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How To Detangle Hair The Right Way

photo of biolage all-in-one coconut infusion detangler and woman with blonde hair

My memories of detangling my wavy, knot-prone mane go back to childhood, when my mom would spend hours combing through my tangles after a day at the beach. Luckily, as an adult, I've learned to prevent a disaster of matted knots from forming, but I still find myself dealing with stubborn tangles from time to time.

Whether you have long, short, curly, or straight hair, chances are good you’ve spent a significant amount of time detangling your mane. Detangling your hair can make wash day an absolute nightmare—but it doesn’t have to be like that! With the right products (and a few expert tips and tricks), detangling your hair can be easier than ever. If you’re wondering how to detangle hair the right way, keep scrolling for everything you need to know.

Photo Credit: @jas_ana.

What can I use to detangle my hair?

First things first: To detangle your hair the right way, you’ll need the proper tools. When it comes to detangling, gentle is the name of the game. You should use tools created to rake through your strands without breaking them like a wide tooth or detangling comb. Detangling combs have a lot more teeth than their wide tooth equivalents, but those teeth are placed strategically to help make detangling a breeze.

Photo Credit: @chelseahaircutters.

Should I detangle my hair wet or dry?

The cardinal rule of detangling is that you should only detangle in the shower. There are a few exceptions to that rule, however: If you’re dealing with some significant tangles, it may be helpful to begin detangling your strands before stepping in the shower. Drenching your tangled locks in water can sometimes cause your knots to become even more matted. Avoid tangling your hair even further and give yourself a head start by gently detangling your strands before you take a shower.

If you’re not dealing with extremely tangled or matted hair, it’s always best to detangle hair when it’s wet. You may have heard that hair is most fragile when it is wet and, depending on your hair type, that may be true. Water also creates a good amount of slip and lubrication, however, which can make it easier for the comb to slide through your strands.


How do you detangle matted hair painlessly?

If you’ve experienced matted hair before, you know that detangling it is no fun and can even be a bit painful if done incorrectly. First, you’ll need a wide-toothed comb and a hair oil like Shu Uemura Art Of Hair’s Essence Absolue Nourishing Hair Oil. Hair oil can soften the strands and make it easier to brush through. Once you’ve applied your hair oil, use a wide-toothed comb to begin detangling your strands, starting at the ends and slowly working your way up towards your root.


Does coconut oil detangle hair?

Due to it’s slippery, oily texture, many people choose to swap out their detangler for coconut oil. While coconut oil can be useful in detangling your mane, we always recommend using salon-quality products like Biolage All-In-One Coconut Infusion Multi-Benefit Spray instead. This multi-tasking formula provides benefits like detangling, reducing dryness, improving manageability, preventing split ends, and more.


Does leave-in conditioner detangle hair?

While leave-in conditioner is essential for moisturizing and softening dry strands, it can also make detangling so much easier. Use a formula like Matrix Total Results Miracle Creator Leave-In-Conditioner that provides hair with 20 beautifying benefits including detangling, boosting shine, adding moisture, and more.

Tips For Detangling Hair


Don’t skip detangler

Detangling your hair in the shower is only half the battle. Making sure your hair is wet is essential, but you’ll need to enlist the help of a conditioner or detangling product if you really want good slip. Conditioner can help to make your hair look and feel moisturized, making it easier for knots to slide out. After washing your hair with your favorite shampoo (we suggest L'Oréal Professionnel Serie Expert Inforcer Anti-Breakage Shampoo), saturate your strands with your favorite creamy conditioner like L'Oréal Professionnel Serie Expert Inforcer Strengthening Conditioner and begin to detangle your strands gently.

Start at your ends and work your way up

When it comes to detangling hair, we’re all guilty of placing the comb at our roots and yanking it towards our ends in hopes that all of our snarls will magically disappear. Unfortunately, that method doesn’t work, and it wreaks havoc on your precious strands. Instead, section off your hair and begin by detangling at your ends and work your way to your roots.

While it may feel counterintuitive, when you think about it makes perfect sense. If you start at your roots, you’ll have to work the tangles through the entire length of your strands. When you start at your ends, the knots have a much shorter distance to travel.


Prevent future tangles

It’s impossible to prevent your hair from ever becoming tangled again, but there are a few things you can do to help you avoid major tangles in the future. We’re sure you’ve heard this one before, but maintaining a regular haircut schedule is the key to healthy-looking, tangle-free hair. Split ends may seem tiny, but they can cause significant tangles if other strands get caught in the split end. Get rid of split ends before they create snarls in your strands by heading to the hair salon every 10 to 12 weeks.

If you want to prevent split ends from taking over your mane between salon appointments, try a hair treatment like Pureology Strength Cure Split End Salve Hair Treatment. This strengthening formula helps prevent split ends while providing velvet-like softness and shine.

You’ll also want to protect your mane while you sleep. Ditch your regular cotton pillowcases for luxurious-feeling silk pillowcases. Cotton is a deceptively rough fabric that can cause breakage as you toss and turn in your sleep. In contrast, your locks will glide over your new satin pillowcase without a snag in sight. Protect your strands from becoming a tangled, broken mess by sleeping with your hair in a loose top knot. The top knot will keep your hair in place as you get your eight hours of slumber, and you’ll wake up with tangle-free locks!

Interested in more expert hair advice? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.


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