There’s nothing that makes us more frustrated than hair that just won’t budge no matter what we do. Keeping hair tangle free can be a real chore.
And for women with textured hair, knots are an especially familiar hassle.
“All hair textures are prone to tangles but textured hair types are more at risk,” hair stylist Patrick Kyle told Coveteur.
Since textured hair is often dry and coarse, it can attract unpleasant snarls that are a pain to detangle.
But whatever you do, don’t give into your temptation to force your hair into submission. You could wind up with damaged hair and more problems than you started with!
Here are five of our best strategies for taming your mane without losing your cool:
1. Sleep on Silk
Hair that’s prone to tangle is usually more sensitive to moisture – and breakage. (We see you, girls rocking Afros!)
“The shape of curly hair, especially tightly curly hair, does not create a straight path for sebum and water to travel all the way down the hair shaft,” explains Kimika Hudson at Huffington Post. “This is why Afro-textured hair loses moisture quickly after washing.”
Instead of cursing all the textured hair on your head, avoid the problem by leveling up your bedtime rituals.
Sleeping on a silk pillowcase, for example, will keep much-needed moisture where it belongs – in your locks.
“When you lie on a silk or satin pillowcase, the oils from your strands are maintained rather than soaked up, leaving your hair nourished rather than dry,” stylist Jen Atkin told Cosmopolitan.
Cotton, on the other hand, absorbs all that moisture, leaving you dry and frizzy the next morning.
Women with natural hair can apply this same principle to their updos by “pineappling,” says beauty writer Tracey Wallace.
“When I first stumbled across the pineapple method,” writes Wallace at Refinery29, “the rants and raves about how well it worked seem too good to be true.”
Instead, Wallace fell in love with the method, which makes her curls easier than ever to manage the next day.
“Put your hair in a high ponytail before bed, so high that it looks like a pineapple when you pull it through the hair tie,” she explains. “Tie a scrunchie or a rubber band loosely around the base of the ponytail.”
You can also tie a protective silk scarf around your “pineapple” to help your curls retain even more moisture.
While silk is expensive, investing in an upscale scarf or pillowcase is worth it if you don’t have to fight tangles on the regular. Start saving your pennies now – you won’t be sorry.
2. Condition Like Crazy
Dry hair and too many knots to count? Your daily shower is one of the best secret weapons for locking moisture in all day long and helping to ease your pain.
“Coat the hair in conditioner and let it sit for a few minutes, then use your wide-tooth comb to run the conditioner through your hair from root to tip,” suggests beauty writer Rachel Krause at StyleCaster.
“This will help immensely to loosen knots, and it’ll also help distribute conditioner throughout the hair so that all your bases are covered, including the parts of the hair closest to the roots that we wouldn’t necessarily condition,” she adds.
At Bustle, Danelle Sandoval even recommends conditioning twice – especially if you have extremely dry or heat-damaged hair.
“The second time I condition, I really focus on the bottom half of my hair down to my ends,” Sandoval writes.
“Especially when straightening hair with heat products, your ends will most likely be damaged and need all the repairing you can give.”
You can amp up your detangling efforts by rotating leave-in conditioners and hair masks into your shower routine, too.
“Look out for products…that are packed with natural goodies, like palm oil or murumuru butter, steering clear of anything that has silicone in its formulation,” advises Erin Donnelly at Elle.
While silicone can make your hair shiny, it’ll weigh down your hair and contribute to product build-up – which defeats the whole purpose of all this extra nourishment!
3. Know Your Combs
If you have stubborn knots, you know using any old styling tool just won’t cut it. Opt for a specialized de-tangling comb, especially if you have textured hair.
“Look for a comb made of hard rubber, which is the best type to use, because they do not split and tear the hair,” suggested Pat Grant Williams, the education expert for Creme of Nature, to Huffington Post.
Of course, knots can happen to anyone. Here are the best combs and brushes to look for based on your hair type:
Long hair: A wide-tooth comb will “help distribute conditioner and untangle snarls. Start at the ends and work your way up,” stylist Paul Labrecque told InStyle.
Thick hair: Look for a wide, flat paddle brush that can make its way through all of your hair without breaking a sweat.
Curly hair: You’ll need a specialized comb with two – yes, two! – sets of wide teeth to avoid creating more frizz.
4. Bottoms Up
While it might be tempting to tear through a stubborn knot, take it easy and work from the bottom up, says celebrity stylist Rodney Cutler.
“The biggest mistake people make is starting the combing process from the roots—this moves the knot towards the end of your hair and it will only gather more hair and a bigger knot,” Cutler told Coveteur.
With a wide-tooth comb, start as close to the roots as possible. Every time you encounter a knot, stop to spend a few minutes detangling.
Don’t give up, even if it’s frustrating – there’s almost always a way to get that knot out.
“If you have a knot in your hair, it can always be worked out with product,” Kim Etheredge, co-founder of Mixed Chicks, told Refinery29.
“It’s like the old tale of when you have gum in your hair. You can always work things out,” she added.
5. Switch Up Your Strategy
Need to work through some advanced detangling? Consider your strategy carefully, since not all approaches are created equal.
Most of the time, according to Williams, wet hair will give you a detangling advantage.
“Hair structure is made up of 97 percent keratin protein,” Williams explained at Huffington Post.
“The weakest [protein] bond in the hair can be temporarily broken with water,” making it easier to work through knots and tangles, she added.
For ladies with natural hair, this strategy may not necessarily work. Instead, suggests Lisa Price, co-founder of Carol’s Daughter, try working on dry hair with your fingers first.
“Some people put coconut oil on their fingers and start to work the hair apart before they even bring a comb into it,” Price told Refinery29. “You can also use conditioner on dry hair if you know you already have a tangled mess.”
Celebrity stylist Tasheara Neshell agrees that detangling hair while it’s dry is usually better for ladies with textured hair.
“Soaking knotted hair with water may cause severe friction to the cuticle layers of the strand which can lead to spilt ends and breakage,” Neshell explained to Coveteur.
Statistically, breakage does occur more often when hair is wet – but that doesn’t mean you can’t detangle in the shower, too, says Price.
“Recognizing that it’s more fragile when wet just means to do it with conditioner and do it with care,” she advised.
Most important of all, take your time. If you force a stubborn knot or an ugly snarl in your hair, you could cause irreparable breakage.
It’s better to treat your hair with the TLC it deserves.
When it comes to getting the best of knots, strategy is key. And your number one strategy should be to avoid knots altogether by keeping your hair happy, healthy, and well-moisturized.
But, hey, we’re only human. Tangles happen. And when they do, you should be armed with a kick-butt conditioner, a wide-tooth comb, and tons of patience.
Do you struggle with detangling? Tell us what helps you unlock smooth sailing in the comments below: