By Chin­we of Hair and Health

Tight coils, lit­tle to no curl pat­tern, and major shrink­age make type 4 nat­ur­al hair an envi­ron­ment con­ducive to knots and tan­gles.  Imag­ine toss­ing sev­er­al tight­ly coiled wires into a bag hap­haz­ard­ly.  Now imag­ine remov­ing these wires one by one from the bag. You will get knots and tan­gles galore, right? A sim­i­lar event can occur in our nat­ur­al hair when left loose, wild, and shrunk­en.

1. The basics to minimizing knots & tangles

Refrain from wear­ing wash-n-gos once your hair reach­es 6–8 inch­es in length.  Pro­tec­tive style fre­quent­ly. Detan­gle thor­ough­ly AND reg­u­lar­ly. Keep your hair mois­tur­ized.

2. Further prevention — Wash in braids

Wash­ing your hair while it is loose is high­ly dis­cour­aged. (Think back to the bag full of tight­ly coiled wires.)  Instead, wash your hair in braid­ed sec­tions to min­i­mize tan­gling. About wash­ing in twists: Twists, unless done small or medi­um, tend to unrav­el dur­ing a wash. Thus, braids may be a bet­ter option for some nat­u­rals.

3. Continuing on — Short-term stretched styles

If you want to wear your hair out, stretched styles (i.e., twist outs, braid outs) are by far the best method to min­i­mize knots and tan­gles.  How­ev­er, allow­ing such styles to age beyond their lim­it leaves room for shrink­age and defeats the pur­pose.  Keep the style dura­tion to a min­i­mum.  Note: The high­er the humid­i­ty, the short­er the wear. Also, the longer your hair, the short­er the wear.

4. Speaking of stretching — Use a thick, heavy detangler

Dur­ing your reg­u­lar detan­gling ses­sions, use a cho­les­terol-based or oth­er thick, heavy con­di­tion­er to ease the process.  The con­di­tion­er will add weight to the hair thus stretch­ing the coils tem­porar­i­ly. Alter­na­tive: Some nat­u­rals pre­fer detan­gling on dry, stretched, lubri­cat­ed hair since wet strands can lead to shrink­age.

5. Do not wet the knot

In the event that you do get a knot, the worst thing you can do is apply water. Why? Because the strands will shrink and the knot will become hard­er to unrav­el. Instead, apply an oil or but­ter and grad­u­al­ly pull out each strand from the knot one by one. Alter­na­tive: Some nat­u­rals have suc­cess apply­ing a con­di­tion­er to the knot while oth­ers do not. Do what works for you.  Depend­ing on how seri­ous the knot is, a thin tool — such as the end of a rat­tail comb — may be used to help with unrav­el­ing. Refrain from using sharp tools, like nee­dles or safe­ty pins, which may dam­age the cuti­cle.

Do you get knots and tan­gles?  How do you com­bat them?


Empow­er­ing women of col­or to break bar­ri­ers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin. https://cherishthymelanin.com/

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43 Comments on "5 Tips to Combat Knots and Tangles in Type 4 Natural Hair"

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does your hair actu­al­ly get clean if you wash it in a braid or twist?


I’ll use the braid in 6 sec­tions instead of twists cause i’m see­ing tan­gles in twists. I’m try­ing to learn how to grow my hair with­out the need to pro­tec­tive style

Chinasa Okolo

The best thing about wash­ing in braids is that after you’re done and your hair is dry, it is already stretched out!


i wash, con­di­tion, detan­gle, comb my hair (using heat), mois­tur­ize, and plait in sec­tions, but by the time i get to the hair salon for braids it’s already a knot­ted mess.

Ellen Osei

Your method total­ly worked. I put heavy cho­les­terol leave con­di­tion­er and I was able to comb my hair with a tooth comb and braid it .I didn’t know what to do with nat­ur­al hair because I just start­ed .Thanks so much for tips . :)

Ellen Osei

Your method total­ly worked. I put heavy cho­les­terol leave con­di­tion­er and Ivwas able to comb my hair with a tooth comb and braid it .I didn’t know what to do with nat­ur­al hair because I just start­ed .Thanks so much for tips . :)


this mod­el hair look like my hair :)


[…] Black Girl Long Hair Says: Refrain from wear­ing wash-n-gos once your hair reach­es 6–8 inch­es in length.  Pro­tec­tive style fre­quent­ly. Detan­gle thor­ough­ly AND reg­u­lar­ly. Keep your hair mois­tur­ized. […]


More white chil­dren get autusim than blacks.


This lady in the pic­ture looked like a Bar­bie when I saw the small­er ver­sion of the pic­ture. She’s real­ly pret­ty. I love her hair as well.


Does any­one know how to reach this woman about an imme­di­ate poten­tial mod­el­ing project?

