Best Detangler For Curly Hair [Review] in 2021
written by nail expert Jess Rowley
See full list of products
Aunt Jackie's Knot On My Watch
Kinky-Curly Knot Today Detangler
MIZANI 25 Miracle Milk Detangler Spray
Due to the texture of curly hair, we can all agree that it can get very knotty; combing through your curls before washing can feel like a marathon. Especially as you only brush your curls once every week or two before washing as brushing dry hair can lead to frizz.
But is there an easier way to get through hair knots and prevent breakage when detangling?
Yes, you’ll need two things, a brilliant detangling product and the best detangling brush for curly hair. Now I’m not going to fool you; it won’t be an easy task. After all, you are coming through a week’s worth of knots, but the right hair detangler can make your life so much easier.
I have spent hours trying and researching countless curl detangling products, more than I can shake a stick at. I have found my top selection of the best detangling products for curly hair, so you sit back and relax and choose the one best for you.
Our curls matter; the last thing we want is mechanical damage and hair breakage caused by tugging and pulling.
I have found a wide range of hair detanglers to suit every curl type, from thick coily curls to fine curls. You can use them both before shampooing to ease detangling or after shampooing to help detangle before applying your styling products.
Your curls will thank me later; let’s jump in!
hours spent finding
Top Picks Of The Best Detangler Products For Curly Hair
Aunt Jackie's Knot On My Watch Hair Detangling Therapy
best detangler for black curly hair
Coming in hot at number one is this brilliant detangling therapy product by trust Aunt Jackies. The clever name Knot On My Watch is true to the name; this leave-in conditioner helps the comb or detangling brush glide through effortlessly, leaving it tangle-free.
But that’s not the only thing Aunt Jackies is good for.
With the power of its “silky slip” detangling therapy, it helps provide slip to the comb or brush so it can glide through what feels like untamable curls. It leaves curls tangle-free and protected from breakage while restoring moisture.
It is perfect for coily, curly, dry, or untamable black hair that needs intense moisture and what feels like magic when it comes down to detangling. You can apply to wet or dry hair before or after washing, just apply a generous amount and concentrate on tangles.
It is liquid gold for guarding against tangles, knots, and unruly tresses!
It will leave hair smooth, curls defined, and even offer hair strengthening qualities. While it is best for unruly curls, this detangling treatment is perfect for all hair types. Your curls will look luscious, revived, and stronger after one use.
No more hair-filled brushes after detangling your unruly curls! It can be used as often as needed on dry and wet hair. This detangling conditioner does everything it promises; brushing my curls is like brushing a tumbleweed, and this stuff is like magic!
I have used countless detangling sprays on my unruly curls; not only does it create a magic slip to detangle, but it also helps to tame frizz. I found it offered easy detangling while leaving my hair shaft smooth and frizz-free.
It is perfect for damaged hair or unruly curls that just need taming. It can be used as a pre-cleanse slip detangler or after shampooing as a leave-in treatment. This lightweight detangler works absolute wonders on hair that feels like it will never detangle.
It is enriched with shea butter and olive oil which both have detangling qualities as well as nourishing and strengthening qualities. So not only does this treatment help with tough hair knots, but it also strengthens the hair from within!
You cannot beat this amazing product for curly girls; it is even tantrum-free and perfect for children too.
- Eliminates frizz
- Works wonders for detangling unruly natural hair
- Detangles and strengthens
- Safe to use on children
- Contains water-soluble silicones
Latest deal: Aunt Jackie’s Knot On My Watch
Kinky-Curly Knot Today Leave In Conditioner / Detangler
best leave in detangler for curly hair
Up next is another pun intended detangler by Kinky Curly called Knot Today. It is a creamy leave-in conditioner and detangler which is renowned for smoothing the cuticle, removing knots, snarls, and tangles from textured hair.
This one is curly girl method approved and completely silicone-free.
It is a post-wash leave-in treatment, but it can be used before cleansing your hair to help with tangles and knots when combing through pre-wash. It is suitable for any hair type and thickness from curly, kinky, wavy, and from low porosity to high porosity hair.
