Adjust the Length of Your Protective Style
If you’re like me, you want to stretch your protective style for as long as possible, but your hair often has other plans. I find I can’t keep a protective style (even a stretched one) in for more than two weeks lest my hair begin to mat, which in turn lengthens my detangling time. If you notice your hair gives you more trouble after being in a style for a certain amount of time, consider lessening the time between washes. If you use extensions, consider removing them earlier and re-installing the style after washing.
Stretch Your Hair Before Wash Day
I have managed to shorten sectioning and detangling time by putting my hair into styles with maximal stretching capabilities, such as goddess braids or a bun (my fave) created from a medium-sized braid-out. Once wash day comes around, my hair is good and stretched, making it easier to section off and finger comb through. The process goes by in a snap.
Separate Hair Into Larger Sections
I have noticed from my own experiences that separating my hair into medium-large sections (5-6 twists on either side) helps me to knock out a greater area of tangles in a shorter period of time whereas smaller ones tend to hold me up with the time it takes to unravel, detangle, then re-twist them all. This works on short, long, and tightly coiled hair (as long as the hair is maintained in a stretched style).
Consider Dry Detangling
I know, I know, but hear me out. This option is great for those with tightly coiled hair or hair that tends to overstretch when detangling while it is saturated with water. In my experiences, stretching the hair prior to dry detangling makes dry detangling a viable option. Use your favorite light oil, such as coconut, olive, almond, etc, and smooth it on to dry, stretched hair, then gently finger comb from ends to root. This option also makes it easier to remove shed hair that may otherwise get stuck and overlooked in wet strands. Cipriana of Urban Bush Babes and 4CHairChick both have methods for dry detangling that they swear by. I suggest checking them out to see the method in action and tips.
Are You Detangling Too Much?
How can anyone do too much detangling? Naturals tend to detangle during the wash process and then do more light detangling during the styling process, opening up hair to more mechanical damage than is necessary. Using the following method will eliminate the need for that extra detangling session.
Understand that kinky and kinky-curly hair isn’t going to be “fully” detangled in the sense that the comb will pass through and not get caught up on tangles, not to be confused with
. Our hair wraps around itself naturally and will continue to do so no matter how many times the comb or detangling brush is passed through it. A way to help reduce tangles while in the midst of detangling is to hold your hair taut while washing your scalp and combing. This way, your strands won’t have a chance to coil back up and wrap around each other, thereby reducing detangling time. After that, simply twist the hair to keep it stretched and tangle free and you won’t have to comb out any additional tangles when comes time to set/style. In short, once your hair has been detangled once, don’t comb it again.
Utilize Water Pressure
I use the pressure of the water to make tangles slide out of my hair without a lot of tugging. Adjust your shower head to point straight down and work with the flow of the water while combing for gentler detangling. This works even better when your hair is saturated with conditioner.
Hair can only soak up so much moisture before it becomes overly saturated. Many of us will leave conditioner in for over an hour to overnight and, frankly, it isn’t necessary. Hair becomes fully saturated after 15 minutes. Any longer and your hair’s elasticity can be compromised, particularly for those with normal to high porosity. If your hair has a gummy, stretchy feel after a deep treatment, it has been over-conditioned.
Simplify and Consolidate Your Products
When moisturizing, stick to the most basic products needed; a moisturizer and a sealant. Another practice that took a chunk of time was using a bunch of products, water, leave-in, oil, gel, and/or any other styling product I felt the need to use. In reality, all I really need is my Elixir (a combination of water, conditioner, and a modicum oil) and my shea butter pomade (a combo of shea butter and a blend of oils). Essentially, a moisturizer and a sealant. Adding a bunch of unnecessary products can lead to hyper-saturation and adds more time to the process. Consolidating the most important products into one or two products, a spritz mixture and a shea butter/oil blend, for example, assures that you use all the products you need without the extra time of applying them separately.
By making these adjustments to my routine I have been able to reduce my entire wash process from 6+ hours to no more than 2 1/2, or an hour and 45 minutes, if I’m pressed for time. Once you get the hang of them, you’ll be surprised how much time you save. Peace & Love