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How to Prevent Hair from Knotting

Three Parts:Preventing Knots When GroomingPreventing Knots Throughout the DayRemoving Knots

Knotted and tangled hair doesn’t just look messy: it can also be painful and difficult to comb out, and it can lead to a great deal of breakage. There are many things that can cause tangled hair, including particular hair styles and heat products, but knots can also occur in the shower or when you dry your hair. Tightly curled hair is even more prone to knots, and it can also be difficult to keep long hair tangle-free. There are ways to remove knots once they form, but if possible, it’s always best to take preventative measures that will stop knots before they form.

Part 1
Preventing Knots When Grooming

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    Brush your hair before you wash it. Always use a wide-tooth comb or a paddle brush with plastic tipped bristles,[1] and comb through your hair before showering. This will help stop your hair from tangling when you wash it.[2]
    • As a general rule of thumb, don’t comb or brush your hair when it’s wet, as wet hair is more prone to damage and breakage.
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    Shampoo properly. Wash your hair by focusing your shampooing on the scalp, rather than the hair, and never pile your hair on top of your scalp.[3] Use a natural shampoo that doesn’t contain sulfates or harsh detergents, as these can dry out your hair.[4]
    • Don’t wash your hair every day, as this can strip your hair of oils, leaving it dry and more prone to breakage.
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    Condition after you shampoo. After you shampoo, work a conditioner into your hair with your fingers and remove any tangles. When you have removed all the knots, gently comb through with a wide-toothed comb.[5]
    • You shouldn’t normally brush your hair when it’s wet, but as long as you remove all the tangles first, use conditioner, and use the right comb, you can do this in the shower to distribute the conditioner evenly.
    • If you have thick, course, and tightly curled hair, condition your hair twice daily as opposed to just once. Condition once in the morning or after you shampoo your hair, and again before bed with a moisturizer or leave-in conditioner.[6]
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    Dry your hair gently. Instead of wrapping, twisting, or rubbing your hair, gently squeeze it with a towel to get out the excess moisture. It’s also best to avoid heat products, such as blow dryers and flat irons, which can dry out your hair and leave it prone to damage and tangling.
    • If you must blow dry your hair, towel and air dry it first to cut down on the blow dryer time.
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    Moisturize hair regularly. Healthy and moisturized hair is less likely to knot and tangle,[7] so along with regular conditioning, try a weekly hair mask or deep conditioning.
    • To deep condition, work a quarter-sized dollop of deep conditioner into your hair. Wrap your head with a shower cap or plastic wrap, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes to an hour before rinsing.[8]
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    Seal the tips of your hair. After you condition your hair, apply a hair butter or oil to the tips. This will seal in the moisturizing conditioner and help smooth and relax the ends of the hair, thereby preventing them from coiling around themselves and forming knots.[9]
    • This step can be skipped if you have fine or medium hair, but should be followed for hair that’s thick, coarse, and tightly curled.
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    Gently stretch the ends of your hair. This is particularly useful for tightly curled hair, as the stretching will prevent the hair from coiling around itself and forming single-strand knots. You can stretch the tips of your hair by wrapping the ends around rollers.
    • You can also protect your hair from knots by using hair styles that stretch your hair, such as twists, braids, and buns.

Part 2
Preventing Knots Throughout the Day

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    Tie your hair up when you're being active. If you're playing sports, swimming, or exercising, prevent your hair from knotting by wearing it in a braid, ponytail, or bun. The less your hair moves around and the less it gets matted with sweat and dirt, the more likely you are to be able to brush through it when you're done.
    • Prevent damage to your hair and scalp by positioning your buns and ponytails in different spots on your head every time, and always make sure that such hair styles are loose.
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    Protect your hair in the wind. Whether you're going for a summer drive with the windows down or if it’s just a windy day, wrap your hair in a scarf, cover it with a hat, or wear it in a protective hair style to stop it from blowing around too much. Not only will the wind ruin your hair style, but it will also blow your tresses into a tangled mess.
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    Care for your hair when you sleep. While cotton is a popular choice for bedding, hair can catch on cotton pillow cases as you sleep, and this can create knots. Instead, look for a polished cotton pillow case, or a smooth fabric such as silk.
    • You can also wear a satin bonnet or wrap your hair with a protective fabric to prevent knotting when you sleep.[10]
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    Get regular trims. To keep your hair healthy and remove damaged ends, you should trim your hair every eight months,[11] but if your hair is prone to tangling, consider trimming it every three months.[12] Removing knots can cause breakage, and frequent trims will remove split ends and broken tips, and ensure your hair stays healthy looking and radiant.

Part 3
Removing Knots

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    Work in small sections. Tie or pin up the majority of your hair, and leave a small section of hair free. Once you detangle that section, start a new bun or ponytail to keep the detangled hair separate, and move on to a new section of tangled hair.
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    Finger comb your hair. On the first section of hair, start near the tips and run your fingers through your hair to remove knots and tangles. Combs can actually make knots tighter, so untangle what you can with your fingers first.[13]
    • As you detangle the bottom of that section of hair, move up the strands and continue removing knots until you reach the top of your hair.
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    Apply water and conditioner as necessary. When you encounter particularly nasty knots, apply some watered down conditioner to the area. Let it sit for a couple minutes, then go back to detangling with your fingers.[14]
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    Repeat with a comb. Once you’ve removed all the knots you can with your fingers and can easily run your fingers through the entire length of your hair, gently comb through the same section with a wide-tooth comb. Like before, start at the bottom and work your way to the top.
    • Divide the section of hair into even smaller sections if you have trouble running the comb through.
    • Add more conditioner as needed to help loosen knots.
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    Use a needle on tough knots. If you come across a knot that you can't loosen with your fingers or the comb, insert the needle of a safety pin into the center of the knot and move it around to loosen the knot.[15]
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    Trim the knot as a last resort. In case you come across a knot that you absolutely cannot remove with conditioner, your fingers, the comb, or the safety pin, you may have to trim it off. Use sharp barber scissors, and make sure you remove as much excess hair from the knot as you can before making any cuts. Try to work the knot down toward the tip of the hair as far as you can to minimize the amount of hair you have to trim.

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