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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Kashmere
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 »
Mary

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

Sally

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!!!

Natashya

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

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Alwina
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 »
Zakiya

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!

Karen
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 »
nika

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.

AJ

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!

Nika

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.

Tyler

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

Tyler
http://onelittleblackdress.com

AJ
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 »
DeeFlowers
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 »
camyfai
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 »
uniqzoe

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!

CB

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.

🙁

Cee

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.

Tia

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

KP

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.

Lele

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…

Dee*

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!”

POP! SNAP! SNAPPP!

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 🙂

mangomadness

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.

GoldenFingers

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.

chalise
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… Read more »
chalise

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.

saffron33

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… Read more »
JenniD
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 »
Shannon

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

mlank64

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

JenniD
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 »
Nika

Agreed!

Nappy4C Rocks

what are major ‘meshes’?

JENNID

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…..

Andie

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

LBell
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… Read more »
LaNeshe

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

Boyhead

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.

lex
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 »
t.c.

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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ja

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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