How To Detangle Matted Hair Painlessly Without Cutting

Smart, easy, and effective methods to solve this serious hair issue without causing any damage.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS Dr. Shruti Chavan Dr. Shruti ChavanMBBS
Written by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
Fact-checked by , Integrated MA Medha Deb Integrated MA linkedin_icon Experience: 5 years

Trying to detangle matted hair is a great task in itself. Matted hair is a bunch of intertwined hairs in distinct clusters or clumps that may harden over time. Although curly hair is more likely to turn matted, coarse or wavy hair may also get tangled and develop extreme knots, leading to matted hair.

Matted hair is painful to detangle with a comb or hair detangler and may lead to hair loss. Is there any way to prevent this? To help you out, we have shared painless detangling techniques that can protect you from losing your hair. They do not require you to chop it off or lose a great deal. Scroll down to learn how to quickly and easily detangle matted hair at home.

What Is Matted Hair And What Causes It?

Back view of a woman who has a comb stuck in her matted hair
Image: Shutterstock

Matted hair is entangled hair strands forming distinct clumps. These become hard clusters of tangled hair. Detangling them is a bigger challenge than hair knots or tangles. Curly and kinky hair is more prone to get matted.

Your hair may get matted if you do not regularly comb or wash your hair. Dirt, dust, and sweat accumulate in your hair and cause hair to knot. If you do not detangle these knots or wash your hair at least once a week, your hair can get matted. But you sure can detangle your hair without cutting it. The process is painless. Follow these steps.

Note: Acute matting of hair caused due to head lice or infections must be resolved by cutting the matted hair. The following steps are not suited for treating acute matting.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Minimize heat styling as it worsens hair tangling. Instead, try air drying and use plastic rollers to style your hair.

How To Detangle Matted Hair?

How to detangle matted hair
Image: Shutterstock

Sonia Noviango, a blogger, recalled her scary experience with matted hair. She expressed in her blog, “My entire head of thick curly hair was matted like dreads but worse. My hair was matted to the roots! (i).” However, she encourages readers to be persistent and not give up: “It may take you hours, days, weeks or months, but it is possible to un-matt your hair. My hair took 7 months to untangle because I was busy with college, got very sick, and suffered from depression during the time.”

Let’s learn how to detangle matted hair without losing too many hair strands. You do not have to chop your hair either. The procedure, as we said, is painless.

What You Need: Coconut oil, detangling leave-in conditioner, detangling comb, and whipped shea butter.

Steps To Detangle Matted Hair Painlessly

  • Step 1: Damp Your Hair: Dampen a small section of your hair (avoid pulling) by spraying some water. Water makes detangling easier. But be careful not to wet your hair too much, as it may cause your hair to pull out easily.

Damp Your Hair
  • Step 2: Apply Coconut Oil: Apply a generous scoop of coconut oil to your hair.

Apply Coconut Oil
  • Step 3: Apply A Leave-In Conditioner: Apply a good detangling leave-in conditioner to your hair. The coconut oil applied earlier will add a good slip to your hair and help the leave-in detangling conditioner to reach the insides of the hair knots. Leave the conditioner on for 30-60 minutes. You may also use a detangling spray.

Apply A Leave-In Conditioner

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  • Step 4: Start Detangling: Start detangling the hair knots with your fingers. The oil and conditioner will keep you from pulling out the hair strands. You will be able to loosen up the knots. Be patient and gentle.

Start Detangling
  • Step 5: Use A Comb: Gently brush your hair with a wide-toothed comb or detangling hairbrush. Start combing from the tips and work your way up to the roots. This way, you will not pull your hair out.

Use A Comb
Note: Do not comb wet hair.
  • Step 6: Apply Shea Butter: Add some whipped shea butter to your hair for moisturization.

These steps will help detangle your matted hair. But is there a way you can avoid matted hair altogether? Keep reading to understand how.

How To Prevent Hair From Matting?

Back view of a woman standing in front of a mirror and combing her hair to avoid matting
Image: Shutterstock

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Which product do you find most effective for painless detangling?

