Everything You Need to Know About Detangling Your Hair

For anyone with tangle-prone hair, detangling can be the most difficult part of hair maintenance. This does not have to be the case. In this article, we’ll fill you in on everything you need to know about detangling your hair.

What is a Hair Detangler?

A hair detangler is a product or tool that aids in removing tangles and knots from the hair.

Hair detanglers come in two forms:

  1. Products that are applied to the hair to aid in detangling. Detangling products work by coating the hair in a slippery substance which makes the individual hairs more easily separated. Some detanglers are made of acids that smooth the hair’s cuticles, making the hair easier to detangle.

  2. Tools designed to detangle the hair. Detangling tools encompass handheld detangling aids. Think brushes and combs.

Does Detangler Actually Work?

Not every detangler, or detangling product, works for every type of hair. However, many of them are formulated purposefully, with targeted ingredients made to promote easy detangling.

 Some of the ingredients you’ll find in detangling products include:

  • Oils are used in detangling products to replace dry and damaged hair pores. The result is softer, more elastic hair that is less likely to tangle and easier to detangle.

  • Silicones like cyclomethicone and dimethicone. These silicones add gloss and shine to the hair, but most importantly, they fill in missing spots in the hair shaft, making the overall strand smoother and easier to detangle.

  • Hydrolyzed Proteins also have a smoothing effect on the hair. These proteins help to repair keratin that has been damaged. Any broken keratin edges that have been treated with hydrolyzed proteins are repaired and smoothed out. This not only helps with detangling, but it helps to decrease future tangling.

  • Acidifiers which actively lower the pH level of the detangler. These acidifiers also strengthen hydrogen bonds between keratin molecules in hair. This has the effect of smoothing each strand of hair, aiding in detangling.

  • Cationic Surfactants fuse themselves to the hair’s negatively-charged kerative and gives the hair a smoother structure. The smoother the hair is, the less tangled it will be.

Hair products that contain the above ingredients have a good chance of being effective detanglers, but the only way to know if a product will work for you is to try it out yourself. Everyone’s hair is different.

What is the Best Hair Detangler?

The best hair detangling product (spray, cream, oil) is one that is packed with ingredients that smooth the hair’s cuticle, making the hair easy to pass through with a detangling tool.

For hair types 1 and 2, it’s important to use a detangler that provides slipperiness without weighing the hair down. On the other hand, if you have curly, coily, kinky type 3 or 4 hair, you’d benefit from a detangler that provides a ton of slipperiness, as well as moisturizing ingredients, so that your hair is left smooth, moisturized, and free of tangles.

Top hair detangling tools are constructed in a way that allows the user to comb through their hair with minimal force and pain. By far, the best general detangling tool is a shower brush or wide-toothed comb. These tools glide through the hair with minimal breakage.

Elements of a Good Detangler

Below, we will look at some elements of good detanglers.


A good detangler is slippery. This ensures that when you apply the detangler to your hair, the comb or brush can easily glide through your hair and remove those tangles.


It’s important that your detangler leaves your hair moisturized after use. Moisturized hair is healthy and it won’t be as prone to tangles.


It your hair is easily weighed down, you may want to go for a lightweight spray detangler versus a cream. Conversely, if your hair is coarse and not easily weighed down, a cream detangler or a detangling conditioner may be best for you.

How Can I Detangle My Hair Without a Detangler?

A detangler product is recommended to detangle your hair, especially when your hair is prone to tangling or is textured. However, you can use water and a wide toothed comb in a pinch.

The water makes your hair more pliable and easier to detangle, while the wide toothed comb is gentle on your strands as the knots and tangles are combed out.

How Do You Detangle Really Knotted Hair?

Hair that is extremely knotted will need some extra TLC to loosen up those tangles and knots. It just won’t be enough to wet your hair down and comb it.

Instead, take the following steps:

  1. Wet your hair thoroughly with water. Your hair should be dripping wet.

  2. Gently separate your hair into 4 sections or more, using your fingers or a wide toothed comb.

  3. Select one of your sections of hair and apply your detangler to that section. Apply it thoroughly.

  4. Using a detangling tool of your choice (wide toothed comb is recommended), start combing through your hair, starting at the ends of the hair. Be patient and take your time. If you rush, you may rip through your hair and cause split ends and damage.

  5. Continue the process throughout your entire head, applying more water and detangler as needed.

*If you find that this is not working for you, you could try allowing the conditioner or detangler to sit on your hair for 10 minutes or so and then try detangling it again.

How to Detangle Hair Without Pain

If you think that pain and detangling go hand in hand, you’re not alone. Luckily, this isn’t how it has to be.

A painless detangling session on matted hair is possible, and the way you detangle your hair has everything to do with it.

When detangling any hair, it’s important to start combing the hair from the bottom (the ends) and slowly moving upwards towards the root.

Also, as you’re passing the brush or comb through your hair, your other hand should be grasping the roots of your hair to decrease the amount of pulling at your scalp. This makes detangling painless.

Now you know everything you need to know about detangling your hair. You’ve got tips for making the detangling process painless, step-by-step instructions for tangling the most matted hair, and top detangling product recommendations. You’re now more than ready to detangle with ease. Hope this helps!






Author: Andrea Reyes

Andrea is a mother, wife, writer, and natural hair enthusiast of 15 years. Currently on her natural hair journey, she’s been trying countless products and techniques to understand and embrace her natural hair. She is the creator of NaturallyTextured.com, a new website featuring informative articles that share tips, tricks, and techniques aimed to help others learn to love their hair through proper hair care. She writes with the hope of making hair care easier to understand and implement.



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