All you need to do is apply this lightweight formula generously to the ends after cleansing, shampooing, or co-washing and work through the troubled areas with a wide-toothed comb or finger comb through particularly stubborn knots.
It is even excellent to use after removing braids or extensions!
I was hesitant at first with some of the reviews as bad reviews away stick out more than positive ones. But let me tell you, I was shocked by the results! Not only did it help with my stubborn knots, but it also helped me achieve amazing curl definition and tamed my frizz!
If you’re a naturalista and following the curly girl method to the max, then this leave-in detangler is for you. It is CGM approved, and it left hair feeling light and bouncy without that greasy feel that you get with a leave-in conditioner.
It even helps with hair breakage and helps promote the natural shape of your curl, whether that is through the plopping method, diffusing, or leaving it to naturally dry. This lightweight formula is perfect for naturally curly hair!
Just apply to damp hair straight out of the shower and detangle before applying your other styling products. It is the holy grail of detangling leave-in conditioners, super lightweight, and will leave your curls super bouncy.
- Curly Girl Method Approved
- Lightweight formula that leaves curls bouncy
- Prevents frizz and detangles hair easily
- Extremely moisturizing
Latest deal: Kinky-Curly Knot Today Leave In Detangler
MIZANI 25 Miracle Milk Moisturizing Detangler Spray
best detangler spray for curly hair
Now, this leave-in detangler, my Mizani, is liquid magic; it has so many benefits for curly hair. This lightweight leave-in conditioner is a heat protectant hair detangler that also repairs damage, hydrates, offers UV and thermal protection, and controls frizz.
The sun can cause damage to curls as much as thermal styling; it strips moisture from the cuticle and damages the protein in the hair shaft. This can result in dry, brittle ends, frizziness and make curls end up getting knotty quicker.
This leave-in detangling spray not only helps to ease knots in the hair but can also be used as your heat protectant and protect hair from UV rays as well as thermal heat up to 450⁰F/230⁰C. Since curly hair is the driest hair type, it can make it most prone to knotting, frizz, and damage.
You can use this leave-in conditioner straight out of the shower to protect and detangle your naturally curly hair. It is yet another brilliant leave-in detangler for luscious African American hair or unruly coils as it provides deep hydration and moisture.
It gives hair moisture to the max!
Many of us coilies go to the salon to have our hair washed; it saves trying to tame the beast of our curls. But since lockdown, it has become more and more difficult; this leave-in conditioner made my life so much easier when detangling.
It is perfect for thick curly hair as well as fine hair; your hair strands will slide through the comb-like silk, it will feel like you are applying magic to the ends of your curls. This detangling conditioner offers some serious hair strengthening benefits too!
It is rich in natural oils like coconut oil which helps to repair and strengthen the hair follicle from within; it also has natural detangling properties making it the perfect ingredient for easy detangling. This detangling spray is winning!
- Infused with coconut oil
- Easy detangling of hair knots on thick hair
- Deeply moisturizing and offers heat protection
- Super lightweight and helps with frizz
- Contains water-soluble silicones
Latest deal: MIZANI 25 Miracle Milk Detangler Spray
SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Extra-Moisture Detangler
best detangler for thick curly hair
Now I personally love Shea Moisture; it is my favorite drugstore brand for curly hair, and their intense moisturizing detangling conditioner with SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter is amazing for nourishing the hair and detangling.
The mineral and nutrient-rich sea kelp helps smoother and seal hair cuticles which makes it easier to detangle stubborn knots, all while preventing hair breakage. This is paired with the organic raw shea butter, which deeply moisturizes damaged, dry hair.
This will leave curls feeling more manageable and provide slip to gently ease through knots and tangles.
Argan oil is also blended into the formula to help restore the natural shine to curls as well as improve elasticity. Curly girls can only brush their hair while wet (or dry before washing) because of frizz, and hair is less elastic and fragile while wet; this helps to restore elasticity and prevent breakage caused by combing through stubborn knots and tangles.
SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Extra-Moisture Detangler with Sea Kelp and Argan Oil is loaded with natural botanicals which are designed to soften, condition, and renew damaged and transitioning hair. So if your hair is lacking in moisture, this is the one for you.
