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I am yet to meet a nat­u­ral who has not left in a pro­tec­tive style or worn a twist out for a lit­tle too long. Some of us also know that our hair real­ly does not care for wash and gos but because of time or because you were feel­ing like it, decid­ed to throw cau­tion to the wind and embrace full on shrink­age. The end result for most of us due to the mix of water (either from washing/moisturizing or indeed if it rains) and the nat­u­ral shrink­age of curly and kinky curly hair is mat­ting and tan­gling. Here are three ways to deal with mat­ted and tan­gled hair.

First though I will say in bold — Do not under any cir­cum­stances, soak mat­ted hair in water or sham­poo it before detan­gling it. The­se two actions will only lead to more tan­gles.

1. The dry detan­gling method

This method is ide­al for hair that is kinky curly or hair with a high lev­el of shrink­age when wet. By keep­ing hair most­ly dry, it becomes eas­ier to han­dle as fur­ther shrink­age does not occur and the hair remains in its strongest form. The dry detan­gling method does have to be used alongside fin­ger comb­ing because combs and brush­es can be too aggres­sive on dry hair. This method requires small sec­tions and a lot of patience so if you are not will­ing to work on your hair for sev­er­al hours or even a day depend­ing on length, it would be bet­ter to pick either of the next two meth­ods.

2. The con­di­tion­er soak method

In this method, hair con­di­tion­er is used first on dry or damp (not wet) hair and allowed to soak and soft­en hair. A hair dry­er can be used to heat up the con­di­tion­er to make it adsorb more to hair. Inter­est­ing­ly, MsLala makes an obser­va­tion that her con­di­tion­er loos­es its slip if she stays under the dry­er for too long, so 30 min­utes is the max­i­mum time rec­om­mend­ed. The rest of the process is sim­ply cre­at­ing small sec­tions and work­ing at them with a comb slow­ly to loosen up the mat­ted hair and tan­gles.

3. The water and oil method

This method also employs the sta­ple themes of small sec­tions and patience. It, how­ev­er, uses just a mist­ing of water to give hair some flex­i­bil­i­ty and a lit­tle bit of oil for slip. Anoth­er key dif­fer­ence is that the comb­ing is done from root to tip which is again­st the prac­tised norm of nat­u­ral hair. She does make a valid point that as the ends are already detan­gled and comb­ing them fur­ther is unnec­es­sary. She also does not try to pull the comb all the way through, but sim­ply grad­u­al­ly works her way up to the ends. This may be an adjust­ment that some would find ben­e­fi­cial to pre­serve their hair ends.

Ladies, which of the­se meth­ods do you use for detan­gling? And why?

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43 Comments on "3 Methods for Detangling Matted and Tangled Natural Hair"

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April Adams

ladies what prod­ucts do you rec­om­mend for short very kinky curled coiled hiar that is nat­u­ral­ly dry? try­ing to keep my daugh­ter nat­u­ral and hap­py

Victoriya Wright

I’m grow­ing out my relaxed hair and find my roots get mat­ted after leav­ing them in corn­rows under a wig for about 2–3 weeks! I do like the oil/conditioner detan­gling method! Also ladies please check out my store where I sell unique lux­u­ry qual­i­ty cloth­ing. I’d love your feed­back. Thanks in advance and much love?

Kammy Robinson

What I do is the last sug­ges­tion, how­ev­er, no heat! Lol. I just allow it tostay for 15 min­utes then I comb it out. Works for me

garrett soucy

Thank you so much. I love nat­u­ral hair on my lit­tle beau­ty girl, and I thought I was doing some­thing wrong until I watched your video and learned that it takes THAT LONG!!!!!


Let’s not for­get oil and con­di­tion­er! Nat­u­ral­ly High has a great video on that!


I feel what she say­in. She not say­ing what u say­ing if u stop try­ing to crit­i­cize ull under­stand. But hey some ppl cant help their selves but to crit­i­cize.


Plz help my once bum lenght hair has turned into a behive afro of knots overnight. If i comb all my hair comes out i will be left with no hair, i have tried evry­thing as my hair is my crown, how can once indi­an look­ing hair turn into an afro overnight. I feel ive been cursed with my hair cos my hair is my life. Where in cape town can i find the take down cream or which salon can i go to here and at what cost? Plz res­cue my crown jew­el, my hair


Your hair is not your crown. it is your pris­on. shave it all off and try to expe­ri­ence your life as a human being whose val­ue is beyond her hair. Once you’ve accom­plished that, grow your hair back.


Your hair should not be your life. And hav­ing “afro” hair should not make you feel cursed. What a shame that you think you’re cursed just because you don’t have “indi­an look­ing hair.”


