How to Get Rid of Tangled Hair

Woman with tangled hair
Photo: Shutterstock
Tips for Untangling and Avoiding Tangles
Recently, a friend of mine went to her stylist and had her long hair cut. She now sports a very sassy layered hairstyle that comes to the bottoms of her ears. Personally, I never thought she would go short, since she had worn her hair long as long as I had known her and every photograph I had ever seen of her from childhood through her teen years and twenties featured long hair at least to the shoulder. But she decided it was time, so she went for it. About two weeks later, we met for lunch and she was still enthusiastic about it.
What surprised me most was that she said the greatest thing about her new hairstyle was "no more tangles". I noted the comment at the time and we continued with other conversation, but her words stayed in the back of my mind. I used to have long hair (past my shoulders) myself, and I knew firsthand how frustrating it could be to keep it tangle-free. However, I never thought tangles were an issue serious enough to warrant a dramatic change in hairstyle.
Those individuals with long hair, particularly if it is even slightly curly, know what a torture tangles can be. The romantic notions of driving with the top down and the wind in your hair, or sitting on windswept beaches, which movie and television makers are so fond of depicting, never seem to result in the same kind of torturous aftermath for the people onscreen as it does for us real people.
When my moderately wavy hair was long, a fifteen-minute drive with the sunroof open or the windows down would result in at least twenty minutes of careful brushing to smooth out the snarls.
For those of you who know the struggle of tangles, here are some tips to make taming them easier. Remember, one of the best ways to get rid of tangles is to prevent them from occurring. With that in mind, I offer the following advice:
I know you have all been preached to at length about the need for conditioner as part of your daily hair care routine, but it cannot be said enough. Thoroughly cleaning and conditioning hair makes it silky and smooth, and helps to prevent tangles, especially if your hair is close to being straight.
Even wavy, curly, and coiled hair can be prevented from tangling when conditioned properly. One of the functions of a good conditioner is to smooth the cuticle layer of the hair shaft. A smooth cuticle layer will not catch onto neighboring hair strands.
I would say that at least seven out of ten women I see in the course of the day do not condition their hair properly or with the appropriate conditioner. Regardless of how often you wash your hair, you should condition it every day, not just with a rinse-through conditioner in the shower.
Most women with normal hair should also use a leave-in conditioner and detangler after they towel-dry their hair. There are several great products available in salons, drugstores, and supermarkets.
Conditioning and drying hair
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Drying the Hair:
One of the biggest hassles of having long, thick hair is that it takes forever to dry on its own, and blow-drying is a necessary part of our daily routine.
Once you have finished your shower and remembered to use conditioner, be gentle with your hair. Do not rub the towel across your head or in your hair. Instead, wrap the towel around the ends of your hair and squeeze out the excess water, working your way to the scalp. Pat the head and blot up the water there.
Try using two towels (most long-haired women find this necessary anyway) and wrap your hair up in one of the towels to form a turban and leave it there while you finish drying your body.
Continue wearing the turban while you dress and apply your makeup. This gives your towel the chance to continue soaking up the excess moisture from your hair. When you are ready to take your turban down, be sure to spray your leave-in conditioner and massage it through your hair with your fingers. You can blot up any excess to avoid dripping with your towel.
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