It is designed to maximize manageability for 3A to 4C hair types while remaining super lightweight. It provides just the right amount of slip to help release stubborn knots and tangles, which helps prevent breakage. This, paired with the moisture, makes this the ultimate leave-in conditioner for detangling curls.
It works beautifully on wet or dry hair. It can be used as a pre-shampoo treatment or as a post-wash treatment to ease detangling. But after washing, you should apply to wet hair or even damp hair and comb through, starting at the ends.
This post / pre-cleanse slip detangler works wonders for curls, plus it is Curly Girl Method Approved!
- Encourages blood flow and hair growth
- Works to repair the hair from the inside out
- Designed to maximize moisture retention
- Can be used on kinky, coily curly hair as CGM approved
Latest deal: SheaMoisture Extra-Moisture Detangler
SoCozy Curl Spray Leave-In Detangling Spray
Now, if you’re a mom desperately looking for a detangler to stop the kicking and screaming when it comes to washing day, then this leave-in conditioner and detangler is a game-changer. I’ve used more detangling treatments than I can shake a stick at, especially on children, and this one is well and truly the best.
No need to fear there will be no tears!
This leave-in conditioner and detangler by SoCozy Kids restores the curl’s natural balance, reduces breakage, and improves hair elasticity all while detangling and infusing the curls with moisture. It prevents frizz and leaves curls looking bouncy.
It is infused with Vitamin B5, Jojoba Oil, Olive Oil, and Hydrolyzed Keratin as the main ingredients, but there’s so much goodness in this formula. Olive oil is the key ingredient to love about this formula as not only does it protect but also detangles.
Vitamin B5 is brilliant at repairing, nurturing, and hydrating curls; even kids’ curls need a lot of moisture and hydration, so this cannot be missed. The jojoba oil also strengthens the curls, so there is minimal breakage when detangling.
SoCozy is a premium hairline loved by professionals! They also other a specific SoCozy Detangler, which offers the same qualities as the leave-in conditioner for detangling, so if you’d like detangling specific, then that one is worth your time!
But while this leave-in conditioner and detangler are specific to children due to the kiddie smell, adults can benefit from this post/ pre-shampoo treatment detangler because there are some super benefits.
They are even free of all the nasties, too, and Curly Girl Method approved.
- Leave in conditioner that detangles
- Infused with jojoba oil, olive oil, and vitamin b5
- Curly girl method approved
- Eases tangles without tears
- Kiddie smell
Latest deal: SoCozy Curl Spray Leave-In Detangling Spray
TANGLE TEEZER Large Ultimate Wet Detangler Brush
Now don’t worry, I’m going to create a full guide of the best detangling brushes for curly hair, but the detangling products are not the only important thing for detangling curls. The brushes you use play an important role.
Since we curlies can only detangle and brush our curls while wet, you’ll need a wet detangling brush.
Everyone has heard of TangleTeaser, but their wet brush is surprisingly gentle for curly hair and gently eases through knots without tugging, snagging, or pulling and causing breakage. I personally love this brush for combing through my leave-in treatments.
Their legendary original tangleteaser stormed the market, so TangleTeaser has come back better than ever with their groundbreaking technology within their wet brush. Their patented teeth have two-tiered technology with flex, perfect for wet hair.
It is perfect for the shower as it evenly draws conditioning treatments through the hair for even coverage while helping to offer slip to the hair and offer superior detangling. Their technology offers 80% fewer knots and is 97% more gentle on the scalp.
This brush is perfect for thicker curls as it is 20% bigger than the Wet Detangler, making it perfect for frizz-prone hair or thick, unruly curls. However, if you have fine hair, then the original TangleTeaser Wet Detangler is perfect for curls too.
Pretty cool, right?
Well, the large wet detangler is perfect for all hair types but especially for thick, curly, and long hair. It is designed to be used in the shower on wet hair or out of the shower to detangle and comb through your favorite leave-in conditioner.
After all, the perfect leave-in conditioner and detangler is nothing without the right brush to pair it with!
