How To Detangle Severely Matted Hair Painlessly (No Cutting)

A day out in the beach or theme park is always fun and something to look forward to, but if you’ve got curly or fizzy hair, there’s something else to dread the day after.

Severely matted, tangled hair!

Trying to detangle this mess is probably one of the most frustrating things we have to do, am I right? You don’t know where to start, your hair is not cooperating, and it really hurts. Defusing a bomb seems like a cakewalk compared to this! You eventually give up in frustration and wonder if a pixie cut would be a good look for you.

Fortunately, there are a lot of easy and painless ways to get matted hair back into its free-flowing, smooth and beautiful self without resulting to chopping it off. They’re all relatively easy. You just need a few things and most importantly – a little patience.

Use the Appropriate Hair Product

Matted hair happens when it becomes dry enough that it tangles with each other and forms little knots. To effectively detangle hair strands, it’s a good idea to give them a bit of moisture so that they can easily slide from one another.

The good ol’ conditioner you have lying around in your shower is a good place to start, and it might be enough in most cases. But if your hair is stubbornly tangled, you might need something a bit more potent. Detangling conditioners and sprays are good to have around especially if you regularly experience this.

To use, slightly wet your hair (just damp, not dripping wet!) first. Apply the product from the roots to the tips, working on one section at a time, to prevent any further tangling.
It’s best to then leave these on your hair for about an hour or even overnight. That will give your hair enough time to absorb some of that moisture to give it more slip for easier detangling.

Don’t Have Any Detangling Products? Home Remedies to the Rescue!

If you don’t happen to have any of these, a few home remedies would work in a pinch!

Warm oils such as vegetable oil works just as well to make hair smoother. Simply massage the oil into your scalp gently, slowly working on any tangles you might encounter. After about 10 – 15 minutes, cover your hair with a hot, damp towel. The heat has a further smoothening and relaxing effect on your hair strands to make it even easier to detangle.

Cornstarch is also a good, “dry” option if you’re not to keen on the greasy feeling of the oil massage. Sprinkle some on your scalp then follow up with a wide comb or even your fingers to straighten. The cornstarch makes the comb easily glide through your hair.

Loosen Knots With Your Fingers

After the hair products kick in, you can then do an initial “sweep” and try to tackle the easier knots first, using your hands to slowly separate them. Your fingers are still one of the best options when removing tangles, as you can feel them better with your fingers and they are not as damaging. Be strategic and pull apart big knots into smaller knots so they’re easier to work with!

Patience is key to this step – and stop if you encounter any pain or resistance. You don’t need to detangle everything during this step – we’re going to tackle the stubborn ones later on.

Run It Through A Wide Toothed Comb

Once you’ve freed some of the bigger knots, it’s time to use a comb! You might be thinking that finer combs would be a good choice to quickly straighten out those knots at once, but in practice, they create too much resistance.

Instead, use a wider toothed comb. These allow you to straighten and further reduce hair knots. It’s best to start at the ends first, smoothening them out then gradually working towards the scalp. If it starts to get painful, firmly hold a section of your hair halfway between the comb and the scalp, to prevent the combing action to pull on your scalp.

For really stubborn knots, re-apply oil or detangling product into the area and massage with your fingers. Hopefully, it can add a bit more glide so strands can slide past each other more easily

Thin Out Knots with Scissors

For really stubborn knots that won’t detangle despite all your best efforts, a last solution might be to just thin out a portion of them. Hold the knot firmly in your hand and, using a sharp, clean scissor, run the blade along the mat, then pull gently to try and loosen. Hopefully, it will have unraveled enough for you to separate them.

Finish with a Fine Toothed Comb, then Rinse

After the majority of the knots and tangles have been taken care of, you can now switch to a fine-toothed comb to further round out any smaller knots you might have missed out. Afterwards, rinse your hair well in the shower. Be sure to wash your hair from roots to the tips and dry it afterwards.

Benefits of Wet Detangling

You can also do the above detangling steps with completely wet hair, like in the shower. Once wet, the steps are almost the same as the above dry detangling procedure. The advantage of doing it wet is that water has a weakening effect on hair, making it more flexible and easier to work with.

On the other hand, you need to be very careful as wet hair has a higher risk of getting even more entangled. The key here is go crazy with the conditioner, especially if yours is particularly messy and stubborn! This makes hair very slippery and lessens the chance of entangling with one another.


Detangling matted hair is easier and painless than you might think – you just need a little patience. Of course, the easiest way is to just do the little things everyday that will help prevent matted hair in the first place!