40 answers

I Need Help with My Daughter's Hair - Its Always Tangled and Matted!

I have a 2 1/2 year old who was blessed with lots of beautiful curly hair; however, there is a patch in the back that constantly gets incredibly tangled and matted. (I also have very think, unruly hair.) She HATES having it fooled with and whenever we try to get the tangles out she screams and throws herself around saying it hurts. My husband and I have tried just about every drugstore product available and we strategize together to be very gentle. So maybe we will luckily get all the tangles out one night after a lengthy ordeal but then the next day, after sleeping on her hair, it has returned just as bad. If we let it go too long the hair literally turns into a nest. And again it is only one patch in the back of her head that is really bad. And it really makes her unhappy to have it untangled. SO . . . any suggestions/tricks/products we could try? And again, we have tried all the 'detangle' products and such.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you everyone for your responses in helping me with my daughter's hair. The overall result was first and foremost that I need to make focussing on her hair a more nurturing activity so that she will develop a lifelong healthy relationship to her hair. I have incorporated more use of conditioner, I no longer comb in the bath but wait and set us up while she is drawing or into some activity and I have started braiding. So far I have had no more real tangle problems. She still gets a little finicky about it, but it is so much better. I will eventually look into some of the great products that were suggested as well. Thank you!

Featured Answers

I HAVE to ue conditioner on my 4 year old's hair. When she takes a bath I don't necessairly wash it every night unless it has something in it that needs to be washed. BUt I doo wet it and use conditioner in it. I let it go 3 or 4 days w/o shampoo. I also use leave in contitioner diluted with a little water to "do" her hair in the morning. Sometimes when she sleeps I braid it so we don't have many tangles. Good luck!

I have a child with the hair you described. What I found helpful was to use the detangling product and braid my daughters hair at night. It would prevent her from waking up with unmanageable hair.

Hope this helps.

H M.-

I found the leave-in conditioners worked the best for my daughter. The two that I liked the best are Infusium and Paul Mitchell.

Good Luck!

More Answers

I have ringlet curly hair, that if I don't wash it every day starts to "lock up" aka dreadlocks or matting depending on your point of view. Here are the tricks:

- ONLY comb or brush in the shower WITH conditioner in it... and there's no such thing as too much conditioner.

- DO NOT brush or comb again when you get out of the shower. Seaerate into the "essential" style you want while still in the shower, squeeze to ring out. Avoid using a towel or running fingers through hair.

- Use a product (more to follow). Products separate the curls and keep them IN curls instead of in tangles. The most expensive ones will actually let you run your fingers through after they're dry, but you're looking at $50 every week or two depending on your hair length. For $3 a week you get the same LOOK, just not the same feel.

- Use a LOT of product. Each and every single durn bit of hair needs to be saturated in whatever you use. The number one problem most curly haired people have is that they only use a dab. (The second is that they mess with their hair as it's drying. You just can't, and not have it become a lion's mane)

- If you're putting it up, or pinning back bangs, do it now... after you've got the product in... but be careful to grab the individual curls and just sort of pile into place.

- Don't mess with it. If you have to dry it, use a diffuser, or lowest setting of the hairdryer from a distance with a towel held behind the hair so that the hair isn't blowing around. Dry it AFTER the product goes into it. Air dry is fantastic for curly hair. A diffuser essentially replicates air drying.

- Most Caucasian curly hair can't be slept on and look okay in the morning. If you DO have to sleep on it, use a "do-rag"... essentially a stocking cap... with the hair ALL piled in under it. You can make your own out of a pair of nylons and scissors, or spend a buck at a beauty store.

- Learn how to blow it out straight. If you blow it out straight, you can go several days without washing it... but if it gets wet or damp... it'll get poofy/tangly/curls right back up again.

Products, uses, and prices:


$3 ... Garnier Fructis Curls Mousse. (For ear length hair, use about the size of a walnut, for shoulder length a tangerine, longer than shoulder a naval orange). Scrunch the mousse into the hair. Seperate a few curls out by twisting them around your fingers. Air dry or diffuse. Drys quickly. If any feels "crunchy", AFTER it's dry just scrunch it up and the crunch goes away but the curls are still crisp and shiny, unlike other mousses I've tried... where they're either crunchy and icky no matter what, or the crunch goes and the curl turns into a bushy/frizzy mess

$25 + $25 ... Bumble and Bumble "Get Straight" gel and "Grooming Creme". For short hair about the size of a big gumball for gel, and half that for creme. For longer about a walnut + gumball. Use the gel first. It will make your hair feel REALLY slippery (as opposed to most gels that make your hair stiff or sticky like LA Looks). Scrunch through or comb through with fingers and separate out curls. Scrunch/smooth in styling creme. ((This is the expensive combo that holds the curl, but lets you run your fingers through it *after* it's dry. You can also BRUSH it into a ponytail ... which you just can't do with most gels... to get soft curls around your face after it's dried)). Takes a LITTLE bit longer to air dry than the mouse.

