Matted Knots

Tangled African hair
Photo: Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock
Q: How do you get matted knots out of black hair?
A: With a less extreme case of knots and tangles in ethnic hair types, you can usually use a wide tooth comb on hair that has been plied liberally with hair oils and work out the knots and tangles from the ends toward the scalp. Go in small increments, but make sure to be gentle with the hair. With some patience and persistence, you can usually work out the knots.
Unfortunately, in some cases the hair is beyond hope of being able to simply work it out. In these cases, it is time to bring out the scissors, However, before you shear the hair off the head to remove the matted regions, try this technique:
Take the matted section in hand and direct the scissors with the point toward the scalp and snip the matted hair approximately halfway through the mat. Use the wide tooth comb and hair oil to work the matted hair and see if you can loosen the tangle. Sometimes this is sufficient to release the matted hair. You may need to go ahead and snip all the way through the matted segment to loosen the knotted hair.
When this technique works it generally allows you to free the hair from the matting without sacrificing the entire length of the hair. The hair will be somewhat thinned by the process, but can still be styled in such a way as to cope with the thinning while the hair grows back.
You may find in the worst cases that this will not work and that your only option is to cut the matted hair out and try to create a style that can cope with this. This step should only be a last resort.
See also:
Is there oil I can get for my hair to try to un-mat it?
How can I detangle a massive ball of matted hair?
My hair is all matted in the morning when I wake up. What should I do?
How to get rid of tangled hair