Saturday, 29 June 2013

5 Reasons Your Natural Hair isn't designed for regular combing

Many of us can attest to our hair breaking one or two or more combs as we tried to force a comb through our knotted and dry kinky hair! Many of us probably grew up in cultures where our hair has to be combed daily, before we were allowed to step aside. Let's admit it, a Teeny Weeny Afro (TWA) does look funny when it's coiled up and not combed. While one can get away with combing afro hair that's less than 3 inches daily, without much damage, any hair that's longer than this length will require that you use your comb less often.

 I often have women tell me they'll rather relax their hair because it's easier to comb, and those with natural hair choose to wear wigs and hair extentions because they don't have to deal with combing their hair often. Not only is this statement very sad to hear and doesn't make sense, it's also very appalling! Curly hair isn't designed for a comb, neither are combs designed for curly hair (at least in my opinion).

I've listed below, 5 reasons why your Afro hair shouldn't be combed often 

1.  Since our hair isn't straight, it doesn't need to be combed everyday in order to main its aesthetics. Curly and coily hair is happy being coiled up and so it has the tendency to coil back up and sometimes intertwine with each other right after combing.

Natural Hair Types
Say you have 4b hair, each time you comb your hair, you're taking it through 8 DIFFERENT HAIR TEXTURES, and then with time, it eventually goes in the reverse direction and returns to it's original 4B texture. So in total, your hair goes through 16 stages every time you comb it!

2. From the analogy given above, it's very clear that regular hair-combing will result in mechanical damage, which can be an impediment to healthy long hair. Since our hair has the tendency to coil up with each other, combing the hair will forcefully separate and break up coiled hair strands. This forceful separation will lead to hair breakage and split ends. So while you may think you're taking good care of your hair by combing it, you're actually doing the opposite by killing it.
3. Since every curly hair has the tendency to curl back up, combing it would be a waste of time. Unless you intend to wear your hair in a particular style which requires your hair to be perfectly combed out, combing it would be unnecessary.
4. Combing Afro hair can be painful, particularly if combed dry, which most people tend to do! Even if the hair is combed the proper way, which is hair wet and saturated with a slippery conditioner and oil, and then combed from the tips/ends to the roots; combing our hair can still be uncomfortable. I have a sensitive scalp, so any tugging and pulling can be very painful.
5. Combing Afro hair takes time! As you may know by now, your hair can't be combed the same way you would comb a weave or any other straight hair. Based on a previous post I wrote on my blog on Natural hair combing, I listed 5 steps that must be followed to effectively comb Afro hair. So unless your hair absolutely must be combed for a particular style, you can skip this step and move on to styling.

In conclusion, Afro hair likes to be KINKY!  Our hair is happy and relaxed, when it's coiled up. So temporarily disrupting the coil pattern in our hair will result in unhappy and tensed tresses.
Remember, our hair is unique and must be treated as such. The exotic texture of our hair requires foreign and sometimes uncommon hair practices which might not make sense! 

So, how often should you comb your hair? 
I'll recommend just once a month, and that's if you absolutely must! I've gone months without even TOUCHING a comb.

How do I comb my hair without using a comb?
You can do finger detangling, which won't be as painful and damaging as regular combing. You can read my previous post or look up YT videos to learn how to achieve this.

If you are still not convinced, I recommend you watch this YouTube video by Glamfun.

Do you still think your hair will be difficult to manage because you can't glide a comb through it? How often do you comb your hair?

The Mane Captain


  1. wow! I have been schooled.

  2. All this is so true. My hair is very soft (yay), but also very stubbornly, happily coily (not so yay), and I find it quite frustrating to manage, even though it's still relatively short (more than three inches though).

    I used to comb my hair every day, and then I switched to every other day, but I know the amount of hair I lose with each combing, so I'm on a mission to comb less. I'm still quite new to natural hair so my plan is to plait the hair in big cornrows (no extensions), keep it that way for two weeks at a time, and wear wigs or scarves to go out... It's the only way I can think of to manage it with less combing, at least for a while.

  3. I'm all wrong girl I combed my hair every week dry just to see the growth. ....hmm it grew alright then wondered where my big hair went ..... Thank u I won't be combing

  4. THank you. I'm on day 4 of no combing and I must say I see new curls I've never seen before. I agree there is no reason to comb curly hair. THANK U

  5. I don't get it... it must be an age thing. I'm 50. I comb my afro everyday its not in a protective style. My fro is huge, Betty Wright / Angela Davis size. I'm a 4C. If I can comb / plait my hair at night and pick it out in the morning for my 'fro just like my older siblings did in the 1970s. I don't see why young people can't do this today. And no, I do not have handful of shedding when I comb every night. I see these young ladies walking around with their 4C afros in knotty messes looking like birds have been picking through and just shake my head. Personally I think its unattractive and looks lazy. But again, I guess this is generation gap.. to each her own.. I keep my opinion to myself when I see I. I part with my fingers, mist lightly with water and comb from the bottom up, then plait it. It takes no longer than it took when my hair was relaxed and I rolled it at night. In the morning I unplait, put moisturizer on, pick with my afro pick and pat down with a satin scarf. Easy... again I'm thick, kinky, 4C. I never have knots or tangles because I comb every day. Video lady hair looks unkemp to me... but again, to each her own...

