Finger Detangling vs Combing

With so many rules and methods out there, it is hard to know what you SHOULD be doing to your hair. At the end of the day, it is YOUR hair and so down to you to find what works best for you. This is the same with products, styling and most of all combing. 

It would be easy for me to sit here and tell you that you should comb your hair a certain way, or you should not comb your hair a certain way, but when it comes down to it, i don't know your hair like you do. What i can do, is give you pointers on what works for me, and you can give it a go for yourself too. 

Combing my hair when i was younger was a nightmare. Not only was it painful, embarrassing and scary, but it was a struggle to get started. Having the thickest hair out of me and my sister, it would tangle instantly. You could literally comb it and braid a section, come back to it 2 minutes later, and it would be full of knots again. 

This led to me spending alot of time with my hair kept in two cornrows/braids, rather than having my curls out. It held me back on being able to appreciate my hair, because every time i wore it down i dreaded the next day. 

As i got older, i would hold off the combing session as long as possible. My hair stayed up in a bun, hidden away under ponytails and i allowed my hair to become matted. I was unable to comb it myself, which meant that i had to rope my boyfriend into helping me to comb the birds nest on top of my head.  

The breakage, the pain, the tearing and the crying that followed. It just wasn't worth having my hair down to have to do all of that work. 

When i began my healthy hair journey at the end of 2016, i played around with different ways of combing my hair, until i found a method that worked best for me. I have realised that everyone has their own different methods, whether it being tangle teasers, finger combing, denman brushing, or using a comb/brush. 

Tonight i am going to talk to you about finger detangling vs combing. I haven't found a way to use a tangle teaser that worked for me at all, but if that works for you, my motto is always "if it ain't broken don't try to fix it." 

I hope this article can help you figure out the best way to keep your curls tangle free and happy 


Finger Detangling:

Finger detangling hair is what it says on the tin. It is the method in which you use your fingers to remove knots and tangles instead of a comb. This is my go to method that works best for me to keep my hair soft and knot free. 

There are so many reasons why i prefer to do my hair this way. 
  • You can physically feel tangles better
When using your fingers to remove knots, you can feel every little one more as it is against your skin. I find that when you use a comb to do this, the comb will glide right through some sections and then hit a hard knot. With your fingers, you can feel not only where this knot is, but also how big it is. I think that being able to feel them out like this, makes them all that big easier to remove in the end. 

  • Avoid Breakage and Split ends
We have all been there mid way through combing a 4 days old wash and go, and having to stop to remove the hair from our combs. Using your fingers is overall more gentle on our hair, and so it doesn't snap as much as it would do with a comb. Combs can be harsh and rip hairs right out of their follicles and this can be very painful. Less hair comes out at the end of finger detanlgling. 

  • Learn your hair better
Running your fingers through your hair often can help you to understand it better. Which are the areas that are drying out quicker and need more moisture? Where is the most damage? All of these questions can be answered. Finger detangling is like a gentle bonding session between you and your hair. No more fear of the comb, it is over all more of a relaxing experience. 
  • Less painful
If like me you are head sore, then finger detanlging is defiantly for you. The hair is not being ripped from your scalp with hard pulls from a comb, you are just pulling apart the hairs that have become wrapped around each other. 

Like with any part of life, there are of course cons to doing this way of detangling hair as well. 

  • Time consuming
Yes, finger combing your hair can take longer than if you were to brush it with a comb. The sections are going to be smaller, and you are taking more time and concentration to carefully remove the tangles. This process will take longer than you usual comb session.

  • Does not work for all hair lengths
I think that if you have really short hair, or really long hair, then this method wont work the same. Obviously with short hair it will be hard to get your fingers through it and if your hair is very long, it will just take way too much time. Finger detangling works best for hair which is shoulder to bra strap length i think. 

  •  "Theres only so many tangles you can get out with your fingers."
Your fingers wont be able to feel for every knot and tangle and some will be harder to do without the thin bristles and teeth that a comb or brush has. If you leave these bigger ones in your hair, or you cause more tangles than there was before, then your hair may become matted, according to some websites. Make sure to follow my tips for finger detanlging to avoid this from happening. 
Of course there are times when a comb is brought into the routine such as deep conditioning, or when hair is particularly bad. So lets talk about the comb! 


There are so many ways and tools to comb your hair with. Some prefer a tangle teaser, some like the denman and for some it is the wide tooth comb. Anything smaller than a wide tooth comb is a no for my hair as it is very thick. I can see why people like to brush and comb and here are some of the reasons. 

  •  Faster
Alot of people find combing with a brush or comb can be faster. It takes less time and can be rushed without ending badly.  The worst that can happen is you loose a couple of bristles and teeth in your hair - we have all done this! 

  • Prepare your hair for styling
If you are planning on wearing your hair in a up do for example, then using a comb will ensure that your roots are slick and tidy. You can not get bump less hair any other way, and so using a comb can make sure that this is done easily. 

  • Effective for all hair lengths
Short hair, long hair, mid-length hair it doesn't matter when it comes to combing. With so many sizes of combs and types of comb, there is one out there for every ones hair length. 

As with finger detangling, there are of course negatives to using a brush/comb too. 

  • Creates static frizz
Who else has brushed out their hair and ended up with so much static on top of their head? The pull of the comb against our hair strands can cause friction between the two, and we get "halo frizz" on top of our heads. 

  • Less gentle
I don't think this point needs much explanation. We all know the pain of that comb tugging on our heads. 

  • Can thin hair and cause split ends
Due to the extra ripping/breakage that combing our hair can cause, it can make our hair thinner. Those thick strands that you have on your head, are being worn down every time you comb your hair. Where it is normal to shed hair daily (see my post about hair shedding v breakage here) that extra pulling on your hair is doing more bad than good. 

So what methods i prefer?

For me it is finger detanlging all the way. I didn't know about doing this before starting the healthy journey, and now that i do it makes life easier. Don't get me wrong i love a good wide tooth combing, and this is what i do every wash day, but i wont comb my hair any other time. 

I just think that it is easier and less traumatic to do it this way. I do have some tips to share with you to help you get into how to do it if you haven't before. Finger detangling before using a wide tooth comb, will also make it easier but finding those big tangles before the comb does and gently removing them. 

So how can you make your detangling easier?

1. Always finger detangle damp/wet hair
Do not try to finger detanlge dry hair. This is how you will end up with matted hair. You wouldn't try to comb your hair dry with a comb, so why do it with your fingers.  By wet i don't mean that you have to soak your hair everyday to do this, it can be wet with product. 

2. Always do it in sections
There is no point trying to grab huge sections of your hair and pull it apart, you are just going to hurt yourself. I like to get my hair into two sections (4 if it is very knotty) and take my time with the process. 

3. Try adding oil 
Righteous Roots is my best friend when it comes to detanlging my hair with my fingers. A detangling lotion will also help. Anything that is going to lubricate the strands of hair and stop friction and breakage. 

4. Don't over do it
I don't detangle my hair every single day, just like i don't refresh or wet it everyday. Every other day or less works fine. I find that because of the fluffing and the sectioning of my hair, i have more volume and get that "fluffy" look to my hair which i am loving at the moment. 

5. Make sure your nails are trimmed
Too many times i have had nails break when finger detangling, or i have had a hangnail and not known, and this has gotten caught in my hair. Make sure that the nails are smooth!

Check out my latest youtube video where you can see me use BOTH of these methods in my wash and go. 

What is your method for detanlging your hair? Are you a finger detanlger like me? Or is it comb all the way for you? Comment in the box below or send me an email and let me know what you think. 

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