Ola Mae

I’ve noticed that wear­ing my hair in two strand twists reduces the risks of knots. I like wear­ing my hair out but I keep it to a min­i­mum because of the knot­ting. Fin­ger detan­gling and pre-poo­ing (I use cas­tor oil) before wash day real­ly helps. I pre­fer wash­ing my hair in twists because while I am sham­poo­ing my hair I loosen it to fin­ger detan­gle then I twist it back up. Also, when I wash my hair in twists I know all of the sham­poo is out. That is one of the rea­sons I don’t wash my hair loose any­more.

Arielle a.k.a. Determinator1
Arielle a.k.a. Determinator1
My (4c) hair is col­lar­bone length, and I have not tried the braid/wash method yet. I am good with my detan­gling as long as my hair is wet and mois­tur­ized. The most dif­fi­cul­ty with detan­gling comes in with the ends, and if it were not for “Pro­fec­tiv Growth Lotion” I doubt I would have the length I have now (with my nat­ur­al hair). After wash­ing, I divide my hair into small man­age­able sec­tions, then apply the “Pro­fec­tiv” to the ends, and detan­gle from the ends up, inch­ing my way up the hair­shaft until I reach the roots. The ingre­di­ents help… Read more »

I find it eas­i­est to detan­gle my hair dry, under run­ning water or with con­di­tion­er. Oil seems to only make my knots worse. It doesn’t real­ly tan­gle up that bad though, even while I was tran­si­tion­ing, except if I leave oil on it for too long. I have thick, mul­ti tex­tured, low porous hair from 3c. (pos­si­bly 3b?) to 4c. Not sure if that makes a dif­fer­ence.


I’ve actu­al­ly been exper­i­ment­ing with using a lit­tle bit of heat once a month to keep my strands tan­gle free. I wash, deep con­di­tion, and blow dry which stretch­es my strands min­i­miz­ing tan­gles. I mois­tur­ize at least 4 times a week with a Leave-in con­di­tion­er and keep my ends tucked away and pro­tect­ed for the bet­ter part of the week.


Wash­ing in braids and redo­ing styles such as twist-outs help me the most. I still expe­ri­ence a lot of knots but I would expe­ri­ence more if I didn’t fol­low these tech­niques.
Tip: I also have start­ed to roller-set/flexirod the ends of my hair when I first set them in twists/braids. The “twirling” of the hair on itself that’s nor­mal­ly sug­gest­ed at the end of a twist/braid, caus­es me a lot of knots. The hair curls upon itself and fur­ther knots.

Ashley F.

That tip on wash­ing hair in braids instead of twists real­ly helped me this morn­ing with my co-wash!

I used to pre­fer wash­ing my hair in twists with tight elas­tic bands on ends to pre­vent unrav­el­ling. My hair is 6 inch­es now and is get­ting dif­fi­cult to unrav­el a clumped twist from wash­ing. Yes I agree with Neo­chasez about dirt from wash­ing in braids, but how about mak­ing the braids a lit­tle loos­er, tying a rub­ber band on the ends and using a clar­i­fy­ing sham­poo? Thanks BGLH, now that I know using pins to detan­gle SSKs dam­ages the cuti­cle I will change my tac­tics, the tip of a used ball point pen may work as well as the… Read more »
My hair is about 9 inch­es long and, for some rea­son, I just find that wash­ing in braids not only doesn’t wash my strands, but also gives my fin­gers less room to effec­tive­ly mas­sage my scalp to cleanse it. I’ve washed my hair in twists as well and it’s still less effec­tive for me. How­ev­er, it’s imper­a­tive that I sec­tion my hair and cleanse each sec­tion (with hair loose) sep­a­rate­ly. Refer­ring to using a clar­i­fy­ing sham­poo, I use a chelat­ing sham­poo once a month because I live in an area with hard water and I find that my hair doesn’t… Read more »
Am I the only per­son who has trou­ble wash­ing hair in braids? I real­ize the scalp is the area of focus doing a sham­poo ses­sion, but my ends col­lect dust and dirt after a few days of wear­ing a braid out and I’ve found that I need water pres­sure to help ful­ly remove debris from my hair. When I’ve washed or co-washed in braids, I found that my hair (and scalp) were nev­er as clean as when I unrav­eled a twist­ed sec­tion and cleansed my hair out. My hair is prone to major shrink­age and SSKs, but I find that… Read more »

Yes, I used to have the same prob­lem, that’s why I no longer wear my hair in braids.

Molly B

My wash regimine is sim­i­lar to Natalie’s, but my hair is a longer (like a lil past col­lar bone length). Only thing I do dif­fer­ent is that I always section/twist before I sham­poo and rinse it loose. Then I repeat it for my conditioning/detangling process. Can’t fin­ger comb, though. Nev­er real­ly works out for me.


