These days, Friday nights are synonymous with chillin’ with the hubby and kids in front of the TV while I do my oil pre-poo. Yes, definitely not the best scenario to keep the flame alive, but I guess that after nearly two decades of living together the hubby can handle this (well, he has no choice really 😀 ). Pre-pooing is a step I rarely skip in my hair routine ’cause I also take the opportunity to address an issue ALL curly girls suffer from – Tangle and Knots. Yes, this is one of the ways I like to keep tangles and knots at bay on my curly hair and if you stick around I’ll share with you a few more ways you can do that.
Before I went natural, I mean completely natural, tangles, knots, single strand knots or fairy knots didn’t even get a ‘Bip’ on my radar of curly hair problems, I kid you not! Not that I lose any sleep over them now, but damn girl, they are so freakin’ annoying! 😡
‘Know Thy Enemy’
It’s amazing how a single strand of curly hair can twist on itself to form a tight knot and, as if that wasn’t enough, sometimes other strands decide to jump in and form a little ball of hair. Per-fect, right!! It’s not so much that they represent an imminent danger to your hair, but they are so unsightly (says me moaning like a five-year-old).
Anyway, if you’re obsessing over hair knots and have declared open war on them until their extermination is complete, I’m gonna save you some time here and tell you – You already lost the war! There is no way of winning it.
Much like our monthly period (sorry for the prude minds), we just have to learn to live with them. The secret is in controlling and minimising tangles and knots. The shape of curly hair and its shrinkage makes it impossible to get rid of them. So my advice is ‘know thy enemy, so you can control the damage’. Or something like that, get it!?
Prize For Not Caring
The prize for not paying attention or being too carefree to keep this problem under control is that you can end up making it worse with two or more knots in a single hair strand. As you run your fingers through your hair you will feel irregularities, almost like beads or grains of sands along the hair shaft. It can end up being so bad, that your only solution is to use good old shears. On the other hand, obsessing over this will only make you neurotic and boring to be around, sorry… 😐
Therefore, to spare you from all the drama attached to tangles and knots, here are some tips to keep things at bay.
#1| Don’t Pile Your Hair When Washing
Most of us were taught to wash our hair this way – like a great big ball of dough we kneaded at the top of our head. For straighter hair types, this may not be a problem, but for curly hair, it’s a major mistake to make if you don’t want the deal with the aftermath – an excruciating detangling session and more knots than you can count.
DO: Keeping your hair down, wash your hair in two or more sections concentrating and attending to each separately.
When I say detangle, I mean ‘thoroughly detangle your hair‘. One of the best ways to do it is by using your fingers (finger detangling), it allows you to be more sensitive and able to identify little tangles and knots that can be can sometimes be worsened with the use of a comb or brush.
DO: Finger detangle keeping your hair in two or more sections and work on them separately, taking your time. Once I am finished, I like to use a wide-tooth comb to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Bellow is a video from naptural85 where she teaches 3 detangling methods and a method to tackle knots. Beware that dry finger detangling often results in hair breakage.
#3| Oil Rinse
Oil rinsing gives natural hair a ‘slippery ability’ whereby hair strands can rub against each other and not get so tangled because they slip or slide against each other, making it more difficult for knots and tangles to form.
DO: Grab your favourite oil or oil mix (with penetrating oils preferably) and once you finish your washing routine in the shower (deep conditioning and all), apply the oil on soaking wet hair. You can quickly rinse your hair with water or not. For me, this technique is best done when planning to braids or twist (a protective style). I would take any excess water from my oil rinse and then apply a twisting/braiding butter or cream.
If you’re planning on doing a wash and go, I’m afraid your curl defining product wouldn’t be able to perform well because of the oil layer and you do want defined curls, right?!
NOTE: Make sure that on your next wash day you remove all the oil from your hair with a clarifying shampoo or good sulphate free shampoo (have you tried Flora & Curl Superfruit Shampoo?), depending on how much product build up you have (don’t wait for more than two consecutive oil rinse sessions to clarify).
#4| Avoid Wash & Go’s
By avoiding wash and go’s, I don’t mean to completely scrap this style from your portfolio of hairstyles. Hey, you can calm down! What’s the point of going natural if you can’t even enjoy seeing your curls, right!?! However, if you care about keeping your knots and tangles under control you will have to stop making this your go-to style for a while. Having your hair free and bouncy over a period of two or more days increases the potential for hair knots by a lot.
DO: Tone down on the number of wash and go’s until you have your tangles and knots under control and invest in doing more low maintenance or protective hairstyles. Alternatively, if you can’t go without a wash and go but get too many knots and tangles, do a mid wish cow-wash to get rid of them.
#6| Protective Hairstyles
As mentioned previously, protective or low maintenance hairstyles allow you to keep your hair in a control and contained manner. The hair is not down and free to play, tangle and knot up. It will also prolong hair moisture, reduce hair breakage and help retain hair growth. What’s not to like about this?! 😆
DO: Favour hairstyles like buns, braids, twists or, alternatively, if you like your hair down and free, do stretched hairstyles in which your curls will be elongated, like twist outs and braids out.
#6| Hand-In-Hair Syndrome
I know you’re in love with or curious about your curls and that they’re your new obsession and all, but all the stroking and flirting with your curly hair will only bring about frizz, loss of curl definition and moisture and ultimately more tangles and knots. This is the harsh reality of the hand-in-hand syndrome.
DO: If you need to keep this habit under control get a stress ball or an elastic band.
#7| NigthTime Care
Just as everything else I’ve said so far, what you do with to your hair when you go to bed is also important. If you simply lay down on your pillow (which by the way should be made out of satin or silk) with your hair down, you can count that all the tossing and turning will be rewarded with matted hair and knots and fewer ‘day-afters‘ out of your hairstyle.
DO: the best way to control things is to use a satin bonnet to contain the hair, do a pineapple (hold the hair at the top front of the head with a scrunchie or elastic) or use a satin scarf. Check how Afro Kadisiac puts her hair in a pineapple to go to bed (skip to the 58-second mark).
#8| Regular Trims
There you are trying to reach your hair length goals and here I ‘am trying to convince you that cutting your hair will make your hair healthier, will make you retain hair length and avoid tangles and knots at the ends of your hair.
You may not want to believe this, however, have you ever noticed that when the time between two trimming sessions is too far apart your hair is more difficult to moisturise and detangle, your styles don’t come out so good and it’s easier to get split ends?! This is the perfect stage for knots and tangles to propagate, so keep your trimming sessions under control.
DO: Trim your hair regularly every 8 to 12 weeks, and pay close attention in the Summer day, you may need to increase the number of trims to avoid damage from the sun, sea water and chlorine from pools. Look for a professional or, if you are doing it yourself, use proper hair shears.
#9| Search and Destroy
The name says it all and there isn’t much space for guessing here. I like to do this when I’m pre-pooing my curly hair or applying my deep conditioner. Some people like doing this when their hair is flat ironed, blown out, stretched through braid outs or twist outs or even banding. The search and destroy method to get rid of tangles and knots is simple, you closely inspect your hair strands looking for fairy knots and cut them out.
DO: Work your hair in sections, search for knots and destroy them with the help of hair shears.