How To Properly Detangle Hair: The Ultimate Guide

Whether your strands are stick straight or super coily, all hair types share one common woe- tangled hair. You can't run your fingers through it, it gets matted and stuck on everything and just looks sloppy. And the longer you go without properly detangling your hair, the more knotty it gets, which eventually leads to hair damage. Additionally, damaged hair is likely to cause more tangles because of the ragged edges along the cuticle, the protective outer layer of your hair. This contributes to more breakage along the hair shaft, allowing more broken strands to latch onto one another, forming more hair tangles. So regular detangling is part of a healthy hair care routine, regardless of your hair type (but especially if you have curly hair). But detangling hair knots without causing damage can be a struggle. If you don’t detangle properly, you can do damage to your hair, cause major breakage, and make strands brittle. If healthy hair growth is your goal, pay attention. Because we’re telling you how to detangle hair ahead!.

What Leads to Tangling in Your Hair?

When it comes to tangled hair, a major culprit is friction, which occurs when your hair rubs against rough surfaces, like cotton pillowcases or certain fabrics. So you should consider switching to a silk or satin pillowcase, which reduces friction and helps to keep your hair smooth. Another factor that contributes to tangling is the lack of moisture. Environmental elements like wind and humidity can also play a role in tangling, so protective hairstyles or covering your hair in extreme weather conditions can help minimize exposure to these external factors. Dry and brittle hair is more prone to tangling, so it's crucial to keep your locks well-hydrated.

Some hair types benefit from more or less frequent detangling. Detangling your hair weekly is usually enough for curly hairtypes, while those with straighter hair may benefit from doing it more. Figure this out by paying attention to how often you feel your hair getting knotty. Below is a breakdown of how to detangle matted hair without cutting.

How To Detangle Your Hair Step-by-Step

Now that you understand why regular detangling is an absolute must in your hair care routine, let’s look at how to do just that. Here’s a step by step breakdown of how to detangle curly hair.

Step 1: Start on wet hair

Detangling should happen on wash day with wet hair using a conditioner to add slip. The wetter your hair, the better your hair care products can absorb into the hair shaft, making it easier to glide through any knots. If your hair is dry, spritz it with water from a spray bottle.

Step 2: Section your hair

Start by finger detangling. Once you're able to run your fingers through your hair without catching any knots, divide it into small sections. Secure each section with clips or hair ties, so there are no more tangles made.

Step 3: Pick the right tool

Whether you use a comb or brush depends on preference. Detangling brushes have flexible bristles that gently glide through tangles without causing excessive breakage or damage. Wide-toothed combs have widely spaced teeth to help reduce breakage, making them ideal for detangling.

Step 4: Start from the ends

Begin detangling from the ends of your hair, working up. Be careful with knots, avoiding unnecessary breakage. Once a section is detangled, loosely clip it out of the way and detangle the next section.

Step 5: Be gentle!

Use smooth, downward strokes to detangle, focusing on one small section at a time. Have patience, especially with thicker, curlier hair. If you hear hair snapping when detangling, this is a sign you’re going too fast or being too rough.

5 Ways To Make Detangling Easier

These tips will help you make detangling easier, for less snags and healthy hair.


Conditioning your hair not only adds moisture and nourishment but also plays a crucial role in making the detangling process smoother. Choose a conditioner that is made for your hair type and apply a generous amount after washing your hair to minimize hair tangles.

Detangling Spray

Detangling sprays are designed to make brushing your hair and dealing with tangles easier. Packed with nourishing ingredients, they smooth out knots while promoting hair health. The lightweight and non-greasy nature of these formulas makes them a must-have for all hair types, from fine and straight to thick and curly. 

Hair Masks

Hair masks are deep conditioning treatments designed to penetrate the hair shaft and deeply hydrate strands. They minimize tangles, and leave your hair smoother and more manageable. Spread the mask out evenly from the roots to the ends of your hair and let the rich formula do its job. 

Wide-tooth Comb

We prefer a wide-tooth comb for detangling. Because of the widely spaced teeth, it’s the gentlest tool on your strands and helps preserve the health of your hair. You can even use a wide-tooth comb to evenly distribute detangling hair products, or hair masks, ensuring every strand receives nourishment.


Hair oils like coconut oil, nourish hair, reduce friction, and ease the detangling process. Before you start detangling, put a little warm coconut oil on your hair to help soften the knots and make them easier to get out. Another oil to use for detangling is argan oil. Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, argan oil helps to nourish and strengthen hair, making it more resilient to breakage. 

Silk Pillowcase

 Sleeping on a silk pillowcase is a must to keep tangles at bay. Silk is gentler on the hair than other fabrics like cotton or linen. The smooth texture allows the fabric to glide against your hair cuticles, producing less friction than coarser fabrics that are more likely to snag hair.

The Advantages Of Gentle Hair Detangling

Whether you choose ​​air dried hair or a sleek blow-out, the key is starting with detangled hair. Regular detangling not only keeps your hair healthy, it also makes your hair styles easier to achieve and maintain. But when it comes to how to detangle matted hair without cutting, gentle detangling is the only way to do it. The gentler ways to detangle your hair, like finger combing or using wide-toothed wooden combs, are better for your hair than using harsh plastic brushes or combs. Choosing eco-friendly materials like bamboo or wooden combs instead of plastic ones to lower your impact on the earth, as well as being gentler on your strands. Making sure that your hair is tangle-free before you apply your styling products not only lessens the chance for breakage working through knots, but ensures the product can get to all the tangled parts of your hair. It’s best to comb through your hair before and after using products to make sure that all of it is absorbed into your strands equally. This gentle detangling approach keeps your hair strong and resilient, promoting length retention and a fuller, healthier head of hair. 

How Often Should You Detangle Natural Hair?

Wondering how to detangle natural hair? Maintaining healthy and well-defined natural curls involves a combination of proper care and a consistent detangling routine. While there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer, a general guideline is to detangle your natural hair at least once a

week. Those with tightly coiled or 4c hair, may require more frequent detangling, such as every 3-4 days. Regular detangling helps prevent the formation of knots and tangles, reducing the risk of breakage and split ends. Adding a leave-in conditioner or detangling spray can help the hair slip more, which can make the detangling process go more smoothly and cause less damage. Once you get all the hair tangles and the knots out, your curls will likely feel brittle and lacking moisture. After detangling, apply a hair oil like coconut oil, argan oil or coconut oil from roots to ends and let it sit for about 20 minutes before rinsing out. Aim to detangle every wash day, even if it's every few days.

Final Thoughts

There's no denying that tangled hair is less than ideal. It looks sloppy, gets caught on everything and can lead to damaged, broken strands. Regardless of your hair type, regular detangling should be a part of your healthy hair care routine, especially if you have curly hair. But improperly detangling hair knots can do even more damage to your hair so be patient, use the right tools and follow our tips above. We promise this will make it pretty easy to detangle damage-free. And remember to use only the highest quality detangling hair products, like the ones from Davines. Not sure where to start? Take this hair quizto see which products work best for your hair. Still have questions about how to detangle hair? Talk to a hair stylist in your areafor personalized advice.

by Morgan Hanson, featured contributor

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