After my not so big chop in September, my focus returned to retaining and gaining as much length as possible since I was no longer cutting my relaxed ends. With that change has come a new problem – tangles and single strand knots! At first I just accepted them as a part of the natural hair game (although relaxed ladies can suffer too) but one particular wash day I found myself snipping so many tangles and knots that I knew I needed to concentrate on how to minimize the problem.
I asked via YouTube what other fellow naturals do to cut back on the amount of single strand knots and tangles they receive and the responses were nearly unanimous with either prepoo with coconut oil or do oil rinses. So along with a few other changes, I began to incorporate oil rinsing into my regimen and I’ve seen a huge decrease in my last few wash days.
Prepoo & Finger Detangle
My hair is typically in a protective style during the week like a flat twisted style then worn out in a twist out for a few days before washing. This means that the only time my hair is combed is once per week or less, which very healthy for the hair because it decreases breakage. However, it is extremely important that before the next wash day, I take the time to slowly and thoroughly remove all the hair that has shed during the week but is trapped throughout my strands and detangle. I apply a conditioning detangler and a bit of coconut oil for slip and use my fingers for this first step.
Shampoo in Sections
From the start of my wash day to the end of my style, I keep my hair in sections. It makes the entire process easier and decreases the opportunity for the hair to tangle. I separate my hair into four sections, apply shampoo to the roots of my hair to clean my scalp first then pull the product down the length of my hair. I also use a shampoo brush to break up the oil and product while also exfoliating my scalp to promote growth during the wash.
Despite my original impression, oil rinsing is different than hot oil treatments and pre-pooing with oil! This step is done after washing but before deep conditioning. It is recommended to use penetrating oils like coconut or babassu which do indeed condition the hair, but also restores and locks in moisture after shampooing and dramatically decreasing single strand knots. I place my applicator bottle filled with oil in hot water while I rinse the shampoo from my hair then apply it in quadrants. I leave my hair uncovered so the steam from the shower can penetrate my strands and continue showering. Just before jumping out of the shower, I rinse the oil from my hair.
Deep Condition with Heat
Heat opens the cuticles of the hair and allows the product to penetrate the hair. This is important because if the conditioner just sits on the hair then it is more prone to split ends, which leads to tangles and more single strand knots. After applying the conditioner sit under a steamer or hooded dryer. If space is an issue you can use a bonnet dryer or heating cap.
After applying my deep conditoner, which must be a product that gives the hair tons of slip like TGIN Honey Miracle Hair Mask, I use the Felicia Leatherwood Detangle Brush (pictured above) to distribute the product and thoroughly detangle my hair. I used to be scared of using such a strong brush to detangle, but I have found that it actually decreases not only the single strand knots but also the amount of breakage I get! Some ladies prefer using the Denman brush and aside from doing a bang up job at detangling, these brushes help to define curls much more as well. This step must be done while the hair is wet, preferably with conditioner for extra slip.
If you follow all of these steps and are still encountering lots of single strand knots and tangles, you may be due for a trim. Don’t look at trims as losing length, look at them as preventing a loss of length. If you ends are split then your hair will begin to break and continue to tangle which leads to more breakage. Give your ends a little snip with a great pair of hair shears. A good trim will help your hair look and feel better but more importantly be healthier!