Avoiding Set Backs: Master Pre-Detangling

Healthy Hair
I'm shifting my thought process around regarding how I view the topic of setbacks.   In the past, I would classify a set back as an incident that resulted in loss of (hair) length.  And, while it's true that losing length does constitute a setback, I also think that remaining the same length for an extended period of time can be likened to a having setback.

Here's why I say that.  In it natural and healthy state, we would retain much of our growth.  I'm sure you've seen progress pics of someone who big chopped 2 years ago and is now enjoying hair past their shoulders.  It's as if they retain most,  if not all of their growth, which is wonderful.  What if we created the expectations of maximum retention for ourselves as well?

In order to do that, we have to find the weaknesses in our regimen and effectively address them.  One of the weak areas for me personally is when I detangle.  I call it a weak area because it's when I experience the most hair loss.  Sure, most of the hair on the comb is shed hair, but I'm sure I can do better managing any detangling related breakage as well.

To do better, I've decided to make sure I implement some pre-detangling actions to minimize the potential damage as much as possible.  Just like how pre-pooing helps minimize damage to the hair on wash day, I'm hoping the pre-detangling will mean less broken hair on the floor whenever we detangle.

Prepare the hair
If your hair is in need of detangling. Chances are it might be dry and a little matted.  That is not the right time to attack it with a comb.  You're only asking for trouble.  Instead, you've got to prepare for the session by priming your hair so it's fully ready to release the shed hair.  Treat it like a game.  Your goal is successfully find and remove all the shed hair and knots without causing one strand to break.  If you can do it successfully, you're winning.

Find out what your hair needs in order to make the detangling session go as smoothly as possible.  Does it need to be moistened?  Then have your spray bottle ready. Does it need the help of detangling products? Then grab your blue bottle of It's a 10.  Does your hair need the power of steam to soften the strands?  Do you need to spray it with oil to help the trapped hairs glide through the madness?  I want you to experiment.  Try some of all of these tips and see how your hair responds.  I know that my hair detangles much more easily when it's moisturized so instead of manipulating dry, parched hair.  So I need to focus on super charging the moisture levels through daily steaming or some other method to increase elasticity.  Elasticity, by the way, is the golden key to detangling without a lot of casualties.  When your hair can stretch, while manipulated, instead of breaking, you have made it to the big leagues.

Another way to prepare the hair is to start at the macro level then focus on the small details.  Start with large sections and gliding your fingers through pre-treated hair. That way you can grab the low hanging fruit, or the hairs that you can easily grab and remove.  One you've completed the entire head, then you can grad your most qualified comb to do the job and start working in small sections.

One more tip, start in your weakest areas first.  The back of my hair seems to get tangles the most.  Before, I would start in the front. By the time I got to the back, I had little patience for those stubborn tangles hiding in the back and I paid severely for it.  Now, I start there and can dedicate as much time as I need to get the job done.

Finally, one other thing to be aware of is how much time you go in between detangling sessions.  When I traveled like mad, I'd detangle once a week on wash days and wore my hair in a bun every day.  That might have been ok if I better prepared for it.  But instead, I would try to detangle parched hair with loads of shed hair trapped in my bun.  If I were to do it all over again, I'd conduct a light session mid-week then do a detailed detangle  pre-moistened hair on Saturdays.

As I mentioned in the last post, the best way to prepare the hair for the manipulation of detangling is to fortify it with protein.  Strong hair is the ultimate win so don't skip your protein treatments.  Heck, sometimes I would saturate my hair with coconut oil overnight before a heavy detangling session. That way, I'm getting the lubrication of the oil, plus additional strength from the absorbed protein.  Worked like a dream.

You can even play around with protein leave-in conditioners like Grund Tiger Protein.  When I was first experimenting with daily steaming.  I decided to braid my hair in two cornrows before getting under the steamer.  Since I was headed under the steamer, I didn't prepare and pre-detangle my hair prior to braiding.  I noticed a little breakage and immediately went into action.  After reaching for the Tiger Protein and misting the length of my hair, the breakage ceased and my hair felt ultra soft and moisturized.  That was the reminder that I needed to always, ALWAYS prepare the hair before heavy manipulation, even before conditioning treatments.

Hopefully, pretangling is one solution that will leads us towards our goal of being as close to 100% retention as possible.

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