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How to Brush Out Tangles from a Child's Long Hair

Updated on April 30, 2013
Those tangles are going down!
Those tangles are going down! | Source

Children oftentimes have finer and more delicate hair than adults tend to have, which means more tangles. You also might have a struggle on your hands if you're not gentle, as a hair detangling session can be pretty uncomfortable. But how in the world are you supposed to be gentle with these gnarly knots? The following tips and tricks will make life easier for you and your child when brushing tangles out of their long hair.

Wide-Tooth Combs Prevent Damage to Hair

The Cricket Ultra Hair Detangler Comb is a great example of a wide-tooth comb that can be used to detangle hair with minimal damage.
The Cricket Ultra Hair Detangler Comb is a great example of a wide-tooth comb that can be used to detangle hair with minimal damage. | Source

How Washing Hair Can Prevent, or Cause, Tangles

Washing hair too often not only washes out dirt and grease, but always washes away healthy oils naturally found in the hair and scalp that keep the hair healthy and smooth. Now, I'm not recommending that you allow that hair to grow a visible layer of grease. I am suggesting, however, to consider reducing hair washings to every other day if you currently wash it every day.

Use your discretion to determine how often the hair should be washed. In general, fine hair will need to be washed more often. The courser the hair, the less often it will need to be washed. Curly hair is the most course and dry of all hair types, meaning it can be washed once a week or less.

When the hair has a healthy amount of natural oils, it will be healthier and more manageable than dry and damaged hair.

Dos and Don'ts of Brushing

  • Don't use a ventilated hair brush or a brush with lots of little bristles. These can snag on the tangles and cause pain.
  • Do use a wide-tooth comb or detangling hair brush to remove tangles. These will minimize damage and prevent hair breakage.
  • Don't detangle the hair when wet. Hair is weaker than wet and more susceptible to breakage. Tangles are also more difficult and more painful to brush out when the hair is wet. Remove and smooth serious tangles before wetting the hair. Note here: curly hair will become frizzy if brushed when dry. Brushing and detangling curly hair before a washing will help prevent damage to the hair when brushed when wet.
  • Do detangle the hair when it is dry.
  • Do use a good hair detangler or leave-in conditioner.
  • Don't wash the hair too frequently. Washing hair too often will deplete it of essential oils that are necessary to keep the hair soft, smooth and healthy. In most cases, kids hair can be washed every other day or less, depending on the hair type (fine, straight hair will need washing more frequently than course, curly hair).
  • Don't pull harder if the brush or comb gets stuck on a knot. You might end up with a clump of hair in your hair brush if you do this. Instead, put the brush down and loosen the knot with your fingers and then, gently, brush the knot out the rest of the way.
  • Do dab the hair with a towel when wet, rather than rubbing it. Rubbing the hair with a towel in order to dry it will cause frizz and tangles.


A How to Detangle Hair Visual

7 Easy Steps to Brushing Out Tangles

  1. Mist the hair with a detangler or leave-in conditioner.
  2. Use your fingers to brush through the hair and to loosen knots. You fingers are far more gentle than a brush and by brushing your fingers through the hair you find knots to separate and work on smoothing out individually. This will save the hair from breakage that would be cause by attempting to simply pull and brush through.
  3. Always start at the root of the hair. While holding the scalp, brush through the bottom inch of the hair. If the brush pulls or gets stuck on a knot, grip a small amount of hair that has the knot and and brush briskly using short strokes. If you can tell that it's a thick knot, try to pull it apart as much as possible with your fingers and then smooth out the hair with a brush.
  4. Slowly move up the hair, always brushing from the top to the bottom, pulling the brush all the way through the roots.
  5. Make sure each brush stroke goes all the way through the roots. Eventually, your brush strokes will go all the way from the scalp to the roots.
  6. If the brush gets stuck on a knot, put the brush down, and try to loosen the knot with your fingers. Use extra detangling spray on the tough spots. Once the knot is loosened, finish brushing it out with your brush. When smooth, brush the separated strand back into the rest of the hair.
  7. Take your time. It can be time consuming to brush long hair, but it will really help to keep the hair health and free from breakage and damage.

Brushing Stubborn Knots Out of Hair

First, find and separate the knot from the rest of the hair. Mist the knot with a detangling spray. If the knot is really bad, rub in some conditioner. While holding the knot in one hand, use the other hand to pull out a few hairs at a time from the knot. Usually, untangle a knot but pulling the hairs out of the knot a few at a time. It might be a more time consuming technique, trying to brush it out not only hurts, but it may cause severe breakage to the hair as well (imagine pulling a clump of hair with the knot out in your brush. Yeah, I've been there).

We did it! No more tangles!
We did it! No more tangles! | Source

Tips for Preventing Tangles in a Child's Long Hair

  • Have your child sleep with the hair pulled up in a bun on top of the head. Leaving the hair loose causes friction and more tangles in the hair.
  • Don't let your child sleep with too much styling product in the hair.
  • Don't use curling brushes. I've heard plenty of stories of customers calling their hair stylist in tears because their styling round brushes have become knotted and stuck in the hair. Leave these to the professionals.
  • Revert to braids or ponytails on windy days.
  • Use a detangler and brush the hair everyday to prevent small tangles from turning into huge gnarls.


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    • Dreamhowl profile image

      Jessica Marello 4 years ago from United States

      There is a lot of good information here! Even my hair can get pretty tangled sometimes. Voted up.