How to Get Knots Out of Your Hair

How to Get Knots Out of Your Hair

Tangles and knots are the hair’s worst enemies! Styling tangled hair is practically impossible. Even worse than that, is the mere fact that tangles are awful for the hair. They hurt and pull, especially when you try to brush them out. The longer you leave knots in your hair, the worst they’ll become, and you can end up with serious breakage. 

In other words, knots are simply the worst. 

So what to do if your hair's a little tangled? What to do if it’s very tangled? No matter what kind of hair knots you’re dealing with, keep reading because we’ll explain exactly how you can detangle knots in your hair gently yet thoroughly. Our guide is comprehensive, so you will learn how to detangle hair knots whether your hair is curly, wavy, or straight. 

Why do knots form? 

Woman with curly hair prone to tangling

A hair has infinite ways to get tangled and only one way to stay in place. Each strand of hair can move, turn, and twist, and all of them together can form all kinds of tangles. 

If your hair is dry or filled with hair spray, it’ll be a little extra grippy, which means that each strand of hair is more likely to stick and twist around the other strands. 

The result of that is that everyone can get tangled hair! Those who have naturally curly hair or whose hair is a little damaged are a little more tangle-prone, unfortunately.  

Should you detangle hair wet or dry? 

Each strand of hair is a complex little structure of proteins that are bonded together. When the hair is saturated with water, some of those bonds become a little weaker. 

The result is that the hair itself becomes more prone to breakage but it also becomes more malleable. When the hair is dry, each individual strand is stronger but it’s also less flexible. 

There is no clear winner between the two methods. 

On the one hand, dry hair is a little harder to detangle, but on the other hand, detangling wet hair can cause more damage. No matter which method you choose, we recommend always coating the hair in a product that’ll add some slip, which will help prevent damaging friction. 

How to detangle small & single strand hair knots

Mother detangling child's hair

When it comes to small, regular knots, you don’t have to do anything too special to detangle. All you need to do is comb your hair with a wide-tooth comb, and all the knots will be out in no time. You can spray the hair with a detangler spray first, but that’s totally optional. If you’re doing this in the shower, saturate the hair with conditioner, instead. 

The most important part of basic detangling is to actually do the combing from the bottom up. If you start combing right at the roots, your comb will hit a painful snag before you know it! Instead, start combing just an inch above the ends. Then, raise the comb up inch by inch, to comb in small, gentle sections.

If you’re detangling someone else’s hair (especially if it’s a child), we also recommend actually grabbing the section of hair at the mids and slightly lifting it. Then, as you comb out the ends, if you do happen to pull a little, it won’t hurt at all. 

How to detangle super knotted hair

Severe knots require very gentle work, so be ready to spend some time carefully tending to your tangled hair. Here are our tips to help detangle knots that are tighter or more plentiful than normal. 

Load up on product

Whether wet or dry, the first thing to do when you have a big hair detangling project on your hands is to saturate your tresses with a product that’ll increase slip. This will aid in detangling and limit the damage to your hair. 

Choose any one of the following: 

  • If your hair is wet, apply a regular conditioner or deep conditioner.
  • If your hair is dry, apply a detangling spray, silicone-based hair serum, or a leave-in hair conditioner. 

Hair oil may also work, but not quite as well as a silicone-based product. If you do prefer a natural oil, choose coconut oil, argan oil, or jojoba oil. Avoid castor oil, as it can actually make hair matting worse. 

Start with fingers

After filling your hair with something slippery, it’s time to start gently separating out clumps of hair. With your fingers, gently pull apart the sections that will come apart easily, without aggressively manipulating any tight knots. 

This will separate your hair, and allow you to work more methodically. The smaller the sections you manage, the easier detangling will be. If your hair is very thick, you can even clip up most sections to prevent them from tangling together again. 

Choose your detangler hair brush carefully

Once you’ve separated your hair, you can assess the situation and better understand just how tangled your hair is. If separating into sections resulted in fewer knots than you expected, you can opt for a larger detangler hair brush which will cover your entire head quickly.

On the other hand, if your hair is still very tangled, a wide-tooth comb will be a little slower but less aggressive. The comb is also the best detangler for curly hair. The teeth are more widely spaced so they’ll leave your curl intact. 

Work your way up

Now you can start detangling! Working section by section, gently comb or brush your hair, starting at the ends and working your way up. This will allow the bristles to lodge themselves into the center of the knot in a way that detangles it, instead of having them pull on your hair aggressively. You may want to add more detangling spray as you do this since the more you use, the more painless the process will be. 

How to prevent getting knots 

Woman brushing with detangler hair brush

Healthy hair care practices will keep your hair as smooth as possible, to prevent knots from forming in the first place. Do all of the following regularly, and your hair should stay smooth and tangle-free easily! When you do get the occasional tangle, these steps will make it easier to detangle knots.  

  • Make sure to brush your hair regularly with a detangler hair brush. The best time to brush your hair is in the shower when your hair is saturated in conditioner, although you can also brush before getting in the shower.  

  • Speaking of, don’t skip hair conditioner! The healthier and stronger your hair, the less likely it’ll be to get knotted. Keeping it conditioned is essential for that. 

  • Hot water will open the hair cuticle, damaging the hair and making tangles far likelier. Avoid the heat, and shower in lukewarm water instead.

  • In the same vein, don’t overdo the washing or heat styling. Style your hair just once or twice a week, and skip washes in order to maintain your look while limiting damage. 

  • Finally, choose styling tools that are designed specifically to prevent hair damage. Look for features like controlled temperature settings, a display, and tourmaline coating that distributes heat evenly, like our Interstellar Digitals

  • At bedtime, keep your hair braided or wrap it in a silk headwrap to get the strands to stay put. 

No tangle will ever stand in your way again, darling! 

Woman with red wavy hair

Once you learn how to detangle hair knots, it’s just a question of maintaining your hair and keeping smaller knots in check. When your hair is finally smooth and tangle-free, you can have a ball styling it whichever way you like. So what will you do next?