Help for Matted Hair

Remove masses of knots one at a time.
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If last night’s hairstyle included sky-high teasing, you may find yourself with a matted mane that gives the term rat’s nest a whole new meaning. Before you grab scissors for a permanent solution, try combing it out. Don’t just start madly brushing your locks, however -- this will break and snap your hair into an even worse mess. Removing those gnarly knots will take patience and plenty of product to lubricate your tresses.

Divide your hair in half by running your hand back along the top center of your head. Gather the hair on one side of your head and divide it in half vertically. Hold each of the two sections apart using hair clips. Divide the other half of your hair into two sections as well, and secure each of those sections with additional clips.

Unclip one section of hair and gather up a 2-inch section.

Spray the section of hair thoroughly with a leave-in conditioner until it's saturated. You can also use a small amount of baby oil instead of conditioner. Pat the knots gently, using your fingers, to work the conditioner into it. Don't rub the knots, because this may make matters worse.

Place a wide-tooth comb at the bottom of your hair, starting 1 inch from the end. Comb through to the end of the hair.

Insert the comb about a half-inch above the starting location and again comb down through the hair. If you meet resistance, gently detangle it using the teeth of the comb. Continue combing the hair section until you reach your scalp and all tangles are removed.

Gather a new 2-inch section of tangled hair and comb through it using the same technique. Continue combing gently until the entire section is tangle-free, and then move on to detangle the other sections of hair.

Wash your hair thoroughly using a clarifying shampoo to remove the excess conditioner or baby oil you used to detangle your hair.

Comb your hair gently to remove any tangles created during washing, and then allow your hair to air dry.

  • Depending on the extent of the matting, you may find it helpful to use combs with differently spaced teeth. Start with the comb with the widest spaced teeth and work your way down to a finer-toothed comb.
  • In some cases, you may need to cut out matted portions. Do so with styling shears and make the cut vertical instead of horizontal, which will help blend it into your hairstyle better.

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.