By Hadassah Agbaps - January 29, 2013

Q. My hair tangles up in the worst way especially when I take down styles like kinky twists, box braids and Ghana weaving. Take down is a nightmare and most times I keep in these styles longer than necessary to postpone the day. I have also tried rocking twist outs but it gets tangled up by evening. I don't know what else to do. My hair is about chin length when stretched and very kinky. I don't like my hair at the moment and am contemplating texturising it. I love the volume my natural hair gives me but the tangles!!!
What do I do?

A. I can definitely feel you on this one! Sometimes my hair tangles up so bad that I want to chop it all off! Having hair that tangles easily makes washing and styling of the hair a nightmare. It also robs the hair of length as trying to detangle breaks off the hair making it look like your hair isn't growing. Infact this is one of the main reasons most women opt for chemical relaxers as they have no idea how to get rid of tangles on natural hair.
With proper methods I will list below, tangling and knotting can be reduced to the barest minimum and take down and washing of your hair will be a breeze.
First of all, you need to eliminate the possible causes of tangling.

- Is  the hair dry and brittle?
 Dryness causes curly/coily hair to knot up on itself much like a leaf curling up when it's dry. This can lead to tangles. When the hair is in protective styles made with extensions, it is difficult to properly moisturise the hair  as it is encased in the extensions.
There is an erroneous belief that application of oil based products like hair grease, waxes, oil sheen spray is sufficient to keep the hair moisturised. This is not true as the only moisturiser is WATER. The oil/grease simply coat the hair and attract dust and lint which intertwines with your hair causing it to tangle on take down.
To prevent tangles due to dryness and brittleness, it's important to use a water based moisturiser mixed with natural oils that is absorbed by the scalp and hair. There are commercial braid sprays such as Just For Me Braid Release available that you can use to keep your hair moisturised in the protective style and during take down.
You can make yours with this simple recipe:
Mix 1tbs aloe vera juice + 1 tsp olive oil (or any light natural oil) + 100ml distilled water in a spray bottle and apply to hair daily.

- What hair products do you use?
Like I said above, using water based products to moisturise and hydrate your hair prevents dryness and knots.
Petroleum based oils and waxes clog your pores, attracts dusts and lint increasing the likelihood of tangles. They also coat the hair strands and keep water out of the hair strands. This is good if your hair has been properly hydrated prior to application but bad if it hasn't.
Avoid products containing alcohol unless it's fatty alcohol as it dries out your hair.
Do you cleanse your scalp and hair while in protective style? Opt for a sulfate free shampoo instead such as Curls Unleashed Lavish in Lather, Giovanni, Carol's Daughter Rosemary Mint Clarifying Shampoo.

- Was your hair properly detangled prior to styling?
Properly detangling your hair before styling will reduce the likelihood of tangles during take down. As naturals in a country where there is little or no knowledge and support in hair salons regarding natural hair care, it is necessary to properly detangle the hair at home before heading out. I recommend stretching your hair with a blow drier on low setting ( don't forget your heat protectant) to straighten it so your hair stylist who is more accustomed to straight relaxed textures won't rip through your hair while smoothening it for braiding/twisting.
In the process of trying to wrangle with your natural hair, the inexperienced stylists will create more tangles that you'll have do deal with during takedown.
Detangle and moisturise your hair properly to prevent tangling of your twistouts

- How long was the style in for?
The longer the style is in your hair, the more likely it will tangle. Also the smaller the twists/braids/cornrows, the more the likelihood of tangles. As a rule of the thumb, long term protective styles should not be left in for more than 3 weeks.

- How do you take down your style?
When taking down numerous twists, braids and cornrows, it is easy to lose patience and rip through tangles rather than carefully working them out.
Do not leave detangling your hair till you've taken down the whole style. This would lead to numerous, painful tangles.
 Remember that during the life span of your hair style, dust, lint and shed hairs would have accumulated at the roots loosely tangling up your hair a little bit. By carefully detangling and removing the shed hairs and lint in a smoothing motion, tangling will not be a problem. After detangling a considerable amount of hair, twist loosesly to prevent recoiling of the hair. For stubborn tangles, apply a good amount of detangling conditioner to the tangle and carefully untwist and unknot the hair.
Also, as much as possible, try to take down your hair yourself. It is a tedious time consuming process but rarely does the paid hands in the salon have the patience  to work through any tangles on your hair. most likely, they'll rip through it or leave it.

- How do you comb and wash your hair?
Combing your hair dry and without slippery products is a big NO for natural hair. Natural hair should only be detangled when damp or wet and loaded with detangling conditioners and natural oils. Combing out your hair in small sections will also make detangling easier. Retwist each detangled sections loosely to prevent tangles.
Use only smooth wide toothed combs to detangle your hair.

Personally, when taking down any long term protective style, I first of all spray my hair with a light oil/conditioner/water mix and cover with a shower cap for 10mins.
This helps soften and rehydrate my hair thereby reducing tangles and knotting.
When I take down a twist or braid, I spray a little with the conditioner mix, detangle carefully with my fingers or wide tooth comb and when I've taken down a considerable number of twists, I detangle through a twist. By the time I'm through with take down, my hair is totally detangled and ready for washing. Then before shampooing, I prepoo with olive oil/ coconut oil/ shea butter/ castor oil and a deep conditioner and cover with a shower cap for 30mins before shampooing.
I shampoo the roots and scalp only in sections by massaging with the pads of my fingers in the direction of hair growth. This helps reduce tangles considerably.
I detangle again on conditioner laden hair and retwist each detangled section then rinse under cold running water to close up the hair cuticles. Tangles avoided!

- What is your night time routine?
Do you fall into bed with your hair all over the place? Then welcome to tangle city!
Even if your hair is braided up, it is important to cover your hair in a satin scarf or sleep on satin pillows. Satin don't have to be silk blend! It can be polyester but the smooth shiny surface of the material is gentle on the hair and does not rub it or dry it out the wrong way.

- Do you have splits and knots?
Split ends and knots lead to tangles so trim them off if you notice them. As a preventive not corrective measure, I recommend the use of split remedy hair care products for split prone hair. They are actually designed to temporarily "glue" splits together though the best method is to trim them off!

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Live Beautifully. Naturally.

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  1. Loving your blog. Just stumbled on it and I'm loving it! I'm even contemplating advertising myself as someone who can handle natural hair, but I go need small more practice sha. Great job.

  2. Thanks for these tips!

  3. I recently transitioned and these tips will be very halpful. Thank you.


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