Skip to Content
HomeHair Care

How to Detangle Matted Hair, According to Experts

So you neglected your hair for a while, or maybe you wore a protective style like extension braids for too long and now you have to deal with matted hair.

It’s easy to grab a pair of scissors, but you don’t want to do that, right? Instead, let’s follow a process to get rid of that severe tangling. The good news is that it also strengthens your hair!

What Home Remedy Can I Use to Detangle My Hair?

We’ll keep this natural with home remedies because it’s more nourishing for your hair to get it back on the right track.

Also, you might need more products than you think. Before we start, wear a hat and run out for an eight oz. Jar of extra virgin coconut oil, three or four ounces of flax seeds, and some apple cider vinegar.

Expert’s Tip: You’ll need coconut oil, flax seeds and apple cider vinegar. 

Should I Detangle My Hair Wet or Dry?

Detangling Dry Matted Hair

Ideally, you would detangle your hair while it’s dry. It’s stronger and less prone to breakage when it isn’t soaked in water.

We’ll use coconut oil first to prevent water from getting into the hair shaft excessively and weakening your hair. Then we’ll go in with the homemade flaxseed gel made with water, which has a huge amount of slip.

Do Tangles Make Your Hair Weak?

The matting might look tangled enough to break someone, but the hair in it is very fragile.For it to get like that, the shingles on the hair cuticle surface of the hair upturned and attached to each other.

So the hair lost its natural moisture and kind of got stuck like that. So remember to move gently and use your fingers, when possible, instead of a wide-toothed comb.

Expert’s Tip: Remember that the hair inside the matted area is very fragile. 

How to Detangle Severely Matted Hair

This works for all types of hair and whether the matt is just tangled with other hairs or has lint in it. Let’s get into the process:

1) Make Your Flaxseed Gel First

Flaxseed Gel

You need to boil your flaxseed in water first to make the gel, but you don’t want it to be hot when you apply it. It will need to cool properly, so let’s start here first. You’re just going to eye the measurements. 

  • Add your flaxseeds to the pot and add water until it looks like you have twice the amount of water as flaxseeds in the pot.
  • Let the seeds rest for an hour to soften.
  • Then boil the mixture to medium.
  • As it begins to thicken, in about twenty minutes, you can turn the heat down so the gel doesn’t burn.
  • Keep boiling it. You don’t want it too thick, and it won’t look like hair gel. It will still have a liquid consistency, like a thin glue.
  • Then let it cool, at which point it will be a little thicker.

2) Use Coconut Oil to Strengthen Your Hair and Prime for Detangling

Use a coconut oil treatment to strengthen your hair and get rid of the lighter tangles. Coconut oil seeps into the hair shaft and nourishes your strands. It prevents excessive water from entering your hair and causing it to swell.

The flaxseed gel works marvelously, but it’s made with water. If your hair swells with water, it will compound the problem and tighten the matted area. You might have to cut it out in that case. Coconut oil also coats the hair cuticle and helps the shingles to detach from one another in the matted area.

  • Go all over your head, making sections with your fingers and dousing each with coconut oil.
  • Massage it into your scalp and smooth it down from the roots to the tips. Remove light tangles.
  • Section off the hair you’re able to detangle thoroughly by braiding it.
  • When you get to the matted area(s), squeeze the coconut oil through it and leave it for now.
  • Then cover your head with a plastic shower cap and leave it on overnight. If you can’t do that, leave it on for at least six hours.

Coconut oil helps prevent the water from the flaxseed gel from swelling your hair, which can make the matted area tighter.

3) Use Flaxseed Gel to Provide Slip and Loosen the Matted Area

Flaxseed Gel for Matted Hair

Flaxseed gel is very slippery and also inexpensive. There’s no need to use a bottle of a costly detangling product in the area. Like coconut oil, flaxseed strengthens the hair.

It coats your hair and gives it supreme slip so you can work through tangled areas. It also takes longer to dry than conditioner, so you’ll have more time to work before reapplying it, if necessary.

  • After taking off the plastic cap from your coconut oil treatment, give your hair a half hour to breathe.
  • Attempt to loosen more tangles with your fingers only.
  • Then squeeze the cooled flaxseed gel into the mat and work slowly to remove the tangles fully.
  • Don’t pull the knots out, or you’ll damage your hair.
  • Try to get the matted area as small as possible. If you absolutely can’t get out what remains, then use a pair of sharp scissors to cut it close to the knot. The knot should be a very small area, maybe less than a fingernail clipping. So we’re not trying to clip any chunks here.

4) Cleanse Your Hair

Note: Don’t wash your hair until the matted areas are thoroughly removed.

  1. When you’re finished, wash your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo.
  2. Then use an apple cider vinegar rinse. It’s acidic and will close your hair cuticles and make it easier to comb through. Try a solution of one part vinegar to five parts water. Let it remain in the hair for a few minutes and rinse it thoroughly.
  3. Then condition your hair as usual.

You’ll find your hair to be very soft and manageable due to the double pre-shampoo treatments you’ve done. Now all that remains is to make a better haircare plan so you don’t have any more matting. Good luck!

Don’t wash your hair until the matted areas are thoroughly removed.

Ghanima Abdullah


How do you untangle matted hair without it hurting?

Always hold the roots while detangling and use your fingers. Don’t try to rip a comb or brush through the area. You might make the matted area worse and also damage your hair.

How does apple cider vinegar detangle matted hair?

As an acid, apple cider vinegar helps the hair cuticle shingles lie down. So this will help them disengage from one another inside the mat. But ACV has no-slip to help you work through the matted area.

Does olive oil help matted hair?

Yes, you can use olive oil or coconut oil as a pre-treatment to detangling. Both strengthen the hair and help remove minor tangles before you use something slippery like flaxseed gel.

Can I use WD 40 on matted hair?

WD40 doesn’t have quite as much slip as flaxseed gel. It also isn’t meant for hair. You might have a hard time washing it out.

What conditioner is good for detangling?

If you prefer a store-bought product for detangling, use a detangling product instead of a conditioner. Otherwise, for this purpose, a drugstore conditioner has enough slip to get started.

How do I treat matted hair?

Treat it very gently. Use a natural oil first to strengthen your hair before attempting to detangle matted hair.

Should I detangle hair before washing it?


What causes matted hair?

Neglect, which could be a psychological issue or leaving in hair extensions for too long.

More Related Articles: