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By Jc of The Natural Haven Bloom

I have often been asked for one tip or trick that has been beneficial but I am never able to narrow it down to just one. I actually do not know any natural who has benefited from just one tweak to their routine. Here are five tweaks which helped me along, there is a sixth one which I took out from this list as I have emphasized quite a lot already – washing hair in braids.

1. Detangle BEFORE washing

The worst mistake many people make especially after long term protective styling, is not detangling hair before washing. This simple step is really good at eliminating tangles that will get exacerbated with hair shrinkage during the wash. Do not think that you can later detangle with conditioner and this will be easier because it almost always never is. It will generally be less hassle to undo large tangles and meshing prior to getting hair soaking wet.  I do accept that detangling is not always possible though e.g.  if you are washing twists or braids that you have no intention of undoing. The benefits of detangling before washing include less tangling, less breakage and more retention.

2. The simplest pre-shampoo step

I have seen some really complicated hair routines on natural hair forums and blogs.  This often leads people to dismiss things that are seen as extra work such as a pre-poo. However, this is the simplest pre-poo step ever! Apply some oil to your hair the night before your wash……that is it! You can choose a penetrating oil like coconut oil for greatest effect but  any natural oil in general is fine (silicone and mineral oils are the least useful for this purpose). This simple step will help protect the moisture levels in your hair and guard against breakage.  The effect of this step is usually immediately noticeable.

3. Dry your hair BEFORE you apply conditioner

It is common to shampoo and rinse hair then gently squeeze out the water before applying conditioner. My advice is to take the time to actually dry your hair (using an old t-shirt or microfiber towel if you are in the know!) before you apply the conditioner. If you apply conditioner and it immediately starts dripping, it is the case that your hair is too wet and it is possible that your hair conditioner is diluted slightly by this step. To get the most from your conditioner, aim to have damp hair which is not dripping at all simply by soaking up the excess water with a towel. This simple step leads to greater softness, better moisture and strength for your hair.

4. Finger comb

I have seen people say that finger combing does not work for them but this is just not true. Regardless of your hair texture, finger combing should be the first thing you do when detangling.  Simply running your fingers through your hair gives you an initial idea of how tangled it is and where the tangles are. This is a step that no-one should miss out on. Adopting a pure finger detangling routine where no combs or brushes are used is really useful especially if your hair breaks easily when handled. The exclusive finger combing routine is not for the faint of heart as it takes time and skill to master. I  do think that combs and brushes are most useful for those whose hair can clump/form spiral ringlets as the tools aid in the clumping but even for this hair, a first finger combing step will help to find tangles and reduce breakage.

5. Go heat free

Simply put, heat degrades protein which means heat degrades hair. The less heat you use, the stronger your hair will be and therefore the easier it will be to retain the older hair. Adopting a no-heat regimen also translates to fewer split ends and less breakage. If your hair is the type that requires a lot of babying to progress, try using no heat for 6 months and see what difference that makes. Heatless stretching methods such as braiding/unbraiding,  bantu knots/knot outs, banding, African threading and curlformers can help if you want to reduce shrinkage and tangling.

Ladies, what tweaks have helped you retain length? And have any of the ones listed above worked for you?

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72 Comments on "5 Simple Tweaks that Lead to Stronger, Longer Hair"

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^^I LOVE Mayonnaise as my go-to natural conditioner! These days though, I’m using greek yogurt for my hair.. protein treatment 🙂

my youtube channel:

Takeisha Smith
I have been growing my hair out for two years now after the big chop. I have gradually transitioned from wearing small breads as my hairstyle to large braids that I take down everyday if I want to wear my hair out. I used to use wide tooth combs at the beginning of my hair journey but I now only finger detangle. I find this to be the safest method to use. And of course I can’t say enough about conditioner & water & oil applied daily to hair. Deep condition with mayonnaise if you feel like you need a… Read more »

Maybe this has to do w/ hair type because I cannot detangle my hair unless its sopping wet and slathered in conditioner. When its like this I detangle my hair in less than 20 min. To do it otherwise it would take over and hour and the breakage would be tremendous. I try finger combing every time I do my hair its a no go, nothing works like a whole bunch of conditioner w/ water and wide toothed comb coupled with some patience and gentility.
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Can you get long healthy hair by moisturizing your hair but still using some heat? (Blow-drying every once a week or two and straightening mabye twice a year) thanks x

