How to detangle curly hair

The most dreaded part of having curly hair is the process of detangling and taking those stubborn knots out. This is the process which can cause a lot of breakage and split ends if not done in proper manner. Unlike straight hair, curly and wavy hair is more prone to tangles because of its structure. So here we will see how we can detangle curly hair with minimum breakage.

Wet detangling
After you rinse off the shampoo, apply a conditioner. Conditioner provides the necessary slip which helps in taking the knots out. Keep the conditioner for 3-4 mins and follow the rest of your shower routine. The reason being, conditioners contain cationic (positive charge) conditioning agents which makes a bond with our hair which is negative charged. So let the conditioner sit for a few minutes so that it can provide enhanced slip. After some time, start detangling your hair.  Best way to detangle is to use your fingers. When you use your fingers then you are more aware about knots and you can pull them apart with gentle pressure. Later on, once you are free of knots then you can use a wide tooth comb. Always remember to be extra gentle when you detangle your wet hair as hair is more prone to breakage when it is wet.

Dry Detangling
Detangle hair before shampoo after applying some oil. Oil helps to lubricate the hair and helps in detangling. Section your hair. Take one section, apply oil and detangle it. Use your fingers first then use a wide tooth comb. Once your are done with one section then make a braid or twist to keep it separate from rest of your hair. Work on rest of your sections. For better moisture you can steam your hair before shampooing it.

Mix both the methods
You can mix both these method to take the knots out. For example, the hair at the nape has maximum knots than rest of your hair. So you can use your fingers to separate your hair gently as much as possible before the shampoo. And then continue the rest of detangling process after applying conditioner.

Depending on your hair type and experience follow the method that suits your hair and hence cause minimum breakage. Also, from my experience if you have styled your hair using gel or any other styling product then it is better to go for wet detangling. Again, it varies depending on your hair type, so try out different methods to find out the one which suits you.

Starts at the ends and work your way up
Whatever method you choose to detangle always start at the ends. Hold your hair at the mid length so that your hair is not tugged or pulled from the root. You should not feel the pain while detangling. If you do, that means your are pulling your hair at the root. Part your hair in sections and work on them section by section. By holding the section at the mid length start detangling your hair at the ends and slowly move up while keep holding the section to avoid pulling.


Dry detangling using extra virgin coconut oil



Section your hair and apply oil on one section. Starting at the ends, detangle using fingers



Work your way up to the roots



Once done with finger detangling, if needed, use a wide tooth comb



Twist or braid the detangled section and repeat the same with rest of your hair

Things to consider
You can follow a few best practices to avoid knots. Tie your hair on top while sleeping so that hair won’t rub against the pillow. Use a satin or silk pillow for less friction. Second thing to consider is, do not rub your hair when you shampoo or apply conditioner. Wash your hair with scrunching or smoothing motion to avoid tangles. Check this post on how to shampoo curly hair. One last thing is, get your hair trimmed every 2-3 months to get rid off dry or split ends.

Have patience and be gentle
Detangling is the only process that should take maximum of your time out of the washing routine. DO NOT HURRY. If you do not have enough time to wash your hair on any particular day then delay it but do not rush. Do not comb very hard as it will stress your hair and result in split ends and breakage. If you find any knot that is impossible to take out then do not pull it break instead cut it off. Be extra extra gentle with your hair and it will help you to avoid breakage and split ends.

And also remember that a healthy human being can loose 50-100 strands a day. As we do not comb our hair between two washes so you see more shed hair in the shower. Because all the loose hair from everyday get stuck in your hair and you see them all at the same time in the wash day or when you the dry detangling before the shampoo.

I hope this will help you in detangling your hair. Let me know which method you follow or any other suggestion that can help us in detangling our hair.

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16 thoughts on “How to detangle curly hair

  • Nilu Yuleena Thapa

    I love how you've documented this post! I used to have super long wavy hair once upon a time and I used to apply coconut hair like no one's business! I actually still do since I feel coconut hair is the best for the hair! I however use the Parachute oil but I guess I need to search for an extra virgin one like the one you've shown us!
    Nilu Yuleena
    BIG hair LOUD mouth

  • mrina

    according to your advice i start detangle my hair after conditioning just after the shampoo. but at that time lots of hair fall. can i detangle after bath after little drying??

