Dry Detangling

Hello Curlies!
It's been awhile and I know I've been saying that for awhile but alas I have a soon-to-be-toddler on my hands who acts very much like a toddler already so bear with me. I will be back in full form soon. In the meantime I still make a point to pass on my lessons learned in the hopes new natural can have an easier journey sooner than I did and learn from my mistakes.

 I have been natural for going on two years in February and along the way have learned more than a thing or two about what works and what doesn't (for me). When I had a NS-TWA, I did a post on the best way to detangle - in the shower - hair dripping wet, and don't get me wrong, that worked at the time.

I don't know about you but when I first heard of dry detangling, I pictured me sitting at somebody's knees while they raked a brittle comb through my kinked and matted hair with just a tiny dollop of petroleum jelly to save the day (also known as my childhood hair memories).
But fear not, Curlies - this is NOT what I am talking about.

Like many of you, my hair suffered enough as a child at the hands of unknowing, and rushed adults, who in fiercely trying to get a comb through my parched dry hair often ended the hair session by handing me a large clump of shed (*ahem* broken) hair. Of course those traumatic hair sessions are behind me.
 What I am talking about is something new, and it's using patience, gentleness mix in a generous amount of your favorite oils (or butters) a bit of good 'ol water and your trusty and loving fingers to do the work. The result, when you do it right, will be far lessbreakage than even wet detangling can promise.

I adopted dry detangling mainly because my hair grew and with a good amount of hair (haven't measured the length lately), I came upon issues that forced me to revise my strategy and through trial and error managed to adjust my detangling technique to the new length of my hair.
So here I am to pass on a few tips to you: If your hair is at least 5 inches long, you may be finding that shower detangling yields not much less breakage than raking a comb through dry hair especially if you have super-coiled/kinky hair like I have (mostly in the back of my head). If shrinkage is crazy for you as in your hair when wet shrinks more than 50% then I would recommend rethinking your 'detangle when wet' approach.

Once my hair hit more than 5 inches detangling became a nightmare. I made several revisions to get back to my sanity and protect the growth of my hair - here they are:
1. Detangle in sections
2. Detangle on well-moisturized (but dry or at most lightly damp) hair

Yes I SAID dry. I can hear the gasps already. Please don't judge too quickly. Listen up.
The main reason to detangle when hair is NOT wet is to be able to detangle hair in a STRETCHED state. I will say it again in case you missed it: To reduce breakage, detangle hair after stretching.
This of course calls for dry detangling as you know wetting  hair will make it shrink up faster than you can say 'shrinkage.'
This is what I do. A day or two before I will detangle, I stretch my hair by putting it in a ponytail. Before I pony the hair however, I add a generous amount of oils to the hair.
It goes like this: Dampen hair with your spray bottle contents (for me its just water and spearmint oil because the minty camphor feels good on my scalp) and add your favorite mixture of oils in generous amounts (for me this is coconut oil, castor oil and jojoba oil). After I add the oils I baggy the hair to let the natural heat from my scalp warm the oils and soften the hair.
 I leave the baggy on for a good while, its up to you and once I remove it my hair is soft and damp. At this point, I section my hair into large sections and make each section into a ponytail. I don't comb or detangle at this point, I just take a section of hair and put it into a ponytail. I let the damp hair dry in the pony-ed sections.
Once hair is dry the oils should allow it to remain soft (aka moisturized). When you remove the bands, your section of hair should be stretched at least somewhat, making it easier to glide your fingers through.

Detangling on stretched hair also makes it easier to find and remove single strand knots and prevent new ones from forming while you are detangling. After hair is dry and stretched but moisturized, I begin to detangle. Starting with one pony-ed section, I make sure hair has enough oils,  and if not, I add more, mostly coconut oil as it has strengthening benefits.
I then gently use my fingers to separate hair into smaller sections and work on each smaller section one at a time by gently pulling strands apart. All the time I run my fingers down the length of my hair from root to tip, gently but firmly removing shed hair from the section I am holding.
Once I have pulled out all the shed hair this way, I then glide my fingers gently through the section from root to end (yes I start at the root) and when I hit a snag, I patiently work my fingers to clear the knot and the shed hair causing it. If it is the result of or if it causes a single strand knot, I make sure to locate the knotted strand and clip the knot away just above the knot. I do this section by small section until I have done my whole head.
Yes this takes awhile but its worth it when you are done and realize you have not broken any hairs. Because I have a young baby to tend to, my detangling happens over the course of two days or so, not the whole day of course but every time I have a few minutes in the day, either when baby is napping or put to bed.

If hair feels dry or moisture seems to have gone from a section you are about to do because it took you awhile to get to it, just lightly spritz with water (not enough to cause much shrinkage) and continue on.

If your ends are particularly rough-feeling, lightly spritz on that small section you are working with and keep hair stretched by pulling taut but gently, as you work your way through with your fingers, You want to be able to feel the ends of your strands so you can identify single strand knots. If your ends feel too rough you will have difficulty identifying the single strand knots.
After detangling I re-twist and when I am all done, I either wash my hair this way or take each twist into a bigger section and braid it in preparation for washing. After washing, when conditioner or castor oil is in my hair in generous amounts, I run a comb through the section I am working with just once, maybe twice, but this is just to disperse the conditioner or oil as my hair is mostly detangled by this point.

Detangling on dry but moisturized hair as opposed to soaking wet hair means less breakage as hair is in a more fragile state when wet and will stretch more than it should if you rake a comb through it soaking wet. On short hair, wet detangling is still my favorite way to go but with more length comes more tangles and thus more chances for breakage.
I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions please feel free.