Tangled hair can occur for an array of reasons, but I think we can all agree that it’s one of those things we’d prefer to avoid if possible. However, sometimes that’s easier said than done. It doesn’t take much for hair to tangle, as almost all of us know. Improper application or removal of hair ties, environmental factors like the wind, and even just getting your hair wet can result in tangling that leads to tension, breakage, and even loss of hair.
If you have fine hair, you may be more prone to tangles — not because your hair is thinner, but because there’s more of it. It sounds counterintuitive, but because fine strands take up less space on the scalp, there’s room for more of them. Hence, an increased chance of the hair getting caught. To learn how to prevent hair tangles and safely undo them when they occur, we asked a top stylist to share detangling tips for every hair type.
Stopping hair tangles before they start
“Prevention is the best tool,” says Jyll Thomas, senior color specialist at Van Michael Salon in Atlanta, Georgia. “I recommend brushing out your hair before showering, gentle lathering when you shampoo, and combing conditioner through your hair with a wide-tooth comb. After you get out of the shower, apply a leave-in conditioner or detangling product and use your fingers to separate larger knots. Next, use a brush with flexible bristles, such as the Wet brush, that will smooth out tangles instead of tearing them out of your hair. Always start brushing at the ends of the hair and carefully work toward the roots.”
How to remove hair tangles
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Fall is just around the corner, and with scarf weather and gusty winds come serious knots and hair tangles. “A paddle brush works well for thick to medium-weight hair,” Thomas says. “For fine hair, a wide-tooth comb should be able to undo the tangles in your wind-blown, convertible top down hair.” Another great way to prevent tangles from scarves is to wear one made of silk rather than cotton. Cotton can strip the hair of its natural oils, making the hair brittle and more prone to tugging and breakage. If you’re nursing your hair back to health from past breakage and overstyling, ingredients in Nutrafol like marine collagen, tocotrienols, and horsetail will strengthen and nourish hair from within.
The best and worst detangling tools
The type of brush you use to undo tangles depends on the thickness of your hair. Thomas recommends a wide-tooth comb for fine hair, a Wet brush for medium to thick hair when it’s wet, and a paddle brush for medium to thick hair when it’s dry. “I also like to blow-dry and finish brushing hair with a Mason Pearson brush,” she adds. All of these brushes will tame the toughest tangles without causing breakage.” However, no matter your hair type, Thomas suggests avoiding fine-tooth combs for detangling. “They can be painful and can cause damage by ripping out knots instead of smoothing them,” she says. “Avoid brushes with balls at the end of the bristles, as well, because hair will snag on the balls and get pulled out.”
When to get help from a stylist
“Sometimes hair becomes so tangled that it forms a dense mat, which can be very painful and tedious to remove,” says Thomas. “This is when it is important to seek professional help. Small pieces of hair may need to be snipped to undo these tangles — and that is best left up to your stylist.”
The occasional tangle is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to end in a hair tragedy. As long as you have the right tools and a hair supplement to support your strands from within, you’re prepared to prevent and manage hair tangles with minimal breakage and hair loss.