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How To Detangle Matted Hair

Your hair deserves more attention than it is actually getting from you right now. Once it feels neglected, it will try to get your attention in one way or another- in this case, by tangling. A simple tangle can continue to knot if not dealt with and grow into a severely matted hair within a few days, becoming a real pain to deal with.

While you may be tempted to chop it off, hold off on that. It’s not needed yet. We’ve put together this step-by-step guide to help you understand the situation deeply and get out of it as smoothly as possible. Continue reading to find out more.

In this article:

In this article:

What is matted hair?

Have you ever woken up and noticed that your hair is in clumps and is proving difficult to comb or brush? That’s what having matted hair feels like. 

We could define it as when shredded hair tangles severely with your attached hair and forms clumps and tangles in the process.

Matted hair is not only an eyesore, but it is also a challenge that tends to take up almost all your patience when handling it because it is more difficult and  technical than tangles and knots.

While all hair types are prone to matting, curly hair experiences this more regularly than others because they are naturally  intertwined, thereby easily creating matts and knots.

 Other ways your curly hair gets matted are through not protecting your hair while sleeping and having high porosity hair.   

How did you get here?

How did I get here? This is an important question you need to ask yourself to become aware of what to do and not to do in the nearest future to prevent your hair from matting again. 

Like your skin, your hair wants to be pampered, and when it doesn’t get the solid care it needs, hair problems such as matts are prone to occur. So, what are the causes of matted hair?

Causes of matted hair

The most common cause of matted hair is loose or detached hair strands that are tangled by attached hairs, resulting in clumps. Irrespective of how easy it is to brush out regular tangles, mats are notoriously difficult to remove.

Is it necessary to cut matted hair?

Glad you asked. Whether or not you have to cut your matted hair depends on the severity and how much time and patience you are ready to invest in the detangling process. 

In addition, the right products will make the work easier so that you don’t get frustrated in the process and yank the matted hair off. Unless you are planning to cut off your entire hair, yanking off matted hair can further cause damage to the strands.

However, if the matted hair has gone beyond what can be remedied, you can cut it off with a pair of scissors. Don’t worry; your hair will grow back. Plus, it is an opportunity for you to prevent such from happening again. 

How then can you detangle matted hair with ease?

Detangling curly matted hair takes a lot of patience and technique. If you don’t want to lose a reasonable amount of your hair, you have to be patient and use the right tools and products. 

Try to avoid unnecessary breakage at all costs so that you can preserve your length as well. So, it is important to get the right supplies in place before you begin the journey. 

Here’s a simple process you can follow when detangling your hair.

Curly hair male - Kurlify

Failure to detangle and comb the hair over time

Seeing as you have a curly hair type, you should comb and detangle regularly using the right hair products. If you don’t detangle every hair you notice within a short time, it will graduate into matts. 

Although the process of detangling can be quite stressful for those with full and curly hair nevertheless, it’s a routine you cannot ignore if you don’t want to end up with matted hair.

Your hair is long

Everyone wants long hair so that they can style it however they desire, but not everyone can handle the responsibility that comes with the length. Shorter hairs are easier to detangle, comb, and maintain in general. 

With long hair, the hair strands can easily wrap around each other over time, and if not brushed frequently or a good hair care routine isn’t maintained, there is a high chance of matting occurring.

Your hair has tight curls

Hairs with natural curls need high maintenance to keep them healthy and avoid tangles. With such a hair type, carrying a protective style for too long or not properly detangling during your wash day can cause mess over time in the name of matting.

Using chemicals to change your hair texture

A well-moisturized hair is less prone to matting. You should also note that most chemicals (hair dyes, texturizers, etc.) remove moisture from your hair and cause the hair to dry out. 

So, you may want to avoid them altogether, or you must use them, be ready to condition your hair, and keep it moisturized and hydrated between wash days.

Poor hair hygiene

The Accumulation of dirt, dust, sweat, and grease on your hair over time can cause your hair to knot and matt if not remedied quickly. If you do not wash your hair and detangle regularly, don’t be surprised when you discover that your hair is starting to matt.

Not protecting your hair while sleeping

Wearing a silk or satin scarf or bonnet over the night protects your hairstyle, as well as the health of your hair. It also allows whatever product to apply to the hair to work properly without escaping into your pillowcase as you sleep. 

Most pillowcases are made from cotton, which removes moisture from the hair. So, the best way to retain your hairs’ moisture and prevent it from matting is by using a protective covering over it.

Untrimmed split ends

if you are in the habit of not trimming split ends or the tip of your hair often, the loose hair strands can entwine with the attached hair, form clumps, and cause matting. To avoid this, we recommend that you trim your ends every six to eight weeks.

Get the right supplies ready for detangling

You don’t want to feel what it is like to detangle matted hair without these tools and items because it may end in tears. These are the supplies you need to start untwining those knots on steroids.

Leave-In or Deep moisturizing conditioner

If your hair is severely matted, then a deep moisturizing conditioner is compulsory. Otherwise, a leave-in conditioner will do just fine. Why conditioner? You may ask. 