I’ve been flat ironing my hair for about 4 or 5 years now, and I didn’t use protection for a long time because I didn’t know better. Now, when my hair is not flat ironed, it’s short, frizzy, half straight/curly, and anything else you can imagine tha’s bad. But I really need to flat iron my hair, because there’s nothing I can do with it when it’s Not flat ironed. And I would get a weave, but since i’m half white, and have paler skin, it’d look weird on me, plus everyone already knows my type hair at schoool, and… Read more »
Claudette UK

Try braiding it. Not too fine or tightly. But don’t do further damage by flat ironing it. Heat is your hair’s enemy.


Did I just read this….wow.

Linda Anderson

Thanks for these great tips! I stopped using heat over a year ago and it has made an amazing difference in my hair’s strength. I used to have a terrible problem with breakage, but not anymore thanks to my new heat-free routine and attention to moisture!


I haven’t used heat on my hair for about a year now, and the difference shows! As my hair gets longer, it’s more difficult to keep the ends moist, but now I know to dry my hair BEFORE applying leave-in conditioner. I can’t leave it up to my cornrows to protect my ends anymore because of the length, so this little trick should be a huge help! Thanks!!

Briana Hicks
LOL, I don’t do any of these things. I detangle my hair in the shower using She Moisture conditioner and a wide tooth comb or denman brush (or something similar), without bothering to pre-poo. Once it’s detangled and I’m out of the shower, I put Kinky Curly Knot Today (which I dilute- 4 parts water to 1 part KCKT) and EVOO in my hair while it is pretty much sopping wet. And I then proceed to tension blow dry my hair (albeit on warm and on low) so that I have what is essentially a stretched wash-n-go. And I’ve seen… Read more »

How long is your hair and what did you do because I find it hard not to use heat also what is pre-poo and I really want to grow my hair down to my waist (it’s at my shoulders and layered at the moment) what can I do to get there apart from not using heat.

Briana Hicks

as opposed to my previous one, which included no heat, finger detangling out of the shower.

Which I suppose means that hair is an immensely varied thing with pretty much no absolutes.

Peace Ya’ll,

I always prepoo. I guess now I realize I am doing two prepoos. I wash every week and sleep with the oil in my hair. Then in the morning I prepare a mud (amla, neen, fenugreek and/or tulsi). What I don’t do is finger detangle. I will try my best to do this. My tendonitis really seems to act up on wash days so I detangle with a wide tooth comb which is faster for me. It works. I do dry my hair with a tshirt(love it)before adding my conditioner. Transitioning I have a lot of relaxed ends and they… Read more »

Sorry I’m obviously new to this lol!
Wait she you detangle before washing you do it while your hair is damp right? Isn’t bad to detangle when your hair is dry?


When* you detangle


I always pre-poo with Nutress Hair instant conditioner. its the best thing I’ve found. Sometimes I skip the shampoo 😉


I definitely finger comb and it works because I don’t have to use any combs, I usually finger comb after I have a shampoo. I stay away from heat, can’t remember the last time I used heat.The conditioner after hair is damp is something I can do because I don’t like my hair too wet. To get started on finger combing you can start with you comb then go through the hair again with your fingers, and you get all the tangles out.


Hey! I’m already doing this, except the pre-poo. my hair does NOT like oil until it is time to seal. lol


I go for ease on my weekly wash days:
1. Detangle with water, braid and apply conditioner for co-wash
2. Sit under steamer
3. Rinse and final rinse with cold apple cider vinegar mix.
4. Finger detangle and apply kimitube formula leave-in, style
This has given me awesome results. People need to find what works for them and not be in bondage to perform all the steps they hear others doing.

I don’t detangle before washing but I could give it a go. As most of the time washing my hair is a spur of the moment decision I don’t prepoo but I could try it if I know I am going to wash my hair the next day. I rarely use coconut oil as my hair doesn’t like it, great for cooking though. My hair is usually damp when I apply the KLIC so I think I have that one covered and I usually do finger detangle then use a very wide tooth comb at the very end as I… Read more »
The Natural Haven

It is really easy if you do it in small sections. Randomly section into 10 or more loose twists and detangle section by section.

