“Combing it out”, “detangling”, or “brushing” afro textured hair is known to be a painful, confusing and frustrating experience for every one involved. It’s been this way for generations, and licensed cosmetologists have done nothing but exacerbate this problem. Detangling your hair is a necessary part of grooming but those with tight coils and dry tresses resent and do their best to avoid having to do this. Opting for ‘protective styles’ once the sew-in is uninstalled and wig comes off, the neglect of natural hair is painfully apparent.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Four Naturals Hair was created to help heal the painful aspects of having natural hair with cosmetic chemistry and nature. Read on to understand all the aspects of textured hair detangling, what goes wrong and how our patent-pending solution.
The issue with detangling textured hair is that our current understanding of textured hair centers the straight hair experience. What this means is the way we are taught to understand or even describe our textured tresses centers straight hair as the default. When Straight hair is considered detangled, the strands lay side by side and are not looped around each other and a detangling apparatus, either comb or brush goes smoothly from root to end with minimal obstruction or tension on the hair strands. When the straight hair experience is the default, that means you believe that your textured coily tresses should be separated from their coil-friends and should be side to side. It’s even in the language we use “Brush/comb it out”, “‘Fro it out.” But what are you taking your strands ‘out’ of? Based on this, the belief is you should strive to get your, often-times, fine coily strands separated and stands alone. Not only that, many people, including licensed cosmetologists, will attempt to detangle textured hair while it’s dry. They believe that if straight hair can be detangled dry, textured hair should be detangled dry too. For licensed cosmetologists who know dry-detangling is a big no-no, if they do wet the hair and add deep conditioner, they still physically detangle the hair from a straight-hair-centered approach. What is the result of these detangling sessions? Pain, breakage, resentment, and shattered trust.
A closer empathetic look will reveal the behavior of textured strands. Normally the ends of the “freed” strands shrink and curl on themselves back toward the root. And because our strands are doing what they normally do, but our expectation is that it should behave like straight hair, textured hair is labeled as “difficult”. By nature, coily strands don’t do well without the integrity of the other coily strands helping to keep the strand from breaking or going wayward. This is an important difference between textured hair and straight hair: Textured hair is detangled when it is grouped with other strands creating a curl NOT when strands are separated from each other.
We all agree that curls are different from straight hair but we don’t think or care for our hair as if that’s true. And institutions like the cosmetology board contribute to that cognitive dissonance. Hair schools teach about hair with a “hair is hair” philosophy and then proceed to pass out mannequins with straight hair and have future cosmetologists test every hair skill exclusively on straight hair mannequins – even chemical processes like the relaxer which was designed for textured hair. This is why hair care for black women is so painful and difficult and why we have such horrific and demoralizing experiences in professional haircare chairs. They haven’t been taught and most of their perceptions of black hair are heavily influenced by generations of negative stereotypes, negative hair experiences with clients (which are solely due to their lack of experience and expertise but are often blamed on stereotypes about black women as people and as customers), years of anecdotal stories from other stylists, and implicit bias.
Four Naturals Hair developed a patent-pending detangling technique to fill this cavernous gap. It’s easy, 4 steps and guarantees the most efficient, dramatically reduced breakage and tear-free clumpy detangled curls!
Remember, most of the cues for detangling textured hair are based on the straight hair experience. So you must unlearn a lot of these cues and learn new objectives that are based on the reality of the hair on your head.
The first thing to unlearn is detangling the hair dry or just with water and conditioner. The hair shaft of a textured hair or coils bends at many points. Every ellipse is a weak spot of the hair shaft and is prone to breaking at that point. So every detangling session that ends with clumps of hair could contain of hair shafts that were broken unnecessarily. This contributes to hair looking uneven, thin, and definitely encourage a growth plateau.
From now on, your textured coily strands must be wet with water, a deep conditioner of any kind and olive oil. This is your “pre-poo” mixture and olive oil is the game-changing ingredient. Olive oil has been used by the ancient greeks in hair care for centuries, and they’re definitely on to something because olive oil gives your hair the “slip” it needs to properly detangle and not break. Olive oil makes the hair slick and strong the one-two combo fine and fragile type 4 coils require for proper trauma-free detangling.
Next, you must rid yourself of the idea that your hair is detangled when your individual strands are pulled apart and separated from each other. Detangled curls and coils look like defined curls and coils, not an afro. And the best detangling apparatus is a $7 brush from Sally’s Beauty, not a wide-toothed comb. That’s right, wide-toothed combs, rat tails, wavy brushes and even finger detangling is not an adequate way to care for coily hair and remove shed hair and organize springy coil strands into their coil/curl communities i.e. a defined curl.
The proper technique for using the Tangle Tamer when detangling is to grab a section of hair, starting at the ends, brush and then smooth over the part of the hair that was brushed with your free hand. Work your way up the section of hair in this way until you can glide the Tangle Tamer easily from root to end without tension. You’ll find that with every stroke of the brush your curls, coils and ringlets will begin to form and loop. Once you reach the point where you go from root to end smoothly, you will see how your coil strands will effortlessly group together the other strands around it creating perfectly formed curls. Your smoothing hand will rid the hair of excess deep conditioner and olive oil and will identify the location of knots/tangled shed hair. We’ll go over the technique again a little later.
Lastly, by adopting the Four Naturals Detangling technique you will free yourself from the experience of pain while detangling your hair. Pain is not ‘gain’ when it comes to hair care, so it shouldn’t be part of a healthy hair care regimen. Users who have followed the method report surprise at how pain-free and efficient the detangle session was. That it’s fast, and ended with little to know shedding/breakage.
Start with hair that is dirty but completely wet. Separate the hair into six imperfect sections. To create the sections, imperfectly part the hair down the center, and then create an imperfect part in front of the ear and then right behind it, creating 3 sections on each half. We stress creating imperfect parts because trying to get perfect parts on tangled hair is unnecessary and will cause pain on the scalp and breakage on the strand. This is another practice to unlearn. Sectioning the hair is merely about manageability not aesthetics!
Apply deep-conditioner and olive oil to each section and clip it off. Do Not attempt to detangle the hair until every section has deep conditioner and olive oil on it. Most naturals make the mistake of putting on their pre-poo and immediately working that section. This way makes the process much longer and tedious, and by the time you get to the last section, that part of the hair is bone dry. Not to mention, immediately working a section after putting any product on it will make the section harder to detangle and make the section highly prone to breakage because your hair hasn’t had an opportunity to allow the product to penetrate the cuticle. Always apply your pre-poo to your entire head and then return to the first section and begin using your Tangle Tamer. Work smort, ot hard.
Now that you’re at the first section that received the pre-poo mixture and if the section is dense, halve it, clip the top section away and begin detangling the section closest to the hairline. With your free hand grab the section at the end and insert the edge of the Tangle Tamer into the section just above the hand and drag it through to the end. Smooth the part of the hair the Tangle Tamer went through with the free hand while inserting the Tangle Tamer a little further up and repeat all the way to the root. If you feel any knots put down the Tangle Tamer and assess what type of knot it is. Most knots are caused by shed hair that became intertwined with the strands around it still attached to the scalp. If you work open the knot you can tease the shed hair out of your strands. This is the gentlest way to release tangles caused by shed hair from coily strands.
Once all the sections are detangled, use a sulfate-free shampoo and cleanse your hair.
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