For several months after my big chop, I lived the life of luxury. For the first time, I could go to quarries and jump in the water with my friends without being concerned about my relaxer. Packing for overnight trips no longer required an extra suitcase for my hair electronics and gone were hours spent readying myself for work. Still, a constant fear loomed in the back of my head: Detangling and protective hairstyles were an inevitable part of my hair future.
I somehow managed to get to my 20s without ever learning to braid; as a little tot, I was perfectly happy to leave the house with my boisterous afro unkept and it was my mother that I have to thank for all the adorable pictures of me from my childhood. Before I began relaxing my hair, she made sure my coif was in perfect braids each morning. Of course, I considered moving her to Brooklyn now that my hair was restored to its natural state to continue the tradition, but she couldn't leave my father up to his own devices. For, if not for her, he would eat candy all day and it would eventually be his undoing.
It wasn't just the braiding that kept me fretting though — it was the detangling. My new afro was comin' in hot! My hair was healthy for the first time and growing like crazy — I knew I didn't want to keep a short style. Confident in my curl pattern, I was definitely looking forward to having some big ass hair! After about a year of being able to detangle with just a wide-tooth comb in the shower, I took to the experts that had yet to steer me wrong. There are several ways to detangle your hair; only trial and error will tell you what the best method is. As your new 'fro comes in, you may find your stand-by detangling techniques no longer effective. Transition yourself into a new routine that works best for your hair length.
I can't tell you how many of my curly haired beauties, not just my kinky cousins, tell me that they've tried everything and are not seeing ideal hair growth. Once they walk me through their hair routine, I'm shocked to hear that detangling is not part of their process. The most important thing I can say is that detangling is MAD important for hair growth and to prevent hair breakage. Currently, I'm rocking a dual-process that keeps my hair healthy and able to retain the maximum length during shrinkage. I wear my hair out at least five out of seven days each week, which means I need to detangle a couple times a week. If you keep your hair in a protective style, you can probably get away with skipping sessions and staying on top of keeping your locks moisturized.
If you are a curly beaut, here are a few detangling methods worth checking out!
My Detangling Method (Dry + Wet Finger Detangle)
This method is scary for some, I usually dry detangle before I condition because my hair is strongest when dry. It's also easier for me to find knots when I'm standing in front of the mirror after spritzing my hair with coconut oil. I only suggest dry detangling with your fingers — using your fingers is also the best way to feel which areas are tangled and it's a great way to assess problem areas. Once I feel confident that I've made significant progress, I'll jump in the shower and continue finger detangling while I deep condition. Before I put my hair in a protective style (my hair hates being soaking wet), I'll comb through with a wide-tooth comb to find any knots I missed. This is a lengthy process that I postpone and whine about, but I find I lose the least amount of hair and get the best results. I also find that I get the maximum benefit of my deep conditioning treatment when my hair isn't quite as tangled — because it's easier for the oils to touch more follicles.
Detangle with Comb
This is the most common method of detangling, because it's the easiest by far. You can detangle with your leave-In conditioner after your shampoo/condition regimen and still have visibility to any knots you need to work out. Regardless of whether you are using a detangling leave-in conditioner or a deep conditioner in the shower, you want to make sure your hair is wet and slippery for the comb to work through with ease. Section your hair, comb through, and when you find the knot — STOP — work that knot out with your fingers if necessary. If you find a particularly difficult knot, don't be scurred to cut it out because other hair will catch onto it and the knot will just become bigger.
This method can be time-consuming. Honestly, even if I'm at a bar, you can find me detangling with my fingers on dry hair. I recommend using this detangling method on dry hair if your hair tangles quickly like mine. You can also finger detangle on wet hair in the shower or with your leave-in conditioner, working your fingers through each section and separating the knots. When I used a comb, I lost massive amounts of hair that I probably could have saved by separating each strand from the knot. Use this method in between washes with your favorite hair mask or hot oil treatment and get an extra detangling session in!