Jo Somebody
I definitely detangle before washing now! Yes, it helps. Shower detangling worked best when I had a twa. I used to think the weight of the shower stream could help push shed hair free, but that only helps remove a small %age of the total shed hairs. I still pass the comb through once or twice when my rinse out conditioner is in my hair though. Coconut oil pre-shampooing has saved my hair. Yes-o! Even if I am DCing before washing, coconut oil goes on FIRST! With my low porosity hair, I *have* to do this. However, it does seem… Read more »
The Natural Haven

lol yep definitely getting bonus points on that!

Black & Olive

ugh! The finger combing is the hardest to do especially when your hair is so thick! I have almost no time to sit a finger comb so I detangle with a wide tooth comb. Though it works for me because I don’t really do much with my hair but wash and wrap it and go because I am just too busy but I wouldn’t recommend that for everyone.


I stopped blow drying my hair when I realised I wasnt retaining length and I watched a finger detangling video on this website. Its now three months later, I did my first blow dry two days ago and my hair has grown an inch from no blowdry and no combs!!! (jumps up and down excitedly) its approaching bra length.


thanks for the lovely post


I tried finger detangling for about four months and I’m mad at myself for that. I was never able to get out all the shed hairs, even under a stream of running water.Trapped shed hair=big knots. I’m back to combs and my hair stays well detangled now. Like the article states finger detangling is GREAT before using a comb but not everyone prefers finger detangling only.

Ugonna Wosu

exactly. Do both! You don’t have to pick and choose. I don’t know why so many seem to think you have to.


Alright heres the thing for me…If I detangle, put my hair in twists, and then wash….i notice that the roots become tangled and the ends dont. Cant win.

Well I have to say that everything doesnp’t work everyone. Detangle before shampoo doesn’t make sense for my hair. My hair is very rarely tangled before I wash unless I’m wearing a wash n go which I don’t do to often in the winter time. My hair get tangled in the shampoo process so I detangle with cinditioner then put,my hair in twist. Pre pooing doesn’t do anything for my hair and when I finger detangle, I get more knots then before so I have to end up using a comb anyway. When I use the comb, my hair stays… Read more »
Jo Somebody

For many people the detangling process is mostly the removal shed hair anyway, so in that respect doing it before should make sense, especially if you’re coming from a stretched style.
Also, JC is a massive advocate of washing the hair in twists/sections (so much so that she actually chose *not* to mention it here again!) so in that case, shampooing wouldn’t dd tangles.


I’ve tried shampooing in sections but I still get tangles but I do shampoo in sections. If my hair is in a stetched out style then my hair is tangle free so no needto detangle before washi. If I detangle befor shampoo, then during shampoo/conditioner time. Then I would have my hand in my hair at least 3x compared to the 1-2x I do now plus be tangle free till next wash………. I just wanna put the psa out that you should do what works for you!


*tried shampooing in twist

(1) I always detangle before washing my hair. I finger-detangle stretched, sectioned (12), oiled and conditioner-coated hair. After letting the conditioner sit for a bit, I wash my hair in twists (12). I never detangle after washing — I just go straight to moisturizing, stretching and sealing. Because of pre-shampoo detangling, I experience less tangling, less breakage and more length retention. (2) I always pre-poo with coconut oil and conditioner. It aids detangling and increases moisture retention. (3) After washing, I always squeeze excess water from my hair with a black cotton t-shirt. After that, I moisturize, stretch and seal.… Read more »

Good article. I incorporated all these steps in my regimen and may hair thanks me for it, I’ve ditched the comb totally with great results.


I love my wide-tooth comb. I just cannot get all my shed hairs out with my fingers and experimenting is going to cause me knots and tangles so no bueno. I use my fingers first and then go through with a wide-tooth comb. I have too much hair for just fingers.


Yes finger detangling is not for everyone. All the hair site say its the way to go but finger detangling gives more knots n breakage then before. My wide tooth comb isn’t going anywhere!

