Why Finger Detangle Natural Hair?

When I was first told that finger detangling can be the healthiest and most organic way to get through the knots in my coil-prone and thick head of hair I was skeptical. I could not let go of the love/hate relationship with my ruthless hairbrush that got me through so many hard times–I mean my right arm is unnaturally stronger than my left kind of hard times. After some light research and from personal experience here are some of my thoughts on finger detangling.

On the Topic of Time:

Every new hair or skin regimen is going to have some positives and negatives. There is always the grief and discomfort that comes with trying something new and unfamiliar but then, if we are lucky, there are often success stories that come from these unfamiliar experiences.

When I first started using my fingers to break apart the knots and locks from my hair the frustrating part was the amount of time and meticulous effort needed to execute the task successfully. As much as you’d like to believe you might be able to catch up on some of your shows during this time, it just isn’t so in the starting stages of finger detangling.

After finger detangling for about a year now my hands have become accustomed to feeling out the knots and pulling them apart. Although you might be able to detangle your hair without a mirror fairly quickly, detangling safely still requires a lot of concentration on your hair and hands to be done properly. The reason I caution you with this is because even though the hand is a much gentler tool than the comb or brush to our curls, breakage is still possible. Reason being we get impatient and inconsistent with knots, and sometimes it’s just easier to tear them right out instead of coaxing them to come apart. Multitasking can sometimes distract from the ability to nurture these kinks.

My biggest tip to overcoming the time is playing some good music. Preferably, some oldies you just can’t get tired of so your mind isn’t too focused on the new beat/lyrics but just something to jam to while your hair occupies you. Also, although it might be tedious to sit, or stand in front of a mirror, it helps. When you can see yourself detangling it not only makes the job faster and more efficient but the aesthetic of the act feels the same as watching a screen might. Watching the task get done is a lot more gratifying and does not feel as time consuming. But, of course, the best part will always be the end. Even after a year of practicing finger detangling running my fingers through it from roots to ends, and yet still feeling that the coils and curls intact, is incredibly satisfying.

More Curly Less Puffy:

Finger detangling gives more depth and thickness to the hair and you get a lot more curl definition. Because my curl pattern is a mix of 3B, and 3C hair there is a large difference in texture and size when I use my fingers to pull apart knots than when I use a brush. The reason being that the hair can retain more moisture when the curls that do not have knots are saved from being thrown under the bristles of the brush and separated.

Brushing your hair allows oxygen to get in between your hair follicles and causes frizz. Also finger detangling needs a more careful application of oils or lotion (depending on what you prefer) in order to gently pull apart the tangles. This added and careful application of moisturizing agents is both healthier for the scalp and ends. Brushes and combs are not too forgiving in terms of bend or softness. What this does is scratch at your very vulnerable scalp, which can lead to dandruff and split ends. This adds more to the puff aspect of your hair than the curl.

With regards to dandruff; both the curlier and thicker your hair is the lack of natural oils that your head of hair has available. Not only do we need the extra application of moisturizer but also we owe it to our scalp not to be scratching and tearing at it with the teeth of a comb or brush. Since practicing finger detangling I’ve completely eradicated the issue of dandruff, even after testing with a comb to make sure I don’t miss any knots, no more flakes show up in my hair or on my comb.

In conclusion, for most mixed hair types, curl definition makes a huge difference in the way you’d like to style or wear your hair. Apply oil to your hair while finger detangling to make the process less painful.

More Manageable:

I’ve noticed that after spending so much focused time with my hands in my hair, the rest of the week my hair is a lot more manageable. My hair is a lot more lenient to be styled. It could be that my hair is used to the feeling of being pushed and prodded by my hands or that my hands have become more attuned to the nature of my hair and the ways that it will and will not yield to styles. Either way, the styling process is so much easier without the use of the middleman brush that disconnects you and your hair, from understanding what can and can’t happen.

It could also be the added precision to the process of moisturizing and well oiling my hair and scalp that has made the hair a lot stronger. All in all there isn’t a single step in the process of finger detangling that would not be beneficial to the management and strength of curlier hair. If you’re unfamiliar with the steps of finger detangling you can find a step-by-step run down in the article “Detangle Natural Hair” by Reakash!

