Detangle Hair: Wet or Dry?

I saw a horror of a mess from a client who had matted her daughter’s lengthy tresses. The hair was so entangled,  there were no words to describe it. The mother shared that she applied  shampoo and when the hair did not detangle, she repeated the shampoo process.

I write this blog to clear up the myth or misunderstanding about detangling hair.

If you don’t know what is the best course of action to take. Just…

1. Stop

2. Drop the shampoo

3. Pick up the phone and contact a hair professional and schedule the first available appointment

What you should never do is act on random advice from a friend or family member or take action based on the first thing recommend to you online.  We all have different hair textures and curl patterns. What works for one person may not be necessarily what works for your hair.  For example…

Out of sheer curiosity I went online and reviewed many videos, blogs, and suggestions about the best way to detangle hair. Some recommendations recommend that you detangle wet hair and never to try to detangle dry hair and some say detangle dry hair and never to detangle with wet hair. Now what has worked for me is the latter. Assess the hair for yourself and determine if the hair is resilient enough to withstand the detangling process in its given state. I always aim to go the route that suffers less hair loss and breakage.

I can only speak from personal experience.  My family just returned from Sunny Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas on a cruise for our spring break getaway. What do kids want to do on Spring Break? Yes, hit the beach and my children swam all day. It was hard to get them to get out of the water long enough to rehydrate and reapply sunblock.

2 days & 2 Beaches in the tropics does a number on your hair. it is not only sunny but the water has a high salt content. The sun and salty water together are extremely drying for the hair and can leave hair dry and quite dull. Further, the sand in the water get’s trapped in their hair strands and settle on the scalp. Further, when hair comes in contact with these elements it throws off the ph balance of the hair leaving it extremely dry and brittle hair and a flaky, dry scalp.

Before Hair is Submerged in the Water

1) Wet and soak hair with fresh water. My rationale is this. Take a sponge for instance. If you wet a sponge completely, it’s fibers are full of water and you pour more water on it the water will run off. Same goes for your hair. If you hair strands are full of water, when you enter the water it initially, absorbing less chlorinated water or salty water.


2) Apply Conditioner. Conditioner moisturizes the hair and acts as a temporary buffer from the surrounding water.  I mention temporary because most conditioners are water-soluble and breakdown when it comes in contact with water.

After Hair is Submerged in the Water

1) When you exit the water, immediately rinse hair thoroughly to flush the chlorinated or salty water and sand from the hair with little manipulation as possible to prevent tangling and lightly dry off hair, if possible.

2) When you’ve arrived home and your ready to detangle hair. Remove any hair accessories from the hair and locate all the debris and knots. In my daughter’s case, rubber bands were used to secure her flat twists.

Remove rubber bands carefully.

To avoid cutting the hair. Tip: When you grasp the rubber band with one side of the scissors, slightly pull sharp scissors away from hair and the tension will cause the rubber band to break without actually closing the scissors to cut the rubber band.

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2) Detangle hair using a wide toothed comb and a generous amount of detangling spray. Just for Me Detangler works great! *I have to stress to detanglers, please exercise patience. The more patience you have, I guarantee you the less hair loss that head of hair will suffer. Do not yank or pull the hair. If it’s more than what you can handle, visit your local natural hair beauty salon.

To detangle successfully you will need:

a) Detangler product (Apply a generous amount to each mass of knotted hair)

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b) Hair Clips (to hold detangled hair away from tangled hair). If your able to part the hair in sections, do so. In my case, I was not able to section off the hair due to the hair style and the tangled hair.

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c) A Wide Toothed Comb (Find a natural divide in the hair, insert the top teeth of the comb and work the tangle down from root to ends  until combed free)

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2) Rinse hair thoroughly and massage scalp to remove any loose debris.

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3) Apply clarifying shampoo to rid the hair of any debris or buildup from the ocean in the hair. Work in hair rigorously to work out any loose sand.

4) Apply a Hot Oil Treatment to soothe the scalp and restore luster to the hair. Massage in generously. Caution: Ensure that the temperature is not too hot for the scalp when applied to the hair.

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5) Cap the hair with a  shower or plastic cap and sit under the Steamer for 20-30 minutes.

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6) Remove cap and part hair to review the scalp and comb through the hair from root to ends.

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7) Use the LOC Method (Liquid- Water, Oil – Natural Hair Oil, Cream – Leave in Conditioner).

8) Style.

When in doubt, follow the initial three steps above or always detangle hair completely with a wide toothed comb prior to shampooing the hair.

Follow this blog, leave a comment on how you detangle and Have a tangle free day!



Christine Waysome-Henderson

Christine Waysome-Henderson is a Natural Hair Care Consultant & Founder of Natural Hairess & Co. LLC. She educates individuals how to care for their natural hair organically. Christine is degreed and holds both an undergraduate degree from George Mason University and an MBA Graduate Degree in Business Management. She resides in Northern Virginia with her husband and three children. For more hair wisdom, visit

2 thoughts on “Detangle Hair: Wet or Dry?

  1. You hair specialist you…. Stay blessed.

    You guys coming to JA in August??

    Smile and the world smiles back, Mrs. Rowe


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