Detangling natural hair on a Budget

Detangling natural hair can be a real pain when it comes to natural hair care and yet it’s inextricably part of managing our natural hair. Especially for the tightly wound up curls that are characteristic of 4c hair, a proper detangling process is critical in avoiding hair loss from aggressive mechanical manipulation.

Detangling for me is more about technique than products. You could have the most effective products to work with but if your technique is lacking, your detangling process will be inefficient. Case on point: I only used three products to detangle:

  1. Water (laced with apple cider vinegar)
  2. A conditioner that cost $0.89
  3. Fractionated coconut oil (the one that remains liquid throughout)

detangling natural hairWater Laced with ACV:

This is a great mix to relax the curls because of it’s acidic pH. It also sets the stage for the products that are to come assuming they are not pH optimized (which most cheap products are not). It’s important here to not go overboard with the water-ACV ratio because cuticles will shrink and harden in response to over acidifying the hair. Cuticles are the gate-keepers to the flow of products in and out of the hair shaft so if they shrink and harden they will effectively “lock out” all products.

I used 1 tablespoon to two cups of water. Wet the hair as much as possible without making it dripping wet. Dripping wet hair is just as fragile as crackling dry hair. The safest condition to work with is damp hair.

A conditioner:

The kind of conditioner doesn’t really matter as long as you check to see that the ingredients in it are all agreeable to your hair. I’m using Alberto V05 Shea Cashmere, which cost a whopping $0.89. The runny texture of this conditioner is perfect for my thin hair because it doesn’t weigh it down too much. I prefer this texture for all my detangling conditioners. Normally I will use a heavier deep conditioner especially when sitting under the dryer. And of course, you can always loosen thick conditioner by adding a herbal tea, aloe vera and even plain water.

Coat your hair with a generous amount of conditioner. If you have a TWA, you might need to use a comb to get products down to the roots. See video below for a demonstration.

Fractionated coconut oil:

I have three oils in my arsenal of hair care – olive, avocado and coconut. Occasionally I experiment with other oils but these three are my tried and true permanent go-to’s. The kind of oil you use doesn’t really matter but you want to use an oil that’s readily available and affordable because the goal is to be super generous with it.

I am using fractionated coconut oil here and I love how easily it absorbs into my hair with no greasy residue after rinsing.

Detangling natural hair doesn’t have to be a terribly frustrating experience. I have learned three things that make it easy and actually fun:

  1. Keep it simple with products
  2. Take your time
  3. The nature of our hair is tangles so it will never be 100% detangled (tangles begin to form as soon as you leave a section alone)

See also: My Teeny Afro Natural Hair Regimen

Happy detangling and if you have other ideas on how to detangle on a budget please share in the comment section below.