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How to Comb 4c Natural Hair Without Pain in 5 Simple Steps

(Last Updated On: August 26, 2020)

Do you need an easy way to comb your 4c natural hair without pain? In this post, I will be sharing step-by-step process on how to comb your natural hair without breakage or pain. This is very crucial for parents with kids who dread combing their kids hair.

If there’s anything to take away from this post, it’s that natural hair should never be combed dry. You should always detangle with conditioner and be very gentle. 

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 conditoner and then comb. To me, this was the only reasonable way to glide a comb through my hair without experiencing pain.

Also consider reading this post “Five Reasons Why Your Natural Hair Should Not be Combed Often” and 3 Stages When You Can Detangle Your Natural Hair

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 easier to comb. I used to do this method and the only result I got was an oily and dry head of hair!

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. 

Tools Needed: Spray Bottle, Wide Tooth Comb

Products Needed: Moisturizing Conditioner

1) Wet your hair in the shower and then apply a moisturizing conditioner.
2) Allow some minutes for the conditioner to work its way through each strand, then comb (using a large tooth comb) the conditioner through your hair in small sections, starting from the ends to the roots.
3) Rinse out the conditioner, wring out excess water in your hair and let it dry to about 50-60%, be 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.

6) Then 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 the style when your 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 your hair. Water shrinks the hair and gathers the hair strands into small clumped sections. So a second comb will separate these strands and lift the coils up a bit more to create a fuller afro.

If you don’t want to go through the excess steps, you can simply spray your hair with a leave-in conditioner and comb in small sections, like this video below by Sola of DiscoveringNatural.

Tip: Reduce combing if you can
As I mentioned earlier, frequent combing can be damaging to your hair and will reduce length retention, and so I would strongly advice putting the comb down a 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 your hair grows longer, you might want to detangle with your fingers instead, so as to reduce breakage and retain more length so that your hair can grow long.
There are many ways you can comb your hair without experiencing breakage or pain, it’s up to you to explore different ways and then choose the best option that works for you and your hair. 
Does your head hurt when you comb your hair? How do you reduce pain and breakage when detangling? Leave a comment below to let me know!



Monday 5th of October 2020

Finger detangling is total none sense especially for someone with hair like mine ...I need the comb and detangling oils/products to help otherwise it’ll simply be a world of pain and time consuming. I have a lot of hair, thick, coily , dry and possibly do you take care of such a hair when you have no idea what you are going???


Friday 16th of October 2020

You can start out with finger detangling to remove knots and then finish off with a comb or brush. I have a tender scalp. so using a brush right away is too aggressive for me.

Titi Adetola

Monday 9th of November 2015

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


Friday 6th of June 2014

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.


Tuesday 10th of November 2020

I work 14 hour shifts, have 2 kids to feed and nurture, my mum to look after and all my housework to tend to. Im too exhausted for a hair routine (though I would LOVE to be able to find even 60 seconds to myself to take care of me). I think my generation has less free time and female community/support and our hair, self care, hobbies etc are just existent existent as a result. When all my daily jobs were done,my body hurts and my mind wants peace.. I just wanna lay down before my 4am alarm to start work again... and it shows in our hair this struggle to spin all these plates. A woman with tended to hair has a tended to life.. us girls walking about looking like zombies probably feel exactly that.


Thursday 22nd of August 2013

I don't comb my hair except in the shower when wet.


Sunday 6th of January 2013

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.

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