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When your hair is in tangles, drenching it in your everyday conditioner will only get you so far. If your hair tends to get knotted or matted, you might need something with a little more gusto—something specifically formulated to unbind you from your entanglement.
Whether you're working with real hair or extensions, detangling products leverage gentle yet effective ingredients to untie your knots without yanking out any hair. And the best formulas will nourish, smooth, and condition your hair while they're at it. To pull out all the stops, hairstylist Sky Kim of Serge Normant at John Frieda in New York recommends having a good brush or comb on hand too.
Scroll down for the best detanglers for every hair type and every budget.
Best Overall: Oribe Run-Through Detangling Primer
According to Kim, the best hair detangler is Oribe Run-Through Detangling Primer. "It smells strong but nice and gives you shine and moisture." We couldn't agree more. The superstar formula blends coconut and apricot oils to gently separates your hair.
And the magic doesn't stop there. Amino acids seal the cuticle to strengthen and prep your hair for styling while delivering the hydration it needs to live its smoothest, silkiest life.
Best Budget: Garnier Fructis Style Pure Clean Detangler + Air Dy
Thanks to Garnier, you can untie your hair for just a few bucks. Not only is this spray tender with your tangles, but it calls on ingredients like aloe and vitamin E to minimize frizz, add shine, and soften your hair.
Best Drugstore: Not Your Mother's Knotty to Nice Conditioning Detangler
Looking for a drugstore option? Your best bet is Not Your Mother's cheekily named Knotty to Nice Conditioning Detangler. The keratin-infused formula simultaneously separates knotted, twisted hair while fortifying your vulnerable strands to protect them from future damage.
Best for Natural Hair: The Mane Choice Soft As Can Be Revitalize & Refresh 3-in-1 Co-Wash, Leave In, Detangler
The Mane's Choice Soft As Can Be was formulated with kinky, wavy, curly, and textured hair in mind. Containing nourishing ingredients like biotin, avocado oil, aloe vera, and castor oil, this three-in-one product can be used as a detangler, co-wash, or leave-in conditioner.
Best for Curly Hair: Aunt Jackie’s Curls & Coils Knot On My Watch Instant Detangling Therapy
Knot On My Watch is a no-nonsense product that instantly detangles even the most stubborn knots from curly hair. Its "silky slip" blend of olive oil, glycerin, soybean oil, and cocoa butter allows you to effortlessly glide a comb through your hair without any bumps in the road.
Best for All Hair Types: Rahua Hydration Detangler + UV Barrier
"I'm also into Rahua Hydration Detangler," Kim tells Byrdie. "It's really lightweight, so you can layer it on." This ultra-moisturizing spray plays nice with all hair types, working to soften, smooth, and protect while it detangles.
Best In-Shower: TGIN Quench 3-In-1 Co-Wash Conditioner And Detangler
If you run into knots frequently, you know getting them out often begins in the shower. With that said, you'll be glad to have a bottle of TGIN Quench on hand when you're working out the kinks. This triple-threat product can be used to wash, condition, and detangle your hair, and you can count on softer, smoother, shinier hair every time.
Best Post-Shower: Amika The Wizard Detangling Primer
If your tangles tend to appear when you step out of the shower, reach for The Wizard. This multi-tasking potion contains hydrating sea buckthorn berry, nourishing avocado oil, fortifying tocopheryl, and smoothing panthenol. As if by sorcery, it instantly detangles your hair while prepping them for styling.
Best Leave-In: Pattern Leave-In Conditioner
We're also loving Pattern Beauty's Leave-In Conditioner. Touted as the best of leave-in treatments, the creamy formula draws on natural oils and honey to untangle knots, loosen matted hair, and seal in moisture.
Best for Frizz-Control: It's a 10 Silk Express Miracle Silk Leave-In Conditioner
Since its 2006 launch, It's A 10 has walked the line between drugstore and high-end haircare with finesse. The brand's beloved Silk Express not only rids your hair of tangles but also smooths the cuticles and softens the hair shaft to protect against flyaways and frizz.
Best Multi-Use: Melanin Haircare Multi-Use Softening Leave In Conditioner
Multi-use cosmetics are having a moment. And when it comes to hair products, you really can't go wrong with Melanin Haircare's leave-in conditioner. The all-star formula is a godsend for tangled hair, but you can also use it as a pre-shampoo treatment, a regular conditioner, a hair mask, or a styling cream.
