After jumping into the world of natural hair care, one of the first things newbies learn is that you can’t comb curls like you would wavy or straight hair.
Curly hair is much more fragile than other hair types and would break under the pressure and manipulation of improper combing.
In this article, we’ll tell you exactly how to comb curly hair to minimize the risk of increased split ends, mechanical damage, and breakage. Let’s get right into it!
Table of Contents
- 1 How to Comb Curly Hair
- 2 Additional Tips to Keep in Mind When Combing Curly Hair
- 3 How Often to Comb Curly Hair
- 4 Should Combing Curly Hair Be Painful?
- 5 When to Use a Brush Versus a Comb
- 6 Can You Ever Detangle Dry Hair?
How to Comb Curly Hair
Let’s cut right to the chase. Below, we’ll break the curly hair detangling process down into easy steps that anyone can understand and execute. By the end of this section, not only will you be able to get rid of knots and tangles in record time, but you’ll also know how to avoid and prevent future hair damage.
Wet Your Hair Down
Wetting curls down before combing plays a huge role in maintaining your hair’s health and preventing damage during the combing process.
Curly hair tends to be naturally prone to tangling, and it’s even harder to comb through when it’s dry. So, hop in the shower and wet down your tresses to make them more pliable and easier to comb through.
Section Your Hair
If your hair is longer than a couple of inches, it’s always a good idea to section it before going anywhere near a comb. With your hair separated into smaller sections, the detangling process will be much easier and quicker.
To do this, simply divide your hair into manageable sections and secure each of them using hair clips or elastic bands. You don’t necessarily need a comb to section your hair – your hands will work just fine.
Apply Your Detangler
You should never comb through your hair without a detangling product. Detanglers are formulated to make your strands more pliable and slippery, so they can better slide past each other as you detangle.
There are both cream and spray detanglers available to you.
If your curls are on the looser side, go for a lightweight detangler spray. It’ll aid in detangling without weighing your hair down. For coarser, tighter curls, you’ll need a cream detangler, which will be better able to do the job.
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- Severely Matted Hair Nothing Is Working
- How to Get a Rats Nest Out of Hair
You might be wondering when you can start combing your curls – not just yet. There’s one more thing you need to do before breaking out the comb, and that’s finger detangle.
When you detangle your hair with your fingers, you have better control over the process and can feel any knots or tangles before you accidentally pull or break your hair.
When finger detangling, don’t try to work through every single tangle – just separate each section in multiple places and remove the large tangles. Start from the ends and work your way up to the roots.
If you feel a knot or tangle, use your fingers to pry it apart gently.
Never use your nails; if you do, you could rough up your hair cuticles and jumpstart split ends. Also, remember to be patient and gentle when finger detangling. It may take a while to get through your hair, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
Comb with a Wide Tooth Comb
Now it’s time to comb your hair. But before you do, get your hands on a wide-tooth comb. Wide tooth combs are designed with teeth that are spaced farther apart than narrow tooth combs.
This spacing allows the comb to move through your hair more easily without a ton of snagging or pulling. And since curls are naturally fragile, that’s exactly what you need.
In addition to getting the right type of comb, you should use it correctly. Never start combing your hair from the roots.
Always start at the ends and slowly move upward to the roots. It also helps to comb your hair in sections rather than all at once. And be mindful at all times of how aggressive you are with the comb – gentler is better.
Whenever you notice that your hair is becoming difficult to comb through, wet the hair down again and reapply the detangler. You can then continue combing.
Additional Tips to Keep in Mind When Combing Curly Hair
If you take the above steps one by one and follow them to a T, you should be able to get through any knots and tangles with ease. But to make things even easier, here are a few other tips to keep in mind when combing your curly hair:
- Resist the urge to rush through the detangling process.
- Consider using a detangling brush instead of a wide-tooth comb. These could give you similar results and make the detangling process quicker without increasing your risk of breakage.
- Don’t let your hair get dry at any point. Have a spray bottle of water handy.
- If you don’t have a detangler handy, a slippery leave-in conditioner can work in a pinch.
- Seamless combs are less damaging than typical combs, as they don’t have a seam that could snag your strands.
- After detangling a section of your hair, twist or braid it up so it won’t become tangled again.
- Be very generous with your detangling product. Not using enough could negatively impact your detangling session.
How Often to Comb Curly Hair
Many people with curly hair detangle on their wash days. For some, that might be once per week, and for others, it could be multiple times per week. One thing’s for sure, though; you shouldn’t be combing your hair every day.
Doing so could lead to excessive pulling and tugging, which results in excessive breakage and damage. Another thing to keep in mind is that your curls will never be 100% knot-free. So, there’s no reason to be overly concerned about tangles.
Combing curly hair is a multi-step process that takes a considerable amount of time.
Should Combing Curly Hair Be Painful?
Combing curly hair should not be painful, but for too many people, combing through curls is painful. This is a shame because this doesn’t have to be the case. So long as you use the right tools, prep your hair, and mind your combing technique, you shouldn’t have pain. Take pain as a sign that you need to adjust something about the detangling process.
When to Use a Brush Versus a Comb
Though combs can be used for styling and detangling the hair, there are situations where you might want to use a brush. Brushes are more for smoothing the hair versus detangling.
So, you’ll find that pulling your hair into a sleek ponytail is much easier to do with a brush than a comb. Conversely, if you need to detangle your hair, a comb is going to be the better choice.
Can You Ever Detangle Dry Hair?
Detangling dry hair is always a no-no, especially if the health of your hair is important to you. Your strands are just not as elastic when dry as they are when they’re wet and coated in a detangler. But if you’re in a pinch, you can detangle your hair while it’s dry. Just take your time and comb from the ends to the roots. And try not to make it a habit.
- Finger Comb
- How to Untangle Matted Hair
- How to Part Your Hair
- How to Stop Hair From Tangling at Nape of Neck
So, there you have it – everything you need to know about detangling curly hair. If it all seems a bit much, just remember that it can take a little while for you to get the hang of things – after that, the process will become second nature. We hope you found all the information you needed, and we wish you the best with your hair.
Kenneth Byrd holds a BS in Accounting and Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. With over 15 years of experience, Kenneth has been dedicated to hair care since 2008, when he co-founded Curl Centric® and Natural Hair Box alongside his wife. As a team, they promote healthy hair care practices through their comprehensive platform, Curl Centric. Curl Centric is a website operated by a husband and wife team that encourages healthy hair care. At Curl Centric, we aim to help our readers take control of their hair care journey and make good decisions about products, hairstyles, and maintenance techniques. We also have strict editorial integrity; here’s an explanation of our editorial guidelines and how we make money.