I tried evry­thing, my hair is so heavy of all the knots theres no way to even begin. If i must comb all the knots out i wont have any hair left. The knots made my bum lenght hair shrinked into an afro. Where in cape town store do i found the take down prod­ucts or which salon can do it here and at what cost? Plz help my hair is my crown and my life


My daugh­ter has so many knots it’s crazy. I did the dry con­di­tion method and it worked pret­ty good, but after I washed it, it went right back to the mat­ted state it was in. I’ve lit­er­al­ly cut out knots in her head. She has thick hair but is very ten­der head­ed. We are out of the coun­try right now and don’t have access to alot of prod­ucts for African Amer­i­cans.

If you’re in Europe by any chance and will­ing to do home­made reme­dies you can at least find stuff like coconut oil in the Asian mar­ket. If the city is a lit­tle larg­er and has a mar­ket hall there may even be an inter­na­tion­al sec­tion. May­be flag down the next for­eign­er you see that doesn’t look like an obvi­ous tourist and ask them where the stores are hid­den. In my expe­ri­ence for Ger­many, there always seems to be some form of African store in the mid-sized towns and up. Oth­er­wise, sub for the near­est Asian mar­ket to get sup­plies and… Read more »
I have this page book­marked in case I need it in the future and I real­ized I nev­er report­ed back. It took me a cou­ple of hours and a lot of con­di­tion­er but I final­ly did get out those stub­born knots. No cut­ting nec­es­sary. I have learned my lesson and so I would sec­tion and detan­gle my hair pri­or to wash­ing it. This helped me keep it tan­gle free but I am hap­py to report that I am 100% nat­u­ral now with a twa and tan­gles aren’t a big deal for now. When they do pop up I give my… Read more »

Noth­ing helps! My ends are like a cocoon — impen­e­tra­ble! I have so many knots. I have so much break­age. I’ve been nat­u­ral for 8–9 years and my hair is still short. I’m think­ing of just straight­en­ing it (not relaxer/perm) and allow­ing it to grow like that. I’m so frus­trat­ed. If I was rich I would have a per­son­al hair styl­ist with me every­where to do my hair to see if it can grow with some­one else’s hands in the pot.


Do you mois­tur­ize and seal every day? If you don’t then you will have more knots. Addi­tion­al­ly, wear­ing your hair in an afro or an afro puff will increase the like­li­hood of tan­gles.


How did your ends get to that state? The source of your prob­lem must lie some­where.


I’ve had box braids (done with my nat­u­ral hair) in for about a mon­th. I used jojoba oil, a watery leave-in, and my seam­less comb to take down my braids and detan­gle my hair. Works awe­some­ly.


Thank you for this arti­cle just dry detan­gled my hair and its worked me won­ders, my hair has grown its unre­al, i also used a bit of baby oil which real­ly made things a lot eas­ier for me.… superb arti­cle :D


I just detan­gled with the water and oil method… I was try­ing to find a use for some coconut oil I’ve had a while… It tends to make my hair real­ly rough. But I decid­ed to detan­gle with it before my wash by spray­ing water on already twist­ed sec­tions, melt­ing the oil with my fin­ger­tips and mas­sag­ing it in my hair from root to tip. Then I fin­ger­combed thru the twist and then with thru a last time with my pick and my hair is super detan­gled… I think I like the coconut oil now… Gave my hair great slip!


Thanks so much for the arti­cle. I’ve always done wash and go’s even before I start­ed tran­si­tioned as my hair would still curl despite hav­ing a perm. But this is the first time my hair has got­ten this tan­gled. I was gonna go to the nat­u­ral salon and pay just for help. I have 2 sec­tions that are just seri­ous­ly knot­ted. But I will give one of the­se meth­ods a go first and report back with the results.


I’ve always used con­di­tion­er either reg­u­lar or leave in to detan­gle my hair.
After tran­si­tion­ing though, I’ve pret­ty much stuck with using ONLY leave-in con­di­tion­er to detan­gle. I use Cantu’s Shea but­ter leave in cond’ and it seems to work pret­ty well.

This arti­cle makes me want to try using oil, but I’m aller­gic to coconut. Guess it’ll be olive oil for me. :(


I detan­gle before sham­poo­ing. I light­ly spritz my hair with a water/glycerin mix, apply coconut oil and then fin­ger-detan­gle. This com­bo has tons of slip on my kinky, coily hair.


I don’t know bout any­one else but if my hair is tan­gled, when I sham­poo or cow­ash, most of my tan­gles melt away. I always hear of ppl pre poo­ing, then detan­gle, sham­poo, detan­gle, con­di­tion, detan­gle then style. To me that’s too many times for my hands to be in my head. I only detan­gle when I con­di­tion my hair. I’m not I’m not the only that does this?

