This Single Trick Reduced My Detangling Time and Shed Hairs by 50%

Y’all. Last night was a REVOLUTIONARY moment in my natural hair career. Yes, this is a career — anything that takes more than 10 hours per week and provides some sort of income is a path to a career. I digress. But anyhow, remember my lamentation about how my hair sucks and I wanted to cut it all off because it wasn’t growing how my hair was struggling? So I decided to try out some new things for this wash process, and I’m happy to report that I had AMAZING results!

This Single Trick Reduced My Detangling Time and Shed Hairs by 50%

First and foremost, I decided to wash my hair after only 2 weeks of living with it since I went to the Carol’s Daughter Salon. My lazy nyash (behind) typically waits 3-4 (to 5…) weeks between any kind of water drenching my hair, but a more frequent wash means more frequent conditioning, deep conditioning, and steaming — all great things for my hair. Now on to what I think was really the main reason my wash day was really just a couple (literally two) hours:

I Switched The Order of my Detangling & Wash Process

How I Washed My Hair Before

My previous wash cycle went a bit like this:

  • * Finger detangle my dirty old hair that was most likely in a puff with water, conditioner, and oil and my Q-Redew. Put into braids.
  • * Unbraid sections one by one and shampoo, braid back up. Rinse out shampoo.
  • * Unbraid sections one by one and condition, braid back up. Rinse out conditioner while in braids.

The finger detangling part often took at least 1.5 hours if I was doing a good job. I know because thats 2 episodes of Law & Order: SVU. Oftentimes, it would take more time than that, but mostly because I was just trying to finish a 3rd episode so I’d drag it out. Now once you’ve spent nearly 2 hours with your arms up trying to get knots out of your hair, you don’t really have the strength to even think about deep conditioning… and hence why I seriously fell off the path in that department. I would have to fill up my Q-Redew reservoir up twice to coat my hair in steam, and continuously respray my detangling mix to keep my hair hydrated so I could minimize the dreaded snap, crackle, and pop that sometimes sneaks up on you as you’re finger detangling.

How I Washed My Hair Last Night
  • * Section dirty hair into four, loosely secure sections with hair ties.
  • * Shampoo each section and place in loose bun when complete. Rinse out shampoo by saturating buns with water and squeezing it out.
  • * Apply deep conditioner (I used Aubrey Organics… review forthcoming) to each section to coat, very lightly finger detangle and split into two smaller sections, which are bantu knotted. I now have 8 bantu knots (no bobby pins).
  • * Section by section (taking one bantu knot at a time), use Q-Redew to add steam to front and back of section for 30 seconds. Then, finger detangle until I can run my fingers through the section. Braid up the section and continue.
  • * Rinse out deep conditioner while in braids.

Bantu-ing your hair helps your hair remain wet and conditioning before you’re ready to work with it with the steamer, whereas a twist or braid would cause your hair to dry up (Alana taught me!). I had a spray bottle of oil & water mix ready in case my hair got dry, but it didn’t at all! Not only was this sequence of events time-saving — cutting down a 1.5 hour detangling session to a cool 40 minutes — it also significantly reduced the amount of breakage I experience from finger detangling. I usually have a fist full of hair but last night, just a few lost pieces.

Now the academic researcher in me wants to point out some caveats, mainly a potential confounding factor. A confounding factor is a variable that can give you distorted results. Anywhew, it’s possible that the fact that my hair was recently trimmed has something to do with this reduced breakage. However, I’m not fully sold on that theory because I experienced normal amounts of breakage/shedding while retwisting my hair over the course of the past two weeks. If my mini fuzz ball was solely from the trim, I think I would’ve also noticed less shed and broken hairs between washes.

Do you detangle before or after shampooing your hair? What factors influenced your decision?

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  1. I lightly finger detangle to pull apart any big knots before washing. Then when the conditioner is in I’ll comb out the last 3 inches of my hair and finger detangle from there.

    Is that conditioner Aubrey’s Honeysuckle rose? I love that stuff! I think it might be my new fav.

  2. Hi, first of all, nice blog. If I’m already in an afro or a puff, I’ll simply shampoo, condition and deep condition while the hair is loose. Then rise and add a light leave in. finally make about 12 to 15 bantu knots. Its while creating the bantu knots that I de-tangle, moisturise and oil. And as you have mentioned, the knots retain moisture longer. I lose little hair this way and I only have bad knots when am due for a trim. On the other hand i might wash the hair in twists if i was already in twists, just to save time, repeat the process above then convert the twists to bantus. Total time, about 45mins.

  3. I finally -after 3yrs- figured out the formula for detangling my fine 4c hair. It used to take me over 3 hours to detangle and wash and was similar to what you were doing. This used to be a nightmare because my hair easily locs and meshes together. In my first 6 months I had managed to get it so tangled, I had cornrows I could not unravel and had to cut them off!

    Now, from start to finish, it takes 30 minutes tops (and that includes bathing!). My magic formula is:
    1. I do NOT mix twistouts and braidouts from day to day. Somehow, the change from spiral pattern of twistouts to the zig-zag of braidouts makes detangling harder. I also avoid small twists(maximum 12)
    2. Wash/detangle at least every 2 weeks.
    3. In the shower, I wash the hair while LOOSE. I split it down the middle & wash with Kirk’s castille soap and rinse. Then I use a really nice cheap conditioner (Silkience? from Dollar Tree) to condition and detangle. I use a plastic pick comb and START from the SCALP (not ends as you’re ‘supposed’ to). I just hold the end of the hair taut, and use the comb to push the tangles towards the ends. As the tangles bunch up towards the middle, I use my fingers to smooth them towards the ends. Do NOT start splitting the hair apart, just smooth the bundled of tangles toward the ends and then continue with the comb from the middle. If you’ve ever seen those machines that weave fabrics, that’s what it looks like. Since the hair is loose, it’s a very efficient process. When I get to the last 2 inches, I can then comb from the ends to complete the process. This method by the way, ensures that the ends are manipulated the least=less breakage. After detangling, I rinse off and then apply Tresemme naturals as a leave in, then olive oil, then I make 4 large loose twists. After finishing bathing, I blot out excess water with towel and then do 8-10 twists and I’m done.

    I’ve been doing this for almost a year now and would never have believed I could wash it loose without having to detangle first then braid, wash, unbraid etc. I hope this helps someone.

  4. I do an EXTRA basic detangle (just run my fingers through misted hair to get rid of obvious knots) before I wash. Once in the shower, I drench my hair with water, then conditioner, and detangle using a comb and running water as I rinse the conditioner from my hair. Then I wash and deep condition. This whole process including a 30 min deep condition takes about an hour.

    1. Since I don’t comb, I just can’t be standing in the shower for minutes on minutes detangling my hair lol, but yay for your speedy process!

  5. I prefer to detangle pre-wash then put my hair into bantu knots for the wash process. I figured—if I start with completely detangled and sectioned hair then there really isn’t too much chance of getting the sections tangled up again.

    So far so good!

    Do you use a comb in your detangling process?

    KLP | SavingOurStrands

    1. That was my thinking before but it for whatever reason wasn’t working. And I strictly finger detangle when I do my hair myself. I don’t make hair stylists do it in the rare occasion I get my hair done.

  6. My only question is, is shedding really bad? I thought that getting rid of the shed hair early on prevents it from tangling up in the rest of your hair?

    1. Yup, but I know that it wasn’t all shed hairs I was ending up with. Not only did I hear the snap, crackle, and pop sometimes, I could see the broken hairs.