geraldine finger detangle

Geraldine of Geraldine the Great

Let me state for the record that I have been exclu­sive­ly fin­ger detan­gling for years (pos­si­bly 4–5 years) and I am a huge pro­po­nent of its ben­e­fits. Besides expe­ri­enc­ing a great decrease in break­age, fin­ger detan­gling con­tribut­ed to the elim­i­na­tion of pain when detan­gling and helped me to iden­ti­fy a detan­gling method that I could do on dry hair (which is impor­tant if you have super shrink­age). It is the gen­tlest detan­gling method and whether you choose to use it as just the first step or whether it is your main detan­gling method, it will always be worth it.

All that said, there are many wom­en who sim­ply can­not deal with fin­ger detan­gling for a bar­rage of rea­sons, here are some of them:

1. It takes ages!
Yes, if you intend to fin­ger detan­gle your hair prop­er­ly then you need a com­fort­able chair, music or movies (plu­ral!) and buck­ets full of patience. Fin­ger detan­gling can take any­where from 3 hours to a full day (with breaks) to be com­plet­ed prop­er­ly. Nat­u­ral­ly, the more tan­gled your hair is, the longer it will take. If your hair is loose­ly curled or if you are just com­ing out of a pro­tec­tive style, you may reduce the time but in gen­er­al, it will take ages!

2. If not done thor­ough­ly, your hair could matt
Some nat­u­rals are not suc­cess­ful with fin­ger detan­gling because they end up find­ing small mat­ted sec­tions or they find that when they are ready to bring out a wide tooth comb as a fol­low-up step, there is no real dif­fer­ence between the fin­ger detan­gled hair and the tan­gled hair. Both of the­se sce­nar­ios tend to hap­pen when your skill at fin­ger detan­gling lev­el is at a begin­ning stage or if you are impa­tient. Like all good things, you need to prac­tice fin­ger detan­gling until you mas­ter it. At that lev­el you will auto­mat­i­cal­ly know how many sec­tions you need to put your hair in, which pro­duct you will use on your hair for slip and esti­mate how well you have detan­gled each sec­tion or whether you need to go back over it.

3. It COULD dam­age your hair more than comb­ing
If you are fin­ger comb­ing prop­er­ly, you will be sep­a­rat­ing your curls/coils like a wish­bone. Every sin­gle strand will have to defend itself from dam­age due to ten­sion dur­ing detan­gling. This is as opposed to con­di­tion­er comb­ing for exam­ple where strands can organ­ise them­selves into ringlets or coils where sev­er­al strands of hair form a pro­tec­tive pack. If you are try­ing to work fast, are inex­pe­ri­enced with the right lev­el of mois­ture or if you tug on the indi­vid­u­al sep­a­rat­ed strands just a lit­tle too hard, you real­ly CAN snap your hair and often full length or close to full length strands.

If you are will­ing to over­come the­se poten­tial pit­falls and embrace fin­ger detan­gling, then this video is prob­a­bly the best tuto­ri­al out there on how to prop­er­ly fin­ger detan­gle.

Do you fin­ger detan­gle? Why or why not? What’s your detan­gling reg­i­men?

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44 Comments on "3 Potential Pitfalls of Finger Detangling"

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I tried fin­ger detan­gling over my past two wash ses­sions and it just wasn’t for me. I have 4B/C hair, and I found mat­ted hair in two places on my head; that’s a no no for me. I will fin­ger detan­gle in the show­er with tons of con­di­tion­er, but after­wards I will use the wide toothed comb or den­man brush to fur­ther detan­gle. I just don’t have the time and (in my mind) my hair is a lot smoother and styles bet­ter with the use of tools. I am not real­ly rough with my hair and I only detan­gle when… Read more »
I can only fin­ger detan­gle… I have to wet my hair, sec­tion it in at least 10 sec­tions if it’s real­ly tan­gled, put in lots of con­di­tion­er, let it sit for a half hour then I start the long process of detan­gling. Right now the worst and thick­est side of my head took about 2–3 hours thanks to me not detan­gling it for months after I had my baby. I had to give up and just put the oth­er side in a giant braid to be fin­ished lat­er today. I don’t have the option of tools until my hair is… Read more »

Per­son­al­ly I will nev­er part with my Tan­gle Teez­er and wide toothed comb, but that’s just me.