Prevention is better than cure. Untangling matted hair takes time and patience. You may also lose a little of your hair, if not a lot. Hence, it always is best to prevent hair from matting. Here are a few easy hair care tips you can follow:

  • Comb your hair every day. Combing also helps improve scalp blood circulation and strengthens the hair roots.
  • Oil your hair once a week. Massage your scalp with a generous amount of coconut, argan, or rosehip oils. Apply to your hair strands. Leave it on for at least 60 minutes or overnight.
  • Wash your hair regularly. Dirt, pollution, sweat, sebumi  The oil glands in your body create sebum, an oily, waxy compound that coats, hydrates, and shields your skin. , and product build-up must be cleaned away regularly. Regular hair rinsing also balances scalp pHi  A measurement of the acidity or basicity of a substance; the ideal pH level of the hair strands is 3.67 and 5.5 for the scalp. and keeps your hair strands shiny. Use a good clarifying shampoo to cleanse the dirt and build-up and keep your hair light, fresh, and free.
  • Use a good conditioner. Always use a good conditioner after washing your hair. Apply it to the hair strands and leave it on for at least 10 minutes. Avoid the scalp. Wash it off thoroughly to remove all traces of the product.
  • Use moisturizing and hydrating masks at least once a week if your hair is dry.
  • Use a serum or light oil. Apply a light oil like argan or rosehip oil, or a serum, while your hair is damp. Apply to the hair strands. Avoid rubbing the strands together. Use your fingers to use a “brushing” motion to apply the oil or serum.
  • Tie your hair while sleeping. A great way to avoid hair tangling or matting is brushing your hair and braiding it before going to bed. You can also wrap a light cloth to protect the hair strands. Doing this every day will reduce hair fall as well.
  • Trim your hair every 6-8 weeks as split ends can also cause tangling and matting.
protip_icon Quick Tip
Do not use hot water for hair wash. It may dry the strands, cause split ends, and worsen tangles. Instead, always use lukewarm or cold water.

Infographic: 6 Easy Steps To Detangle Matted Hair

Matted hair can be a nightmare to behold! The biggest worry with matted hair is that you may seriously damage your hair while trying to detangle it. And in most cases, chopping off the matted mess is the only solution! However, there is a solid alternative with which you can detangle matted hair without damaging it in a few simple steps.

Check out the infographic below for a brief rundown of the 6 simple steps to tangle-free hair.

6 easy steps to detangle matted hair (infographic) (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Your hair strands get tangled and form distinct clumps if you do not regularly wash or comb your hair, resulting in matted hair. Though it is difficult to manage, you can learn how to untangle matted hair if you follow the steps mentioned above. If you do not detangle, it may lead to hair shedding. You can also prevent hair from matting if you follow the tips shared in this article. With the right hair care routine, products, and proper hygiene, you can maintain your hair health and prevent these from recurring.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does apple cider vinegar detangle matted hair?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that apple cider vinegar works well on hair prone to more tangles. It may help smoothen the hair strands, lay the cuticlesi  The outermost covering of the hair shaft, composed of layers of dead cells to form scales that protect and strengthen the hair. down, and detangle matted hair. However, limited data is available to prove this claim.

Does olive oil detangle matted hair?

Yes, olive oil may help detangle matted hair due to its emollient function that helps seal hair cuticles and traps moisture inside (1).

Can baking soda detangle hair?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that mixing baking soda with hair conditioner may help detangle knotted hair. You can mix one part of baking soda with three parts of the conditioner for this purpose.

How long does it take to detangle matted hair?

Depending on the severity of your matted hair, it may take at least 30 minutes to one hour to detangle matted hair. You may also need some extra time for the absorption of hair oils and other products into the follicles.

Can heat styling or chemical treatments contribute to matted hair?

Yes, they may contribute to matted hair as they expose your strands to high temperatures and chemical products. To avoid this, reduce heat styling, use heat protectants, and opt for natural and home-based treatments.

Key Takeaways

  • Dirt, dust, and sweat can accumulate in your hair and cause hair matting.
  • Coconut oil can be used as a leave-in conditioner to soften and loosen the hair knots.
  • Comb your every day and wash it regularly to prevent hair matting.

Struggling with matted hair? Say goodbye to hair tangles with this essential guide! Learn expert tips and tricks to effortlessly untangle those pesky knots, leaving your hair smooth, shiny, and tangle-free. Let’s get combing!

Personal Experience: Source


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Dr. Shruti Chavan is a consulting dermatologist at Dr.Sheth's Skin and Hair Clinic since 6 years. She is a co-committee member of CDSI (Cosmetic dermatologist Society of India). She is highly skilled in non-surgical facial skin rejuvenation and face lift by the use of injection treatments and lasers.   Dr. Chavan is well-versed with dermatological and aesthetic procedures. Her full bio

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