Ugonna Wosu

I do both. What my comb cannot do my fingers can, and vice versa. I dont’ think there needs to be a choice.


Your right. You can do both. You don’t have to choose one or the other. I was just making the point that finger detangling doesn’t work for everyone, despite what all the hair sites. Finger detangling causes for knots and breakage for me no matter how patient and thorough I am when,I’m doing it. I’m. Just putting out the psa that its ok to use combs to detangle because these hair sites will have you thinking that your not doing the best for your hair if your using a comb exclusively and not finger detangling and that’s just not true.

Great tips as usual… 1. I do this…but I don’t look at it as finger-detangling so much as removing shed hair prior to washing. Unfortunately it takes a long time and my hair isn’t even all that long… 2. I USED to do this but I think I may start up again. 3. I agree that “dry” is a little misleading…more like “remove as much dripping water from your hair as possible.” I don’t always do this but I should. 4. Mannn…I need to just accept that 100% fingers is the future. Earlier this week I used a comb on… Read more »

My hair is ALWAYS in a detangled state because I do not do braid outs, wash in gos or other styles that tend to tangle hair. I wear a full afro and put my hair in about four braids every night. I now wash my hair in braids and it is easy as pie. I NEVER use shampoo so detangling is not an issue. I do wear buns, but always with freshly combed hair.

Jo Somebody

How do you get that afro? By picking out your hair? If so, then while you avoid tangles, you’re possibly increasing your breakage.
My hair is 4b4a4c and both those styles cause issues. Braidouts don’t. And sleeping with my hair loose would cause tangles whatever the style I wore that day.

Jo Somebody

*both those styles = wash & gos and afros


Braid-outs don’t cause tangling. Putting your hair in braids at night and then unraveling for an Afro in the morning is a braid-out…by the way.


Right, lol! Also, i would think an afro allows tangles & single strand knots to form as well.


Great article. I do all of them and have great success, especially with #2 as I decided to revisit coconut oil.

I think another name for # 3 is plopping. I stand corrected, but I believe that Curly Chronicles (YT) did a video on that either last year or the year before.


The only tweak I haven’t done is drying before applying conditioner. The explanation makes sense, but it seems like a bit of a hassle if you intend to wash out the conditioner. I don’t like to have to get in and out of the shower. And what about cowashing? Do you condition, rinse, dry, repeat? I guess that would have to be the sequence.

In any case, I’m always up for trying new methods so we’ll see how it goes next few wash days.


I’m pretty sure that applying to “damp” hair (dry wasn’t the best word choice for the articel in my opinion) was targeted towards the use of leave in conditioners, not those you immediately rinse out in the shower.

No, I think the author was talking about rinse out and deep conditioners as well. Damp would be a better word I agree. The reason is because if your hair is too wet you won’t absorb all the conditioner. I think this is the reason why a lot of naturals are heavy handed on conditioner. Getting all that water out of the way will make you use less conditioner. We use a lot probably because with all the water the first dab doesn’t seem enough. I have low porosity hair so I figured this out a long time ago. Even… Read more »

Thanks for clarifying JenniD. Still, I don’t see a simple way to get my hair to a damp state. I’ll experiment with it and see it I figure out a good way to do it.


I usually just squeeze out excess water with a microfiber towel and then apply the deep conditioner. I am not heavy-handed with my deep conditioners so after the conditioning period, I seal it in and style. I don’t need to rinse it out and it replaces my leave-in for the day.

your welcome. Just have your cotton t-shirt or towel handy when you go into the shower. Grab for it and squeeze out as much water as you can with your towel while still in the shower( this takes all of 2 min or less) and condition as usual. You don’t have to leave the shower. Just put your towel in an easy to reach spot near or in your shower. A microfiber towel is good for this as it helps dry the hair super fast. I have a rail in my shower that is suppose to hold wash clothes. I… Read more »
Jo Somebody

This! Also, I have a shower cap that I put on while I wash my body (so I don’t have to duck and dive out of the way of the shower). That 5-minute ‘baggying’ with the shower cap and the heat of the shower also helps my low porosity hair absorb what it can from the conditioner.


