My hair turns into a rat's nest if I look at it the wrong way, while my mother has the sort of smooth well behaved hair I've always been envious of; she never quite knew what to do with mine, and so much ouchiness ensued.

I assume that those of you with tangle prone hair already have your coping mechanisms (and please add in the comments), so this is more of a guide for people who are responsible for taking care of a tangled mess. It's also geared towards the straight-wavy spectrum 'cause my curls aren't quite as pronounced as Merida's.

(image via giphy)


1. Don't sleep on it.

My hair just gets draped over my pillow (which usually has a towel on it 'cause I sleep with it wet) and the back of my bed, but loads of people swear by the pineapple method.

2. Use detanglers or conditioners

As a kid, I used to ask my mom to buy no more tangles when we went to the drug store. There are other brands that probably work just as well, but that stuff got through my hair no problem. Now I just use conditioner, a lot and often, sometimes combined with a shampoo and lately also as a standalone product (Herbal Essence's Naked Cleansing Conditioner is my jam here) every couple of days and it just makes brushing infinitely easier.

3. Brush from the ends up

Repeat after me: do not start brushing (or combing) from the roots. Yes, there are people who swear by not brushing at all (and also not washing their hair, at which point I stop believing that these people have well managed hair) but by day two or three of not brushing, my hair usually needs it. So, start at the ends, go a couple of inches at most at a time (yes, this will take a while if the hair you're brushing is long and thick) and work at just that section. Than move up the head. The roots and scalp go last, and there are way way less tears.

4. Hold the brush by the head

A lot of people swear by brushes like the knot genie, which is basically just a handleless brush. Some of the rest of us developed a coping mechanism (which I just realized the other day) of just holding onto the brush head while brushing. The why is straightforward: it's easier to feel when you hit a particularly nasty snarl and adjust the brushing (go slower, use fingers to detangle some of it, etc...) when your hand is on the head.

5. Use wide-tooth combs

Combs? So a lot of people straight up advocate not brushing hair and only combing it when the tangles get nasty, 'specially with curly hair. I comb my conditioner through my hair 'cause I'm otherwise incapable of distributing it evenly. I love my goody rake comb 'cause it's super sturdy and doesn't have a handle (yes, you want to hold combs by the head too), but any sturdy wide tooth comb will do. Fine tooth combs have a tendency to either break or badly frizz hair or both.

6. Find the products to maintain the style you like

My hair lives in a bun or braid 'cause at this point it's so long that it tangles in everything when in a pony or loose. After a recommendation on groupthink, I've started evangelizing about the goody spin pins 'cause they're truly magical at keeping buns in place. A lot of people swear by ouchless ponytail holders or rubberized ponytail holders (those tend to just tangle in my hair) or hair ties. If I want to wear my hair loose, it gets a dose of anti-frizz serum (and I take back up ponys, clips and pins). Any style is possible, it just probably can't be worn without an added protection against tangling.