For women with tight­ly coiled hair, a con­di­tion­er isn’t worth its weight if it doesn’t facil­i­tate the detan­gling process. The mea­sure of a product’s abil­i­ty to aid in detan­gling is called  “slip” and many women are will­ing to pay top dol­lar for prod­ucts that promise to turn their tan­gles into man­age­able coils. Now, what if I told you that there were ways that you could safe­ly and effec­tive­ly reduce tan­gles, while spend­ing only a few dol­lars? If you don’t mind spend­ing a few min­utes in the kitchen then these nat­ur­al hair detan­glers may be just right for you!

Slip­pery Elm and Marsh­mal­low Root

If you like Kinky Curly’s  Knot Today hair leave in, slip­pery elm and marsh­mal­low root are prob­a­bly a big rea­son why. These ingre­di­ents are list­ed among the first 3 on the ingre­di­ent list. This sparked my inter­est a few years ago when  I came across these herbs at a local health food store. I fig­ured if they were respon­si­ble for the effec­tive­ness of a prod­uct my hair liked, it was worth it to try them in their purest form.

One thing all of the ingre­di­ents I will dis­cuss have in com­mon is they are com­mon­ly used for pur­pos­es oth­er than hair care. Take slip­pery elm, for exam­ple. This herb can be tak­en in cap­sule form to treat any­thing from hem­or­rhoids and irri­ta­ble bow­el syn­drome to stom­ach ulcers and uri­nary inflam­ma­tions.


A word of warn­ing though: If you are preg­nant you should avoid slip­pery elm because it can threat­en preg­nan­cy.

So what does it do for hair? It pro­motes healthy strands and helps man­age tan­gles. It belongs to the cat­e­go­ry of herbs called mucilage plants (there’s a rea­son that word reminds you of mucous), it is slip­pery, almost slimy once it’s been extract­ed as a liq­uid. To try this herb, sim­ply add 2–3 table­spoons to one cup of boil­ing water.  Once you’ve boiled the mix­ture for about 15 min­utes on low/medium use a strain­er to sep­a­rate the liq­uid. You should be left with a sub­stance that feels slick to the touch.

Like slip­pery elm, marsh­mal­low root also has sev­er­al non-hair relat­ed uses, most of which ben­e­fit the gas­troin­testi­nal sys­tem (con­sti­pa­tion, inflam­ma­tion in the stom­ach, etc.). 


And it can be extract­ed in a sim­i­lar way for use on hair. Not only does it pro­vide amaz­ing slip  for detan­gling, it can also treat pso­ri­a­sis and dry scalp when applied to the root of your hair.  Because these herbs are so sim­i­lar, you might con­sid­er com­bin­ing them to make your own super leave in, one that may put some store bought prod­ucts to shame.

Flaxseed Gel


In recent years I think flaxseed gel has received far more atten­tion than either marsh­mal­low root or slip­pery elm. In large part because it not only pro­vides mois­tur­iz­ing and detan­gling prop­er­ties, it also has a sticky con­sis­ten­cy that makes it a great sub­sti­tute for tra­di­tion­al gel.  Although flaxseed is a seed and not a herb, you will want to cre­ate your gel by fol­low­ing the same process as you would for the oth­er herbs men­tioned. If you make enough gel to last for a week be sure to refrig­er­ate it and enjoy the styling ben­e­fits minus the dry­ness tra­di­tion­al gels can cause.

Have you tried any of these nat­ur­al detan­glers? If so, what did you like or not like about them?


Island girl raised in the most roy­al of NYC’s bor­oughs. Proud nerd, social sci­en­tist, edu­ca­tor and recov­er­ing awk­ward black girl. When not lis­ten­ing to NPR, try­ing to grow spir­i­tu­al­ly, or detan­gling my fro, I’m search­ing for the best shrimp and grits in the Queen City.

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3 Comments on "3 All-Natural Ingredients that Provide Incredible Slip for Detangling"

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I love flaxseed gel that I make.Im going to make the marsh­mal­low root con­di­tion­er next and maybe add a bit to the gel, diy’s are won­der­ful!


I use Marsh­mal­low Detan­gler and Leave-in made by Kj Nat­u­rals on (one of the ingre­di­ents is marsh­mal­low root). This leave-in con­di­tion­er has saved my hair. It mois­tur­izes, detan­gles, and it is the per­fect con­sis­ten­cy (it’s not thick and not watery) for my hair type & tex­ture. Zero com­plaints, worth the money…I’m just sad it took me so long to find it.


I like too. It works for my 4C hair.