Matted hair – those hard clusters of tangled hair that form when loose hair strands get caught up and entangle with other strands forming distinct clumps around the hair – have become a major problem for many of us and most people don’t know how to untangle matted hair.
In the best case scenario, they can be caused by the accumulation of sweat, dust, and dirt, by the failure to comb the hair regularly, or through the build-up of oils, minerals, and other chemical products.
Worst case scenario, they can be caused by head lice infestation, which would prompt the total removal of hair followed by immediate application of the appropriate treatment.
The type of matted hair caused by everyday issues such as dust, build-ups, and failure to comb the hair regularly can happen to anyone but is often more popular amongst those with curly hairstyles.
Since it can happen to anyone, it could happen to you too. And when it does, your first reaction may be to panic, grab a pair of scissors and go to town cutting and destroying your hair. It is also very tempting to consider running to the professional stylist to get the mats untangled.
However, this guide will teach you how to untangle matted hair without paying the professionals or losing too much hair.
How to Untangle Matted Hair
Now that we know what causes your hair to mat and how popular this hair challenge can be let us learn how to untangle matted hair as painless as possible.
For Easier Mats
Step 1: Gather your essentials
These are the items you will need to untangle efficiently and as painlessly as possible. These items generally include your favorite conditioner, detangling or wide-toothed comb or brush, oils such as coconut oil or olive oil, and shampoo.
Step 2: Prepare the hair.
Get your hair ready for detangling by making it slightly wet. You can achieve this by running some drops of water through the hair at minimal pressure.
Alternatively, you can use a water spray bottle to sufficiently dampen the hair. You can do this by holding the bottle next to some hair strands and spraying away.
Also, if you suspect that your hair may contain too much oil or other chemical products, then you may want to consider washing those off first. Then wait until the hair drains properly before moving to the next step.
Step 3: Apply some conditioner.
Once you have dampened the hair enough or finished washing and draining (if it contains excessive oil), fetch a handful of your selected conditioner and apply it to the hair.
Apply and massage until the product reaches the hair ends and fully covers every strand. The amount of conditioner you require depends on the thickness or length of your hair.
Step 4: Allow the treatment to stand.
You will then need to allow the conditioner set to work, untangling and detangling tight clumps of hair strands. The time the treatment requires to attain maximum efficacy might depend on the product you choose.
However, most products need between 30 minutes to 2 hours to work effectively. In extreme cases, some may even be required to be left overnight. You should consult the package to be sure how long to allow it.
Either way, cover the treated hair with a shower cap or a plastic bag. This will reduce the extent of the mess that may be made and hasten the treatment process.
Step 5: Start detangling with your fingers.
Once the treatment time is complete, start untangling each knot with your fingers. It is always best to start with the easiest mats beginning from the roots and working your way down.
Brushing from the roots to the hair ends makes it easier to loosen the knots. It would be best if you stopped every time you feel a particular knot becoming too hard to loosen. Then try to untangle from a different angle.
It would help if you continued to do this until you had gotten all the knots out of the way. Then finish up by washing the hair and taking a shower.
For Severe Mats
Step 1: Start by combing
Use a wide-toothed comb to brush up the hair gradually. Separating the hair into many partitions will make the combing much easier.
It is advisable to start combing from the ends and gradually move a few inches higher every time you feel you have completely unknotted the mats below your hands.
That is, fetch a handful of the strands; give it a half-twist to prevent pulling the hair directly from the scalp, and brush under the hand repeatedly until the knots have been removed.
Also, it is a good idea to hold the hair higher up while combing to avoid or reduce pain.
Step 2: Apply the conditioner.
If the combing does not remove all the knots, you will need to apply a few drops of conditioner directly on the tough knots and massage it with your fingers.
This lubrication will reduce the effort required to loosen the matted hair.
Step 3: Thin out the tougher knots
Some mats may refuse to untangle despite the conditioning; you will need to thin out those mats when this happens.
Please do this by opening up a pair of scissors, then running the bottom blade of the scissors through the underside of the tough mats and tugging gently at the knot until it comes loose.
If all else fails, then carefully cut out the tough mats. This should be a last resort approach and done very carefully to prevent taking out more hair than necessary.
