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Reader Q&A: Blogger CurlyNikki on Detangling Natural Hair

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Natural Hair Brush

Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you're in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums!

Check out this week's installment in CurlyNikki's reader Q&A series:

READER QUESTION

I'm confused. I've read that Black hair is weakest when it's wet and therefore should only be detangled while it’s dry. Other articles mention the fragile nature of dry hair and suggest wet detangling. Which is the right method? -- Jenn

CURLYNIKKI’S RESPONSE:

Unfortunately, there’s no right or wrong answer. It's a bit cliche, but no two heads are alike! I've had success with both methods. From what I can tell, within the CurlyNikki community, there seems to be three common detangling methods: sink/mirror, shower and damp detangling.

Sink/Mirror Detangling

  • Apply an oil (olive, coconut, grease, etc.) to soften, lubricate and add slip. Some dampen the hair with water first, I don't.
  • Separate hair into 4-8 sections for easier handling
  • Choose a section and detangle gently with fingers, bottom up, removing knots, tangles and shed hairs
  • OPTIONAL -- Comb through with a wide-toothed comb or paddle brush to be sure all shed hairs have been removed
  • Twist this section and move on to the next. Repeat all over.
  • Once in the shower, you can (1) shampoo and condition in the twists/sections, (2) take them all down and be careful not to re-tangle during the wash and condition process (my fave), or (3) take down one section at time, shampoo, condition, re-twist.

Shower Detangling

  • Saturate hair with water in the shower and divide into two sections
  • Cleanse hair with shampoo, one side at a time
  • Apply slippery conditioner to both sides in a smooshing motion
  • Pass head back under the shower stream for a moment, for distribution and added slip
  • Clip the hair up and out of the way while you complete shower rituals
  • Take down the right side and finger detangle (bottom up) -- detangling the rest under the water stream with your fingers or a shower comb (or Ouidad Double Detangler). Follow up with the left side. If the conditioner is washed away and tangles are left, add more conditioner, and repeat. The power of the water stream and the slip of the conditioner should make detangling a breeze!

Damp Detangling
  • Spritz dry hair with water and apply a conditioner or moisturizing butter to soften and add slip
  • Separate the hair into 4-8 sections for easier handling
  • Choose a section and detangle gently with fingers, moving from ends to roots, removing the knots and tangles
  • OPTIONAL -- Comb through with a wide-toothed shower comb or a paddle brush
  • Twist this section and move on to the next
  • Once in the shower, you can (1) shampoo and condition in the twists/sections, (2) take them all down and be careful not to re-tangle while washing and conditioning, or (3) take down one section at time, shampoo, condition and re-twist.
    My Advice?

    Try each detangling method (modify to your needs and schedule) and see which works best. How will you know which one is for you? Trust me, it'll be obvious-- excessive amounts of hair in the comb, hair blocking the shower drain, or tiny broken pieces on the sink, are all red flags. In the words of Wanda Sykes, natural hair care ‘can be a damn science lab,’ and you won't know what works until you experiment a bit. I usually try routines for a month, assess, and proceed from there. Hopefully the list above will give you a starting point for your detangling routine!

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