How I Keep My Ends from Tangling, Knotting and Breaking Pt. 2 Elle’s Advice

Our second feature is from Elle. Be sure to check out our first feature from Chinwe.

When I had a TWA, I didn’t really think too much about my ends knotting, tangling or breaking. Detangling was a breeze and since my hair wasn’t rubbing on anything, I didn’t think friction was an issue. However, when my hair started to hang, I found my detangling sessions becoming more difficult and my wash and gos seemed to tangle more easily (I’ve mainly worn wash and gos throughout my hair journey). I attribute this to the fact that I didn’t apply my product in sections (I was all about the quick and dirty wash and go) and a lack of hold from a lot of my products – at the time, I really liked conditioner-only wash and gos.
Something had to change, because there was no way I was going to spend hours detangling my hair and I feared that my length retention would be affected. I thought of reasons my hair could be acting differently, and well, at the end of the day, there was a lot more of it, giving it the opportunity to knot and tangle around itself without proper care. Even though I have fairly coarse hair tangling was still an issue, especially due to the density of my hair. If I applied product in two sections only, it wasn’t reaching a large bulk of my mane. So, I started washing and styling my wash and go in sections to help ensure that my product was distributed evenly, regardless if it was my leave-in conditioner or gel. For more information on minimizing tangles when you wash and go, check out this vintage QFTPC video:

Additionally, I started using oils, or even better, heavy moisturizers on my ends to finish off a styling session (wet hair with oil applied above). Since my hair is low porosity, I’ve never been incredibly worried about sealing in moisture (which is a principle up for debate anyway), but hair rubbing against all sorts of things, especially your clothes, will cause tangles, breaking, and single strand knots. So the oil or moisturizer (which is water-based but usually also oil heavy) provides a protective layer from friction. Using a moisturizer instead of an oil will also keep your hair soft and pliable, which makes it less likely to knot around itself. If you want to take it a step further, you can mix an essential oil that is said to strengthen ends, like rosemary oil, with your product to amplify the benefits.


But even today, I sometimes mess up, mainly with sleeping. I usually wear a Sue Maesta (a braid cylinder will also work) hood to bed, which keeps my hair from rubbing against my pillowcase every which way while I’m sleeping. If I fall asleep, especially with a light hold wash and go wild and free…in the morning, I just want to cry when I feel my ends! Even putting it in a bun or pineapple (pictured above) is better than wearing it out. When I use a heavier gel with more hold, it’s not as bad, but I’d still prefer to prevent it altogether.

Even with these tips, it’s still necessary to trim your hair periodically to prevent knotting. I don’t even mean every four months like clockwork, but if you start getting more knots or tangles, or have trouble keeping your ends moisturized, it may be time to let those couple of inches go. Healthier hair will always tangle less than dry, damaged hair.

What are some of your tips for preventing knots and tangles on your ends?



Elle is the editor and creative director of the YouTube channel and blog, Quest for the Perfect Curl at Her channel focuses on natural hair, beauty, and fitness. She loves products that smell like dessert, yoga, and glitter. Follow her @qftpc.

5 thoughts on “How I Keep My Ends from Tangling, Knotting and Breaking Pt. 2 Elle’s Advice

  1. I had a tangled mess this weekend. I took out some mini twist and I detangled every step of the way. It was so frustrating.

  2. My biggest tip: find out what really causes your knots and tangles in the first place. The culprit(s) might surprise you.

    Here are my worst offenders:

    1. Products that lift my hair cuticle wide open.

    My hair is medium to low porosity, with 2 small high-porosity patches. It’s also medium to fine textured. I hadn’t experienced lots of single-strand knots (not since I transitioned 10 years ago) until earlier this year, when I tried SheaMoisture’s Manuka Honey conditioner. It left my hair sooo soft—but SOOO tangled once it had dried. The next time I used it, I focused on locking cuticles back down: cold water rinse, then my typical leave-in conditioner (SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus conditioner), and finally my finishing/sealing product (As I Am Moisture Milk). And I added extra conditioner and sealant to my ends, to make sure they stayed sealed. That ended all those tangles and knots I experienced the first time around. Lesson learned: always close those cuticles after using that particular conditioner.

    2. Overzealous detangling.

    Whenever I get crazy about pulling all my multi-strand coils apart, I create scary knots. So I avoid doing that. Instead of detangling everything, my goal is “remove shed hair.” That mindset makes me approach my hair more gently: I’m just trying to remove any loose hairs and clear any big knots that were already in my hair. (I don’t usually suffer from lots of knots.) I still end up detangling in the process, but it’s a gentle and light detangling.

    3. Skipping wet-downs.

    Now that I work out daily, I have to wash my scalp more often. When my scalp starts to itch or my hair gets really dry, I know it’s time for a water wash. I massage my scalp for 3-5 minutes to loosen sebum. Then I hop in the shower and soak my hair. I do some very light shed hair removal while I wet my hair down. Then I apply conditioner, do a bit more shed hair removal, and rinse the conditioner out. I add a bit more conditioner as a leave-in. Afterward, all that’s left is my sealant/moisturizer/finishing product, and my hair’s done. The whole process takes 20 – 25 minutes. Doing this once a week or every other week keeps my coils moisturized, lubricated, and mostly tangle-free. I also do a once-a-month shampoo wash and deep condition, but I can’t use shampoo on my hair every week anymore.

  3. This is so true when i would do my twist outs i use to wonder why the back of my hair would get into these huge knots that i would have to cut. Using butters with whipped shea butter or aloe vera gave my hair moisture and life. What kind of products do people use to prevent detangles?

    • I use sheabutter as well. I would also wear 2 small twist or medium size braids at the nape areas if I plan on wearing my hair down daily. This prevents those knots and tangles in the back and since my hair is thick it covers the twist but I don’t mind if it’s noticeable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *