The 90/10 Detangling Method

Last updated on April 5th, 2023 at 10:00 am

How you detangle your hair (especially fine hair) will determine a couple of things. One is, if you actually remove all the shed hairs and tangles effectively. The second is, how much breakage are you causing that you can totally avoid? Let me share with you how to detangle your hair using what I call the 90/10 detangling method.

detangling method for natural hair

What Is the 90-10 Detangling Rule

Really more of a method (because rules are often broken and we don’t want to break this one!), the 90-10 detangling “rule” is a very strategic way for how to detangle your hair.

It’s not complex and doesn’t require much but when done correctly and consistently, it will save you a lot of heartache and strands of hair.

The 90/10 method of detangling is a percentage. 90% Finger Detangling and 10% detangling with a hair tool.

The purpose of finger detangling is to safely remove as many tangles from your hair as possible. The other 10% of the method that requires you to use a detangling tool is less about detangling and more about removing shed hair.

How to Effectively and Safely Detangle Your Hair in Steps

The very simple steps for detangling your hair in the most effective manner is:

  1. Always detangle in sections
  2. Use gloves (optional but highly recommended. I use them most of the time but not always. If hang nails are a concern, always use them)
  3. Use a product with an EXTREME amount of slip to help you work through tangled hair with the least amount of effort. This here is the BEST detangled around: Ominira Naturals Tangle Slayer
  4. Use the shower stream to aid you in detangling
  5. Working one section at a time, saturate your hair with water and your detangling product.
  6. Use your fingers ONLY sub-sectioning smaller parts while detangling.
  7. After you feel like you’ve detangled most of the way (90%), use your detangling tool to finish the job.

Demo of the 90/10 Detangle Method in Action

If the above steps aren’t as clear to you, check out this quick demo in action:

Detangling Demo – with or without gloves (optional but recommended if hang nails are a concern)

Top Frequently Asked Questions About How to Detangle Your Hair

Is it better to untangle your hair wet or dry?

This is definitely a loaded question. To detangle wet or dry? It depends.

You never want to detangle natural hair completely dry because it is more prone to breakage as it lacks moisture.

When you wash your hair, loading it up with conditioner gives it the slip needed to detangle your hair wet. Also, using the shower stream will help you to detangle your hair with ease. However, you don’t want to just run a comb through your hair under the water. Always make sure there’s conditioner coating your strands.

If you want to attempt dry detangling, proceed with caution and use oil. Section your hair and apply oil throughout. Working in small sections, use your fingers to remove tangles. This method is best on straight or blown out hair. Naturally curly hair needs way more slip.

What is the easiest way to detangle knotted hair?

Knots can be fierce and cruel.

What you don’t want to ever do is pull and tug at the hair. You’ll damage it.

If the hair is badly knotted, scissors are your best friend. This is the easiest way. You can sometimes cause more damage trying to remove a knot from badly knotted hair than just cutting out the knot.

If you want to attempt to remove the knot, you must have a LOT of patience. Add a bit of oil to your knotted hair to add slip.

Then, try using a sewing needle to gently glide out the hairs and untangle them. Sometimes you can isolate the knot all the way down to one or two hairs and then just trim those.

This method is best done on longer hair where you can easily see the knot in front of you.

How do you get tangle free hair naturally?

hair oils

There are a number of ways to get your hair to remain tangle free naturally. That doesn’t mean your hair will never tangle. Especially if it’s curly. That just comes with the territory.

However, a few ways you get your hair to be tangle free (as much as possible) are:

  • Oil your strands with a lightweight oil a few nights per week. This will allow your individual hairs to “glide” upon themselves more freely so they do not get tangled and knotted
  • Keep your hair moisturized. It goes without saying that dry hair is much more prone to tangling
  • Lastly, never just go to bed with your hair roaming free. Always secure your hair when you lay down. This is something you should do even if you are laying down on the couch to watch TV.
  • Protective style – this type of style keeps your hair contained. However, your hair will still shed and when it’s time to remove the style, you’ll need to remove the shed hair. Hence, detangle it. You’re just delaying the process.

Detangling your hair using the 90/10 detangling rule (or method) has helped me to greatly reduce the amount of breakage incurred during this part of my natural hair routine. Try it and make sure you pin this post for later. You may want a reminder of the steps.

how to detangle your hair

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Michelle Smith

Michelle is a Christian natural hair enthusiast. She's been natural for 20+ years and shares natural hair care tips and easy hairstyles for those with low density or thin fine natural hair. It's her joy to inspire you to live by faith in God while caring for your "crown."

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