The first few times I heard someone mention finger detangling, I was like “What the what? Not on my hair!” I could not fathom how a person could possibly detangle their hair only using their fingers and nothing else. To add to this, it seemed like every time I learned someone was employing this method, they either had much thinner hair than mine or a looser curl pattern. Eventually I just wrote it off as something only thinner or less tightly wound hair could do. Plus, I was very happy with my detangling routine at the time which consisted of conditioner and my tangle teezer. I figured, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Well, somewhere around the one year mark in my natural hair journey, I reached a point where my detangling routine as it was, was no longer working. I usually started in the back, where my hair is the easiest to detangle (it’s fine and curly as opposed to the rest of my thick coily hair) and worked my way up towards the front. As my hair grew longer, this method no longer worked with the Tangle Teezer. I was starting to wish that it had a handle and I realized I needed to start sectioning my hair to keep it all from tangling back up again. So, I switch to using a wide tooth comb, but I began to notice that my hair balls were much bigger in size and not because the hair strands were longer. I started browsing the web and stalking natural hair blogs for detangling ideas, and happened upon finger detangling. Hmmm.
This time, it didn’t seem so far fetched. Now that my hair was longer, and I had to section it to wash and detangle, it made sense that I could go through each section and use my fingers. I guess I just couldn’t fathom it when I was dealing with my head as a whole, as opposed to sections. So, I began experimenting. I tried dry finger detangling with oil before washing…#fail. I tried finger detangling with conditioner in the shower after washing, like I would do with my wide tooth comb and that too, was a #fail. I don’t like to waste water (I am a closet hippie) and I got cold sitting on the edge of the tub, naked, for a half hour. I had recently begun dry deep conditioning overnight, the night before my wash day and I decided to try finger detangling my hair BEFORE I washed. Ding, ding, ding! This turned out to be a winner for me and it didn’t take quite as long (about 20 minutes).
It also made the actual time in the shower faster. I apply my deep conditioner the night before and cover it with a plastic cap and my scarf. I let it sit on my hair overnight and in the morning, I gently section my hair into 8 sections and get to work with my fingers. After I detangle each section, I twist the section and clip it in place. In the shower, I unclip a section, squirt my homemade black soap shampoo close to the roots and gently use my fingers to cleanse my scalp. The shampoo suds up pretty well and I just let the water and suds run down the length of my hair. I also utilize the water pressure to do a quick detangle before I twist the hair and clip it back in place. The whole washing session only takes me about 15 minutes. I don’t condition afterwards and I usually wrap a microfiber towel around my head (clips included) to soak up some of the excess water. I add my leave-in conditioner and styler (my shea/cupuçua mix) during the styling session.
I’ve been finger detangling this way exclusively for almost two months and I actually think my styles look better than they did when I used a tool to detangle. That really surprised me. So, I think I will continue with this method until my hair tells me otherwise.