One of the most beneficial outcomes of finger detangling has been connecting with my hair a lot more intimately than is possible with the use of a brush. Running my fingers through my hair in the morning allows me to pin point the exact spots that are a little dry and maybe others that aren’t. Sectioning my hair off before a wash and using oil to carefully sift through the lot of it has made me more aware of the type of hair I have and where. If time or strength is an issue and finger detangling on the regular or, god forbid, ridding yourself of combs and brushes does not sound appealing, I would like to ask you to at least attempt it and once you have, attempt it again. I say that because your second time will be more successful than your first – of that I’m certain.

The reason I am so keen on every black woman attempting finger detangling is because I can say with confidence that the fine toothed comb and brush are not tools that were designed for our hair types. Also so that every woman can experience the feeling of getting know your hair without the use of man-made tools that can often distract us from our roots. Pun intended.

The fine toothed comb and brush are not tools that were designed for our natural hair types #bhs Click To Tweet

I would love to hear about some success and/or failure “First Time” tales on the experience of finger detangling. Whether it was done to you or you attempted it for the first time on your own, share below!


The Knot-Proof Way to Detangle Natural Hair and Retain Length

I’m a bit of a hippy. One of the reasons I love natural hair so much is because to me, natural hair feels closer to just being human. I like to embrace my humanness in ways that sometimes make people uncomfortable. My edges are never “laid.” I usually don’t shave my legs or wear make-up because—why deny my beautiful humanness?

For the same reason, I never used to detangle my hair. What’s wrong with a few knots here and there? Well, if you want to retain length there is a whole lot wrong with it. Our hair regularly sheds. If we leave the dead hair in with the living the dead hair tangles around itself and adjacent hairs and causes matting, knots, and breakage.

Proper detangling requires patience. If you get in there with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb and start hacking away you will damage your cuticles and create split ends.

Lets get started!

  1. When I detangle I start by braiding or twisting my hair into manageable sections. This time I was feeling especially patient and separated my hair into nine sections. Depending on how thick/long your hair is you can separate into more or less sections.

    I usually only detangle my hair in the shower during my weekly hair wash. I try not to manipulate my hair when it is dry because I find I lose more hair that way. For this how-to I will skip over the washing process and focus on my detangling method.
  2. Undo your first section. Get it wet with either a spray bottle or in the shower. Put conditioner in your hair from base to tip. I use the Saje organic conditioner—find a store near you here. Cover your strands in conditioner. This nourishes your hair and gives it slip to encourage the loosening of knots.
  3. Use your fingers like a comb to detangle hair from root to tip. Yep, that’s right—All I use to detangle are my fingers. I used to swear by the wide-toothed comb, but my stylist made me promise to never put a comb to my head again.Even wide-tooth combs cause excess breakage for my hair and stunt growth because the wide-tooth comb can’t feel my knots. Only I can. Detangling tools are not connected to a brain and therefore do not know when to let up and try separating in a different way. We have not yet invented a tool that can adjust the amount of pull depending on the strand of hair. But my fingers can, and they work, so I use them.
    Start separating your hair and GENTLY remove all the knots. Be sure to wash off shed hair from your fingers as you go. This is to ensure you are not putting the shed hair back into your living hair to create tangles and breakage.Continue combing fingers through your hair until there are no knots and your fingers come out clean (without shed hairs) when you run your fingers through your hair.
  4. To add more slip, I will often spread some of my oil mixture on my hair to make detangling that much easier. In my oil mixture I put
    • Almond Oil (Reduces inflammation of hair follicles)
    • Olive Oil (For moisture)
    • Avocado Oil (Improves blood flow in scalp to promote growth)
    • Vitamin E (Antioxidant)
    • Jojoba Oil (Coats and protects hair)
    • Castor Oil (For nourishment)
  5. Braid/twist your hair back up so that it cannot knot again.
  6. Start the process from the beginning with your second section.
  7. When you have finished detangling and retwisting/rebraiding each of your sections, feel free to wash outI’ve said it once and I will continue to say it: every person’s hair is different. This is my favourite way to detangle my hair. It doesn’t hurt and I find I lose the least hair this way. HOWEVER if this method is not giving you good results and you find that you’re losing even more hair, stop doing it this way and try something else.

Do you detangle your hair when it’s wet or dry? Do you use any tools other than your fingers?