- Gently eases tangles and evenly distributes leave-in products
- 80% fewer knots and 97% more gentle
- 422 flexible teeth
- Reduces breakage and tames frizz
Latest deal: TANGLE TEEZER Wet Detangler Brush
Best Detangler For Curly Hair- A Buyer's Guide
So now we’ve spoken about the best detangling products and best detangling brush for curly hair, now it’s onto the best bits. How to use them correctly and the ultimate buying guide so you can be sure to be getting the best detangler for your natural hair.
Detangling gently is super important for curly hair as the only time you detangle your curls is before cleansing and after cleansing when you have wet or damp hair. Your curls are most fragile while wet, so snagging and pulling can cause the most damage.
Getting a leave-in treatment with detangling properties and detangling brush safe to use on curly hair is a must to prevent damage. Many detangling treatments for curly hair provide slip as well as essential hydration and strengthening qualities, so brushing your hair while wet is not the end of the world.
Getting either a wide-tooth comb or detangling brush for curly hair along with these treatments can make wash day super easy. Having the right curly hair tools, right products and a bit of patience will make this detangling process a breeze– trust me.
But enough of me rambling on, let’s delve into the ultimate guide to detangling curly hair like a pro with minimal damage; it’s time to up our curl game and gets the products and the technique that our curls deserve. Here’s everything you need to know when detangling curls!
How To Detangle Curly Hair
So there are a few times that you will need to know how to detangle curly hair, before washing and after washing, on damp hair. For each, you will detangle slightly differently; knowing how to brush curly hair is key, after all.
So here are some tips on the best ways to detangle curly hair without snagging or pulling curls.
Detangling Curls Before Shampooing:
The first tip is to only detangle wet or damp curls; never detangle dry curls! So despite it being recommended to detangle your curls before shampooing, your should dampen down the hair first. So wet down your curls until they are damp first.
This is because knots are even more stubborn when dry and do not have any slip, so either dampening down your hair or coating the ends with a leave-in detangler or oil will help provide the slip you need to detangle. You don’t need soaking wet hair.
You’ll then want to apply your leave-in detangler or detangling treatment to the ends of your curls and start detangling. Work in sections starting underneath; I like to section to 2-inch sections, apply some detangling treatment and then comb through.
Working in smaller sections makes detangling much easier without snagging or pulling on curls. Not only will it make your curls more manageable, but it will ensure that you are doing a thorough job of removing all stubborn knots; this also helps with curl definition.
Since you will be shampooing after, don’t be afraid to be generous with the detangling treatment as it will not leave a greasy residue. Take your time to detangle before washing, don’t tug or rip through curls impatiently, as this can cause damage to your hair and curls.
You can even apply a pre-treatment once detangled to leave on before washing; I personally love using Olaplex No.3 on curly hair as it is free of silicones and offers an intensive reparative treatment for your curls. It is even safe to use when doing the Curly Girl Method!
Detangling Curls After Shampooing, Before Styling:
The second time you will need to detangle curly hair is once you’ve shampooed, as after all the massaging, your curls will most likely be tangled again (but not as bad as before). Detangling in sections can also help with curl definition.
So once you’re out of the shower, then apply your leave-in conditioner and detangler to sopping wet curls. What I like to do is sit in front of the mirror and take my time; I spray each section down and apply my leave-in detangler, and comb through each section.
I then apply my curl defining cream, heat protectant, and styling gel on top and style. I detangle firstly with my detangling brush and then go in with my Denman styling brush to create tension and twist as I go down the curl; this helps with curl definition.
By working in small 2-3 inch sections, you can work to achieve more curl definition, and it makes detangling more manageable. You want to focus on moisture and strengthen ingredients for this step like Jamaican Black Castor Oil to restore moisture to the strands.
Moisture, patience, and slip are key to detangling your curls!
Ingredients To Look For In Detanglers For Curls:
There are some key ingredients to look out for when looking for a detangler for curly hair; some natural ingredients are brilliant for curls, while there are some ingredients like silicones in which you should avoid as it causes buildup on curls.
So let’s talk about the dos and don’t when buying detangling products for curly hair.
Coconut oil is brilliant at detangling your curls; due to the texture of curly hair, it makes it most prone to tangles. Coconut oil penetrates deeply into the hair shaft to gently ease tangles, strengthen the hair follicle and make curls more manageable.