I do fin­ger detan­gling but not to the extent of you ladies. When I’m in the show­er I just feel for any tan­gles and remove them them…then when I twist if I come across some­thing I missed I han­dle it. I guess I’m not going strand by strand because it cer­tain­ly does not take me hours. I’m a 4c and have very thick hair. I haven’t expe­ri­enced any mat­ting.

Yinka Adefunmi

I only fin­ger detan­gle. With plen­ty of con­di­tion­er and a rat tail comb for the ends. I make 2 strand twists and rin­se. I have mixed tex­tures and they all have per­son­al­i­ty!

I’ve been fin­ger detan­gling exclu­sive­ly for over a year. I do it dry with coconut oil and it works won­der­ful­ly for me.I have BSL 4a/b hair. I fin­ger detan­gle with the coconut oil, then pro­ceed into my cow­ash pro­ce­dure and twist each sec­tion as I go. I sit under my steam­er; rin­se every­thing out and pro­ceed with styling. The de tan­gling cow­ash process togeth­er take about 30min. I don’t know about you ladies but “ain’t nobody got time for that” I can’t make that process any longer in My life. What­ev­er works is the key and when it comes to… Read more »

Agreed Karen. I’m not under­stand­ing why it takes so long for oth­ers. Glad to see your post. I was begin­ning to think I was doing some­thing wrong. My hair has retained so much length since let­ting go of the comb.


It takes a long time when you neglect your hair for a long time and have a lot of tan­gles from shed­ding and split ends. Even though it took me hours after months of neglect I’m sure if I take care of my hair it won’t take very long. The part­ing process can take a bit for me too.


Umm yeah, the only time it takes me that long is if I am com­ing out of hav­ing my hair braid­ed for months, I con­sid­ered that a night­mare. Fin­ger Detan­gling nor­mal­ly takes me 30 min­utes or less. I can’t imag­ine going strand by strand, it wouldn’t be worth it if I had to do that. Good­ness I had no clue that was fin­ger detan­gling going strand by strand, I don’t even under­stand why you have to take each ind­vid­u­al strand apart to detan­gle, you ladies who do that on a week­ly basis rock!

I think fin­ger detan­gling works but it depends on the per­son and hair type. I fin­ger detan­gle ini­tial­ly to remove the big knots. Then I fol­low up with my show­er comb. I final­ly real­ized in the last 6–8 months, my hair oper­ates bet­ter when I pre-poo with oil or at least start with oil in my hair (I use a mix­ture of oils), then fol­low up with con­di­tion­er for more slip. I will say, I’m still impa­tient with detan­gling and can be a lit­tle rough. I’m a work in pro­gress. But the length of time varies based on the style… Read more »

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I’ve been fin­ger detan­gling my hair but as soon as I wash out the con­di­tion­er it tan­gles again. My hair seems to be weak,it snips off even wen fin­ger detan­gling despite me being gentle,help!!!


I’m no expert at all. Per­haps you need to trim. When is the last time you trimmed your ends?


Inter­est­ing post. Thanks for shar­ing this arti­cle. Keep it up.

I exclu­sive­ly fin­ger detan­gle now, it’s some­thing I nev­er thought pos­si­ble for my hair, but once I got it down I nev­er looked back. I do it in my own way though, sep­a­rat­ing indi­vid­u­al curl clumps rather than strands, this way there is less stress on the strands. Then I sep­a­rate the clumps in half. At this stage I use pray­ing hands to feel for any missed knots and if there are none I use the rake method run­ning my fin­gers through the sec­tion once to fin­ish off. I have so much less shed­ding and break­age now and it’s made… Read more »