How To Detangle Your Hair Without Damaging It

If you're detangling your hair by pulling a fine-toothed comb or paddle brush from the top of your head to the bottom, please stop now. This mistake can lead to split ends and single strand knots, which are nearly impossible to get rid of without cutting them out.

According to Scunci celebrity hairstylist Laura Polko, you detangle hair by always starting from the very bottom and working your way up, like this:

Creme of Nature Education Expert Pat Grant Williams says it is best to prep and soften hair for detangling by applying a few spritzes of water, or a cocktail of conditioner and oil. "The cocktail of conditioner and oil as a lubricant makes the hair more pliable and easier to manage," she says. "Gently work the conditioner and oil from ends to roots, concentrating on tangles and knots. Remove any hair that sheds during the detangling process."

This method makes it is easier to detangle knots by working up the hair, which causes less stress on strands and helps to avoid additional tangles.

Both experts agree that the best detangling "tool" are your fingers. "Finger-combing really breaks up the major tangles and you can actually feel with your hands where the tangles are," says Polko. "Again, be super patient to avoid breaking hair."

Williams also recommends using a medium-toothed comb for fine to medium textured hair and a wide-toothed comb for thick and coarse hair. "Look for a comb made of hard rubber, which is the best type to use, because they do not split and tear the hair," she says.

While Williams believes finger-detangling on dry hair that is coated with oil will likely give the best results, hair is easier to detangle when wet. She adds, "The hair structure is made up of 97 percent keratin protein. Hair is the linking together of protein groups. The weakest bond in the hair can be temporarily broken with water. This temporary breakdown of the bonds allows for easier altering of the hair."

Also, there are products designed to help detangle wet hair. Shop our editors' picks below for products that will make the process as smooth as possible.

Hair Detangling Products