The point of detangling is to organize hair, usually, in the same direction, and eliminate knots, snarles and tangles, and to remove any hairs that have shed naturally (there are three phases to the cycle of hair growth: growth, loss/shed, rest, replace or growth). To get any kind of snarl out, it is often best to momentarily suspend use of a detangling tool. Even with proper detangling, from the bottom of length up, hair can be pushed down that can tighten a tangle or incite a tangle. In these instances, loosen the tangle with the fingers by delicately separating out the area of the tangle from all of the hair, then work gently to loosen by drawing hairs upward and out to the side yet away from the knot. Do not draw the hairs down. Once the tangle is loosened, resuming detangling with a tool is fine. Sometimes it helps to first align hairs on the outer layer of hair, and also work in to the depths or thickness of the hair once the outer layers are organized. This will help prevent pulling on hairs in a harmful manner to the scalp’s hair root and to the cuticle itself.
In general, it is best to avoid detangling wet hair. Wet hair is fully swelled and fully stretched already and in detangling, one can overly stress the hair. However, for many hair types, waiting until dry to detangle presents even more frustrations, especially those with a fair amount of curl. So many will benefit from at least waiting until the hair is merely damp, and not sopping wet. Curly haired people will benefit from applying any leave-ins while the hair is damp, instead of waiting until hair is dry, for better curl control and moisture. Some hair types might find a need to detangle hair when wet. An option is to use a plastic wide tooth comb in the shower, with water flowing down on the hair, using the power of shower water to help straighten hair. Coat the hair with conditioner, and dip the wide tooth comb in conditioner repetitively and gently glide through the hair. In such an instance, pristine detangling should not be sought; instead, aim to organize the hair a bit. Avoid stressing the hair.
Detangling tools include combs and brushes. For reasons of hygiene, never share detangling tools between people. This includes within a family (example, head lice). There are all manner of detangling tools from very fine toothed combs to very wide toothed combs and picks, and available in a wide variety of price ranges. There are also a variety of brushes in various paddle shapes. Most benefit from using some form of a wide tooth comb for detangling, whether wet or dry hair (at least 4 mm spacing, some have 8 or 10). If such a comb has mold seams on it (such as between the teeth a little edge of plastic), or excess plastic that wasn’t clipped off in the manufacturing process, using a piece of fine grade sand paper to sand these down to a smoother surface will additionally help to protect the hair. There exist on the market combs advertised to have no seams. If a comb’s teeth ends prove too sharp, either shopping for a somewhat more blunt tip will help, or again, fine grade sandpaper can be applied to round the teeth a bit more. Detangling with a wide tooth comb represents the most gentle way to detangle hair. It’s best to begin styling with detangled hair whenever possible. Combs come in all shapes and sizes and all manner of materials including plastics, wood and horn. It is imperative to ensure that the tool of choice has a smooth outer surface that generally glides through the hair, and any edges are removed. Mold seams, splintering wood, and peeling lacquers can all grasp hair and pull, or otherwise stress or cause harm to the outer protective layer of hair, the cuticle. Similarly, brushes also come in all sizes and shapes. One’s styling needs will determine the suitable tools, and one’s stylist should advise as to the proper choices and how to use them to create and maintain the style at home between visits.