How To Detangle Matted Hair Painlessly Without Cutting

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS Dermatologist
Written by Arshiya Syeda

It is one thing to have tangled hair and another thing to have matted hair. Matted hair is a bunch of intertwined hair strands in distinct clumps that can sometimes become hard. Though people with curly hair are more prone to matted hair, those with wavy or coarse hair may also develop these extreme hair knots.

Merely using a comb to detangle matted hair is painful and can cause hair loss. So, what can you do? Well, we can help you detangle matted hair painlessly. You do not have to chop your hair off or lose too much hair.  Read on to know how to detangle matted hair fast and easy at home.

What Is Matted Hair And What Causes It?

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.

How To Detangle Matted Hair?

How To Detangle Matted Hair


You now can detangle your 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.
  • Step 2: Apply Coconut Oil: Apply a generous scoop of coconut oil to your hair.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Step 5: Use A Comb: Gently brush your hair with a wide-toothed comb or detangling brush. Start combing from the tips and work your way up to the roots. This way, you will not pull your hair out.

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 matter hair altogether? Keep reading to understand how.

How To Prevent Hair From Matting?

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 is what you must do:

  • 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, sebum, and product build-up must be cleaned away regularly. Regular hair rinsing also balances scalp pH 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.


Detangling matted hair can be painful. If you have textured, dry, or frizzy hair, detangling matted hair may lead to hair shedding as well. However, when done right, detangling can be done without any pain or losing too many hairs. Follow the steps mentioned above with the right hair care routine to reduce and even prevent hair matting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I detangle my hair wet or dry?

It is best to detangle your hair when it is damp. Spray some water and apply a conditioner to add a slip to your hair. This detangles the knots easily.

What is the best detangler for matted hair?

The best detangler for matted hair is coconut oil, a leave-in conditioner, a detangling comb, and some patience.

Is matted hair bad?

Yes, matted hair is bad and can lead to scalp infections, head lice, dandruff, and hair loss.

How to detangle matted African American hair?

Take a small section of the matted African American hair, and spray some water. Apply a leave-in conditioner and keep it on for 30 to 60 minutes. Use your fingers to gently start detangling the hair knots. Follow with a detangling comb and brush from the tips to the roots. Twist each section and move on to the next hair section. Shampoo your hair and apply a conditioner and serum.

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Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).