By Leah Fletcher
You’ve worn those braided extensions a bit longer than you were supposed to. Now your hair is matted and the only viable solutions seems to be to cut it off and regrow it.
Detangling natural black hair, whether it is curly, coily or kinky, is something that comes with the territory and can be really stressful. If you’re not careful and patient, you could end up doing more harm than good.
The ultimate question is: “How did my hair get here?” Hair becomes matted when it is not combed and does not allow natural shedding. Loose hair can knot several times around strands, creating tangles that cause the hair to matte. When the hair is damaged, the cuticle is lifted and not smooth. This makes it difficult for each strand to slide pass each other during the combing/brushing process.
Removing knots, tangles and sometimes matted hair doesn’t have to be a grueling or a tiresome process. Here are several tips to consider when dealing with tangles, knots or matted hair:
Detangle hair with your fingers
Use your fingers to rake conditioner through your hair while in the shower. Starting at the roots, gently work your fingers to the ends of the hair. If your fingers becomes stuck, twist that section of hair counter-clockwise first to see if this helps loosen the hair. In the case of matted hair, saturate with a lubricant that makes the hair cuticle smoother and easier for the strands to slide past each other. You can apply heat for 30 minutes. However, if the hair is severely damaged, it is best to allow the lubricant to soak in and work through the tangles.
Apply a conditioner with lots of slip
Using a conditioner with lots of ‘slip’ will help loosen your hair and allow for easier detangling. Apply the conditioner to the knotted or matted section for several minutes before attempting to detangle. If you try this while showering, the steam will also help loosen the tangled hair. Hair detangling products provide remarkable assistance when attacking some of the most stubborn matted hair. Try using a product specifically targeted for stubborn knots that has a thick, creamy consistency.
Using a wide-toothed comb to detangle your hair will make the job much easier than trying to detangle with a smaller toothed comb. Not to mention, using improper hair tools can cause damage to untangled hair. There are several detangling combs and brushes on the market that are designed specifically for rescuing tangled or matted hair.
Arrange hair in loose sections to help detangle
To avoid further tangles, try sectioning the hair into four small sections and detangle each section individually. Begin detangling the ends of the hair, working your way to the scalp. Make sure that each section is completely free of tangles before re-braiding loosely and moving on the next section.
Consider using scissors as a last resort
After all else has failed, you realize that some knots cannot be salvaged and therefore, should be removed to prevent further damage to the hair. Employ the following technique to save whatever hair you can. Take the matted hair in hand and with the point of your scissors facing the scalp and cut the matted hair halfway. Add a slippery conditioner to the ends and allow it to penetrate for several minutes. Using a wide toothed comb, work through the matted hair in an attempt to loosen any salvageable hair. If this method does not work then you may want to consider removing the matted section all together.