How to Detangle Matted Hair – Untangle Knots Painlessly & Fast!

Last Updated on April 29, 2021 by Olivia Herlihy RN

Home » Hair Care » How to Detangle Matted Hair – Untangle Knots Painlessly & Fast!

Do you want to know how to detangle matted hair? Any hair type can develop knots but sometimes the hair strands become so severely tangled and matted that it feels impossible to untangle it without cutting. In this post I will show you how to detangle matted hair without having to use scissors!

How to Detangle Matted Hair

Matted hair is far worse than occasional knots or tangles. Matted hair looks like clumps and can seem impossible to remove with a brush or comb alone.

Certain hair types are unfortunately more prone to matted hair than others. These include coily or curly hair types as well as those with dry or textured hair. You may also have a higher risk of developing matted hair if your hair is long or chemically treated.

Fortunately with the right tools it is possible to detangle matted hair with minimal damage!

This post is all about how to detangle matted hair

How to Detangle Matted Hair

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here.

Tools to get Rid of Matted Hair Clumps

I will explain in detail the exact steps you need to take to detangle your matted hair, but first you need to make sure you have the right tools.

There are five items I recommend you buy: a wide tooth comb, a detangling brush, a detangling spay, a good hair oil and a silk pillow case.

If you have a hair type which is prone to get matted regularly, such as curly hair, coily hair or dry hair, I recommend you always keep at least a detangling brush and oil in your cupboard.

Wide Tooth Comb

I tested out a number of different wide tooth combs in my post 15 Amazing Detangling Combs, but I recommend if you have severely matted hair to combine a wide-tooth comb with a detangling brush. This will make the detangling process faster and less painful.

You can buy a set which includes both a wide tooth comb and a detangling brush at a very affordable price. Another popular option is buying a tangle teezer which helps to gently detangle wet or dry hair.

2 Piece Set: Detangler Hair Brush & Wide Tooth Comb

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  • Design: quality detangler hair brush is especially-designed to untangle stubborn knotted strands...
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Last update on 2022-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Detangler Brush Set for Curly, Wavy and Coily Hair

Detangler Brush Set, Detangle Hair Brush for Women Girls Wet Dry Afro 3a to 4c Thick Frizzly Wavy...
  • 【Detangler Brush 】A revolutionary detangler brush for all wet or dry Afro America black natural...
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  • Ergonomic Handle: users are not only surprised by the detangling ability of this brush, but also...
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Last update on 2022-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Tangle Teezer

Tangle Teezer The Original Detangling Hairbrush, Plum Delicious
  • Enhanced teeth configuration for dual action
  • Memory flex technology for speedy and gentle results, ideal on wet or dry hair
  • Enhanced design delivers painless and optimum de-tangling results
  • Ergonomically designed for a palm-friendly non-slip fit
  • Do not use with heat

Last update on 2022-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Detangling Spray

A good detangling spray will make the detangling process much faster as well as protect your hair from damage. When you apply detangling spray to wet hair it also makes the hair more manageable & less prone to breakage. There are some good detangling sprays which contain natural oils that not only help to remove knots but also act as a deep conditioner for your hair.

CANTU Coil Calm Detangler

The CANTU detangling spray contains shea butter which helps to moisturise and soften the hair, making it easier to break up clumps. CANTU produce some of the best products for curly or coily hair, and their detangler is perfect for preventing hair breakage whilst removing hair knots.

CANTU, Shea Butter for Natural Hair Coil Calm Detangler, 237ml
  • Adds slip for soft, tangle-free hair
  • Infuses shine & moisture
  • Silicone Free formula
  • Made with pure shea butter and formulated without harsh ingredients
  • 237ml

Last update on 2022-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Extra Moisture Detangler

The Shea Moisture detangler comes in a cream rather than a spray bottle. It contains raw shea butter, sea kelp and Argan oil to remove knots and tangles whilst moisturising dry and damaged hair. It is excellent for improving manageability and removing large knots.

Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Extra Moisture Detangler, with Sea Kelp & Argan Oil, to Heal and...
  • Raw shea butter extra moisture detangler with sea kelp and argan oil
  • This lightweight detangler conditions and smoothes dry, damaged hair while removing knots and...
  • For damaged, transitioning hair
  • With organic and fair trade shea butter
  • No sulfates and no parabens

Last update on 2022-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Hair Oil

Applying natural oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, and castor oil is the best way to soften matted hair when you start the detangling process. They help to minimise frizz and friction and boost hydration, making your hair more manageable.

My favourite hair oil to use for detangling is coconut. I like to add a few drops of different essential oils to my hair oil – usually lavender or vanilla which both encourage hair growth. Vanilla essential oil is especially good if you have brittle hair as it helps to strengthen the hair shaft as well as promote blood flow in the scalp.

The OGX Coconut oil is one of my favourite detangling oils since it already contains a blend of both coconut oil and vanilla bean extract. It is excellent for untangling dry, damaged or chemically treated hair.

