Finger Detangling Vs Protective Styling For Natural Hair Length Retention

We will be taking Jasmine to Disneyland Paris in September, just over a week before she starts school. When we attended the school open day earlier in the summer Jasi was in a bad mood so she decided that she hated school and refused to play with the other kids. Sigh. I’m really hoping that her tantrum was just a one off and she doesn’t make a scene on her first day.

Anyway, on to hair. For the past 7 weeks (before I started the protective styling challenge) I was exclusively finger detangling mine and Jasmine’s hair. I made that decision primarily because I have not protective styled in this first half of this year and having stretched my hair I noticed that I am still firmly at waist length.

Ever since I hit mid back length last year and got stuck there for a bit longer that I imagined I would, I realized that I don’t retain length particularly well without protective styling. The closest I’ve got to protective styling in the first half of 2013 is the 2 week braids earlier this year which for obvious reasons don’t really count. I figured that finger detangling instead of comb detangling like I have always done would offset the fact that I was no longer protective styling.

So I have not been using a comb, brush or any other hair tool at all in the last 7 weeks. I have used just my fingers to apply product, detangle and style. Here are my thoughts on finger detangling:

1.You lose very little hair to breakage. I mean ridiculously little. On the low end I would lose on the amount in the picture below:

Hair loss from finger detangling 1

And even at the high end shown below, it was still easily less than a quarter of the average amount of hair I lose.

Hair loss from finger detangling 2

2. Finger detangling is very very very time consuming depending on the length of your hair. When finger detangling Jasmine’s hair it took probably half an hour total and since it gave her extra time playing with her ducks in the bath, she didn’t mind. For me, I clearly remember it taking between 3 to 3.5 hours which was exhausting.

3. It is very difficult to remove all your shed hair without a comb unless you have 5 hours spare every weekend. Which leads on to the following point.

4. You will undoubtedly see an increase in regular knots and single strand knots. This is of course as a result of not removing all the shed hair. The sheds get caught with other strands and because of their curliness they don’t just fall out, they decide to set up permanent camp while hugging their neighbors tightly. Not great.

It reached a point where I was taking my hair scissors to the bathroom with me on wash day because I knew there would be knots to cut off. I would also find knots at random times during the week which would also need to be chopped off.

Finger detangling vs protective styling

It’s difficult to say if the breakage you save by finger detangling really offsets the knots you are going to have to cut off as a result of it. For an accurate comparison one would really have to finger detangle for at least 6 months and compare it to comb detangling for the same period of time on the same head of hair. Something I am not prepared to do at the moment.

Truthfully though, when compared to protective styling, I think that finger detangling still comes up short. Bottom line is that you are still losing a bit of hair to breakage weekly and combine that with the knots that you will have to cut off, you could wind up with long hair but pretty ravaged see-through ends.

I do think that there are certain situations where finger detangling makes perfect sense. When your hair is shorter, possibly BSL and shorter. Finger detangling won’t take that long and you are not likely to get that many knots either.

Also with looser textures, 3c and looser, you likely won’t get as much tangling between your curls to cause you too many problems so if you feel that you benefit from exclusively finger detangling then carry on!

All things considered however, I much prefer to protective style for length retention but to be able to detangle my hair in 40 minutes with a wide tooth comb when I wear it out. It’s faster and fits in better with my busy lifestyle.

Finger detangling is better used as an addition to a healthy hair reggie along with protective styling not instead of it. In my opinion finger detangling as your only length retention tool is probably not the best plan. It’s along the same lines as trying to outgrow your breakage by taking extra hair vitamins to grow your hair faster. Simply not likely to work long term!

I would rather go with the tried and true method of protective styling! I have been wearing mini braids for the past two weeks. Here’s how I’ve been wearing them.

Mini braids 2013

Until next week ladies!

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  • Petra

    Well prepare yourself Chica, first day of school can be challenging for the little ones, everything is so new …sigh she will get used to it though, pretty soon she will be running in there!!!

    I must say that i have been using a wide tooth comb myself along with finger detangling… My fingers are unable to get rid of all the tangles my hair has.. so from now on I have to use the comb!

    • I know hun. Can’t say I’m looking forward to it but keeping my fingers crossed. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my hair for Disneyland week. Hmmm

  • Tazzi

    Did you mean breakage or shedding?

    • I meant breakage. Shedding is never that big of an issue for me.

  • Frankie

    How did you keep your braids from coming undone?

    • When you have kinky hair they just don’t come undone 😉