Finger Detangling 101 | The Fine Natural Hair Way

fine natural hair

Finger detangling is the best way to prevent breakage on fine natural hair on wash day and in between. That’s because unlike with a comb or brush, you are able to feel any knots or tangles and therefore, able to take your time working through your hair.

Some ladies say finger detangling doesn’t work for them. That’s probably due to technique or just lack of patience. Regardless of the reason, if your hair is fine and you want to keep it on your head, finger detangling is the way to go.

Basic Pointers

Here are some basic points to keep in mind when deciding to give detangling with your fingers a try:

Never start a detangling session (with your fingers or otherwise) when you are short on time. The key is to take your time working through your hair so that breakage is stopped at the door.

Work in small sections. While your hair may be fine, if you have a lot of it (density), it may be necessary to detangle in 6, maybe even 8 sections. This makes everything more manageable.

Before starting the process, spritz hair with water to make it more pliable when you separate and section.

Never detangle dry hair. After spritzing and separating, add a natural oil (like coconut or jojoba) and/or conditioner to help work out the tangles

Work in a down ward motion, sliding tangles up and out. Start from the ends and work up toward the roots. Then, try the other way around – roots to ends. Depending on your hair, you may find that the roots get more tangled than the ends so that area needs detangling first (Check out this post from Hairscapades on Breaking the Detangling Commandments)

Loosely bantu knot up the detangled sections as you go. This is far less manipulation than two strand twisting or braiding the section (less is better for fine natural hair)

Consider finger detangling on wash day only. It’s not necessary to detangle your hair between washes when you adequately protect your hair from excessive tangling throughout the week. If you choose to finger detangle mid-week, just be aware that you could be causing breakage from unnecessary manipulation. You’ll more than likely have to detangle again on wash day anyway so why not save all that manipulating for that day only?

Methods to Prevent Tangles at Night

  • Banding hair in 2 ponytails (Only use seamless elastic bands)
  • Twisting/Braiding hair in 1-2 sections
  • Putting hair in a pineapple (high ponytail)
  • Bunning loosely on the side or top of the head
  • Smooth a light weight natural oil (Jojoba is my oil of choice for this) throughout your hair, concentrating on the nape area

detangled fine natural hair

Taking the time to properly detangle your hair with your fingers will cut down and may even eliminate a lot of unnecessary breakage. Your fingers are the most gentle tools you possess. Give finger detangling a try. At the very least, before using a large tooth comb (2nd to finger detangling), start your detangling session with your fingers.

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Michelle Smith
Michelle is a Christian special needs mom residing in the NYC area who shares useful tips to grow and maintain fine natural hair. She's a published author and Creator of Fine Natural Hair and Faith, inspiring others with faith for living along side knowledge on how to care for their "crown."

2 thoughts on “Finger Detangling 101 | The Fine Natural Hair Way

  1. Hi Michelle,

    I love your blog. It’s such a good resource for fine hair naturals. I gave finger detangling a try for a month but I didn’t like it all. I do wash my hair weekly and in sections but I found that finger detangling was just not thorough enough. My schedule and living arrangements also don’t allow me to spend hours in the tub detangling as well.

    By the end of the month , I found that my hair was tangled really badly, especially at the ends. My hair has a tendency to web together or mesh together. I’m also guessing that my technique is just really bad. So now I try to just finger detangle a little (or what I think is finger detangling) before using a wide tooth comb.

    Are wide tooth combs really that bad? I want to be as gentle with my hair as possible but sometimes time constraints just sorta happen (all the time). I don’t yank the comb through my hair. My hair will be in six sections that have conditioner in them. I always start at my ends, working my way up and gently ease tangles out with slow movements of the comb. I find that I don’t lose a lot of hair this way but that may also be because I do some small form of finger detangling first. What do you think?

    1. Hi Annabel

      thank you 🙂

      You sound like you have a lot of density. That could be why strictly finger detangling isn’t for you.

      I’ve actually revised my position on finger detangling only. I’m finger detangling in the shower with lots of conditioner in sections but then I’m chasing it with a wide tooth, seamless comb. Wide tooth combs aren’t necessarily bad for you. I do however recommend you get one that’s seamless. They cost a little more but are well worth it. I bought mine for about $25 and i’m using it on wash day only with lots of conditioner at the end of my finger detangling. It’s working thus far. That may also be because my hair is now shorter. I’m going to keep an eye out for breakage as my hair grows back

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