Best Moisturizing: Bed Head by TIGI Beach Freak Moisturizing Detangler Spray
The last thing you want to do is try to get knots out of dry, brittle hair. With this in mind, Bed Head Beach Freak moisturizes thirsty hair all the way to their core while detangling and smoothing your hair.
Best Oil: Bumble and bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil
Sometimes, you need to grease up to untangle knotted hair. Bumble and bumble's Hairdresser's Invisible Oil contains a blend of coconut, safflower, grape, macadamia, argan, and sweet almond oil to unwind all the twists and turns that have you tied up. The lightweight, super-absorbent formula also addresses frizz and split ends.
Best Unscented: Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Aloe + Oat Milk Fragrance-Free Hypoallergenic Detangling Spray
If you prefer pared-down products without strong fragrances, try Briogeo's Be Gentle, Be Kind. Formulated with aloe vera, oat milk, and green tea, this naturally sourced detangling spray is easy on stressed hair and tough on knots.
Best Brush: Tangle Teezer The Ultimate Detangler
"You can also go ahead and just get yourself a Tangle Teaser," says Kim. Featuring over 300 flexible, two-tiered teeth, this thoughtfully designed hairbrush is a great companion to your detangling product of choice.
Best Comb: Mason Pearson De-Tangling Comb C2
Mason Pearson combs have reigned for over a century. The iconic brand's detangling comb builds on the trusted quality of the original to effortlessly separate knotted hair without tugging or weakening them further.
Oribe Run-Through Detangling Primer (view at Amazon) is by far the best detangler product, easily untying knots and leaving smooth, silky hydration in its wake. However, if you're looking for a more affordable option, you can count on Garnier Fructis Style Pure Clean Detangler + Air Dry (view Walmart) to get the job done. And in terms of detangling tools, your best bet is the Tangle Teezer The Ultimate Detangler (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in a Detangling Product
When browsing detanglers, you'll want to think about the intended use of each product. There are sprays, creams, conditioners, leave-ins, oils, hair primers, co-washes—you name it. While some can be used interchangeably, others are meant to be applied either in the shower or when you get out.
If you like to work through your knots in the shower, go with a conditioner, co-wash, or detangling cleanser. (Some multi-use products can be used as all three). If you want something that makes it easier to comb through wet hair, opt for a leave-in treatment, whether it's a primer, cream, spray, or oil.
When it comes to getting knots out, you'll almost always need something containing oils. Depending on the formula and how much oil is used, it doesn't necessarily mean the product will leave your hair greasy. With that said, look for detanglers blended with plant-sourced oils, like avocado, apricot, coconut, argan, soybean, castor, or macadamia.
The best products contain ingredients that help nourish, fortify, and condition the hair. Look for detanglers with aloe vera, biotin, vitamin E, glycerin, cocoa butter, sea buckthorn berry, tocopheryl, panthenol, and amino acids.
Though most detanglers can be used on all hair types, some are formulated with different textures in mind. Those with curly or kinky hair may want to look for products that are a little heavier on the oils for a glossy finish.
To avoid an overly slick, weighed-down appearance, people with fine hair should opt for a lightweight formula, such as a primer. Alternatively, they can use in-shower treatments, like hair masks and deep conditioners.
How do you detangle hair?
Whether in the shower or out, you'll typically want to detangle hair when it's wet—though you'll want to be careful because it's weakest when wet. Gently work a brush or comb through small sections, starting at the ends and moving upward as you get through each knot.
For mild tangles, you can try brushing your hair when it's dry. Just be sure to hold each section securely in your other hand to avoid tugging at the roots.
How do you detangle curly hair?
It's best to detangle curly hair when it's wet or at least damp. Start by applying a generous amount of your detangling product of choice. Then use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers to loosen the knots, beginning at the ends and working your way up.
How do you detangle matted hair?
Matted hair is a little trickier to remedy because the individual strands are tangled up instead of larger pieces. First, saturate your hair with a detangling product, whether it's a conditioner, primer, cream, or another-leave in treatment—and don't be afraid to apply a substantial amount.
Then take a wide-toothed comb or pick and use short, gentle motions to loosen the knots, starting at the ends and working your way up. Hold each section of hair securely with your opposite hand to avoid pulling on the roots. Remember to go slow and continue adding product if needed.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Theresa Holland specializes in makeup and haircare. Having rocked multiple rows of hair extensions for nearly a decade, she's no stranger to detangling products. From this list, she's a fan of Oribe, Garnier, Amika, and It's A 10.