by Shelli of Hairscapades


Okay, so I may be (figuratively) hung, drawn, and quartered for this one. Alright … alright … I’m being dramatic. But … I’m about to suggest something that will probably go counter to a “natural hair” great commandment that most have probably read over and over again.


See, what had happened was … I’ve been detangling from TIPS to ROOTS for forever. Annnnnd, it has served me well for the most part. But, the last few wash days, I started breaking this rule. Let me premise this by saying, I primarily use my fingers and only pull out the Ouidad Double Detangler once my hair is pretty thoroughly detangled. However, detangling sessions were becoming more tedious and lengthy due to the length of my hair. After slathering on tons of conditioner, I would start detangling from the tips which in turn resulted in me having to work the shed strands in each section down the length of my hair over and over … AND OVER again.

allmylifedetangle(Please excuse the possessive “natural’s” that should be a plural.
I didn’t make this. LOL!)

I soon realized the worst matting occurred at the roots of my hair and if I loosened the tangles and shed hair there first, it would take me less time to detangle. less time = less manipulation

I implemented my new detangling process by avoiding finger detangling DOWN the length of my hair first. I detangle by pulling the strands APART. I’ve seen this referred to as “wish-boning” since you are pulling the strands apart like you would a wishbone (but more gently, of course). This provides space in the hair to allow shed/broken strands to glide out and it also helps loosens knots rather than tightening them. So, I work the strands apart at the roots, THEN I pull loose hair out of and/or down my hair.

Now, I definitely wouldn’t suggest trying the roots to tips approach with a comb as you may end up with more hair in the comb itself than on your head.  However, if you finger detangle exclusively or prior to using a tool, than you might find that the roots to tip approach hastens the end of your detangling sessions. Also, if you so desire, you can use a comb or brush from tips to roots to polish off the job.


Do you detangle from tips to roots or roots to tips? What techniques have eased your detangling sessions? 

Shelli is an insurance professional by day, natural hair blogger by night, fitness and yoga enthusiast, fangirl, and 40 something newlywed! She has been natural since 2000 and started Hairscapades at the urging of curlfriends who followed her “amateur” Grow Out Challenge blog on She wants to share the things she’s learned and continues to learn in hopes of helping others love the hair they’re in!!

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38 Comments on "I Detangled My Natural Hair From Roots to Tips and Lived to Tell the Story"

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Great article! I use the same method (minus the conditioner – I’ve been using virgin coconut oil) and it works great. I figure if my ends are the oldest and most fragile part of my hair, I want to be as gentle as I can with them. So far, so good…I’ve been doing that for about a year and a half and reached my waist length goal last December.


I start at the ends go up about a third of the way then go up to my roots and start combing those tangles down towards the ends then back to the ends to combs out those tangles then 1 final pass from roots to tip, I do this when my hair is saturated in conditioner and if i have a really stubborn tangle then I lean under the shower stream. With this method I can detangle my medium density APL hair in about 15 min.

[…] I Detangled My Natural Hair From Roots to Tips and Lived to … slathering on tons of conditioner, I would start detangling from the tips which in turn resulted in me having to work the shed strands in each section down the length of my hair over and over … AND OVER again. …. When I am done shampooing, I towel dry, soak with whatever leave in that I am using, let it penetrate for a couple of minutes then I separate and comb through from root to tip with a wide tooth comb that I have had… Read more »

[…] I Detangled My Natural Hair From Roots to Tips and Lived to … I Detangled My Natural Hair From Roots to Tips and Lived to Tell the Story – Beauty Tips Around The World | Beauty Tips Around The World. Pat says: …. I just wanted to say that your hair is beautiful! I am still at the … […]


Great article.

By the way, it’s “hanged” not “hung”

a picture gets hung a person gets hanged.

Thank you. I am a bit of a grammar nerd, so I looked up “hanged” and “hung” and this is what has to say about it: “For both transitive and intransitive senses 1b the past and past participle hung, as well as hanged, is standard. Hanged is most appropriate for official executions but hung is also used . Hung is more appropriate for less formal hangings .” As I was using this in a very informal way … I think I can get the pass on using “hung” instead of hanged. However, the differentiation is noted for the future.… Read more »

Thanks for the reference! I’m a bit of a grammar nerd too. I’m glad you didn’t take my comment in a negative way 🙂



No, I appreciate it … you know a similar one that always gets me? Plead/pled and pleaded … like, to a charge!! I always to say “plead,” but know I read and hear “pleaded.” Oh well!! Those are a little more nuanced than “your” and “you’re” ;)!! LOL!!


Kimira Jewels

I just wanted to say that your hair is beautiful! I am still at the twa stage, so detangling doesn’t take very long for me yet!


Thank you!! Definitely enjoy the stage!! I have cut my hair short quite a few times and the quick wash day was definitely my favorite part of short hair!! 🙂


I’m just stunned. YOU ARE 40??? lol I’m 25 and I hope I look even half as good at 40!


Awwwwww, thank you so much!!! And 42 actually :). You (and those likes of your comment) made my day :)!!


Danielle Webster

I have de-tangled both ways. I prefer to use the root to tips method. I realize that my hair gets really knotted at the roots so I use my fingers to de-tangle half the time and the rest of the time I use my comb to lift the matted hair away fro my roots and further down the strands then I continue with the tip to root method.

