It's something I've been asked by mothers who have adopted African American children as well as individuals who are just curious about how one can manage the thick, fluffy curls that seem impossible to detangle. 

It's really not that complicated to detangle African American coils. Since coily hair is so tightly curled, the scalp's natural oils have a hard time traveling down the length of the hair. This makes leaves it dry and if someone doesn't know how to keep it properly moisturized it will break and split. It's for this reason that many people don't realize that ethnic hair does grow to long lengths; it all comes down to how well it's been detangled. When curls are detangled properly, the oil is free to travel down the hair shaft and minimize split ends and fragile strands.

Two Strand Twists

detangled child hair

Detangling a child's hair is no different than detangling an adult's hair when it comes to coily hair types.

Coily Hair Loves Water

Have you ever noticed when coily hair gets wet (from swimming or just the humidity) it gets "poofy"? That's because this particular hair type loves water. It doesn't seem that way since women run from the rain after leaving the salon, but the way the hair gets fluffy is a good sign the water has been absorbed (like a sponge): Water equals moisture and less breakage due to dryness.

How To Use Water To Detangle African American Hair

Things You'll Need

  • Empty spray bottle 
  • Hair pins, sectioning clips or elastic hair bands
  • Patience
  • Water
  • Wide tooth comb or detangling brush

Start by finger parting the hair into sections and holding each section in place with a pin or clip. Leave the section you're going to start with loose and hold at the roots. With your free hand, use the spray bottle filled with water to spray from ends to root. 

With the wide tooth comb or detangling brush, start brushing gently from the ends of the curls and finishing at the roots. While brushing, always keep a firm grip on the roots to prevent painful pulling.

This isn't a process that should rushed, so don't attempt to do this if you're in a hurry or upset.

Protective Bun

natural hair bun

Make It Last

Since it can take a while to complete a detangling session, you're going to want it to last as long as possible. Knowing how to use protective styles keeps your schedule clear of detangling sessions as long as possible.

Protective styles are any hairstyles that keep the ends from being exposed to the elements or keep the roots from being able to get tangled. This is why a lot of individuals choose to get braids, two strand twists or wear buns.

The style can last for up to a week, which means the hair is tangle free and you don't have to worry about maintaining your style very often.

Applying moisture is all well and good, but it's not going to do any good if the moisture doesn't stay. Apply a natural oil such as extra virgin olive oil or avacado oil to help seal the moisture in, add shine and softness to the hair. 

The less you manipulate African American hair, the longer it will grow. You should detangle the hair and leave it alone for as long as possible. As soon as you notice the hair feels dry and loses it's shine (gets extra frizzy) it's time to repeat the process. 

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