LifeTYME Blog

How to detangle matted hair without damaging it

Girl on her bed with messy long brown hair that is matted. Taken from Pexels

Put down the scissors—let’s get through matted hair together


If you’re not one of those girls who wakes up with Vogue-worthy locks, then don’t stress—neither are the majority of us. It’s no secret that dealing with matted hair comes with plenty of horror stories. From scissors to breakage, to buzz cuts—it can feel like you're trying to find your way out of a maze, blindfolded and backward. One day your hair's all smooth and sleek, and the next, it's practically plotting against you, turning into a tangled, matted mess. 


Oversleep once and you’ve missed a brush here, or got caught in a gust there, and the next, you’re crying with the consequences. That’s life, hey? Or maybe it's just how your hair rolls—whatever the reason, those mats are a puzzle that nobody's excited to solve (even stylists!).


But here's the kicker—detangling doesn't have to be a mission impossible that leaves your hair and scalp waving white flags. We're all about finding that sweet spot where detangling meets TLC and self-care, whilst keeping your hair as healthy as can be. We’re on a mat-free mission to pain-free detangling, ready to dish the gossip on all the essential 'how-tos' necessary to restore your hair to its smooth, happy self. 


Get ready for some gentle strokes without the battle scars. Brushes at the ready, let’s get this detangling gig started—one moment of self-care at a time.


Understanding matted hair  

Ever wondered why your hair decides to throw a tangled tantrum, turning into a matted mess whenever it sees fit? It's like one moment your hair is picture-ready, and the next, it's plotting a rebellion. Let's break down the why and how of matted hair, making it a tad less mysterious and a lot more manageable.


Skipping the brush

We know. Life gets busy, and sometimes brushing takes a backseat—especially when you’re in from a late-night escapade. But here's the thing, regular brushing is like a peace treaty with your hair. Skip it, and tangles start setting up camp and causing chaos. It’s a moment of self-care that we can’t neglect.


Moisture + hair = Danger

Love a good swim or getting caught in the rain? Well unfortunately for you, that bit of H20 is the villain behind knotty hair. Water on your strand can swell the hair by opening the cuticle—this sets the stage for some serious matting action, *especially* if you don't detangle post-soak.


Curly girls beware

That’s right, it’s like us curly girls don’t have enough worries as it is! Matting is a serious issue for curly, kinky, or coily hair, and though it's undeniably gorgeous—it's also more prone to tangling (sigh). Why? Each precious ringlet curl is a potential knot-in-waiting, lurking ready to cause a knot in your hair care routine. Tend to those curls with deep conditioning treatments and always brush gently. 


Watch out, restless sleepers

Tossing and turning at night? Your hair's getting a workout, too, rubbing against the pillow and forming knots that no one asked for. Opt for a silk bonnet or silk pillowcase to treat your locks to some friction-free TLC. Your hair won’t just feel like a princess—you’ll be sleeping like one, too. 


Be careful with your long hair 

Long hair, like Rapunzel's, is prone to tangling and twisting due to its length. With more strands to manage, knots and mats can form easily, making detangling a challenge. To prevent matting in long hair, it's crucial to establish a regular maintenance routine. Brush or comb your hair daily using a wide-tooth comb or detangling brush, starting from the ends and working your way up to the roots.


So, here's the bottom line—understanding the reasons behind matted hair is key, but it's only half the story. Whether it's your hair's unique texture, skipping a brushing session, or simply living an active lifestyle, being aware of these factors helps you cut out the worst of matting—and maintain hair that's consistently smooth and manageable.


The detangling story

Before you start navigating around the detangling battlefield, let’s get our weapons ready. Not quite like some other beauty hacks, detangling comes with only a few necessities that you’ll have around the house. Think of it as prepping for a spa day rather than a war—but being prepared is very important. 


The key players? Patience and the right toolkit. Slowing down and taking your time is the best advice we can give you, as rushing through detangling is like trying to speed-read a thriller novel—you might miss serious details and end up with a tangled mess that takes even longer to untangle.


First things first—you need to make some time for some quality time with you and your hair. This isn't a race, so give yourself a moment to breathe and approach this task by keeping cool, calm, and collected. 


Oh, and remember, the more stress you put your hair through, the more your hair will fight back (hello more matting).


Now, let's take a look at what’s in our toolkit

Wide-tooth comb

Your trusty companion for navigating through tangled hair with finesse—the wide-tooth comb gently teases apart knots without causing undue stress or breakage. Its spacious design allows for smooth gliding, minimizing the risk of further tangling while maintaining your hair's strength.


Detangling spray 

Consider this the secret weapon in your arsenal—detangling spray is a magical elixir that effortlessly transforms the detangling process. By infusing your hair with much-needed moisture, this spray allows the comb to slide through snarls with ease. Just like a hot knife through butter, this nifty spray reduces friction and discomfort for a smoother detangling experience.


Leave-in conditioner

One of your besties in your detangling routine is the leave-in conditioner, which acts as your guardian angel for your hair-matted woes. Its conditioning properties not only nourish and hydrate your hair but also provide essential slip, turning the detangling process into a harmonious dance—rather than a strenuous tug-of-war. With each application, your hair becomes more manageable, more silky, and ready to fight the days away.


