One of my e-friends, The Sizzling Mommy, sent me a question via Twitter a while back regarding tangling while wearing curly styles. A common misconception is that relaxed girls do not have to deal with tangling issues. Not true! I can definitely attest both from personal experience and reading other relaxed blogs that tangling can be a major issue for us. Furthermore, improper detangling can cause damage and breakage which holds true for any texture (relaxed, natural, texlaxed, transitioning).
Here are my tips for dealing with tangles:
- Use oils to provide lubrication, I suggest extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). I know ‘slip’ is probably the first word that comes to mind when talking about detangling, but that property is more important in conditioners for tangle prevention and ease when styling. Oils are best when you already have tangles for a few reasons. Oils do not cause reversion; the last thing you want is for your hair to kink, curl or shrink further when you have a knot or tangle. Oils lubricate the hair strands making it easier to work out a knot.
- Start from the ends. This is nothing new – everyone advises you to begin detangling at the ends of your hair. If you start higher near the roots, it can tighten strands lower causing more difficult knots.
- Fingers first. Try working out a tangle with your fingers before reaching for your comb. Fingers are padded and round, making them more gentle than combs and even detangling tools like the Denman and Tangle Teaser.
- Unwork rather than pull out. Sometimes we pull at a knot hoping it will work itself out but instead the tangle needs to be untangled. Even if we are gently pulling at a knot, at times that is not enough and can in fact tighten your strands. If you notice your fingers aren’t helping, after making sure the hair is well lubricated with oil, take a comb that has dull tips (nothing that has sharp teeth) and gently try to undo a knot or tangle. The same way you would if it were in a string. If you just continue to pull or comb at the knot it will eventually be removed, but all of your hair will come out with it.
- Pile on the Protein. Whenever I notice my hair has a lot of tangles, I use a protein treatment to strengthen my strands because I know the tension of pulling and unworking the knots can easily cause breakage. In addition to oils, using protein-based leave in conditioners like ApHogee Keratin & Green Tea, Chi Keratin Mist, or Paul Mitchell Super Strong Liquid Treatment will help prevent excessive breaking.
- Separate into Sections. Work in small sections and once you have successfully detangled an area, braid or twist it completely to the ends to keep it from coiling back on itself and clip it out of the way to work on the next section.
- Patience patience patience. I have had so many tangles that I’ve literally stood in the bathroom crying as I worked through them. My scalp became sore and I swear I was just ready to rip the hair right off my head, but I simply took a deep breath to calm myself. If I am really upset and discouraged, I take a break. Stop, do something else, get someone to help you – whatever it takes for you to calm down and continue gently. When I removed my weave last year I did several things wrong and ended up with a head full of matted tangles. I simply slathered on the conditioner, covered with a plastic cap and plopped a wig on to go to work. I didn’t deal with it until I had plenty of time to work through my hair.