My hair is severely knotted.Just two days ago, I got my first hairbrush since 2013. My hair has a bunch of small knots and one huge knot in the back. My first idea was to cut my hair to donate to Locks of Love, but I wanted to see if there are other ways to untangle my hair first. Thanks!
Before you start, do not, I repeat do not try to brush your hair from root to tip if you have knots or tangles. Not now, not in the future.
Get a comb or hairbrush that can be washed with soap. If push comes to shove, your fingers will do.
Find some natural oil. Most types will do unless they have a real strong smell, because it will be hard to wash out. Coconut or jojoba are common favourites, but in this case, a plain "cooking oil" should do. Hands off from extra virgin olive oil here. You could use a synthetic hair oil containing silicone, but it is a bit controversial as it will remain on the hair for quite a long time. But it should work well to make the hair "slippery", which is our goal here.
Apply a generous amout of oil to your hair. I said generous, it should be really greasy. Use more during the next steps if necessary.
Start untangling from the bottom / the tips. Use your fingers to gently unravel knots, try separating strands even if some knots remain.
Use a comb or brush to comb single strands, starting with short strokes at the tip, working upwards with longer strokes. Ideally you will be able to unravel smaller tangles this way.
If you have tight knots that don't come out easily, leave them for the moment. Make sure they are well-oiled.
When you have untangeled most of the hair except for the most stubborn knots, they should have had enough time to "soak". Go back to them and gently poke, pull and pinch at them with your fingers trying to loosen them gently. You do not want to pull hard, be patient. At the back of the head you will have to use your fingers to "see" what's happening.
Brush your now untangeled hair from roots to tips once again to make sure you got all tangles out. If necessary, go back to step 4.
Wash your hair. If possible, do so in the shower while standing up. Use a mild shampoo, do not "scrub" or "knead" your hair. Gently work the lather down from your scalp towards the tips, rinse well. Do not rub your hair when toweling off or you go straight back to step 1. Gently "blot" dry by wrapping your head and hair in a towel.
Enlisting the help of a friend or watching a movie is a good ideal - if your hair is really knotted, it may take quite a while to untangle.
Note that donating tangled hair to Locks of Love might be a nice thought, but they explicitly exclude dreadlocks. Depending on the state of your hair, your tangles could be too matted to be usable for them. So untangle first, then donate, if you still wish to do so.
Wash your hair by using a little shampoo but don't scrub on top of your head, pull down from scalp to tips and wash it out. Get a shower cap and squirt a lot of conditioner into it, then rub some in your hair the way you did so with the shampoo. Put the shower cap on and put all your hair up into it and let it soak for as long as you feel. I'm in your exact situation and I find 8-24 hours works best for really bad hair, but my hair is super dry so your times might be different. Take the shower cap off after your happy with the time and get a big bowl or bucket of warm water. Using a detangling brush just brush out your hair, bottom to top. Every now and then dunk your hair and brush in the water. this will take a while so best to do this at a sleepover with your friends and a lot of good movies.
This sounds crazy, but the Wet Brush changed my life. No extra products or processes required, and it can be used on wet or dry hair. FYI, I have no association with the company.
OPTION #!: Try completely saturating your hair — while wet — with a deep conditioner, then cover (if you can) with a plastic cap (the kind used in hair salons; can be inexpensively purchased from amazon) and sit under hair dryer hood for about 20 minutes.
This deep conditioner will do what it does: softens and relaxes hair from its more tightly wound natural state, and makes it easier to begin to work through with a comb.
If you do not have a hairdryer with a hood, try putting a damp bath towel in the clothes dryer for 5 minutes, or so — long enough to warm but not completely dry the towel. Wrap warmed towel around the plastic cap on your damp/conditioned hair, until the towel cools. Can repeat by returning damp towel to dryer — again, just be sure towel is still a little damp and warmed, not completely dried as this will cool off more quickly.
After deep conditioning with heat, begin detangling — preferably with a wide-toothed comb while conditioner is still in your hair. Once detangled, gently shampoo as you normally would, then use a basic conditioner to comb out what few tangles may have returned from shampooing.
To avoid the frizzies and re-tangling while drying, try — as suggested by another post — patting dry with towel, or wrap your hair in a cotton t-shirt. This will absorb the water as would happen with a towel, but the smoother surface/texture of the t-shirt does not contribute to the friction on your hair caused by nubby towels that encourage frizz/tangles.
OPTION #2 - Get a good leave-in conditioner. Infusium 23 Pro Original Formula Leave In Treatment for Damaged Hair has been a staple hair care item in my curly-thick-nappy-headed household for YEARS! Can easily purchase from beauty supply stores or amazon.com.
Can apply directly to dry hair. I out it in a spray bottle, and go to town! This stuff will let you get a comb through ANYTHING!!