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 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 »

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


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?


[…] From: 3 Pos­si­ble Pit­falls of Fin­ger Detan­gling […]

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 »

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’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.

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 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.


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


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 »
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 »
The absolute best way, i have found, to detan­gle is to do it out of the show­er while it is damp with con­di­tion­er. I just sit at my kitchen table with my squirt bot­tle and a paper plate of con­di­tion­er and sec­tion my hair and get to work!!!! It’s bet­ter than stand­ing in the show­er, more com­fort­able and a lot faster. It gives me the ben­e­fit of a wet detan­gle with the con­ve­nience of a dry detan­gle. And i use A LOT less con­di­tion­er that way, since water isn’t con­stant­ly run­ning on it. I just wet it enough with my… Read more »

Fin­ger detan­gling is not for me, its great as a starter but baby when I get to those roots, my fin­gers can­not pen­e­trate that thick­ness. Besides that I just don’t have the patience for it. That’s the beau­ty of it all though when you find what works for you just do it!


I fin­ger detan­gled for 2months.

it worked great for the tips and min­i­miz­ing break­age.

But then I end­ed up with mat­ted roots. It was not fun. It took hours and i usu­al­ly slap on lots of con­di­tion­er but still my roots were mat­ted. I could nev­er part my hair with a tool. it was not fun. 



i tried fin­ger detan­gling once and it took 3 hours. nev­er again. i have SUPER thick MBL hair and try­ing to fin­ger detan­gle it is just too much. my hair has been grow­ing just fine even with the extra break­age i’m prob­a­bly incur­ring by using a comb.


Great top­ic! I do fin­ger detan­gle because it seems best for my hair. I nev­er thought about the neg­a­tives of fin­ger detan­gling.


Comb­ing takes a lot of time, too. Quick­ly rip­ping through your hair doesn’t seem like a good option. I don’t use a comb any­more but my sis­ter does. It’s just about pref­er­ence.


I only like fin­ger detan­gling if my hair is ALREADY half way detan­gled and is just in need of a lit­tle detan­gling. Oth­er­wise, I do a hor­ri­ble job and my roots end up mat­ted like the arti­cle men­tioned. Not good, not cool…


I fin­ger detan­gle only, with oil or con­di­tion­er (on wash day). Two years ago in the show­er after sham­poo­ing and coat­ing my hair with con­di­tion­er I said, “I’m tired of all this fin­ger work! I’m using my comb!” 


I gave the comb up with a quick­ness and haven’t gone back. Sure it may take 1–2 hours to FD, but my hair’s thriv­ing so…whateva chile! I also use safe­ty pins :)


I have 4b/c hair that’s bra strap length (~14 inch­es long). I fin­ger-detan­gle exclu­sive­ly ’cause combs and brush­es are no friends to my hair. I’ve been doing it since late 2010 so I’ve got my method down.

I fin­ger-detan­gle stretched, sec­tioned (10 parts), oiled (coconut) and con­di­tion­er coat­ed hair (Nature’s Gate Con­di­tion­er) before sham­poo-ing. It takes me about 1 hour to fin­ger-detan­gle while watch­ing a doc­u­men­tary on Net­flix. I wash my hair week­ly, by the way.


Fin­ger detan­gling works bet­ter for me than using a tra­di­tion­al comb. I fin­ger detan­gle my hair while its dry semi-stretched and cov­ered with oil. It takes me 20–30 mins max, my hair strands are a mix of fine and medi­um 3c/4a and my hair is graz­ing waist-length.

one per­son who taught me to respect the fine art of fin­ger detan­gling was ser­a2544 on YT. I watched her video on how she fin­ger detan­gled sev­er­al times, just in awe of how painstak­ing­ly gen­tle she was. it was like she was mak­ing love to her hair lol so i incor­po­rat­ed that myself. it worked won­ders for her, and i can’t remem­ber if she exclu­sive­ly FD’d or not. hm. some­times i fol­low through more tan­gle-prone sec­tions like my wild, obnox­ious crown, with a mid-sized comb. but most of my hair does just fine with fin­ger detan­gling, con­sid­er­ing i do it every… Read more »

i also wan­na add that it takes me only about 10 min­utes to do my whole head, and it’s the only time i detan­gle my hair, since the con­di­tion­er and run­ning water basi­cal­ly do most of the work for me. i sleep on my hair loose at night, no bon­net.


Yes I fin­ger detan­gle but I let the con­di­tion­er work its mag­ic & then I detan­gle. For me its a breeze & I’m not sit­ting there for hours. I prob­a­bly wasn’t fin­ger detan­gling prop­er­ly in the begin­ning cause I have nev­er sit for hours with detan­gling.