    1. Thanks anonymous for your comment. First let me congratulate you on being able to easily comb your hair every single day, as this is something many ladies will natural hair would give anything to be able to do. Some cannot even pass a comb through their hair.

      My disagreement with your statement is that you seem to think everyone with 4c hair would have the same type, density, and circumferential thickness of hair. Everyone's hair is different, and therefor subject to their own uniqie hair journey. There are some ladies who would use comb, and all their ends would be on the floor, that is after combing for 2 hours. You use your own hair experience to judge others, and that is very inaccurate.

      I did not write this article, but I, for one, have never combed my hair in 2 years, and I don't go about looking like a mad woman.

      Anyway, thanks for your comment. It was great learning something from naturals in the previous generation, and how you combed your hair every single day.

    2. You have to know how to do it and that is one of the things I find lacking on a lot of these natural hair sites and you tube videos, instructing this generation on how to comb hair that some would think can't be combed. Think back to the late 60s and 70s, some how folks managed to comb their afros. It can be done and without hair lost. Tip 1, the spray bottle for misting first is your friend. Tip 2, part lots of sections with your fingers Tip 3, start at the bottom and slowly work up with a wide tooth comb Tip 4, twist or plait section when its complete. The first time will be difficult, especially if you've not comb in 2 years, but once you get all of those knots undone and follow this process every night it will get easier and easier. I know of what I speak because even though I say my hair is 4C, there really is no classification for it. Its natural state is to loc on itself. I don't have to twist and use beeswax, my hair naturally locs every time its washed. It will also start to loc if I go more than 3 days without combing and if I wear box braid extensions for more than 4 weeks. Thus I had to learn when I was a child how to keep it from locing. I didn't get my first relaxer until I was 23 due to my parents wishes. I think a lot of people never got a chance to learn how to deal with this hair type before they were relaxed and now that they've gone natural they need to learn. There are options, it doesn't have to look like the cat has been pulling in it all night long while you were sleeping unless that is your fashion statement and want it to look that way. I know for some it is exactly what they want, but there are others that just don't know what else to do.

    3. Thanks very much. Your comment is very long, but very helpful. I am sure many naturals would learn from this.

      As an aside, even though I haven't combed in 2 years, my hair is not knotted up, as you assumed. I properly detangle every two week, before washing and twisting. There's actually no difference between my hair and one that hasn't been combed, cos I finger comb and detangle thoroughly.

    4. This comment is soo helpful thank you:D

    5. Some things are generational. To me it's not unattractive or a knotty mess. It's the way their hair was created to be. That way of thinking was just another tactic of this world to keep black people down and feeling bad about how God made them. Embrace who you are.

  6. LOVE the commentary. It's nice to see someone from older generations give her own take on the topic. I comb my hair whenever I wash - finger detangling takes too long for me, so I just can't be bothered with it. But then again, I see great results from people who finger detangle, so I can't knock it.

  7. In all honesty, when I stop letting others do my hair and started taking care of my hair, Ive seen a difference! I only comb my hair once a month and braid or twist it after. An every month i take it out, i see so much growth. Ill wash it, get the split ends trimmed, put some olive moisturizer in it, and start the process over again. Right now my hair is 3 inches over my shoulders and if I keep going, i estimate the next 3years, it'll be to the middle of my back. Plus i have extremely thick roots. But the less combing, the better for me. If i do comb, i sometimes use the finger method, or a wide tooth comb.
    Everybody's hair takes to things differently, you just got find out what your hair likes.

  8. We africans living in Africa. .we plait our hair when natural.. and the advantage even though thats not the reason we plait that it grows faster when plaited... but the obvious is that u dont have the luxury or opportunity to comb your kinky or afros when u are on a corn row..u Westerners call it corn row but we call it " weaving" . When my hair is lossen..all rhe times I comb ..I feel sad to keep seeing my precious hair left over in the tooth of the comb and balls of hair all over the floor.. well after a week or more I have gone to make my hair..I made a dread.. by attaching the already made dread weaves on my twist with a thread. This style last for 6 months. . And u can wash ur hair even with the fixed weave. U can also fix any straight or whatever weavon on it.when ever you deem fit. My style is treated like u are on a natural dread lock. Yea... afro..kinky hair rocks. Proud of my heritage. .. amma keep.. keep... my natural hair for life.

  9. I've been natural for 15 years. I cut my locks in 2009 amd have been happily combing ever since. Well until I delivered my baby. I normally wet my hair then apply conditioner which has given me the hydration I need to keep my hair healthy and beautiful. I get compiments everyday. However my hair seems to be doing something different and combing 3 times a week isn't working so much anymore because my hair breaks off. I don't know if its hormones regulating themselves (or me having skipped my protein treatment for many months), but now that I comb about once a week, things are better. Do what fits you! AND even that routine will change. Cheers to keeping it natural!

  10. Thank you for this article. Not combing my hair makes beautiful natural dreadlocks. Wash and go and separate when needed. I love my hair its amazing!!!

  11. On my not combing my hair journey do I detangle my hair in the shower with a wide tooth comb

  12. As much as I love my hair ita so hrd work like I don't mind its jus I feel I don't have time for it lol, but I hardly comb my hair an when I do it's a night mare buuut my frindge goes down around my chin an back up to my eyes, I think my hair goes to my back an I'm between 3c and 4a an I'm a 25 year old male half Indian Mauritian and half black Jamaican (Y)


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