How to Detangle Natural Hair Quickly


A few weeks ago the most amazing thing happened to me. By complete accident, I was able to detangle my entire head of hair in exactly 17 minutes. I was floored.

On this particularly fateful day, I was rushing home to meet with the stylist who is doing my hair for my upcoming wedding. I was super grateful that she agreed to wash and style my hair in the comfort of my little apartment, but the only thing she requested from me was that I detangle it ahead of time so when she arrived she could immediately get started.

To me, this seemed like a reasonable request. I would leave work a little early, head straight home, and carefully detangle my hair with more than enough time to spare. What actually happened, however, was that I left work late, stopped at the grocery store to get a snack, spent 30 minuted leisurely preparing said snack, then proceeded to eat while gofing off on the internet.

When I finally snapped out of my snack/internet-induced coma, I had just over 20 minutes until my stylist was supposed to show up! I quickly brushed the crumbs off my face and ran into the bathroom, panicking as I began a process that, on average, takes me at least one hour.

Except that this time, it didn’t. Like I mentioned earlier, it only took my 17 minutes and I didn’t have to rip through my hair. I even finger-detangled each section before going over it with a wide tooth comb. What I did and the tools  you’ll need are after the jump…

Why So Quickly?

Before I get into the technique and tools, I want to highlight a few things that made this detangling session unique and allowed me to get through my hair so quickly.

  1. My hair was not super old. Like most natural women who are busy, I can get into the habit of rockin’ a style ’til the wheels fall off…10, 12, sometimes even 14 days later. When I went to detangle my hair this time, my style was only 5 days old. Does this mean my hair was a breeze to detangle through? Of course not. But by not squeezing the last possible day out of my style and getting to it before it was completely old, my hair still had some of the shape and separation left from the original style, which aided my detangling.
  2. My hair was not super dry. This goes along with my hair not being super old. Now, I admit that I am not the best at moisturizing my hair regularly. When I’m good I will at least mist it with water and seal the ends with oil/shea butter before bed but many days…I simply just go to bed. If I’m honest, my hair tends to be the moist moisturized in the days right after I initially washed and styled it. By detangling only 5 days away (instead of 2 weeks!) from that initial wash and styling session, my hair still had a bit of moisture in it, even though I’m not the best at daily moisturizing. Hair that still has some internal moisture to it (which it gets from washing/rinsing and sealing) is infinitely easier to detangle than bone-dry hair, even if you add water, oil and/or cream before detangling.
  3. I didn’t try to detangle every strand. Every detangling session before this one featured me on the floor, in front of a mirror, going through itty-bitty sections 2 and 3 times before moving on the the next itty bitty section of hair. Because I was strapped for time during this particular detangling session, I simply didn’t do that. I used bigger/less sections and I didn’t try to go through it multiple times to make sure it was perfectly detangled. And my hair still came out really good! You can read more about my technique below.

That said, I’ve done this technique when my hair was 2 weeks old and pretty dry and it still only took me 28 minutes. In my experience, this is generally just a fast technique!

What You’ll Need


  • A spray bottle filled with water (or your favorite mix)
  • A wide tooth rake comb
  • Good ol’ coconut oil

What to Do

Step 1: Section your hair into four loose sections using your fingers. Clip all but one of the sections up and away

Step 2: With the section that is left unclipped, split that section in half and clip up one of the new halves; leave the other un-clipped.

Step 3: Spray this “half” section throughly with water from your water bottle. Add a good-sized scoop of coconut oil and massage into the section.

Step 4: Begin finger detangling this “half” section. Don’t worry about being perfect, just get it to a point where you can run you fingers through the section without hitting any major snarls or snags.

Step 5: Take your wide tooth rake comb (deeper teeth than a regular wide tooth comb) and gently begin combing out this “half” section. It shouldn’t take too long because you already finger detangled it. When you are done, put it in a loose, fat twist.

Step 6: Unclip the other “half”, spray with water, add coconut oil, and begin finger detangling, then wide-tooth combing just as you did the first half. Put it in a loose, fat twist when you are done.

Step 7: You now have fully finger detangled one of your four sections (you did it in two parts). Repeat the whole process on the remaining 3 sections. When you are done, you should have a total of 8 loose, fully detangled twists.


If your hair is not super old, not super dry, (or even if it is!) and you don’t try to detangle every singe strand, you too may be surprised by how quickly you get through your hair! I love this process because when I am finished, my hair is in 8 big twists which is perfect for easy washing and deep conditioning.

Here are some other good links with tips for quick detangling: – Detangling Natural Hair in 10 Minutes or Less

Black Girl Long Hair – True Life: I Don’t Fully Detangle…and My Hair is Waist Length

Happy detangling!

  • Yolaunda Burnett

    Thanks for these tips! I use water and coconut oil more than anything else in my natural hair arsenal. Been natural since June 2011

    • Courtney

      Congrats on being natural since 2011! And coconut oil and water are pretty much staples for me, so I am not surprised that I figured out how to incorporate them in my detangling method.

  • Marie Young

    Girl, I don’t know why but I feel like I have to detangler every single strand so unfortunately I end up using a comb….

    • Courtney

      Really? You use a comb? Do you find that you have a lot of knots? I used to try to be super detailed when I detangled my hair but now that I find I get pretty much the same results using my fingers and a wide tooth comb. Do you find you are able to get through your hair better with a comb?