Michelle@Radiant Brown Beauty

I use a com­bi­na­tion of oil, con­di­tion­er and water to fin­ger detan­gle. While I nev­er leave a pro­tec­tive style in for longer than 2 days (Hair ADD LOL!) I do get tan­gles. In a spray bot­tle, I mix some Vatika oil with Aubrey Organ­ics Glyco­gen Pro­tein Bal­anc­ing con­di­tion­er and a smidge of water. This com­bo makes fin­ger detan­gling vir­tu­al­ly effort­less

Linda Harding-Bond

I love your site. Can you do an arti­cle on keep­ing locs mois­tur­ized with­out pro­duct over­load. Thank you


I prefer the dry detan­gling method. Any mois­ture I put on my hair when it’s mat­ted, and I do mean ANY, will result in shrink­age of the mat­ted mess and the form­ing of locks or rather one MASSIVE loc on my head.


This was help­ful. I am still try­ing to fig­ure out what works best for me. I used to do the oil and water method. Now I’m try­ing the con­di­tion­er method. It still takes me around 2 hours to detan­gle my hair. I am try­ing to effi­cient­ly detan­gle my hair while keep­ing the total time low. Any tips?


The detan­gling method on YT chan­nel Spicyeve saved my life! I detan­gle on damp hair with a water/conditioner mix.


I love her YouTube chan­nel! She’s so fun­ny!


[…] 3 Meth­ods for Detan­gling Mat­ted and Tan­gled Nat­u­ral Hair NATURAL CELEBRITIES ? […]


I start­ed doing overnight hot oil treat­ments before wash day. The next day,I fin­ger comb my hair and then use a wide tooth comb. This method helps me detan­gle eas­i­ly and my hair is nice,strong and soft :-D!


I use all of the­se meth­ods basi­cal­ly lol.…..I spritz my hair with water when it’s dry to get it a bit soft, scrub my con­di­tion­er on my scalp before putting olive oil down the shaft, then i add more con­di­tion­er to the shaft, coat my ends, and twist it up.….…my hair is in lay­ers but it stops where your armpit starts lol -if that made sense- so it takes me cou­ple of hours to get through it.….if I con­cen­trate good enough lol


I use the (most­ly) dry detan­gle method, too. I noticed that in my tech­nique, I go from root to end. It’s what I’m used to doing, but now I see that it helps me keep off the ends until absolute­ly nec­es­sary, and at that point, I’m super gen­tle with work­ing through the rest of the way. I tried doing it damp and wet­ter, but it’s hard­er to detan­gle. Great arti­cle! I’ve got some detan­gling to do myself in the near future…lol.

I’m in tran­si­tion and my hair is a lit­tle under my ear and I have to say my hair is thick and Kinky, but my mom says I have good grade ( I still don’t know what that means). So I do 2 meth­ods. Before I wash my hair I dry detan­gle it cause if I already have snarls it will get worst when it gets wet and marathon runs to my scalp. Then when I put the­con­di­tion­er in my hair I comb through it again before I put a show­er cap on and then I rense with cool water,… Read more »

I use the water and oil method EVERY night. my hair is fine but dense so I’m always find­ing fairy knots and tan­gles. I add aloe vera juice, water and leave in to my spray bot­tle. I use coconut oil to mois­tur­ize and I detan­gle with a wide tooth rake comb.
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Hey there I am African
Hey there I am African

Great smile girl! :)


I stretch my hair by putting it in braids for a few hours,then i detan­gle with a wide tooth comb after doing the LOC(Liquid,Oil,Cream)method of mois­tur­iz­ing nat­u­ral hair.I have coily hair and this tech­nique works very well for me with very lit­tle hair left in the comb(which i assume is shed hair)


thank you for this arti­cle. and even more, thank you for a title which is not mis­lead­ing. in my opin­ion, there is a wealth of infor­ma­tion here. i use the water and oil method, along with diet and exer­cise. i also cut off dry untouch­able ends reg­u­lar­ly. (my goal is soft hair, not so much long hair) and i real­ly hard­ly ever have to deal with all day long tan­gles. 30 min­utes tops once a mon­th to get at the hot spot at the back of my head, oth­er­wise no real prob­lems.

I apply oyin hand­made whipped pud­ding to my hair, detan­gle and then apply con­di­tion­er and sit under­neath the steam­er for about 10 min­utes. Once that’s done I’m able to detan­gle with even more ease regard­less of how tan­gled my hair is.


I usu­al­ly just detan­gle my hair when con­di­tion­ing since its almost always braid­ed.


The first method is the one I have been using suc­cess­ful­ly for a few years now. I always begin with hair that has been sat­u­rat­ed with coconut oil overnight or at least sev­er­al hours.


I use the dry detan­gle method. Fine porous strands demand noth­ing less. It’s helped me to retain length over­all, so I don’t mind how long it takes.