3 Potential Pitfalls of Finger Detangling

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?

The Natural Haven

The Natural Haven

Scientist on a hairy mission!

44 thoughts on “3 Potential Pitfalls of Finger Detangling

  1. 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 its wet. I tried, but I just its just not for me.

  2. 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 97% detangled and then the tools just get the little small, loose knots. Tools before that point offer nothing but pain and breakage. I didn’t even know finger detangling was a thing or that I was doing a positive thing for my hair, its just something I started doing when nothing else was working.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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 me K.I.S.S. is my motto; keep it sweet and simple. I have great results and this is something I can and will easily do forever.

    • 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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 I previously had. If I had a protective style (i.e. mini twists), I need to start the process a couple of days in advance by un-doing the twists. This helps to loosen my hair over time so when I detangle, it’s not a monster to complete.

  8. Pingback: 3 Possible Disadvantages Of Finger Detangling You May Not Know Of | Natural Haircare News

  9. 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!!!

  10. 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 me learn my hair faster. I know how it behaves now.

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