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What is a Detangling Comb?

By Micki Elizabeth
Updated May 21, 2024
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A detangling comb is a beauty product used on the hair, preferably while wet from the shower, that is meant to decrease knots and tangles without damaging the hair. Most of these combs come with wide-set, often wavy teeth. Small combs with close-set, narrow teeth and a pick at the end of the handle are also referred to as detangling combs. The combs are made from a variety of materials, and some have multiple uses.

Whether one has straight, fine hair or thick, curly hair, strands can become knotted together, creating tangles during sleep, work, or in the shower. Using a brush to work out knots can break the hair off completely or cause split ends. A detangling comb is typically recommended for use on wet hair before using a brush.

While using a detangling comb, one can take hold of the knotted section of hair above the tangle and below the scalp. Doing so should minimize stress at the root. Those with sensitive scalps may also find that this trick reduces pain and irritation.

Natural materials are thought by some to make the best detangling combs. Various types of wood are usually a popular choice, especially for combs carved from one solid piece of wood. Plastic and metal combs could potentially snag and damage the hair due to sharp edges or seams. Cellulose acetate is a man-made material, but is derived from wood pulp, and many detangling combs are made from this sturdy, yet pliable, substance.

Other beauty products may be used in conjunction with a detangling comb for better results. Deep-moisturizing conditioners and crèmes can be applied and rinsed out in the shower after shampooing. Leave-in conditioner and detangling sprays are another choice; these are used after a shower on damp hair. A detangling comb could help to evenly spread detangling products, as well as other styling products, throughout the hair. Depending on the thickness of one’s hair and the type of comb used, one could also find the tool helpful during styling with a blowdryer.

Many beauty experts suggest first trying to run one’s fingers through tangled hair to separate as many strands as possible. A detangling comb may be helpful as a next step, though one should be careful to use gentle, careful strokes. Using as few strokes as possible could help decrease potential breakage. Some detangling combs come with two long sets of teeth in the hope that only a few strokes will achieve the desired results.

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Discussion Comments
By literally45 — On Dec 17, 2014

Combs with wide set teeth have never worked for me. I prefer ones with narrow set teeth. I think that people experience issues with combs and brushes with narrow teeth because they use it on hard, coarse hair. Everyone who has hair that tends to tangle should use a detangling hair spray or conditioner. Hair needs to be soft and moisturized in order to detangle. Without this step, putting any comb or brush to the head will be painful. As long as hair is nicely moisturized, a detangling comb wit narrow set teeth will work just fine.

By fBoyle — On Dec 17, 2014

I have a wood comb that I use for detangling. I think it's better than plastic combs. It does require some maintenance, it needs to be oiled time and again. But it's gentler on hair and feels really good on the scalp. The only downside is that it costs more than most detangling combs.

By burcinc — On Dec 16, 2014

I started using a detangling comb a few months ago and it has made a huge difference for my hair.

I have thick hair that tangles very easily. I don't like using a lot of hair products on it like hair oil or leave in conditioner because my scalp is very oily. But this means that I have to detangle my hair before drying or it will become a huge, ugly mess. I had been trying to detangle with a regular brush before. It was difficult and I noticed that I have more damaged hair and split ends than usual.

I was talking about this with the lady at the beauty store and she advised me to use a detangling comb. It's basically a large plastic comb with wide set teeth. The teeth have small plastic dots at the ends which make detangling easy and the comb is flexible so it doesn't break or damage my hair. It has just made my life so much easier.

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