The Natural Haven
I dis­agree with the idea that 3 hours and more is too long. The amount of time that you need to go care­ful­ly through your hair is the time that you need. If you are able to do it all in 30 min­utes, this is fine but if you need 3 hours, this is fine too.  I spend at least one day every week on my hair — detan­gling and rebraid­ing. For my hair, con­di­tion­er comb­ing means stag­nant length. Combs and brush­es in gen­er­al equals a hair cut. Dry fin­ger comb­ing equals hair reten­tion. This is not true for every­one though,… Read more »
You know Jc you are right. How long it takes is how long it takes. It actu­al­ly depends on the hair style you are tak­ing down and detan­gling. Some­one wear­ing mini braids or twist that have been washed a few times or so would have a longer detan­gling ses­sion than some­one who does larg­er, loos­er twist or a sim­ple up do.I actu­al­ly avoid mini any­thing when it comes to my hair for this rea­son. I know that I will become impa­tient and rip through my hair dur­ing the take down. I guess one should keep that in mind when choos­ing… Read more »

I hear that! I have APL 4b hair and I sec­tion into 4 and spend a few mins detan­gling each sec­tion made slip­pery by con­di­tion­er- and that’s my lim­it for my own san­i­ty


I fin­ger detan­gle and takes me about 15 mini­utes. I would nev­er spend 3 hours and up on detan­gling my hair.

Yes I agree. That is too long. The longest was maybe an hour and that’s prob­a­bly because I paused to do oth­er things. I only wor­ry about the big snags and major “mesh­es”. I don’t sit there and try to untwine every lit­tle strand like a comb. That’s insane! Espe­cial­ly for my 4b/c hair. For my hair I know that in order for fin­ger detan­gling to work I CAN NOT keep a pro­tec­tive style in too long. My lim­it is two weeks. That 3 and 4 week to a month stuff is COMB ter­ri­to­ry. After two weeks my hair is… Read more »


Nappy4C Rocks

what are major ‘mesh­es’?


Think the ends of twist. Some­times even after a short stint my twists although ini­tial­ly easy to unrav­el, those two unrav­eled sec­tion will have some major hug ses­sion going on. If I rip a comb thru that my hair will snap, but if I take the time to soak it in some oil or con­di­tion­er and fin­ger detan­gle they will slip out. I con­sid­er that major enough to pause and use my fin­gers cause if that is allowed to go on in the show­er when I sham­poo.….


Agreed! That’s what I do, I start with my fin­gers and end with my seam­less wide tooth comb in case I missed any­thing.

I couldn’t agree with you more. While I don’t dis­miss the many ben­e­fits of fin­ger-detan­gling, I’m glad I’m not the only per­son in 4b land who refus­es to spend tons of time on it. Also, I have no prob­lem pulling out a comb or even (gasp) the Den­man if I have to. Recent­ly I’ve been wet­ting my hair more often (see the recent post on WNGs and long 4b/4c hair). This has offered me more oppor­tu­ni­ties to remove shed hair (in the show­er, with con­di­tion­er) before it becomes a prob­lem. It’s only been tak­ing a few extra min­utes. The aver­age per­son… Read more »

Fin­ger detan­gling in the show­er with con­di­tion­er in my hair for me takes no time and breaks my hair much less than the comb.


The premise is good — how­ev­er, I’m hon­est with myself and my hair and fin­ger detan­gling — only — is not the right method for me. Fin­ger detan­gling as with oth­er ‘trends’ are just that — ‘trends’ and there are oth­er comb­ing ‘meth­ods’ which will come and go. So, meh — it is what it is. Those that do, and those and don’t. Those that tried, and those that won’t. To each their own.

I actu­al­ly just stopped fin­ger detan­gling. I don’t think it’s for me, I want­ed to like it but no. My hair is very fine, dense­ly packed, and coarse. So when you real­ly think about it blunt fin­gers in my hair isn’t effi­cient. One week I fin­ger detan­gled and I was plan­ning on putting my hair into a flat twist updo a day after my wash day. Well that day came and I could not get the rat tail comb through my roots to make parts. There were chunks of hair still stuck togeth­er and my roots were lit­er­al­ly thick­er than… Read more »

The tan­gle tamer has been my sav­ing grace. I too have fine strands and extreme­ly dense hair. Fin­ger detan­gling was a joke to me. I final­ly let go of that and just went ahead and did what was right for my hair. A lot of nat­ur­al hair rules sim­ply do not work for me, includ­ing no heat. I use heat about twice a month now. And along with my tan­gle tamer, by hair is thriv­ing. No more sin­gle strand knots and mat­ted roots.

Brittany. L

I kind of fin­ger detan­gle, when the con­di­tion­er is in my hair dur­ing wash time I pre-detan­gle it but I per­son­al­ly would nev­er fin­ger detan­gl because I would be the one with mat­ted hair lol.

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I am sure fin­ger detan­gling on dry hair is right for some peo­ple, but for the super-fine super-dense 3c/4a hair I’m deal­ing with, slip­pery con­di­tion­er in the show­er is my best option!!!
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