Step 2-Beneficial, but after prepooing I’m ready to shampoo to avoid an extra 50-120(!!!) shed hairs that’d need to be released the next day. Irrational?…Maybe.

Step 3-Wait til hair is DRY before applying condish?? Man, I just knocked off 2(!!!) hours from my routine! DAMP I can do….Maybe LOL

The funny thing about this article is that only the last two advice works for me. I tried detangle before washing but that led to pain and more shedding so that’s a no go! Pree-shampoo was great when I used to transtiion but know is neither bad or good (plus I’m too lazy to continue doing it LOL) and the 3rd advice sounds so silly to me so that is also a no go. But this webside is one of my favorite and it doesnt matter if this doesnt works for me because it will work for other! Have a… Read more »
I’ve been doing 1, 2, 4, and 5 lately with good results, but I’d never heard of 3. I might add that too. I tried comb detangling a few weeks ago to see if maybe it wasn’t so bad, but I had a lot more breakage instead of just normal shed hair removal than when I finger detangled. I also felt like I didn’t even get all the shed hairs out anyway! I’ve been using curlformers too, which I think stretch the hair out better than a blowdryer so I haven’t been using heat and I can see the difference… Read more »

Agree…I’ve never heard of 3 as well, but it makes a lot of sense. I’ll try it soon.


I read about 3 in a story featured on CurlyNikki…


I do all these already so cool beans to know. Have gradually increased my finger-detangling though, eventually may forgo the comb altogether. For now, just use it as one last go-thru to make sure all of the tangles have been removed.


Let’s not forget combing through your hair with a pick rather than a comb.A comb can sometimes exert too much pressure, but with the pick you can gently coax the tangles loose. Also combing through tangles with conditioner does really work especially with pick. The tangles come right out.


That’s exactly what I do – with a very wide-toothed pick, but only after I’ve finger detangled on wet/conditioned hair in the shower. The pick just kinda makes sure all the tangles were smoothed out by my fingers, and it catches those smaller knots I may have missed.


Totally agree with finger detangling and detangling before washing. This has really helped me, I’ve noticed such a difference since I started doing this. Now the only time I use a comb is for parting my hair and that’s it, the only that goes through my hair is my fingers.


I have always detangled BEFORE washing, I thought most naturals did…


I dry detangled before washing because I am a tangle prone 4b. In this way I can somewhat control my hair and decrease detangling. Adding water just exacerbates tangling, ssks and knots. I wash after dry detangling is done.

Afro Fly

I personaly detangle my hair After shampooing/deep condition, because if I detangle prior washing, my hair will recreate knots while it will be wet and shrinking, so i will have to detangle AGAIN.
Am I the only one ?


I see a lot of naturals on YOUTUBE, detangle before washing and put there hair in twist while washing so the hair doesnt get tangle during the wash process…


I started doing this a few months ago, and it does make the process MUCH faster. I used to finger detangle with oil to get out the larger knots and obvious shedding, then wash my hair in 4 loose sections. Now I finger detangle, put my hair in 10-12 twists and wash in those twists. I do still comb my conditioner through the twists though, but it is so much easier, quicker and less damaging since I’ve done the first few stages.

Ugonna Wosu

I detangle before shampooing if I remember to, but most times I do it just afterward, and it works out for me.


I stopped combing about 2 months ago and have noticed a lot less shedding. I started using “Don’t Be So Clingy” by luv naturals to detangle and it is a great pre-poo. It takes more time, but it’s worth it.


I’ve been thinking more and more about detangling before I wash. I did it once and washing my hair in the shower was so much quicker. I don’t know why I never tried it again but I’m thinking I should at least do it one more time this weekend. Usually I do hot oil treatments though. Should I olive oil up my hair like usual and, as I’m doing it, detangle section by section?


From a personal experience, I started finger detangling before washing, reduced tangles and hair shed when combing..THEN, actually last week I read another article on this site and stopped combing I only finger detangle hope I retain more length *fingers crossed*

point is there’s a lot of beneficial advice here, just try for one wash, if if doesnt work out you can go back to what your used to 🙂


Oh and yea apply the oil, let it “sit” then detangle section by section..thats what I do, 4 sections