Briana Hicks
I used to do tip to root when I was relaxed, and still do when I’m using a tool to detangle, so it has been a while. Now my preferred (and only) method is to separate my hair into as little as two sections (and as many as 6 or 8), slather with conditioner (I’m in the shower btw) and use my fingers to sort of smooth the hair, starting at the top of the section, with my hair sandwich between my palms, and stroking downward repeatedly. As tangles begin to dissipate, the motion sort of naturally turns into finger… Read more »

I have been natural for almost 20 years, I have never done tip to root and I still use a regular towel. When I am done shampooing, I towel dry, soak with whatever leave in that I am using, let it penetrate for a couple of minutes then I separate and comb through from root to tip with a wide tooth comb that I have had for just as long. Type 4a through 3b. There is no more or no less shedding if I do it differently.

Michele Antoinette

Yes, this is a site about hair but that phone case with the Asian elephant design is beautiful. Pretty hair too, lol.


LOL! It’s actually a peacock and I got it for, like, $6 on Amazon for my peacock themed wedding :).


Sorry about that thumbs down. Darn cellphone want let me fix it. I will try to fix it on my computer. I love Amazon too for phone accessories. Congratulations on your marriage and your hair is gorgeous.


Awwww, thank you Chala!! I didn’t even see the thumbs down! You must have got the fix! I love Amazon for so many things!! I get so many deals!! I accidentally forgot to cancel my subscription to Prime last year, before the free trial expired, so I order and get the 2 day “free” shipping ALL OF THE TIME!! LOL!!


I’ve only ever detangled from root to tip. Never even knew it was taboo :0/


I am 4a/b. I use my fingers and comb to detangle. Just as she mentioned, I start with running my fingers down the length of my hair and separate the strands as I go. afterwards, I finger detangle from the root to the ends of my hair and when all knots and tangles are gotten rid of, I finish up with a comb. Works that way for me.


Is anyone having trouble with scab hair or dry brittle. Well to get rid of it you have to use a chelating shampoo. No lye relaxer are known to leave behind mineral deposits like calcium and magnesium. You can not use a regular shampoo use a hard water shampoo like ion shampoo to remove mineral deposits or kinky curly as good sulfrate free alternative. Minera deposits left behind by no-lye relaxers can cause try brittle damaged hair that can break off. It also does not have a distinctive curl pattern thats har to comb


After reading this article, I realize that is what I was doing anyway when I finger detangle. If seldom use a comb or brush. I basically run my fingers through my hair starting at the root. If I run into a knot, I stop and gently pull the strands apart, then resume with my finger detangling. This works for me as I lightly finger detangle when I prepoo also and then again after I wash and condition.


That’s pretty much what I do too. I have shoulder length, probably 4 a/b hair, and it detangles pretty quickly.


I agree with pulling apart the tangles rather than forcing a comb or even fingers through them. I used to comb/detangle from tip to root, but pretty much from root to tip now. First, I lightly comb out the last 2-3 inches of my hair–a tip from one of Geniece’s posts–, and then I finger detangle from the roots. It works very nicely for my hair. I lose fewer strands that way, too.


I had relaxed hair with about 3 inches regrowth as I was planning on going naturelll..stoopidly kept braids for 4 months and taking it out was risky as it had matted,managed to unmat it pretty quick but what I know in my opinion, is that you shouldn’t detangle when hair is wet because the strands soften and because I was detanglng my hair when wet,it snapped of right at the line of demarcation.
However even though I didn’t anticipate doing the big chop yet,I was happy I start the journey as I mean to go on.

Christina Patrice

See Shelli! This is why you’re one of my favorites! I abandoned tip to root detangling a long time ago. I honestly start somewhere in the middle, go down, and then go up to the root. My hair is no worse for the wear!


LOL!!! Thanks Christina :)!!


I realized recently that your method — start in the middle, go down, go up — is the real way I detangle when I’m using my fingers only. Ends-to-roots is what I do when I use a tool (comb or brush).



hair type:4abc


I use this method and so far it seems to work for me. I find that using a comb and paddle brush to finish off the ends help. It’s like the best of both methods to me.


I have tried both methods. not on purpose but one time i was detangling my hair and i saw that there was a plethora of tangle at the root so i zeroed in on where i saw the tangle first and did that many times throughout that detangling session.

in the natural world i think it’s understood, you gotta do what’s best for your hair! to each her own!


I think this method would work for naturals with looser curls, but not for a type 4 like me. It would be hell and powder house. What works is some warm water and glycerin with fingers first and then a large toothed comb


I would like to add that I am a 4b/c as well and have always gone from root to tip as I’ve found it easier and quicker. It’s definitely worth it for all hair types to give it at least a try and then decide for themselves which way they prefer.


As a 4a/4b natural, I have to politely disagree. I detangle from root to tip with great results. The technique I use is to slather on a creamy conditioner with lots of slip and smooth it in with my fingers in a downward motion. When I feel a tangle as I’m smoothing, I stop and finger detangle and then resume smoothing. Once all the tangles have been removed, I finger comb my hair. For me, this method has resulted in less shedding and healthier ends.

Thanks for sharing your experience as a 4a/4b with this method Tameka. I also remember that Cipriana of Urban Bush Babes detangles from roots to tips too and I think that she is a 4b/4c. She does keep her hair stretched in loose twists, so maybe that aids in the technique as well. But, just wanted to mention her as someone who detangles roots to tips. That being said, everyone definitely has to do what works best for them. I just shared this as an option as I started to realize it was working better for me than tips to… Read more »

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