Long hair can be extremely difficult to manage—it takes more time to wash, dry and style than a shorter cut. However, this extra effort is usually worth it once you achieve those beautiful, flowing locks. One major hair care disaster stands in your way, though: tangles.
Tangles can be a nightmare to deal with, and if they are removed improperly, they can leave lasting damage on your ‘do. Dry and damaged hair, as well as long hair and curly hair types are more susceptible to hair tangles. If you aren’t careful, tangles can be extremely painful to remove and can even break your hair, resulting in split ends at best or uneven strands at worst.
Fortunately, tangles don’t have to be your reality! There are many ways you can prevent these irritating snarls and snags by practicing healthy hair habits.
- Shower hair care: Your hair is the most vulnerable to breakage when it is wet, so taking special care of it in the shower is very important. Shampoo it when necessary and apply conditioner to your wet strands to hydrate them and help loosen tangles.
- Condition your ends: Your ends are likely the most damaged parts of your hair. Applying conditioner to your ends, if nothing else, will help lock in moisture and keep them smooth, so tangles happen less often.
- Detangle when wet: Tangles can happen easily after getting out of the shower, especially if you practice bad drying habits. Never rub your hair vigorously with a towel—always squeeze gently or pat dry. Then, use a wide-toothed comb to loosen tangles before your hair dries. If there are tangles when your hair finally air dries, they will be harder to remove.
- Brush morning and night: Use a paddle brush, which is gentler on your hair, to smooth your locks and remove the beginnings of any tangles. You should brush your hair first thing in the morning to remove tangles formed in your sleep, as well as right before bed to prevent tangles from occurring overnight.
- Get regular trims: Cutting your hair every six to eight weeks will lop off the damaged ends and make your hair look healthier and fuller. With the dry, brittle ends gone, tangles toward the end of your locks will be less common.
- Avoid chemicals and dyes: Chemical-based hair products and hair dyes can dry your hair out and cause severe damage over time. Damaged hair is more likely to tangle because the strands aren’t strong enough. Stick to natural products if you need them for styling.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Hydration is key when it comes to healthy, tangle-free hair. Make sure to drink lots of water to help hydrate your hair from the inside-out. Additionally, you can apply hair masks or hair oils if your locks need a little extra hydration boost.
- Safety while sleeping: Tangles are especially common if you sleep with your hair down, since the friction against your head and the pillow can form knots. To prevent this from happening, pull your hair back into loose braids, ponytails or a bun before going to sleep. You can also swap your cotton pillowcase out for a satin one or invest in a satin hair wrap to cut down on friction even more.
- Brush on-the-go: If you are out and about but the weather is a little extreme, carry a travel-sized hairbrush in your bag or stash one in your car for a quick brush on-the-go. Wind and rain are particularly notorious for causing tangles, but removing them as quickly as possible will make it easier on your hair throughout the day.
If you get hair tangles, always try to remove the knots with your fingers, since this is the gentlest method. If that doesn’t work, try applying some detangling spray and using a wide-toothed comb, starting at the bottom of the tangle and slowly working your way up until it’s out. Never try to rip a tangle out quickly or brush through it—this will likely break your hair and cause more damage. Stay patient, or else you will cause pain to your head and strands.
With a little extra care for combing and brushing your hair, tangles should be less frequent and easier to remove over time. Your goal should be to make your hair as healthy and strong as possible so it doesn’t tangle easily at all.