Hair oil

When faced with particularly stubborn knots, hair oil is your BFF. It offers you the necessary lubrication and negotiation skills to untangle even the most resistant strands. With just a dab of this oily goodness, knots can drift apart, leaving behind salon-worthy shine—and the best bit? Mat free!


Water spray bottle

This one sounds super simple, but it will be part of your beauty cabinet for years to come. The water spray bottle holds the power to revive and rejuvenate your tresses, by concocting your very own detangling elixir. By adding a touch of moisture to your hair, it reactivates the conditioning properties of your detangling spray and leave-in conditioner, creating a smoother application and detangling joy.

Arm yourself with these detangling besties, and you're all set for a smoother, silkier ride. Each tool and product we’ve recommended serves a purpose—turning the daunting task of detangling into a self-care treat and (dare we say) enjoyable process. So, take a deep breath, grab a glass of vino, and have yourself a haircare night in. 


Step-by-step on how to untangle matted hair

You’ve got the weapons, and booked your TLC slot, now what’s next? Starting the journey to mat-free hair can feel like you’re floating on choppy waters, so luckily for you—we’ve done the work for you. All you need to do is follow these simple steps.  


Step 1: Moisturize and apply a detangling product

It all starts with the base, and the first step is all about laying down a foundation of moisture. Dry, brittle hair is a detangler's nightmare, so introducing moisture is key. Start by lightly misting your hair with water or a leave-in conditioner to make it workable. Then, bring in the tools—a detangling spray or cream. These products are specifically designed to provide slip, making it easier for tangles to loosen up without a fight. Work the product through your hair with your hands, ensuring even coverage, especially on the most matted areas—and it should work in the blink of an eye.


Step 2: Section the matted hair 

Facing your entire head of hair at once can be overwhelming, so break it down into manageable sections. Use hair clips to section off your hair, leaving one segment down to work on at a time. This approach not only makes the task less intimidating but also ensures you're thorough with each part, reducing the risk of missing any hidden tangles.


Step 3: Work from the ends and work your way up

One of the golden rules of detangling is to start at the ends and gradually work your way up to the roots. This method prevents you from pushing knots tighter as you work, which can happen if you start from the top. Gently tease apart the ends, slowly moving upward, and you'll find knots beginning to surrender with much less resistance.


Step 4: Use your fingers to detangle first, then a wide-tooth comb

Begin with your fingers to gently pull apart the easier tangles, giving you a feel for the more stubborn knots without causing unnecessary breakage or tears. After you've loosened the tangles with your fingers, introduce a wide-tooth comb to further smooth out your hair. Finger-detangling mixed with a wide-tooth comb is surprisingly effective and less harsh on your hair than any other method. If it looks after your hair like this, then it’s TYME-approved. 


Top tips for those harder knots 

Even with the best technique and best method, you may still encounter a knot that just won't budge. 


Here's how to handle those tough customers

– Patience is key: Please take a deep breath and resist the urge to pull or yank (it’s hard, we know!). Patience will save your hair from breakage, and stop you running to the salon.

– More product, please: There’s no such thing as too much product. Ok, there is, but don't be scared to apply more detangling spray or conditioner to those stubborn knots. Sometimes, a little extra slip and slide is all you need to get rid of those gnarly tangles.

– The 'picking' technique: Use the pointed tail end of a comb or a hair pick to gently work through the knot, starting from the outer edges and slowly moving inwards.

– Twist, twist, twist: Sometimes, twisting the hair around the knot and gently pulling can help loosen it up and slide it out. 

– Embrace the trim: If a knot is truly beyond saving, and you're comfortable with it, a small trim might be the most pain-free solution—and save your hair in the long run. 


Detangling matted hair doesn't have to be a battle. With the right moisture, tools, technique, and a boatload of patience, you can turn a tangled mess into smooth, flowing locks. Remember, the goal isn't just to detangle but to do so in a way that lasts for the foreseeable. We don’t want mats very often, so caring is *extremely* important. 


If in doubt, speak to a stylist 

Don’t be afraid to admit defeat. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a knot can feel more like a fortress—impossible at all attempts of detangling. That's your cue that it might be time to call in the cavalry, aka a professional hairstylist. If your hair's matted to the point where detangling is causing pain, excessive hair loss, or breakage, a professional can offer solutions that minimize damage. 


The best bit about salons is that they often have specialized tools and products not typically found at home—coupled with the expertise (hair gods) to tackle even the most severe of matting problems. 


Patience and care is all you need 

Nature's got your back when it comes to detangling, offering a bounty of ingredients that can ease the process. Embrace the power of coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, and DIY sprays with conditioner to infuse your hair care routine with natural goodness—and keep your hair knot-free. 


Just as we all eagerly care for our skin, with a list as long as a book, you should adopt a consistent approach to hair care, too. Treating your locks with the same level of attention and pampering can save you from having the chop or hacking at those viscous knots. So with your comb at the ready, potions in hand, get ready to start brushing, nurturing, and revitalizing your tresses—one detangling session at a time. 


Oh, and whatever you do, steer clear of those pesky elastic hair ties. They're like the hair equivalent of a tangled mess waiting to happen!

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