Hair » How to Detangle Knotty, Matted Hair (No Matter Your Hair Type)

How to Detangle Knotty, Matted Hair (No Matter Your Hair Type)

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No matter your hair type, you may find yourself dealing with severely knotted, matted hair at some point in your life. Whether you had to backcomb and tease your hair for some extra volume, or you had a particularly restless night tossing and turning, anyone can find themselves struggling with matted hair. In this article, we’ll talk about knotty hair, how to treat it, and prevent it from happening in the future.

In this article:

How to Detangle Dry Hair

If you have already dried your hair, you can still detangle it. You may have to get it slightly damp to do so. To detangle dry hair, follow these steps:

  1. Section Your Hair

    Separate your hair into 2-4 sections, depending on length and thickness. The smaller the sections, the easier and quicker it will be to work through them.

  2. Use a Detangling Spray

    Reach for your favorite detangling spray or check out the ones we recommended here for some ideas! Spray your knotted areas with your detangler, making sure to focus on the most tangled areas.

  3. Comb

    Using a wide-tooth comb, begin by gently brushing through your hair, starting from the bottom, then working your way up to the roots.

  4. Repeat

    Repeat these steps on each section until you have detangled each one, then run the comb through your entire head of hair to blend everything and make sure you’ve removed all the tangles.

Read Next: 25 Best Hair Detanglers for Knot-Free, Smooth Hair

Detangling Wet Hair

If you’ve just come out of the shower and your hair is a tangled mess even after conditioning, you may need to use a leave-in product. Follow these steps for detangling your hair while it’s wet.

  • Use a Spray: As we have mentioned, use your favorite leave-in spray or lotion, spritzing evenly throughout your hair to remove tangles and prevent further ones.
  • From here, you can repeat the comb and repeat steps that you’d use for detangling dry hair. If you’re using the same product to detangle wet hair, make sure that it’s suitable for both wet and dry hair.
How to Detangle Knotty Hair

How to Detangle Severely Matted Hair

If your hair has become severely matted, don’t freak out just yet. While matted hair is usually more challenging to deal with than a simple tangle, there are several easy steps you can take to resolve it without having to cut your hair or damage it further.

But First: What Is Matted Hair?

Matted hair happens when hair that you’ve already shed isn’t brushed out. These hairs will wrap around intact hair, creating severe tangles, which can lead to matting.

How to Detangle Matted Hair

  • Dampen Your Hair: Detangling dry hair can be challenging enough, so when your hair is severely matted, dampen your hair with a spray bottle of conditioning treatment. You don’t have to thoroughly saturate your hair, as this may cause more breakage.
  • Loosen Knots: Begin by using your fingers to loosen large knots, working the detangling solution or conditioner through them as much as possible.
  • Combing: When you’ve detangled as much as you can with your fingers, find your trusty wide-tooth comb to begin working through your hair. Remember to work in sections and work slowly. Don’t be surprised if you see lots of hair coming out as you work through the matted areas. These are hairs you’ve already shed that made the knots in the first place.
  • Rinse: After you’ve thoroughly detangled the knots from your hair, rinse your hair with cool water to remove any remaining product.
How to Detangle Matted Hair

How to Prevent Matted Hair

Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to prevent your hair from becoming matted. Follow these simple steps to ensure you keep your hair free of knots and mats.

  • Detangle Regularly: You may not want to do it every day, but every time you wash your hair, you should be detangling it beforehand or during. The more often you detangle, the less likely you will be to get mats.
  • Use Detangling Products: Use a detangling product that is suitable for your hair type and texture. You can find a list of some of our favorite detangling products here!
  • Protect Your Hair: For many people, knots occur during sleep. To protect your hair from becoming matted or damaged while you sleep, you can use a silk pillowcase or bonnet or wrap your hair in a silk scarf while you sleep.

Detangling Chemically Processed Hair

If you have chemically processed hair, you may be more prone to tangles than if you didn’t. Don’t worry, as there are easy ways to detangle your processed hair without causing further harm.

  • Be Gentle: Starting in the shower, focus on your scalp when it comes to washing. Don’t be too vigorous, as this will cause more knots.
  • Deep Condition: Once or twice a week, use a deep conditioner in place of your regular conditioner, and leave it on for the recommended time. Use a wide-tooth comb to brush through any tangles before rinsing the hair mask out. For your everyday routine, you can also detangle with your comb and regular conditioner.
  • Oil: Once your hair is dry, or even while still damp, use hair oil on your ends to help them heal, especially if they are particularly fried.
  • Trim: If your hair is suffering from chemical damage, be sure to keep up on regular trims to get rid of dead ends, allowing your hair to revive itself through new growth.
How to Detangle Curly Hair

How to Detangle Curly Hair

  • Moisturize: Because your hair type may need more moisture, keep a spray bottle handy to spritz your hair. You can use regular water, a watered-down conditioner, or your favorite detangling product. Be sure to choose a product with the correct amount of “slip” for your hair type/ texture.
  • Work in Sections: After moisturizing your hair and applying your detangling product, section it off into smaller, workable areas. Then you can begin detangling either with your fingers or a rat-tail comb. Be sure to not pull too hard, as doing so can cause tangles to tighten and become worse. Pull knots apart gently in an outward motion.
  • Comb Through: Starting from the bottom and working your way up, use a wide-toothed comb to comb through your hair and remove tangles slowly. Be sure to work from the bottom up, as starting at the top may push tangles down, knotting them further.
  • Repeat: Once you have completed detangling a section, you can clip it back and move on to the next, repeating the detangling process until you’re knot-free.

Hopefully, the steps and techniques that we’ve included in this article will help you work through your knotted hair, no matter what your hair is like! Remember always to refer back to this article when you need tips on preventing matted hair!

Photos via @marianna_hewitt, @alexandra_nx, Instagram