The African hair is a beauty to behold when nicely kept, but hair tangle is one problem the natural sisters face everyday. BLESSING UKEMENA writes.
Natural hair is so difficult to keep, especially when it is long; one has to be more careful than with weaves and braids. However, every problem has a solution. Natural hair has great tendency to tangle, so a lady has to know how to detangle her natural hair in a way that does not break all her hair.
Tight coils, little to no curl pattern, and major shrinkage make type-4 natural hair an environment conducive to knots and tangles. Imagine tossing several tightly coiled wires into a bag haphazardly. Now, imagine removing these wires one by one from the bag. You will get knots and tangles galore, right? A similar event can occur in our natural hair when left loose, wild, and shrunken.
The basics to minimising knots and tangles
Refrain from wearing wash-n-gos, once your hair reaches 6-8 inches in length. Wear protective style frequently, and detangle thoroughly and regularly. Keep your hair moisturised.
Further prevention – Wash in braids
Washing your hair while it is loose is highly discouraged. (Think back to the bag full of tightly coiled wires.) Instead, wash your hair in braided sections to minimise tangling. About washing in twists: Twists, unless done small or medium, tend to unravel during a wash. Thus, braids may be a better option for some naturals.
Continuing on – Short-term stretched styles
If you want to wear your hair out, stretched styles (i.e., twist outs, braid outs) are by far the best method to minimise knots and tangles. However, allowing such styles to age beyond their limit leaves room for shrinkage and defeats the purpose. Keep the style duration to a minimum. But note that the higher the humidity, the shorter the wear. Also, the longer your hair, the shorter the wear.
Speaking of stretching - Use a thick, heavy detangler
During your regular detangling sessions, use a cholesterol-based or other thick, heavy conditioner to ease the process. The conditioner will add weight to the hair, thus stretching the coils temporarily. Alternative, some naturals prefer detangling on dry, stretched, lubricated hair since wet strands can lead to shrinkage.
Do not wet the knot
In the event that you do get a knot, the worst thing you can do is apply water. Why? Because the strands will shrink and the knot will become harder to unravel. Instead, apply an oil or butter, and gradually pull out each strand from the knot one by one. Alternatively, some naturals have success applying a conditioner to the knot, while others do not. Do what works for you. Depending on how serious the knot is, a thin tool – such as the end of a rattail comb – may be used to help with unraveling. Refrain from using sharp tools, like needles or safety pins, which may damage the cuticle.
Time to detangle
The natural hair community, one important procedure is necessary for every single hair type: detangling. Women tend to overlook the issue, or settle on the idea that using a wide-toothed comb on wet hair should do the trick.
The thought of using this intimidating brush on dry natural hair is a nightmare, but it is always better to do it while deep conditioning, and it was even better than the wide-toothed comb.
Repeating it was even better than the wide-toothed comb.
The paddle brush adds a smoothing element that a comb simply cannot. While detangling from tip to root, it holds the conditioner within the brush, which firstly retains the conditioner of choice onto hair follicles – which better coats them, and secondly reduces the amount of hair lost during the detangling process. Not only did the conditioner feel more effective, but detangling took a lot less time.
Detangling is one of the key processes to growing your hair long without having to do quite as much maintenance.