I nev­er wash my hair in plaits or pre­poo, my hair is chin length, I tried it but it doesn’t work for me.
I wash my hair loose, DC then detan­gle and whilst rins­ing I fin­ger comb it then I plait into 4–6 sec­tions and then apply my final rinse. This keeps my hair free of knots and tan­gles. I enjoy my hair and part of that is wash­ing it free as a bird.


I usu­al­ly use oil to help with my detan­gling ses­sions, con­di­tion­er is a ‘no-no’ for me as my hair gets longer. And yes I learned the hard way as well not to wet the knot, I cried as it tore away from the rest of the strands while tak­ing my pre­cious wide-toothed comb along for the ride…that was near­ly 2 years ago so I detan­gle with well-oiled hair — NO WATER!!


“Tight coils, lit­tle to no curl pat­tern, and major shrink­age make type 4 nat­ur­al hair an envi­ron­ment con­ducive to knots and tan­gles.”

I have type 4a hair with curls and no tight coils not all type 4’s are the same…to be hon­est there is a huge dif­fer­ence between type 4a an 4c hair!


I don’t think there’s that big of a dif­fer­ence. I have all of the 4’s in my hair (I think–I don’t know the dif­fer­ence between 4b and 4c hair) and besides the fact that my wash and goes look crazy because my curl pat­tern is all over the place, my hair acts the same. No mat­ter what sub­type your is, all type 4 hair has the same basic needs. Hair type real­ly isn’t as impor­tant as it seems.

I agree that there are dif­fer­ences in type 4a than type 4c. The dif­fer­ence is the curl size and often the tex­ture of the hair. But this is not a rea­son for one to believe that one tex­ture is bet­ter than the oth­er. I found that under­stand the hair type I was helped me to (1) under­stand how to choose prod­ucts and (2) how to care for may hair. Peo­ple should love what grows out of their head and not be inse­cure whether they have a loose or tight curl pat­tern. But to say that it is all the same is… Read more »

The dif­fer­ence being 4a’s have curls and MOST 4c’s dont.


I guess I have 4c then, cause mine shrink after I wash it and if I don’t put it into ten-braids quick­ly it becomes an unman­age­able mess. Not only that but I can’t even rock a twist out or braid out for too long, once the wind hits it, my hair coils up into foetal posi­tion.


There is a dif­fer­ence, but its still vari­a­tion with­in a type, so for exam­ple nap­tur­al 85 and joulezy (a 4c blog­ger) look very sim­i­lar. There are some dif­fer­ences, but not so mas­sive, which you seem intent on mak­ing out.. It’s not like com­par­ing type 1 to type 4.


(Small) curls and kinks…not too big of a dif­fer­ence. These are diam­e­ter changes in mil­lime­ters.

The rea­son why I men­tioned this is because I feel that act­ing like there is a huge dif­fer­ence between 4a amd 4c hair seems to put nat­u­rals against each oth­er for what­ev­er rea­son.


Its not put nat­u­rals against one anoth­er is just real­i­ty, case in point com­pare the queen of nat­ur­al hair Nap85 who is 4a to a 4c nat­u­ral­ist and tell me there isnt a dif­fer­ence

Lillian Mae

Does this apply to sin­gle strand knots (SSKs)? If this does refer to SSKs, I think I need more tips!


Omg that woman in the pic­ture.… beau­ti­ful. Beau­ti­ful skin… at first glance I thought she was a doll.


she’s very beau­ti­ful isn’t she? it’s not fair. *pout*


Thanks for the tips. I was strug­gling with this last night. I’m just going to leave my hair in french braids the next few times I wash


Love it! print­ing this out, I learned some of these the hard way and then oth­er nat­u­rals don’t get why I’m doing the oppor­site or what ever oth­er hair expert says :)

Anoth­er good tip for those of you who like oils, about 2 days before I get ready to detan­gle and wash my hair I slather gen­er­ous amounts of oil ( coconut works for me) on my hair each to let it get good n greasy. I wear it off my face and neck of course and stretched! Greasy and stretched is the key. I do two strands most­ly so to stretch I pin up my twist or bun them. I do this each morn­ing and evening for 2 days straight. This makes most tan­gles melt out. This works for me… Read more »

I learned the hard way that you should nev­er wet the knot. I end­ed up cut­ting lots of hair because I thought it would make the process eas­i­er and I couldn’t have been more wrong.


I have a 4a hair and I was my hair in 2 strand twist. Makes my life much eas­i­er.


These tips are cru­cial for length reten­tion!!! Thank you BGLH for all the help!! <3

Amma Mama

This was very help­ful! I have 4C hair :-)
In the past, I have strug­gled with seri­ous tan­gles and nots but I am so much bet­ter now! Though I am still learn­ing:-)


Great tips, but don’t for­get to keep your hair mois­tur­ized! Dry hair tan­gles like it’s no man’s busi­ness.