Coconut oil is a savior for curly hair. It penetrates deep into the hair shaft rather than sitting on the surface; damaged hair is more prone to tangles and damage. Coconut oil repairs damage helps heal protein loss adds moisture and strengthens the hair from within.
Olive oil is another brilliant ingredient for detangling natural hair; it has a natural detangling effect and nourishes hair deeply, leaving it soft and shiny. Using it as a hot oil treatment is recommended for a detangling treatment, especially for matted hair.
Olive oil helps to decrease frizz on the hair and helps decrease friction on the hair, which helps aid with detangling. Olive oil is one of the best nourishing oils for curls as it penetrates and repairs from the inside out.
Just apply olive oil to the ends of your curls in sections and wait a minute for it to soak in before combing through; this will help the oil penetrate deeper and make detangling easier. Many detanglers for curly hair will have olive oil in them.
You can mix with raw shea butter for additional moisture, hydration, and repair.
Avocado oil is especially brilliant for kinky and curly hair; it is a brilliant natural detangler and conditioner as it is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. This will work to smooth the cuticle and creates great slip.
These natural ingredients also work to repair damage from within so your curls will feel nourished, more manageable, and hydrated. It can also protect your strands from further damage by lubricating and creating a barrier over the strands.
Jamaican Black Castor Oil:
Jamaican black castor oil is another brilliant natural oil for detangling curly hair; it not only detangles strands but can help repair split ends and restore the hair from within. It keeps your curls free from tangles as it deeply moisturizes each strand.
But there are many other benefits of Jamaican black castor oil; it also helps promote hair growth by promoting blood flow and creating the perfect environment for hair growth. It can help the scalp in many ways; it can even help with flaky and dry scalp too!
Argan oil is yet another brilliant ingredient you should be looking for when buying a detangler; it gets the name “liquid gold” for a reason. It has smaller molecules, so it can penetrate the hair easier than any other oil, making it less prone to tangling in the first place.
It is perfect for low porosity hair as it penetrates through the flat cuticle and offers serious detangling properties. Since it penetrates better, it makes the curls softer, so again, less prone to tangling and works wonders for easing tough knots.
Definitely worth looking out for if you have low porosity hair and struggle with stubborn knots and tangles.
Jojoba oil closely mimics the natural oils that your body produces, making it the perfect detangler. It is rich in vitamins and minerals that deeply nourish and strengthen your strands. This makes curls visibly softer and helps to ease those tough knots.
It may not be as good as coconut oil or argan oil, but there are some serious benefits of jojoba oil for detangling. It moisturizes the hair follicle, which prevents dryness; most dry hair is prone to tangling, so deeply moisturizing helps prevent this.
Try To Avoid Non-Soluble Silicones:
If you are strictly following the Curly Girl Method, then it is advised that you restrict all silicones, especially non-soluble silicones, as they buildup on hair. But for those going by the CGM but not strictly, then you can still use water-soluble silicones, which wash out with water.
I personally love water-soluble silicones as they help with hydration and moisture retention; since they wash out with water, they are unlikely to buildup on the hair, but just doing a clarifying shampoo once every month or two is recommended for curly hair anyway.
Water-soluble silicones are found in many products, like the Olaplex range. Unlike non-soluble silicones, water-soluble silicones have some benefits on curly hair, such as hydration. They can also help promote the natural curl shape as well as detangle.
They provide slip and act as a lubricant over the strands of hair to reduce the forces required when detangling hair. It also works to smooth the cuticle, making it less prone to tangles, frizz, and breakage. So while you should avoid all silicones, water-soluble silicones are better than the wrap they get.
How Often Should You Detangle Curly Hair?
This is completely up to you and your hair, but most people recommend that you detangle your curls at least once a week. You should aim to detangle your curls every wash day with a detangling product and detangling brush, and work in sections.
Since you cannot brush your hair while dry as it causes a whirl of frizz, it means that detangling on wash day can be quite a challenge– we’ve all seen the scene where the brush is stuck in the afro like curls, let’s make sure this isn’t us on wash day!
