It’s very common for hair to become tangled. The clothes we wear, the way we brush and style our hair, and even the time of the year all play a role—and while tangles are typical, they are sure knot fun. Surprisingly, the best way to deal with matted or knotted hair isn’t actually dousing your hair in an entire bottle of conditioner. Prevention is the key.
If you know exactly why your hair keeps getting tangled so frequently, you’ll be able to improve your hair care routine to stop it from happening in the first place.
Let’s start by understanding what’s really causing those knots of yours.
What causes knotting in hair?
Knots can happen with every hair type—whether it’s straight, wavy, curly, or coiled. But what makes some hair more prone to knotting than others? Let’s comb through some reasons below.
1. Dry, heat-damaged, sun-damaged, or bleach-damaged hair
The common theme here is damaged. Overexposure to heat styling tools, UV rays, and to hair dyes or products containing bleach can all damage your hair.
Damaged hair is less able to hold onto moisture, leaving it dry and straw-like. In this condition, hair strands are not able to slip past each other so easily, creating knots.
2. Long hair
The longer your hair, the more likely it is to become tangled. That’s simply because there’s more of it.
3. Naturally curly hair
Curlier hair tends to retain less moisture than straighter hair. Plus, as curls like to do their own thing, there’s more of a chance that they’ll get tangled up than if your hair just falls straight.
4. Roughly brushed hair
Be gentle when you brush your hair, as vigorous brushing can lead to hair breakage. Hair breakage causes dry split ends—and dry split ends are a one-way ticket to knots-ville.
A good detangler brush can help to gently brush out any knots you might have already.
5. Under-brushed hair
It’s okay to brush less often as that can actually be good for your hair’s health. But never brushing will allow your knots to tangle.
Depending on your hair type, using the best brush for either your fine knotty hair or the best detangling brush for thick hair will keep your hair in good condition.
6. Sleeping with your hair down
If you toss and turn in your sleep with your hair down, the strands will be working their way into little knots, ready to greet you in the morning.
7. Damaged hair cuticles
When your hair cuticles are damaged—usually caused by heat styling tools—the external layers of your hair are scraped off, leaving the inner layers exposed. Damaged cuticles are raised and open, creating more friction than you’d have with healthy cuticles, which then leads to tangling.
So, what causes cuticles to stay damaged and open rather than smooth and closed?
Here are some reasons why your cuticles may be damaged, as well as some suggestions on how to treat them.
How you wash your hair
If you’re roughly shampooing all your hair into a pile on the top of your head, you’re probably going to be forming some knots in the process. Gently rubbing products into your scalp before working them into the ends of your hair is a much gentler method that will lead to fewer tangles.
Washing with cooler water also helps to close the cuticles, leaving you with shinier, smoother hair.
How you dry your hair
Whether you towel-dry or blow-dry your hair, both can lead to damaged cuticles.
Those who prefer to towel-dry should be gentle on their hair, squeezing out the water rather than rubbing the hair together.
Those who’d rather blow-dry should ensure that they’re not overexposing their hair to heat. Try to avoid the hottest setting.
Allowing your hair to air-dry is the best way to protect those cuticles!
The products you use
You can use specific products that work to seal cuticles, helping to reverse any damage you may have accidentally caused your hair. Avoid products that contain alcohol, as this can counteract your efforts by drying out your hair.
How to prevent tangled hair
Here are some more ways to help avoid your hair from knotting up so frequently.
1. Detangle before and after you wash your hair
Detangling before you wash your hair helps get rid of any knots that may have formed, making hair much easier to clean and, later, style.
Once you step out of the bath or shower, detangle again. This will help relieve any knots that have formed while you washed and will give you a smoother surface to work with if you’re blow-drying your hair.
2. Switch hair brushes
Some hair brushes are much better at pain-free detangling than others. For instance, if you have curly hair, your best bet is to get a detangling brush made for curly hair that will flex with your curls and avoid causing disruption to your curl pattern.
Wide-tooth combs and specially designed detangling paddle or oval brushes tend to be gentler on your hair, avoiding breakage even when dealing with tangles.
3. Braid your hair before bed
It might seem counterintuitive, but a braid is the best hairstyle to sleep in to prevent your hair from tangling, as ponytails and buns can cause more hair breakage. Your braid doesn’t have to be Instagram-worthy, it just needs to do the job!
4. Sleep on a satin pillowcase
Cotton pillowcases can sometimes draw out the oils and moisture from your hair. They also create a lot of friction, which as we’ve learned, is a knot waiting to happen.
Satin pillowcases or head scarves help to reduce friction, keeping your hair smooth and tangle-free.
Everything you need for knot-free hair
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