How to Comb Kinky Natural (4c) Hair Without Pain

comb natural hair
(Last Updated On: April 22, 2018)

I often come across women who tell me they can’t keep their hair in its natural texture because it’s so difficult to comb their natural hair. “Oh, my hair breaks combs” they tell me. Then they ask me “How do you comb your hair?” My response is simple, “I don’t comb my hair” (not unless I absolutely have to, which isn’t often).

I mean are you kidding me? You expect me to wake up every day and try to fight a comb through this hair?  No way! Not unless I want to go bald!

So you don’t comb your hair at all?
I remember I never combed my hair dry when it was in a TWA (teeny weeny afro), I co-washed few times a week and then applied a leave-in conditioner prior to combing. On days that I don’t wash my hair, I would simply spritz it with water, apply a leave-in (e.g. Giovanni Direct Leave-in Conditioner) and then comb. To me, this was the only reasonable way to glide a comb through my strands in a pain-free manner.

Also consider reading this post “Five Reasons Why Your Natural Hair Should Not be Combed Often”

How to really comb your natural hair without pain 
Many black women are used to applying just any type of grease on their dry hair prior to combing because they believe it makes their hair softer and easy to comb. I use to try this method and the only result I got was an oily and dry head of hair!

Tools Needed: Spray Bottle, Wide Tooth Comb

Products Needed: Rinse out conditioner

So, if you are tired of fighting a comb through your hair and want to decrease breakage and eliminate pain, make sure to practice these 5 steps. 

1) Wet Hair in the shower and then apply a moisturizing conditioner (e.g. As I Am Coconut Co-Wash Cleansing Conditioner)
2) Allow some minutes for the conditioner to work it’s way through each strand, then comb (using a large tooth comb) conditioner through the hair in small sections, starting from the ends to the roots.
3) Rinse out conditioner, wring out water in hair and let it dry to about 50-60%, make sure water isn’t dripping from your hair
4) Apply a leave-in conditioner and then seal this in with a hair butter or oil
5) Now you can comb your hair using a large tooth comb. Make sure to take your time and comb in smaller sections starting from the ends to the roots. Style as you wish

Bonus Tip: I find that combing stretched hair is easier than combing shrunken hair. So you can choose to twist or plait your hair after step 4, then take down style when hair is almost dry and comb with a large tooth comb.

Why do I have to comb my hair twice?
The first step is to work the conditioner into your hair and to detangle your hair while the second step is to give you a polished and smooth look while also stretching the hair. Water shrinks the hair and gathers our hair strands into small clumped sections. So a second combing will separate these strands and lift the coils up a bit more to create a fuller afro.

Tip: Reduce combing if you can
As I mentioned earlier, frequent combing can be damaging to the hair and will reduce length retention, and so I would strongly advice putting the comb down few times a week. Instead, you can opt for comb-free and curl/coil friendly hairstyles such as comb twists, twist outs, braids, kinky twists, crotchet, cornrows or weave. 

Also one thing to note is that as the hair grows longer, many will choose to substitute plastic combs with a less damaging tool, which is their fingers!  There are many other techniques one would use depending on the length and texture of the hair. You can experiment with different techniques and tools and feel free to choose the best choice that suits you.
Does your head hurts when you comb your hair? Leave a comment to let me know


4 thoughts on “How to Comb Kinky Natural (4c) Hair Without Pain

  1. JenJen

    I only detangle my hair when it is wet and slathered in conditioner. Some people (including myself sometimes) just use their fingers. I find that the longer my hair gets the more I use my fingers.

  2. Anonymous

    I don’t get it… it must be an age thing. I’m 50. I comb my afro everyday its not in a protective style. My fro is huge, Betty Wright / Angela Davis size. I’m a 4C. If I can comb / plait my hair at night and pick it out in the morning for my ‘fro just like my older siblings did in the 1970s. I don’t see why young people can’t do this today. And no, I do not have handful of shedding when I comb every night. I see these young ladies walking around with their 4C afros in knotty messes looking like birds have been picking through and just shake my head. Personally I think its unattractive and looks lazy. But again, I guess this is generation gap.. to each her own.. I keep my opinion to myself when I see I. I part with my fingers, mist lightly with water and comb from the bottom up, then plait it. It takes no longer than it took when my hair was relaxed and I rolled it at night. In the morning I unplait, put moisturizer on, pick with my afro pick and pat down with a satin scarf. Easy… again I’m thick, kinky, 4C. I never have knots or tangles because I comb every day.

  3. Titi Adetola

    I understand that less frequent combing is good for our hair but sometimes finger detangling is just hard and time consuming.

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