of slip, then your detangling session is going to be awful.

Your slip is terrible if you can’t easily run a comb through your hair or if your hair is snagging through the teeth of the comb and sounds like it’s snapping off. Not having enough slip can cause damage and breakage and this only makes your detangling session more stressful.

One way to make sure that you have good slip is by making sure your hair is wet. To put it plainly, ONLY DETANGLE WHEN YOUR HAIR IS WET! Water makes the hair more elastic and easier to manipulate. If you detangle when it’s dry, you’ll end up breaking more hair than necessary and you’ll wonder why you aren’t retaining length.

Ways to Detangle

Now you know about slip, but how much slip do you need? That depends on what tools you want to use to detangle.

The most common tools used to detangle are your fingers, a comb, or a brush. Popular items are wide-toothed combs and Denman brushes, but you can use other tools such as the Felicia Leatherwood brush or a paddle brush.

Finger Detangle

This method is perfect for length retention and for those who feel they lose more hair than they grow. A good thing about finger detangling is it can prevent further damage due to how gentle it forces you to be towards your hair.

Since you can’t rip through your hair like you can with a comb or a brush, you’ll prevent a lot of split-ends or knots that can come with improper detangling. This means that you have to trim less than others and you get to keep more of your length.

However, you need to know that finger detangling takes a lot of time and a lot of slip. Eventually, it gets faster as you and your hair become used to it, but don’t expect shorter wash days for the first few weeks.

I know what you’re thinking… “The post is called Make Detangling Easy and Get Your Life Back! If finger detangling is going to take more time, then how is this going to make detangling easier and faster?” I’m glad you asked.

As I said, it will get faster over time. Also, you get your life back because now you can stop worrying about length and stressing about seeing your hair all over the place.

The joy and peace that you feel when you notice that the bathroom isn’t full of hair anymore is much greater than your annoyance at how long it takes. You’ll feel so much better when you stop losing a wig’s worth of hair during wash day.

Brushes or Combs

You already know that you can use brushes or combs to detangle, but do you know which one works best for you?

Combs work well on people whose hair won’t naturally break off easily. While finger detangling is best for natural hair, using tools isn’t always bad. A good tool to start out with is a wide-tooth comb.

I use a wide-tooth comb and my hair gets thoroughly detangled without causing a lot of breakage in the process. This is because the teeth are wide enough to get through tangles and long enough to get through thick hair.

One comb you don’t want to use is a rat-tail comb because the teeth are close together. Using combs with thinly spaced teeth to detangle is one of the absolute worst things you can do to your hair! This will take your hair out faster than anything else you can do.

Brushes are great for detangling while simultaneously giving definition. They clump your coils together in order to give you a sleek and defined look. Brushes that do this pretty well are the Denman and Felicia Leatherwood brushes. However, be picky because some of them will take your hair out.

I used a Denman brush when I first went natural and it wasn’t good. I had a tough time detangling with it and it took out a LOT more hair compared to a wide-tooth comb. A year later, I used it again to test if my detangling trouble was dependent on the Denman, or the fact that I was dealing with heat damage at the time. Well, I used it for a month and I still had the same trouble.

Then I switched to a Tangle Teezer, and that pulled out my hair too! Even though I went through all of this, both still super detangled my hair. This is why it’s important to choose your tools wisely or else you’re going to give yourself a setback.

When to Detangle

Now that you know how to detangle your hair, let’s talk about when to do it. I’ve found that I have the best results when I have multiple mini-sessions instead of one giant detangling session.


A pre-poo is when you put oil on your hair to help with detangling and keep the shampoo from stripping everything away. When applied to damp hair, oils provide enough slip for you to detangle.

If you decide to detangle with a pre-poo, then I suggest either finger detangling only, or finger detangling before you use a tool. This is because oils don’t provide enough slip for you to comb your hair without snapping some strands and causing unnecessary breakage

Finger detangling will allow you to get rid of all the big tangles and prevents the comb from doing too much breakage.


Detangling while shampooing is convenient for me. I drench my head with water before I start washing; doing that alone makes my hair easier to detangle.

I already use one of my shower combs to make sure that I reach my scalp, so why not use it to detangle my hair as well?

It makes sense to kill two birds with one stone and detangle while I shampoo because the setup is perfect. Besides convenience, this helped to distribute the shampoo evenly onto the strands and made sure that my hair was squeaky clean (without feeling stripped).

Deep Condition

Detangling while deep conditioning is great because your hair is already wet. Conditioners provide more slip than oils, so getting the tangles out in this stage should be really easy.

Another good thing about this is since this comes later in the wash day, you don’t have to worry about maintaining your hair for a long period.

If you decide to detangle when you pre-poo, you have to make sure that your hair stays detangled throughout the whole wash day. However, if you wait until you deep condition, you only have to maintain this until you’re done styling.

Before Styling

Of course, there’s always the option of waiting until you style your hair to detangle it. This is ideal for people who don’t want to worry about maintaining detangled hair throughout the wash day.

This way, you don’t have to do anything extra like twisting your hair or putting it in little buns. You can just do your hair and go about your day!

A few people have said that a good thing about this is your hair maintains its strength because you haven’t combed through it yet.

The more you touch your hair, the more you weaken it; so not touching your hair until now will cause it to be a little less prone to breakage than it would be if you had previously detangled it.

I detangle once a week on wash day, but I do little sessions throughout every step (except pre-poo).

Comment below when and how often you detangle, and also what you use to do it.

Rachel Nelson is the Blogger behind where she shows you the simple way to take care of natural hair!

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  • Reply Marquita August 27, 2019 at 10:40 am

    Great tips and blog about detangling!! Thank you!!

    • Reply Madisen August 27, 2019 at 10:46 am

      Thank you for reading!

  • Reply Aisha August 27, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    I have to detangle my daughter’s hair every time I take down her braids and before I wash her hair. I use a wide toothe comb and water with a little grape seed oil and peppermint oil mixture. It seems to do the trick.

    • Reply Madisen August 27, 2019 at 3:37 pm

      That sounds good sis! I love using oils to detangle my hair too. It’s rare that I use a conditioner but that works even better when I decide to!

  • Reply Consy Toribio August 28, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Absolutely loved this post! I also have multiple “sessions” of detangling! I detangle through every step. It’s more time consuming, but I retain more length that way for sure. This past weekend I let my mom shampoo my hair in the sink… It felt amazing on my scalp but the detangling after was horrific!! Never again. LOL. I have to wash in sections so I can continue finger detangling.

    • Reply Madisen August 28, 2019 at 10:18 am

      Thank you for reading love! And yes I do the same thing! I’m able to manage my hair better when I detangle during each step. I always wash my hair in the sink 😂 maybe when my hair gets longer I’ll wash in sections so I can reach my scalp better!

  • Reply Rachel Nelson August 30, 2019 at 10:59 am

    Hi Everyone, This is Rachel from Coil Guide. Big thanks to Madisen for allowing me to guest post, and I would also like to thank you guys for reading! The kind words really mean a lot and I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

    • Reply Madisen August 30, 2019 at 12:49 pm

      I love your writing style, you did an amazing job with this article. Thank you for reaching out and contributing this post to my blog!

  • Reply Drea August 31, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    I spend forever detangling myself too lol! I usually finger detangle a bit when I use shampoo or co-wash and fully detangle before I apply my deep conditioner. Great tips!

    • Reply Madisen August 31, 2019 at 9:47 pm

      Thank you for reading sis! I do the same thing, minus detangling while shampooing. I’ve had great shampoos that had a lot of slip but I usually wait until I deep condition!

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