A matted hair lacks moisture which is why it’s in this condition right now. So, a moisturizing conditioner will provide hydration and strengthen the hair cuticle and strands to make it easy to detangle the hair in sections.

Coconut oil, Olive, or Moroccan Argan oil

Like conditioners, these oils can soften the hair strands and add more slips to the hair to make detangling easy. These oils are most especially ideal for use on afro-textured hair. 

You can use any oil alone without a conditioner if the hair is slightly matted. In severe cases, ensure to use alongside a detangling conditioner for better detangling results.

Spray bottle of water or showerhead

Do not attempt to detangle without first dampening your hair. Although water makes the detangling process easier, do not wet the hair too much to prevent your hair from pulling off. 

In this case, a spray bottle is preferable as you can control the quantity of water you apply to your hair.

Clip for sectioning

The secret to successfully detangling matted hair is by working with small sections of hair. Separate your hair into sections that you can conveniently work with at once and use the clips to secure them in place.

Wide-tooth or detangling comb

A wide-tooth comb will help loosen the hair strands after the product you applied has settled in. Even though it is normal for hair to fall out when combing out the matt, this comb will minimize the damage.

Steaming or conditioning cap

This will allow the moisture to penetrate deep into the hair cuticles to soften it and make the strands slippery for easy detangling.

Curly hair split - Kurlify

Life-saving hacks for detangling matted hair without hair breakage

Now that you have all your supplies in place, it’s time to start untwining and detangling those matts strand by strand. 

With the step-by-step guide we have provided below, you should be able to restore your hair without having to yank off a substantial amount of strands. Continue reading to learn more.

Part the hair in sections

 The ideal way to work with curly hair is to part it in sections, as it can become overwhelming if you have to work with all of your hair at once.  

Dampen the hair

Pick a section and dampen with cold water using a spray bottle or showerhead. Do this for all the sections and concentrate more on the matted area to ensure it is well dampened.

Apply oil and conditioner to the matted hair

 With enough product in your hair, the strands will eventually loosen up, slip past each other, and become easy to remove bit by bit. Just ensure to apply a generous amount of the conditioner so that every part of the matted area is well-saturated.

Let the hair sit

 This is where the steam or conditioning cap comes to play, especially if the hair is severely matted. You can use heat (use a hand dryer or sit under one) for twenty to thirty minutes to allow your hair to hydrate properly, absorb the moisture, and loosen up better.

Start detangling

Now, it’s time for the real deal. You first need to have the right attitude and lots of patience during this process because without it you might end up chopping off your hair. 

With that in place, take a section and start to use your fingers to detangle before combing. This method will prevent hair breakage because your fingers are sensitive and can feel all the knots and tangles.

Add more products if necessary

 If the hair feels like it’s drying out or does not have enough products, you can dampen it with water again and add more conditioner and oil to make it cooperate.

Comb gently

 As we mentioned earlier, a wide-tooth comb is best for this job because it can minimize hair breakage. So, detangle a section with your hand first and gently go through with the comb. 

Don’t try to comb the matted hair out forcefully; instead, comb the ends first and then work your way up to form there. If it still feels tangled, keep pulling the knotted areas apart until it’s not. 

Once your finger and comb can go through the section of hair without feeling any knot, you can move on to the next section.

Secure with a twist

 You can’t just leave out whatever section you work on without securing it. So, twist and use a clip to get it out of the way, and start working on the next section. 

Note that your hands may feel tired after some time. It’s okay to stop and continue after some minutes or hours of rest. 

Curly kid afro - Kurlify

Stop it from happening again

Detangling matted hair isn’t fun, so here’s a simple breakdown of how to prevent your hair from matting.

  • Comb your hair regularly if you do not have a protective style on
  • Don’t carry your protective style for tor more than the recommended time
  • Trim your ends regularly
  • Keep your hair clean and avoid harsh shampoos, hair dyes, or texturizers
  • Use shampoos and conditioners with moisturizing or hydrating ingredients
  • Detangle your hair before washing
  • Keep your hair always moisturized by deep conditioning it
  • Do not go to bed without wrapping your hair in a satin or silk scarf or bonnet
  • Use protein treatment on your hair once in a while to repair damaged hair cuticles
  • Do not keep your extensions in longer than necessary
Curly hair afro female - Kurlify


Apart from being time-consuming, detangling isn’t the easiest job to do but becomes necessary when we neglect our hair for a while. 

Having curly hair means you have to put in the work required to have healthy hair at all times, which might be too much to handle sometimes, causing the hair to matt.

 Nevertheless, there is always a way out, even if you are in such a mess already. Follow the above guide to help your detangling process and prevent your hair from matting in the near future. 

What is your experience with the detangling process? Let us know in the comments. 


  1. How to take better care of your hair. My hair is mosquito when I wash it and it falls out a lot. I am very worried.

    • Hi!

      Please read this blog, it will definitely help you!!

      – Team Kurlify💜

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    • Hi,

      Thanks for your kind comment! 💜

      Xoxo team Kurlify

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