Ogx Coconut Miracle Oil with Vanilla Bean Extract

Ogx Coconut Miracle Oil Penetrating Hair Oil for Dry Hair, Extra Strength, 100 ml
  • Apply to wet, towel-dried hair after washing
  • Damage remedy Coconut oil for hair
  • Helps calm frizz and smooth fly-aways
  • Helps to revive dry damaged chemically treated hair
  • Leaves hair feeling silky smooth and feeling full of bounce and shine

Last update on 2022-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Silk Pillow Case

If your hair is prone to becoming matted, it’s important to protect it at night time. You could do this through the pineapple method, which involves putting your hair in a high, loose ponytail while you sleep, or you could sleep on a silk scarf or pillow case.

A silk pillowcase will reduce friction on the hair, stopping the hair strands from twisting together. It will also ensure your hair retains moisture.

Mulberry Silk Pillowcase for Hair and Skin Health

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  • ✅【Benifits for Skin】Prevent sleep wrinkles by providing a slippery surface to slide over...
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  • ✅【Hidden Zipper】Your pillow won’t slip out the case. Beautifully finished, with interior...

Last update on 2022-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Steps to Detangle Matted Hair

1. Saturate the Hair with Detangling Spray

Start by spraying the detangling spray (or a deep conditioner) onto the section of hair that is tangled. Make sure you do this on dry hair and keep applying the product until the hair is completely saturated.

2. Rub a Small Amount of Oil into the Hair

Once the hair is saturated with the detangling spray take a small amount of hair oil (I use coconut oil) and massage it into the hair clumps. At this stage do not try to untangle the hair or pull it apart. Squeeze the oil into the matted hair until all the hair strands are coated.

3. Leave for 30 Minutes

Leave the detangling spray/cream and oil to sit on your hair for at least 30 minutes. This gives your hair enough time to absorb the moisture from the products, and helps to make the detangling process easier. Stubborn knots can take time to loosen so it’s important to give the oil and detangling spray time to soften the hair clump.

4. Use the Wide Tooth Comb to separate large strands

Take the wide tooth comb and beginning at the end of the matted area try to separate any large strands that you can see. You should always start at the end and work up towards the roots. Only pull away any large strands that come out easily.

5. Use the Detangling Comb to Work Through Matted Hair

Once you have separated as many large strands as possible using the wide tooth comb, take the detangling brush and start gently brushing the matted area. It may be easier to do this in small sections especially if you have fine hair or thin hair. Be aware that for severely matted hair the entire process make take up to an hour to complete.

6. Rinse with Cool Water and Apply Detangling Spray

Once the matted hair has been freed rinse the hair with cool water before re-applying the detangling spray. Instead of the detangling spray you could also use a leave in conditioner. This will help to stop the hair from becoming tangled up again.

Tips to Prevent Hair Becoming Matted

There are steps you can take to care for your hair and make it less likely to become tangled or matted in the first place.

1. Keep your hair Moisturised and Hydrated

Firstly hydrated hair is less likely to become matted than dry hair. To keep your hair well hydrated and moisturised make sure you regularly use oils on your hair and pre poo treatments. For ideas check out my post on Pre Poo Treatments for Natural Hair.

2. Trim Your Hair Regularly

Visit a hair salon to get the ends of your hair regularly trimmed. The ends of your hair are dryer, more damaged and more likely to become matted. Your hair stylist will be able to advise you how frequently to trim your hair depending on your hair’s condition.

3. Braid Hair to keep it from Forming Knots

Putting your hair in braids can prevent it from becoming matted and forming knots. This is a popular style for African American hair and can be an effective way to protect the hair from knots and damage.

4. Regularly Brush with a Wide Tooth Comb

Brushing the hair with either a wide tooth comb or a detangling brush on a daily basis can help to prevent knots from forming. Always start from the bottom of the hair and work towards the top of your head.

5. Take Proper Care of Hair Extensions

Without proper care, hair extensions can end up entwined and matted with your actual hair. Make sure you don’t sleep with wet or damp hair and ensure you are washing your hair extensions with the correct products. Check out my post on 15 Best Shampoos for Tape Hair Extensions.

This post was all about how to detangle matted hair

Thanks for reading my post on how to detangle matted hair. If you use the proper technique you will be able to untangle knotty hair from matted areas without hair loss or damage. If you have tried any of the hair care products suggested in this post please leave me a comment below and let me know how you got on!

how to untangle matted hair

Related: How to Get Rid of the Knots in Your Hair

Olivia Herlihy RN

Olivia is a hair and skincare enthusiast with over 10 years experience working in healthcare and over 5 years as a Registered Nurse. She gained an online following after creating a natural haircare routine which completely transformed her hair. Olivia has since written an eBook on Ayurvedic hair care to help others use the same formula to improve their own hair.

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