11 Tips For Detangling Curly Hair With A Brush That Will Help Prevent Breakage

Once I learned how to detangle my curls with a brush, my detangling sessions were way more effective on my afro-textured hair. The fear of losing precious curls had previously kept me in a monogamous relationship with my wide-tooth comb, despite the a variety of detangling tools and products out there. After all, curls take a particular amount of care and kinky curls are almost synonymous with tangles. Afro-textured hair is known to be the most fragile and dense, making detangling a time-consuming task that will only be met with damage and hair loss if you rush through it. Fortunately, getting a detangling brush in your hair routine and knowing how to properly detangle with it can save you time and hair.

The reason I finally decided to try a technique beyond my wide-tooth comb is because I didn't feel like I was reaching the depths of my tangles. Not only that, but the sound of snagging curls is similar to fingers on a chalkboard for me. As Cricket Ambassador Melissa Peverini tells me, "Detangling with a comb can break hair since it is weaker when it is wet." Brushing curls can solve that problem if you go into detangling with knowledge and a great brush.

Whether you're new to brush-detangling or looking for some tips to add to your current brush routine, these 11 tips I've picked up for detangling with a brush can make your next session a total breeze.

1. Use A Hair Butter To Soften Strands

Whether your hair is dirty, dry, or wet, you don't want to go into any detangling scenario without an emollient to seal in the moisture from water and make the strands of your hair strong. Dry hair can be prone to damage and when using a brush to detangle, you run the risk of pulling out tangles instead of detangling them. If you don't want to end up standing in a pile of your own curls, make a hearty homemade butter or find a detangling agent that will soften your hair and allow the strands to untangle easily.

2. Always Start From The Bottom

Just like when detangling with a wide-tooth comb, starting from the bottom is crucial when detangling with a brush.

3. The Brush Should Be Used As a Final Tool

Detangling with my fingers first helps me feel around for any strong knots that could snag with even the most high-end of brushes. Typically, I'll do my finger-detangling on wet or dry hair first and then incorporate my brush for a final run-through in my hair to catch the tangles my fingers can't find.

3. Brush On Damp Hair

Dry detangling has serious perks for those with tighter, kinkier curls: The hair tends to be stronger when dry and according to curl-experts at Black Girl Long Hair, if you're hair tends to shrink up at the mere thought of wet locks, you're likely to lose less hair during dry detangling. Though detangling with fingers is definitely a more gentle process, I've found brushing on dry hair to be very risky and even when I go extremely slow, I lose more hair than I'm comfortable with. If you're also wary of dry detangling, I recommend spritzing each section with water, getting the hair hydrated before adding the butter.

5. Brush In Sections

Brushing your hair in sections is similar to any detangling method to not snag and pull the curls out. The only time I can successfully brush my hair without several sections is when it's totally wet and my hair is extremely lubricated, but even then I still have to be extremely careful. The drier and/or the more tangled the hair will determine how small each section should be.

6. Be Gentle

The bristles of a good brush will pick up all those tiny knots that we don't always notice, but with power comes great responsibility, so it's important to be gentle on your hair whether you're wet detangling or detangling on dry, damp curls. When you section your hair and begin brushing the ends of your hair, go slow, listen and feel for snags. Be gentle and you'll get the most out of your detangling session, but most importantly, you'll lose the least amount of hair.

7. Brush For A Wash N Go

While I am fully aware of the fragility of my wet hair, brushing allows me to rock a wash-n-go without sacrificing all my length. I usually reserve this hair style for days when I have enough product build-up to make me want to cleanse my hair, but I can't commit to the time it takes to fully detangle and get into a protective style. The thing to remember when brush detangling on wet hair is that you still need to be in sections, use a detangling emollient, and be even more gentle. 

8. Brush For Protective Styling

Speaking of the opposite of quick and fun: Brushing before putting your hair in a protective style is a great way to keep your hair fully detangled while you give your tresses a break. If I'm already going to spend substantial time conditioning, detangling, and putting my hair in protective twists, I want to be completely free of tangles especially if I'm going to keep the twists in for several days. Using a brush as your final detangling tool works to your advantage in a protective style. Don't believe me now? You will when you take your hair out and it's fully knot-free.

9. Invest In A Good Brush

Cricket Ultra Smooth Detangling Brush, $12.95, ulta.com

I'm a huge fan of having multiple detangling tools at my disposal, but I try not to cheap out on the ones that are putting in the most work for my hair — like my brush. My detangling brush of choice for wet styling and dry styling is the Cricket Ultra Smooth™ Detangling Brush. According to brand ambassador Melissa Peverini the brush gets more tangles removed because of the multi-level bristles on the wide, flat surface.  For me, the brush lets styling my hair into a big afro a guilt-free habit because I know I'm not snagging my hair for the sake of style.

10. Keep Your Brush Clean

Yes, keeping your brush clean is super important, especially when you're working with clean hair. Bacteria, grime, and dead skin cells can stick to you brush and redistribute back into your clean head of hair. According to sources at Allure, cleaning your brush keeps the brush effective since built up hair, product, and oil can prevent it from gripping the hair. After I use my brush, I carefully pull the hairs out by using a rattail comb. Then I spritz the brush with a homemade sanitizer and let it dry naturally to disinfect between uses. Super easy and super effective.

11. Brush In Moderation

Brushing afro-textured hair daily will require daily manipulation of your hair by pulling the scalp and tresses. According to sources at Naturally Curly, detangling too often can cause damage to the hair making the pains of a detangling session counterproductive. When I'm happily rockin' a big 'fro, I'll want to carry the style over to the next day. To do this, I'll usually sleep with a loose scrunchy on top of my head and then I'll dampen it and try to just spot brush the ends. Of course, I do this with a promise to myself to put my hair in a protective style that evening to give my hair a break for a few days. After all, brushing is a good thing — as long as you don't overdo it.

Images: Kristin Collins Jackson (11); Cricketco.com (1)

Must Reads