Benefits of Finger Detangling | Hair Advice


By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the need to be gentle with your natural hair.  All of the curls, coils, and kinks, while beautiful, can often make for lots of knots and tangles.  This is especially true if you wear your hair out, in popular styles like twist outs and braid outs.  So as not to contribute to breakage, it is important that you take the time to detangle your hair.  There are many tools on the market that claim to detangle hair effortlessly.  However, did you know that you don’t have to run out to the store to buy a fancy brush or detangling device?  You already have the best tool available.  What’s even better is, you have ten of them!  What am I talking about?  Your hands, of course.  Specifically the fingers attached to your hands.  Keep reading to learn about the benefits of finger detangling, tips to make your detangling session a breeze, and exactly how I go about detangling my natural hair with my fingers.

You must go into finger detangling with an extreme amount of patience and a willingness to persevere.  The minute (or second) you become frustrated when encounter tangles and knots, take a deep breathe and patiently work through it.  If you don’t, if you get so annoyed at the amount of (or severity) tangles you’ll end up contributing to your hair’s breakage, split ends, and hair loss.

There is a delicate line between using a comb and finger detangling.  Using a comb, one that is seamless, after finger detangling, can help distribute product (and sebum that is naturally secreted) more evenly.



No hidden knots.  Tools, like brushes and combs, while great, often can’t catch everything.  Ever notice how even after using a wide tooth comb or brush, you still had tangles?  Some small and some, big to the point where you’re thinking “How in the world was this not caught”?  Using your fingers to detangle instead allows you to feel EVERYTHING.

Clumping.  Tools like combs and brushes manipulate/disturb your hair’s natural curl pattern.  Using your fingers instead,  This is why so many people have better wash n go results when using their hands to smooth down their hair.  The curls are better defined, falling into their natural curl pattern.

Better length retention.  You’ll have less breakage using your fingers to detangle your hair.  Let’s face it, tangles and knots are enough to make anyone frustrated.  Using a tool, combined with the frustration of working through a knot is a recipe for disaster.  Combs also have a habit of helping to make what used to be a small knot a much bigger knot (thanks to the comb helping to guide all of the hairs together).  This is usually when you end up having to use your fingers anyway so why not start off using your fingers to detangle from the start?  You can be more gentle on your hair using fingers than you can ever be using a tool.


Trim and file your finger nails.  You don’t want to run your hands through your hair, only to see little broken pieces of hair caught up in your nails.  Make sure, prior to detangling your hair, you cut and file your nails.  Jagged nails will do just as much damage as a comb.

Make sure hair is damp.  Ever notice how on kids detangling products it says to apply the product to damp hair?  Hair that is damp, versus hair that is dry, will be much easier to work with.  Before starting, take a spray bottle that has water in it and mist your hair.  Remember,  you want it damp, not soaking wet.

Coat hair with oil.  Oil on your hair will help your fingers glide through your hair effortlessly, making the detangling process easier to get through.  Coconut oil, a favorite for pre-pooing, is a good oil to use for detangling.  It’s light weight and, in my opinion very greasy!

Use products with tons of slip.  Some conditioners I like to use for this purpose are TRESemme Naturals Conditionerand Suave Professional’s Humectant Conditioner.

Apply product then wait.  The conditioner, or whatever product you’re using, needs time to work on your hair.  Wait about 5 minutes or so after applying your conditioner before you start detangling.  If you’re working with your hair in sections (which you should to make things easier), by the time you finish applying the product to your last section, the first section should be ready for you to start going through.



So, this is how I do it.  I start by sectioning my hair into two halves (left and right).  Pinning one half out of the way, I then pull out a small section of hair to work with (clipping the rest of the hair up).  I take a spray bottle with water and mist the small section of hair.  I “squeeze” this small section of hair, working in the water to help start loosening my hair.  Then, after I rub some coconut oil (that can either be in a solid state or melted) on my hands, I rub this on my hair.  I run my hands in a downward motion.  Next up, I add in my conditioner and work this in by squeezing and running hands in a downward motion.  Once all of the products have been added, I start finger combing my hair.  I use my fingers to separate my hair.  There’s no friction and I don’t force the tangles free.  If I feel any resistance, I start by adding more water, then oil, and then conditioner.  Eventually the tangles start the melt away and the shed hairs start collecting on my greasy hands.

Throughout the entire process, I am constantly running my fingers down the length of my hair in a downward motion.  I usually have to remind myself to stop and move on to the next section because I get lost in running my fingers thru my hair, tangle free!  It really is therapeutic.  Once a finish a section, I twist it up and move on to another small section of hair.

I find that once I’m done, my hair feels and looks fuller and healthier.  I guess this is because I didn’t rip through my hair with a brush or comb!

So, have you incorporated finger detangling into your regimen? How do you think it compares to using tools to detangle?

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2 Comments on Benefits of Finger Detangling | Hair Advice

  1. sheryl
    January 15, 2015 at 6:34 pm (6 years ago)

    Great post Janelle but i’m still on the TWA stag e. I don’t have much tangles but I’ll try to start practicing.

    • Jenelle
      January 16, 2015 at 7:56 am (6 years ago)

      Thanks Sheryl! Ahhh, how I miss the ease of the twa stage! Enjoy the journey. Before you know it, you’ll have hair down your back!


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