I love my natural 4C hair. It's thick, voluminous and wonderfully coily. But wow, does it take a lot to detangle it. 4C hair has the tightest curl pattern of all the 12 hair types, and thus, gets tangled very easily. In fact, the hair follicles lay so close together that it often becomes difficult to comb through the roots with a standard comb or a brush without snagging. And that's where a good detangling brush comes in.
FYI, detangling is the process of smoothing out the knots and tangles in your hair to help prevent breakage and make styling a smoother process. It's usually done when your hair is wet, or after a wash, so that you can comb through your hair without putting tension on your scalp. You typically want to section your hair first and start by combing the ends of your hair first, then working up to the roots while the hair is wet.
"Whenever possible, it’s good to wash and condition your hair before you detangle," says owner of natural hair boutique Product Junkie DC, Amaya Smith. "It’s often helpful to leave the conditioner in your hair to help lubricate the hair as you're brushing through it and then to wash the conditioner out when you’re done."
What to look for in a detangling brush
One of the most important things to consider are the bristles (aka, the teeth of the brush). The bristles should be fairly spaced out and/or pretty flexible, so the brush doesn't snag on your hair as you comb it through. This will ensure that your hair doesn't frizz up or lose its shape in the process. Additionally, it's best that the "teeth are in a straight row, which allows the bristles to move in a straight line," says hair stylist and Haircuttery educator Starr Mason. "This will makes it easier to detangle the hair."
If you're noticing a lot of shredding or chunks of hair coming out, chances are you need to switch brushes. Remember: A detangling brush should separate your hair, not pull it out.
If you're unsure about what detangling brushes are good for your textured strands, take a look at these picks below.
Best detangling brushes for 4C hair
Created by celebrity stylist and natural hair care expert Felicia Leatherwood, this brush is a huge time saver when it comes to getting your kinky coils detangled. It combs through your hair from top to bottom, allowing you to comb through the roots without snagging or creating tension and excess pulling. The secret is in the widely spaced bristles, which flex and move to the style of your hair. Plus, your hair doesn’t have to be totally drenched in conditioner in order for you to get a clean pass. (Please note, the travel size is the only in stock at the moment).
No surprise here. Denman products are famous for styling curly hair and ringlets. And this brush is no exception. Its pointed teeth allows your hair to easily glide through the brush without snagging. Also, the air-cushioned paddle helps the hair dry faster, which makes it good for quick styling.
Part of the hype around this brush really comes from its versatility and design. Meaning, it can be used on both wet and dry hair. It also has 325 flexible teeth that help define and give bounce to your curls almost immediately after your use it. Additionally, the bristles are staggered so that the brush can gently glide through knots without snagging.
This technically isn’t a brush, but it doesn’t take away from its detangling powers. The teeth are much thicker to better the separate the hair as you comb it through and preserve your curl pattern without creating frizz. The curved handle also gives you much more control for styling.
If you really want to detangle your hair from the roots, sometimes the best option is a comb. For those who have super thick, kinky coils, a wooden comb like this is going to do a lot of the hard work for you by combing through the thickest part of your roots—something that detangling brushes have a tough time doing without snagging. Plus, this one helps reduce breakage since plastic can sometimes create frizz and flyaways.
Depending on the shape and thickness of the bristles, a brush can end up pulling out some of your hair. But that’s not the case with this Crave Naturals Glide Thru Detangling Brush. Like its name suggests, it’s designed to glide seamlessly through your hair without tugging. The brush also has flexible teeth that are soft to the touch and feel gentle against your scalp.
If you’re looking for a standard detangling brush that you can take with you on-the-go, this brush is a total keeper. Though it’s designed to work for wet and wavy hair, it can be used as a detangling brush to help define your curls. The ball-tipped bristles are super flexible, which help keep your hair from snagging.
If you’re a bit tender-headed, this brush is a total game-changer for detangling your curls. Each row of teeth actually bends and separates to prevent your hair from getting stuck as you rake the brush through. Just be sure to wet your hair first and start at the ends before working your way up to your roots for a pain-free experience.
For days when you want to deep condition your hair, this shower brush comes in handy, big time. Its flexible nylon bristles allow you to gently comb through tight coils and kinks immediately after you wash your hair. The brush evens stands up on its own and has a small hole for you to hang it neatly in your shower caddy.
Despite the 428 teeth on this brush, the bristles are soft and move easily through your hair. The teeth vary in height and in width so that hair doesn’t snag, and you can work through knots without excessive pulling. Plus, it even has an anti-slip handle to make combing your hair in the shower a breeze.
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