Hair is all fun and games until you have to deal with tangles. Detangling is universally time-consuming, frustrating, and just downright painful. Normal everyday hair loss can range anywhere from 50 to 100 strands per day—but improper detangling can cause you to lose even more. That's why it's important to prepare your hair with a detangling spray and use the right tools to brush through knots. No worries though, detangler spray is super easy to DIY. Here, your step-by-step guide to creating your own custom, homemade hair detangler.
What You'll Need
- Spray bottle
- Measuring spoon
- Measuring cup
- Leave-in conditioner
- Hot water
- Essential oil (optional)
Ahead, the exact steps to concocting your own homemade hair detangler. Keep in mind that exact ingredient measurements depend on hair type, texture, and porosity.
Add Leave-In Conditioner to Spray Bottle
As a first step to creating your own homemade detangler, squeeze up to three tablespoons of your favorite leave-in conditioner into the spray bottle. This product not only aids detangling, but prevents damage caused by over-drenched hair.
"When water is trapped in your hair, it stretches and swells and is more prone to damage, dullness, and breakage," says Aquis founder Britta Cox. "[Our] approach to hair care is to minimize the risk of water damage, so we recommend using a leave-in conditioner like Aquis Prime Restorative Leave-in Conditioner outside the shower (once hair is partially dry) to reduce water fatigue, breakage, split ends, frizz, and color fade."
Add Hot Water to Spray Bottle
Once you've added your leave-in conditioner of choice to the spray bottle, top it off with about 16 ounces of hot water (or however many ounces it takes to fill the spray bottle you've selected), leaving about two inches of empty space at the top. It's important to leave space at the top so you can shake the formula around before each use. Make sure your water is about the temperature of what you'd shower or bathe in—warm enough to break the leave-in conditioner down into more of a liquid consistency, but not too hot that it will melt the plastic spray bottle.
Add Essential Oils (Optional)
Depending on the needs of your hair, you can opt to add a few (three-to-five) drops of essential oil to your mixture to customize your formula. Here are the basic benefits of the most popular essential oils used on hair:
- Lavender: Delivers antimicrobial properties and soothing
- Rosemary: Stimulates hair growth and healing
- Chamomile: Adds shine, softness and soothing
- Cedarwood: Increases circulation and minimizes hair thinning
- Lemongrass: Cleanses, deodorizes, and reduces itchiness
- Peppermint: Minimizes dandruff, bacteria, and stimulates the scalp
Shake, Shake, Shake
Here's where those two inches of space you left at the top of the spray bottle during step two come in handy. Once you've added your desired essential oils (if applicable), shake your spray bottle vigorously for 15-20 seconds to thoroughly mix the formula. You'll want to do this each time you use your homemade detangler to make sure all ingredients are being applied in an even concentration across your hair.
Start Detangling From Ends to Roots
You can use your homemade detangling spray immediately after finishing step four. After cleansing (if it's a wash day) and conditioning, section your hair into three to five sections (depending on hair thickness) to ensure effective application and maximum absorption. Depending on how dry your hair is, give each section of hair two-to-three spritzes from your spray bottle, then work through knots with a wide tooth comb or paddle brush.
When it comes to actually removing tangles—whether your hair is dry or wet—you want to start from the ends and work your way up to the roots. Doing it the opposite way will lead to matting, breakage and split ends if you put too much force behind it. Detangling hair shouldn’t feel like a violent process. If you are straining yourself when you try to undo knots, work in smaller sections and apply more detangler if needed.
Generally, it's wise to use your detangling spray after each wash day (or whenever it gets wet), although dry and damaged hair can typically tolerate more frequent use due to its higher porosity (meaning it loses moisture faster).
Bonus Detangling Tips
Ditch your terry cloth towel: Terry cloth towels might feel relatively soft to the touch, but they contain fibers that are rough enough to cause damage to the hair cuticle (like splitting) and can even prevent the cuticle from closing—which contributes to tangles and frizz. "When hair is wet, it stretches and swells," says Cox. "The swelling pushes the cuticles open and is what causes hair tangling. The upraised cuticles of each hair strand snag on one another, causing hair to get tangled." For gentle, rapid water removal, we love the Aquis Lisse Luxe Hair Turban.
Use a brush specifically made for detangling: If you’re in need of a trusted detangling tool that can get the job done, the Tangle Teezer Thick & Curly Detangling Hairbrush, The Wet Brush Comb Detangler, and Harry Josh Pro Tools Detangling Brush are just a few accessories that have top reviews.