Dealing with tangles can be one of the greatest styling challenges for naturalistas, particularly those who are relatively new to wearing their hair in its naturally coily state. Believe it or not, detangling the hair need not be a problem. Here are some insights and tips.
- Our hair tangles easily because of its unique configuration. The small-diameter spirals easily intertwine with one another, and the "un-doing" of this interaction can take some doing. This situation is commonly called tangling. Furthermore, sometimes the irresistible urge for our strands to wrap and coil results in a knot or two.
- Tangles must be carefully dismantled to avoid breakage.s
- First, realize that going long periods of time without shampooing increases the likelihood of tangles. This is whether you are wearing your hair out, (in a wash & wear style, twist-out, afro, etc.) or a protective style, (i.e. twists, braids, coils, etc.) The up-to-100 strands of hair that normally shed from our scalp, gets caught up in our mane. Also, hair tends to dry out between shampoos. These two phenomena in combination with the coily configuration can make for tenacious tangles.
- Shampoo at least once a week. Go no longer than two. If you are concerned that cleansing will dehydrate your hair and deplete the moisture that you've worked so hard to infuse into it, cleanse with a rich low-poo cream shampoo like As I Am® Cleansing Pudding+ or a moisturizing no poo like As I Am® Coconut CoWash.
- Make sure that you've removed all of the twists and braids from your hair before cleansing.
- Thoroughly wet your hair before applying the cleanser, keeping your hair aligned in the same direction.
- Apply the cleansing product generously, and gently massage throughout your hair. With product still on your hair, (whether it's lather from a poo or cream from a no-poo), you can begin to detangle. Add more water if your hair is not saturated and your fingers don't easily slip down your strands. Begin detangling on one side, gently working a wide-toothed comb or a flexible-bristle detangling brush through your hair. Start at the ends and proceed up to the scalp. Continue detangling on the opposite side, then to the top, crown and back portions of your hair. (That's how I do it, however you may order your sections any way you like.)
Note: It may seem that there's a lot of hair coming out in your comb or detangling brush. Just remember that you are removing the hair that normally sheds each day times the number of days since you last detangled. The more frequently you shampoo, the less noticeable the hair in your comb or brush will be, and the easier your hair will be to detangle.
- Do not tug, pull, or tear at your hair. If there's a large knot, add more poo or even some conditioner, and gently pick it apart with your fingers, the end of a rattail comb or hair pin. If it is a small knot, wet your fingers and run them down the strand over and over again. Oftentimes this will help release the knot.
- After detangling is done, comb all of your hair in the same direction, back and away from your hairline. Now it's time to concentrate on cleansing. Gently massage the lather or cowash conditioner (that's already in your hair) throughout your hair and gently massage your scalp to dislodge oil, dirt and loose skin cells. Add water if necessary. Don't ruffle or scrub. Rinse your hair thoroughly, again maintaining a one-directional alignment of your hair, and being careful not to re-tangle it. Repeat with a second cleansing only if you deem it necessary.
- It's time to condition. Generously apply conditioner to hair and distribute throughout. Gently part your hair in large sections with your hands as you apply so that the conditioner is evenly spread. Comb or brush through again with your wide-toothed comb or detangling brush to remain free of tangles.
- Rinse as required. (Don't rinse if you are using a leave-in conditioner.)
- Always use a good leave-in conditioner as the final step in your cleansing routine and as the first step in styling.
If you wish, you can wait until the conditioning step to do your detangling work. The same principles apply: spread a generous amount of conditioner throughout very wet hair. Comb or brush through gently, section-by-section, from root to tip, and then rinse.