You’ll want your hair to be damp when detangling as it creates the slip you need to get the comb through. Since I am about to wash my curls, I tend to work in sections and apply a generous amount of detangling product to each section and detangle using a detangling brush.
I always do a treatment on wash day as I set it for every Sunday, so I have time to do so. So once I’ve detangled, I tend to pop a pre-treatment on my hair like Olaplex No. 3 and sit around with it on my hair for around 45 minutes to an hour before washing it off.
So fast forward to washing, conditioning, or deep conditioning, time to hop out of the shower. I don’t know about you, but my hair is now knotty again from all the scrubbing. I tend to sit in front of the mirror, work in sections and spray each section down with the water spray and apply all of my detangling products and styling products.
Then I go in with my detangling brush, followed by my styling Denman Brush ( I created a full guide on how to use a Denman brush, so be sure to check it out). The products, soaking wet hair, and working in sections create enough slip to make detangling a breeze.
So if you co-wash in between shampoos, then every time you get your hair wet, you should detangle. After all, how are you going to style a bird’s nest? But as a general rule of thumb, NEVER detangle dry hair; it will be a painful process– both mentally and physically.
Frequently Asked Questions:
When should you detangle curly hair?
For the most defined curls, you should detangle your curly hair in two parts– before shampooing and after your condition before styling. I like to use a generous amount of detangling products before shampooing and detangling in sections.
It will make the detangling process so much easier after shampooing; all you’ll be left with is a few stubborn knots caused by massaging your scalp. Never detangle dry hair; always damp down your curls with a detangler or chosen oil, as this will create slip and prevent breakage.
Can you detangle curly hair without breakage?
Yes, absolutely, but patience is key. You sure use a wide-tooth comb or your fingers to comb through the knots, starting at the bottom and working your way up. This should help ease through most knots; then, you should work in sections.
Always apply a detangling treatment or oil to your hair when detangling as it will create slip and help to ease tangles as you go along. I like to apply a detangling treatment all over and leave for 5 minutes before taming my curls.
When working in sections, add a generous amount of leave-in conditioner or detangling spray and use a detangling brush; this will help ease through stubborn knots and tangles while offering minimal breakage. These treatments can even strengthen your curls.
Just taking your time and not ripping the brush through your curls is key to detangling without breakage.
Why should you detangle curly hair before washing it?
Tangled, matted curls get much worse when wet from water and shampoo, and since you only detangle on wash day, all of the tangles and knots from the week will only get worse if you hop in the shower before detangling the worst of it.
Oils and detanglers work best before shampooing as it works to ease tangles; if you try to do this after shampooing, it will be like taming a bird’s nest, and you’re likely to suffer from more damage. You’ll also want your hair to be damp and not wet when detangling.
This is because hair is most fragile while wet, so not only are the knots worse off when detangling after shampooing, you’re more likely to cause more breakage and damage to your natural curl shape so it is always best to detangle before and after shampooing.
Can you make your own DIY detangler spray for curly hair?
Absolutely there are some pretty incredible DIY recipes for detangling curly hair. I have created a full guide of my favorite DIY detangler spray recipes so be sure to check that out, they are all curly girl-friendly.
If you’re not a fan of all the harsh chemicals then going all natural may be the way to go. Give some of these recipes a try, I can guarantee that you will love the results– and your curls will too!
So there you have it the importance of using a hair detangler on curly hair. The best hair detanglers provide enough slip to ease through the curly hair’s knots and work to strengthen and hydrate from within; after all, dryness is our kryptonite.
All hair types can benefit from using a detangling treatment before and after shampooing if you want minimal breakage and minimal snagging and pulling when trying to get a brush through your hair. Just remember a wide-toothed comb or detangling brush will be your best friend.
The detangling treatments I have chosen for you offer incredible slip, softening agents and help curls retain moisture for ultimate healthy hair. So whether you have curly, coily, or just wavy hair, you can benefit from these treatments.
It’s time to detangle our curly hair easily without breakage or damage.
Cheif Editor & Nail Technician Expert
Jess Rowley, a veteran nail tech, has been studying beauty over the last 11 years and has completed the nail technology program in California. Watching the latest trends in beauty, Jess searches for the highest quality products that make your nails feel loved.