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How To Detangle Major Hair Tangles

By Amalah

Photo by arteunporro

Amalah! Congratulations on the birth of Ezra! I hope you and your family are well.
OK, so as the subject heading of this e-mail would indicate, my sex life is ruining my hair. Amy, I have perfect hair. It is long and straight and silky and chocolate brown and it never ever gives me any trouble other than the fact that it is sometimes greasy. But, with the use of Oscar Blondi powder dry shampoo stuff, I can usually get away with washing it every other day. (Except for my bangs. I wash my bangs everyday in the shower because Huge Oil Slick Forehead dictates it). Seriously. It is perfect hair. When people compliment it and say “You have great hair,” instead of being gracious and saying “Thank you,” I am a huge narcissistic jerk and say “I know.”
Anyway, after being single for about a year, I have a newish boyfriend. He is amazing. I think I might be falling in love with him. The sex is amazing. There is a lot of it lately and uh, all that time, um, onmyback, is not helping my perfect hair. When I get up, there is a huge HUGE knotted mess in the back of my hair. Like I said, my hair is long (it comes about halfway down my back) and straight and stays pretty nice using Kiehls’ Olive Oil hair pack a few times a week. I only brush it when I’m blow drying it. Usually no need for a detangler. Which I’ve thought of buying but, uh, won’t that make it greasy if I use it on dry hair? And then I’ll have to wash it more? Which I kind of don’t want to do because won’t washing it more on top of all the knotting and combing and detangling damage it more? Right now I’m just sort of combing through all the knots as gently as possible but I cringe thinking about BREAKAGE! All that BREAKAGE! And was sort of hoping you had some ideas.
(And yeah, I know, poor me, getting laid and having lots of knots in my hair. I should probably just SHUT UP ALREADY.)

So technically, I’m having the same problem, with the big knotty tangles. Although my tangles are because I spend my days with a short fat bald male who demands constant access to mah boobs, so I wear hoodies almost every day and for some reason the underside of my hair gets really, really tangled from rubbing against the fabric of the hood.
But let’s just say it’s the same problem as yours. Totally.
There’s an art to de-knotting major hair knots, and it can be done with little to no breakage, IF you are very patient and use the right tools. Do NOT attempt it while your hair is dry — ’tis futile. But at the same time, don’t start attacking knots while your hair is sopping wet either — too delicate, too much breakage. There’s a sweet spot for this, when your hair is just slightly damp.
You could technically use a spray bottle of water to dampen your hair, but I prefer leaving knots alone until after I’ve showered and conditioned it thoroughly. Brush your hair before you shower — small knots become BIG knots in the shower — taking care to not yank directly on any major tangles, but still getting as much hair around the knot free and combed out. Shampoo your roots, condition the ends and any clumpy tangles you feel, use a towel to absorb excess moisture WITHOUT turbaning.
Let your hair air dry to the point of “just damp.” Then use a wide-tooth comb to gently comb as much hair free from the tangle as possible. When you get down to the worst of it, spray or rub some detangler or leave-in conditioner on your hands and then massage the tangle. Get it really good and coated with product. (I use Catwalk’s Fast Fixx, which is really light and not greasy.) Then work it with the comb again, starting below the knot. If you feel resistance, stop and pull the comb out — you want to avoid getting the comb’s teeth directly engaged with the knot. Just keep combing all around and below and sooner or later the knot will disappear. It usually takes me about 10 minutes of gentle combing to eventually get it all out, and with the right stage of dampness and enough detangler (and patience) I never have to actually cut the knot out.
Is there a way to avoid the tangles before they happen? Well, in your…uh…situation, probably not 100%, unless you want to braid your hair ahead of time. Not the sexiest of looks, but a long single braid will protect your hair to a decent degree. Regular use of a lightweight detangler/leave-in conditioner will help, and no, it shouldn’t make your hair greasy. If it does, it’s just not a good one. Look for one (like the Fast Fixx) that specifically says you can use it on wet or dry hair.
And brush that perfect hair a little more often. Tangles beget tangles, and you can avoid the Big Ones by getting rid of the Little Baby Ones. Brush it thoroughly before going to bed (for sleeping or sexing) and before you shower, at a bare minimum. Shedding hair IS normal, and getting rid of the no-longer-growing hairs on a regular basis actually helps keep your hair and scalp in a healthy, not-knotty balance. So don’t avoid brushing your hair just because seeing hair on the brush afterwards unnerves you.


About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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I used to have Vicki’s problem, but finally realized that if I pulled my hair up into a ponytail, it seemed to stop most of the tangles. I’m guessing that its because the hair can’t move as much. And unless you have your hair in said ponytail for hours and hours (in which case, can I meet your boyfriend?), you shouldn’t have too much of a ponytail crease.


Yea, I used to braid my hair when things were hot and heavy (and my hair was longer!) early in my husband’s and my relationship. It helps!

Mrs. CPA

Woudln’t a satin pillowcase solve the bed problem? You don’t even have to get a whole set of sheets or anything, go by some fabric and have someone make you one. Or if you’re not into pillows under your head, stretch a strip of it over where you normally lay your head. Cheap, easy and no water necessary!


Duh. Try getting on top. Problem solved!


You could always try some other positions…. Makes less tagles, and also better/more interesting times in the sack. 🙂

hot definitely bothered
hot definitely bothered

I had a similar problem (knots brought about by wearing scarves in winter, sadly not so much due to shagathons) and got myself a nifty little brush called the Tangle Teezer. It works a treat – check it out here: As an aside, Frizz Magazine (I’ve never seen that on sale either) gave it a big award when it first came out.


My hair is straight and it gets knotted really really bad it just poof and it hurts really bad when I brush it help