How to Detangle Matted Hair (No Damage!)

If you’ve ever woken up with a head full of matted hair, you know how frustrating and time-consuming it can be to detangle. Whether you have curly or straight hair, long or short locks, everyone experiences knots and tangles at some point. Fear not! We’ve got you covered with tips and techniques on  how to detangle matted hair.

What Causes Matted Hair?

Matted hair occurs when hair strands become intertwined and tangled, forming dense knots or lumps that are difficult to comb or untangle. Several factors can contribute to matted hair. Failure to regularly brush or comb the hair, especially in long or textured hair types, can lead to the accumulation of shed hair, natural oils, and external debris, all of which contribute to the formation of mats. Additionally, sleeping with loose, untreated hair can create friction and friction between strands, further exacerbating the problem.

Another cause of matted hair is exposure to moisture and humidity. When hair gets wet and isn’t properly dried or detangled, it becomes more prone to tangling and matting. This is particularly true for individuals with curly or coily hair types, as their hair structure makes it easier for strands to wrap around each other. Over time, if these tangles and knots are not addressed, they can grow in size and severity, leading to extensive matting that may require professional intervention to resolve

How to Detangle Matted Hair without cutting

Use a detangling spray

A detangling spray is a leave-in conditioner that helps make your hair more manageable and easier to comb through. Apply the spray generously to your hair, starting at the ends and working your way up to the roots. Let the product sit for a few minutes to allow it to work its magic, then start combing through your hair gently.

Apply oil or conditioner

If you don’t have a detangling spray, you can use oil or conditioner instead. Apply a generous amount to your hair, focusing on the matted areas. Let it sit for a few minutes, then start combing through your hair gently from the ends to the roots.

Divide and conquer

Sometimes tackling large knots can be overwhelming. Instead, divide the knot into smaller sections and work on one section at a time. This method can take longer, but it’s gentler on your hair and less frustrating overall.

Finger combing

Finger combing is an excellent technique for those with curly hair. Start by applying your favorite styling product to your hair, then use your fingers to gently separate the strands. This method reduces breakage and prevents further matting.

Tips for preventing matted hair in the future

Preventing matted hair in the future requires consistent care and maintenance of your hair, regardless of its type or texture. As you know, regular and gentle brushing is crucial. Use a suitable brush for your hair type (e.g., wide-toothed comb for curly hair, a soft-bristle brush for fine hair) and detangle your hair daily to prevent knots from forming. When brushing, start from the tips and work your way up to the roots to minimize breakage.

Furthermore, maintain a proper hair care routine. This includes regular shampooing and conditioning with products designed for your hair type. Avoid overwashing your hair, as it can strip natural oils that help prevent tangles. Consider using leave-in conditioners or hair oils to add moisture and reduce friction. Lastly, be mindful of your hairstyles. Tight hairstyles like braids or ponytails that can lead to matting. 

These tips, along with regular trims to remove split ends, will go a long way in preventing matted hair and keeping your locks healthy and manageable.

when you need professional help

Professional help for matted hair should be sought when the condition is severe, painful, or persistent, as well as when excessive hair loss occurs during detangling attempts. If you experience discomfort, scalp irritation, or suspect underlying hair or scalp issues, consult with a hairstylist, trichologist, or dermatologist for expert assessment and guidance.

Additionally, individuals with unique hair types should consider seeking specialized advice to prevent and manage matting effectively. Professional assistance ensures that your hair’s health and beauty are preserved while addressing the specific challenges associated with matted hair.

Best Detanglers for matted hair

Fine Hair: The Honest Company Conditioning Hair Detangler is a featherweight spray that won’t burden your delicate strands. Plus, it’s formulated without sulfates, parabens, or phthalates.

Thick Hair: For those with a lush mane, the Oribe Run-Through Detangling Hair Primer boasts a creamy blend that effortlessly smooths and detangles even the most robust locks. It also shields your hair from the rigors of heat styling.

Curly Hair: Embrace your curls with the DevaCurl Wash Day Wonder Time Saving Slip Detangler, a leave-in conditioner that defines curls and tames frizz. It’s not just curl-friendly; it’s also a sulfate-free and cruelty-free option.

Damaged Hair: Revitalize your damaged tresses with the Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Aloe + Oat Milk Ultra Soothing Detangling Spray, a hydrating elixir designed to repair and rejuvenate. Plus, it’s vegan and cruelty-free.

Kids’ Hair: Keep it gentle with the Aussie Kids Detangler, a mild spray specially crafted for children’s hair. It’s tear-free and devoid of any overpowering fragrances.

If you’re watching your wallet, consider the Suave Naturals Conditioner, a budget-friendly choice that doubles as a detangler. It’s also sulfate and paraben-free, proving that affordability doesn’t mean compromising on quality.


  1. Can you detangle matted hair with just your hands? Yes, it’s possible to detangle matted hair with your hands. But, it’s easier and less painful to use a detangling spray, oil or conditioner, or a comb to help separate the tangles.
  2. How often should I detangle my hair? It’s best to detangle your hair every time you wash it. This will prevent knots and tangles from forming and make detangling easier overall.
  3. Is it safe to use a detangling spray every day? It’s generally safe to use a detangling spray every day, as long as you don’t overuse it. Too much product can weigh down your hair and make it feel greasy.
  4. Can I detangle matted hair myself or should I seek professional help? You can try to detangle matted hair yourself using the methods we’ve outlined above. However, if the matting is severe or you’re not sure how to proceed, it’s best to seek the help of a professional stylist.

Final Takeaway

The key to conquering the challenge of tangled hair lies in understanding your hair’s unique needs and treating it with kindness. By incorporating these suggestions into your hair care routine, you’ll be well-equipped to prevent and manage matted hair effectively. So, whether you’re dealing with a minor tangle or aiming for long-term hair health, remember the valuable lesson of detangling matted hair – it’s not just a task; it’s a journey towards a happier, healthier mane. Happy hair days ahead!