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      Hi Mrian, are you detangling your hair while the conditioner is on or doing it after the rinsing? I would suggest you to detangle hair while the conditioner is on. Smooth as silk and root 66 max volume are very good with detangling. You can also mix them both. Also, gently detangle hair using your fingers from end to root so that you have minimum breakage. Also, one more reason you see more hair on wash day is, we do not comb our hair in between washes. And everyday we lose some amount of hair, so when we do not comb then all the fallen hair gets stuck inside and we see them all together on the wash day.
      If you will comb your hair once it is a little dry then you will lose all the curl defintion and all the curls will get separated. So the final clumped looks will not be achieved.

  • Akanjali89

    Hey asha.
    Till now I only used the conditioner detangling method but today I saw on your blog about oil detangling my question is does it make your hair oily after wash or oil accumulate over the time because we tends to wash only our scalp ? Which one is best for detangling ( in sense of giving less breakage) and to reduce my time on wash days ..

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      I follow the wet detangling method meaning I detanlge in the shower with conditioner on. But some people in the group follow the dry detangling too before the shower. But from my hair exp, I feel if your have tighter curls then wet detangling works better and leads to less breakage. From my hair, oil is removed even with co-washing but again it varies from person to person. I mostly use coconut oil before every shampoo.

  • sneha suresh

    Asha i have a question…
    so you say that its is ok to loose say 100 strands a day right?
    what if u r loosing that much but even on the shower day u loose a lot more?
    like i loose while oiling, shampooing, conditioning and while applying styling products… i can assure it its wayyy more than 150-200

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      Sneha, some of them coule be breakage also. So be very very gentle while detangling. Do not use comb and always finger detangle. But if you still feel that hair fall is too much then I would recommend you to see a doctor. get your thyroid test done etc. Also keep your scalp clean, shampoo scalp and gently massage it and let the shampoo run down through hair during rinsing.

      • Soumya shanmugam

        Ya the same problem with me… i loose too much of hair… nd have taking thyroid treatment frm 6 to 7 yrs…
        Any suggestions for hairfall…

        • Asha Barrak Post author

          Soumya we can;t do much about hair fall. Hair fall happens even when we take thyroid medicine. You can talk to your doc if he/she can prescribe you some supplement. Other than this have a healthy diet, exercise and massage scalp regularly.

  • Raksha n

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I have got my hair permed because I love curly hair. Now I know how to get the curls right. Your homemade FLAC seed also helped me alot. People love my curls now. Thank u once again:)

  • Rashmi More

    I have recently started following you and all the valuable tips for curly hair.
    I a doubts , How often one should comb their hair in a day/in week. As I too have curly hair, the curls get loosen up after combing and it doesnt look good. But if not combed they end up getting tangled

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      Rashmi, we only detangle in shower using a conditioner. There are a few things you can try. Trim hair if you have not done it for a long time. Damaged ends tangles more so it is good to get the regular trimming done. Second use a leave-in in good amount after wash. It will prevent tangles.

  • Laxmi

    I have seen your video on how to wash curls, i have a query, i usually apply oil twice in a week. My hair is completly curly. In your method, you apply shampoo on the scalp and massage on on the hair. If I follow that method, How will the oil from my hair and its end go? I have shoulder length curly hair. Also, I am loosing loads of hair nowa days. I have seen many sulphate and silicon free shampoo and conditioner suggestion in this blog. Can you please suggest me best budget freindly hair product right from shapoo till styling get. Your help will be much appreciated. Thank you in advance

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      Laxmi that you will know with trial n error. In my hair oils goes away by following this method. So you see how it works for you. Also oil hair lightly. There are many budget friendly options like Wow, dalan, oriflame, giovanni etc. So you can explore them. You can use your rinse off conditioner as a leave-in too and use homemade flax seed gel to style.