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Matted Hair Removal: How To Save Matted African American Hair Without Damage

By Edited May 7, 2014 1 2

Matted Hair Removal: Repair Knotted Black Hair Without Cutting

Ok, so now you've done it and you need to repair you matted black hair.  Whether you left your braids in for too long or got your hair wet and didn't comb it out right away so it got matted, there is a great way to save your hair without having to cut it or lose new growth. One thing you must remember with African American hair especially natural unprocessed hair is that it loves water. Water actually acts as a natural conditioner to the hair and it also helps to get it out you out of tight spots such as mats, tangles and knots.  Mothers who are having trouble getting a comb through their black child's natural hair should wet is slightly and comb through it with a wide tooth comb, then begin to style.  Much like the hair dresser does when she is setting your hair, it may be beneficial for you to have a spray bottle of water to help you groom your natural black hair.  In any case, if you ever get knotted, matted or tangled, just remember water, conditioner, wide tooth comb.


For Newly Tangled Matted Hair Removal

What You'll Need

  • Large tooth comb
  • Water
  • Conditioner

If you just went to the pool, or beach or got out of a rain storm and your hair got wet and badly matted, don't panic, it can be fixed.  Just hop in the shower and bring your wide tooth comb. As mentioned above, Black hair, especially natural Black hair thrives and functions better when it is wet (I know this is contrary to what you have been taught but it is true).


For Permed Hair

Wash your hair with or without shampoo (you can just do a dry wash with conditioner only).  However, let the water run through your hair and massage your scalp.  As the water is running through your hair, with just your finger and the balls of your fingers work your way through the mats and knots. It is important to make sure you do this under the running shower water.

You don't really need to do much because your hair is already relaxed.   If the knots have not been worked out with the conditioner and water and your running your fingers through the knotted hair, then use the wide tooth comb to gently work the matted hair out.  Start from the bottom of the knot and work out each strand. Don't start from the top or skip strands because then your hair will get more knotted and you will lose hair.  If you need to use more conditioner, then do so.  The knots should be worked out of your hair almost immediately.

Caution: Black hair that has been relaxed is generally weaker than natural black hair, so use extreme caution when you attempt matted hair removal.


For Natural Hair

Before you put the conditioner in your hair, use the wide tooth comb to work through each portion of your hair while under running water.  Like I said, Black hair especially Black natural hair loves water and the water works more like a conditioner than a conditioner does.  Use the wide tooth comb to work out small sections of your hair while the water is running over it for easy knot removal.  Make sure you work from bottom to top when working out the mat or knot. After you have removed all the knots, then you wash your hair and apply conditioner.


Matted Hair Removal For Braids And Hair That Has Been Matted or Tangled For Months

What You'll Need

  • Large tooth comb
  • Water
  • Survivor (Eqyss) or Aussie 3 Minute Miracle

Matted Hair Detangler
Aussie 3 Minute Miracle

Ok, you are going to need some help for this one.  If your hair has been matted for months because it was braided naturally or because you had extensions, you need to use extreme caution when you attempt matted hair removal so you don't lose your new growth as well as large chunks of hair.

A Little bit about Eqyss Survivor

If you are an African American Woman who already uses Megatek conditionerthen Eqyss products are not new to you.  Eqyss makes hair care products for horses, but they are suitable for human use.  Eqyss products usually work great on Black hair mainly because of the protein content.  While Caucasian women and women of other races have already found the benefits of using horse products on their hair (especially those women who work on the farm), it is a new concept for Black women. So while these other women enjoy beautiful, long full hair, some Black women struggle with the inferior products that's on the market for so called hair care. Some manufacturers have started to improve their products-but still.

Eqyss Survivor or what it is formally called (EQyss Survivor Super Detangler Shine) is a detangle, mainly for the horse's mane and tail.  It removes knots and mats and tangles and makes the knots melt like butter.

Read more about Megatek conditioner: PRESS HERE


Aussie 3 Minute Miracle

The Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deeeeep Liquid Conditioner works great on Black Hair, especially Black permed hair. It seems to change the structure of the hair at least temporarily relax to the point where you can comb right through it.  If used regularly it helps to strengthen the hair with each use. Aussie 3 minute miracle is the second choice for a detangler but it is right up there with Megatek for conditioners when it comes to keeping Black hair beautiful.

WEN by Chaz Dean

Chaz Dean is a salon owner who developed an herbal based product line which helps to moisturize hair.  The WEN Conditioning Cleansing Hair Line, expecially the Fig and Lavendar works really well for detangling and moisturizing African American hair. Many African Americans who try it, often stop perming their hair because also defines the natural curls.  Using WEN, along with Carol's Daugher hair milk or even by itself, allows Black men and women to wear their curls proudly.


Carol's Daughter

Carol's daughter has fabulous products to help you condition and detangle hair.  You can also get those from Amazon or even the Carol's daughter website.



With Eqyss Survivor and Aussie 3 Minute Miracle

Apply the detangler or conditioner as instructed on the bottle.  Using a small amount and placing it directly on the braids, tangles or knots.  Let it stand for about 20 to 30 minutes before attempting to take it out with a wide tooth comb. If your hair is braided, take each braid out separately and have something in the shower to separate the unmatted hair from the hair that still needs to be untangled.  Work from the bottom of the braid to the top and don't miss a sing loop.  You can end up taking out a chunk of hair by being too hasty and missing braid loops.  When you get to the tangled knot, use the ball of your fingers to work out the knot in a circular motion while making sure the knot stays under the running water.  You should feel the knot melt away like butter. 

Once you have loosened the tangle a little, use the wide tooth comb to continue to take out the braid, making sure you do it from the bottom up and not the top down.  Insert the comb into the knot and bring the comb down all the way to the end of the hair.  Do this until the braid is free from knots.

For those of you who scoff at the idea of using a horse product in your hair, the Aussie is the better option.  If you use the Aussie and it doesn't work, try doing the same thing with just petroleum jelly or another detangler made for humans.  If none of those work, then you know there is still an option out there and may just have to bite the bullet and try it. 

Please note, that since you are talking about hair that has been tangled for a long time, there will be hair loss.  However, if you detangle your hair correctly, using the appropriate tools, you will only be losing natural shedding and not your new growth and hair length. This is why it is important to use the comb, take the knot out from BOTTOM to top and bring each loop out all the way to the bottom of the braid. This way you can still see your length and you will also see the natural shedding drop out of your hair (which does look scare because it looks like clumps of hair falling out.)

The most important thing is to be careful and do it slowly. If you need to detangle your hair over a period of days or weeks, then do it.  If you have had the braids in your hair for that long, then you can take some time and care to remove them so that you don't damage your hair. 

If at any time at all you feel as if it is too much for you, then go to a professional stylist immediately.  You should also discuss the Eqyss with your stylist and get her opinion on whether you should use it or if there is a better option for you to get tangles out of your hair.




Aug 27, 2015 5:42am
Beautiful article thank you. Are the items shipped to Canada
Aug 9, 2016 1:05am
This is useful! thanks a bunch... I love Sheamoisture for this. especially their jamaican black castor oil products. their conditioning shine gel is super awesome.
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