Updated: October 16, 2021
If you are starting a natural hair journey, learning to properly detangle your 4C hair should definitely be high on your list of priorities.
This is because keeping your hair properly detangled is a great way to ensure length retention. When your hair is detangled, it is free of mats, knots, or single strand knots that can cause breakage.
The less you need to cut off knots from your hair, the more hair growth you can observe.
In this article, we’re going to be talking about the best way to detangle matted 4C hair naturally and painlessly, how often you should detangle 4C hair to see growth, as well as other frequently asked questions about detangling natural hair!
What is the Best Way to Detangle Matted 4C Hair?
The best way to detangle matted 4C hair fast and painlessly is by finger detangling. Finger detangling is great for natural hair because this method lets you feel every knot or tangle and allows you to gently pull the hair apart.
Here are step by step instructions for how to properly finger detangle matted 4c hair:
- Mist your hair lightly with warm filtered water, and work your hair strands into small, manageable sections then clip them away.
- Starting with one section at a time, use your fingers to pry the strands apart as much as you can without force while the hair is still only lightly damp.
- Once you can no longer separate your strands without force, coat the section heavily with a gel detangler (Aloe Vera Gel, Flaxseed Gel, or Okra Gel) pressing the gel into your strands.
- Let the detangler sit on that section of hair for about 5-10 minutes, while you continue to apply the product to other sections.
- Once you’ve applied the product to your whole head, take down one section of hair reattempt to finger detangle.
- When you try to separate your hair with the gel in it, the knots and tangles should melt apart pretty easily.
- Repeat the previous step on all remaining sections of hair, twisting the section up and clipping it away once you finish each.
- After finger detangling, you should only detangle your natural hair with a wide-tooth comb if you absolutely need to.
Can Finger Combing be Bad for Natural Hair?
Some naturals may prefer the results from using combs and brushes to detangle their natural hair. However, there is no disadvantage of exclusively finger combing your 4C hair strands. As long as you take your time and work thoroughly, you can remove all the shed hair, tangles, and knots that would have ultimately led to breakage. Here’s a great video that shows you how to properly finger detangle natural hair:
What Home Remedy Can You use to Untangle Natural Hair?
The best home remedies for detangling natural hair are:
- Aloe vera gel (we have a full recipe here)
- Flaxseed gel (full recipe here)
- Okra gel (our full recipe here)
- Castor Oil
- Olive Oil
- Aloe vera juice
- Flaxseed water (To make this: soak ¼ flaxseeds in 2 cups boiling water, until the water cools down. Strain out the flaxseeds and pour the flaxseed water into a spray bottle).
- Rice water (full recipe here)
- Fenugreek tea (full recipe here)
- Slippery Elm tea
- Marshmallow Root tea
If you are experiencing heavy tangling, you should detangle with a gel (aloe vera, flaxseed, or okra). However, for light tangles, detangle with herbal juices or teas (flaxseed, rice, fenugreek, slippery elm, marshmallow root).
The best natural hair detangler is a combination of a gel and an oil to reap the benefits of conditioning and slip. (e.g. ½ cup Aloe Vera Gel mixed with 3 tbsps of Olive OIl).
Should you Detangle Wet or Dry Hair?
You should always start finger detangling on lightly damp hair. You should never detangle matted hair while it’s soaking wet or extremely dry. Doing this will lead to a higher risk of breakage. Lightly mist your hair with plain water from a spray bottle, and start to separate the hair with your fingers. Then, proceed by spraying the hair with your detangling product until it’s damp, then continue to finger detangle. After this, proceed with a comb or brush if necessary.
Should you Detangle Before or After Washing your Hair?
To minimize breakage, it is best to detangle 4b and 4c hair before washing it; as part of your pre-poo process. This is because if your hair is already severely tangled or matted, washing your hair will only make it worse. Remove all the shed that leads to tangling, before washing your hair for a simpler, easier, washday.
You can read more about how to properly pre-poo your natural hair here.
How often should you Detangle 4C hair?
You should only detangle your 4c hair as often as you wash it. In other words, if you only wash your hair every other week, then you should only detangle your hair once every other week. Detangling 4C hair between washday is unnecessary manipulation that can lead to hair breakage.
This is also the reason we recommend low manipulation and protective hairstyles to encourage hair growth. The less often you have to detangle 4c hair, the fewer chances you have to damage your hair.
What is the Best Brush to Detangle 4C Hair?
Though we recommend primarily finger combing or finger detangling for length retention, here are the best brushes we can recommend if you need to detangle your hair more thoroughly.
1. Tangle Teezer Wet Detangling Brush
This brush is versatile enough for tight kinks. Though the handle is smooth, this brush won’t slide out of your hands while you detangle slippery hair. (Buy Now on Look Fantastic)
2. Felicia Leatherwood Brush
This brush with its firm yet, flexible teeth make it a gentle detangling option for 4C natural hair. (This brush is hard to find online, but we’ve found it here, and you can now buy it on Amazon here!)
3. EZ Detangler Brush
This brush is a bit softer and more flexible than the Felicia Leatherwood brush, even though they have the same underlying design. It also comes with the option to adjust flexibility depending on your needs. (Buy now on Amazon)
As a reminder, you should only use a comb or brush in your natural hair after finger detangling to minimize damage and breakage.
How to Make 4C Hair Easy to Comb?
After going through all this work to detangle your natural hair, here are a few tips to keep your natural hair detangled and easy to comb:
1. Keep your hair in sections
The best way to keep your hair in sections and reuse the parts in your hair. Wash your hair in sections, deep condition in the same sections, and style using the same parts.
2. Keep your 4C hair stretched
Keeping your hair stretched using twists or braids is a great way to keep it from shrinking on itself and getting tangled.
3. Avoid over manipulation
To avoid tangling, avoid manipulating your hair often. Keep your hands out of your hair and avoid styling and restyling to reduce the need for detangling.
4. Keep your hair moisturized
Moisturized hair is less likely to tangle severely. This is because it will be adequately lubricated to ensure slip and elasticity. These are both important factors when preventing tangling. Check out our post on how to moisturize stubbornly dry natural hair properly!
5. Protect your hair while you sleep
Your hair is most prone to tangling while you sleep, if not adequately protected. We recommend keeping your hair stretched and separate with silk or satin scrunchies (Here’s a pack of 60 on Amazon!). Then, covered with a silk or satin Bonet. Finally, you should also use a silk or satin pillowcase (Buy on Walmart) to protect your hair in case your scarf or Bonet slips off while you sleep! Silk and satin materials reduce friction and keeping your hair “contained” will limit the range of movement of your hair. As such, silk and satin reduce the risk of tangling.
6. Keep your ends trimmed
One major sign it might be time to trim your hair if if it gets harder and harder to detangle. This could mean that your split ends are causing friction and tangling among your hair strands. One way to prevent this is to make sure your ends are free from split ends by trimming your hair as soon as necessary!
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