Step 4: Finish with combing.
This time use a fine-toothed comb to brush the hair from the roots to the ends. This will help you confirm that all the mats have been successfully removed.
Step 5: Wash the hair
Once you have established that all the mats have been completely eradicated, rinse your hair with shampoo and conditioner. Wash one partition at a time to make the job easier. Then take a shower to wash the rest of your body.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help Matted Hair?
Healthy hairs usually have a scalp with a pH level of 5. However, as we start to encounter pollution, the hairs begin to suffer neglect. After extended use of different chemical products, this pH level increases to about 7, becoming very alkaline.
This causes the hair to lose its smoothness, shininess, and softness, becoming dryer and breaking easily. The result is frequent tangling that forms several mats.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) can help with matted hair by lowering pH levels to balance the high alkalinity. Apple cider vinegar has a pH of 3, which may be too acidic but can be diluted in water and used without any negative effects.
When used to rinse your hair, ACV can return your hair scalp to its normal acidity and restore the health of your hair, especially if you have natural or curly hair.
Other benefits of ACV include
- ACV can easily prevent both bacterial and fungal growth on the hair scalp. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it able to counteract dandruff and hair lice infestation – the very things responsible for hair loss.
- It has essential hair ingredients such as Vitamins B and C, and potassium which are important for clarifying and exfoliating the scalp.
- ACV can help to stimulate and increase blood circulation to the hair follicles, thereby promoting hair growth
- Using ACV is not only cost-effective but also an excellent way of avoiding products with chemicals and preservatives that can potentially damage your hair.
How Do You Detox Matted Hair?
Your hair needs regular detoxification after extended use of chemical products. These chemical products may contain toxins and low-quality ingredients that affect the health of your hair.
You can detox matted hair by using a hair detox mask, undergoing oil-based scalp massage, or creating your special detox regiment from household items.
Using Hair Detox Mask
This is a 5-step procedure that can be easily used to eradicate build-ups from the hair at home. But first, run a sensitivity test to ensure your skin will not react to it and wash off immediately if you feel discomfort.
The ingredients used for this method include bentonite clay powder, apple cider vinegar, and Aloe Vera gel.
Step 1: Measure half cup each of the clay powder, ACV, and Aloe Vera gel and mix
Step 2: Take a handful of the product and generously spread it on the hair. Massage until it reaches the scalp and covers the entire hair.
Step 3: Wear a shower cap or plastic bag and allow sitting for 20 – 30 minutes. However, try not to allow the mixture to dry out completely before taking the next step.
Step 4: Measure one cup of white vinegar and use it to rinse your hair, then wait for about 3 minutes before washing with a clarifying shampoo.
Step 5: Lastly, finish up with an immediate detox hair soak or a shine boost rinse
Using Oil-Based Scalp Massage
This is an alternative method for detoxing matted hair and is popularly used by those who may be easily sensitive to a hair detox mask.
The simple procedure involves selecting the oil-based product based on your hair needs, diluting the product, then massaging it into the scalp as generous as possible, then allowing it to sit for about 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, wear a shower cap or plastic bag to allow the hair to absorb the oil properly. It would help if you also spent some time in the sun to allow the heat to open up the hair pores so that the product can penetrate.
Making Your Detoxifier
Alternatively, those who can’t stand clay or oils on their hair can create their homemade recipe and make a custom detox mask or massaging oil.
You could use baking soda or garlic to make a hair detox mask. Baking soda can make a detox mask that can easily remove build-up in hairs that have suffered mild damage. At the same time, garlic can be diluted in a carrier oil to prevent chemical burns while encouraging hair growth.
For oil-based scalp massage, you can use micellar water or egg whites mixed with coconut oil. Micellar water can remove impurities from the scalp by making it too dry, while the egg white mixture can help clean and strengthen the hair.
It is correct to view matted hair as the arch-nemesis of natural and curly hairs as they occur very often with these types of hairstyles and can be extremely frustrating when they happen.
Yet, they can also occur on just about any hairstyle, making it unclear who is spared from the evils of matted hair and who is not.
However, when it happens to you, do not panic or run off to your stylist. Instead, take a breather and follow the guide above to learn how to untangle matted hair effectively and painlessly.