$25 + $35 ... Laminates Gel & Bumble's "Get Staight" or other salon quality gel. This combo works, too... but the laminates you're "cutting" with the weaker gel. Laminates builds up and the hair gets kind of oily, yucky if you use too much (maybe a nickel size can even be too much). It's a popular combo, because the laminates lasts for so long, but not my favorite because of the long term effects.

$3 Cheat ... (works on babyfine, SHORT hair, with weak curl pattern/wave only... AKA my son's hair) Johnson and Johnson "No More Tangles". Saturate. And I mean SATURATE. Comb. Air or blowdry.

Blown Out Straight:

- Blowdryer with a LOT of airflow & heat
- Straightening iron... no wider than 3/4" even if you have hip length hair, and 1/2" is better (the smaller iron lets you get close to the roots). Set it at a minimum of 400 degrees. Make sure you're using one with rounded edges/ beveled heat plate.
- Round boar bristle brush.
- Flat brush (if you have longer hair cuts the time in half, but it's difficult to describe so I'm not going to here)


- $35 Kerastase Oleo Relax Serum (lasts for months, smells spicy) or
- $25 Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum (lasts about half as long as Kerastase, smells like watermelon)
+ optional (Kerastase Nacre Nutri-Sculpt, or other pomade)

How To:

- Wash, condition, towel dry, brush out.

- Add serum (just a few pumps. 2 or 3 pumps for short hair... so a dime size or less, maybe one pump for super short hair - I use 4-5 but I have longer hair)... pump into your hands, rub, rub through hair like crazy, trying to get everything). Brush out again.

- Separate hair into 3 sections (top, middle, bottom). Use a hairtie to keep top sections piled on top of head, let bottom section hang.

- Using a round brush, wrap hair around brush and pull straight. keeping the tension on the hair dry that segment with hair dryer. If you keep the tension as you're drying, the hair dries straight.

- Move on to the next piece. The smaller the segments of hair you're drying the straighter they'll be in less time. I usually dry about an inchto 2 inch wide piece at a time.

- When you've got the entire bottom section dry and straight, use the straightening iron from roots to ends to get it REALLY straight and glossy. You can curl the ends in either direction or keep a straight line depending on how you twist the iron as you come to the end of the hair.

- Using a hairtie, make a pony tail out of the dry only straight hair.

- Let down the middle section, and repeat. Drying segment by segment, flat iron, put into the "dry pony tail".

- Do the top segment & bangs.

- Take a teensy bit of pomade and rub in your hands until your hands are shiny. Run your hands and fingers through your hair.

The longer curly hair is, the easier it is to manage, although it takes longer to dry. Short curly hair tends to look like a Q-tip that's been rubbed the wrong way. Big. Poofy. Tangeldy. With the RIGHT cut, and a lot of product, short curly hair is super cute... but that cut is VITAL. The wrong cut for curls just ends up making us look like clowns. So it's definately safer to go longer, even if it takes a little more time to dry. Also, you have to go boy-short to avoid tangles, if you're trying to cut tangles out.

2 moms found this helpful

I don't use 'detangling' products on my girl's hair, because I found they don't work... they are mostly 'spray' type things.

What I found that works is these brands:
1) Garnier Fructis 'length & strength' weightless anti-split ends treatment.

2) TIGI "Bed Head After Party"

Both these products are Leave-in "creams" that keep hair moisturized and "smooth/silky" and it does get out split ends and tangles. I apply it to the ends of my daughter's hair, wet or dry.... just a little squirt or as much as you need. AND it is NOT "greasy" or "wet" feeling. It literally just feels silky and makes the hair nice and healthy looking.
I use it for my hair too.

The thing is, "split ends" or dry ends just makes tangles WORSE. So, you have to trim the split-ends off, and keep the ends moisturized.

THEN, you need to get a detangling COMB. I got mine from Long's... Just from the regular hair accessories section. Or look online for it. It is the "Goody" brand. Other brands make them too.
Use this Comb first... NOT A BRUSH to get out the tangles. THEN, once the tangles are out, you can use a brush.

These are the things I do with my daughter's hair. She has FINE hair that tangles up in the back/mats up too... and this is the ONLY method that helps her hair. AND has cut down on her "screaming" when I used to try and get out her tangles.

All the best,

1 mom found this helpful

if you can find one- get her a satin pillow case. her hair will slip instead of stick making less tangles in the morning. i know it is an old lady trick but it does work. also if you can help it don't let her go to sleep with wet hair. it is a great idea to use a wide tooth comb and only comb it in the bath with lots of conditioner in it, after rinsing it out try not to comb it too much more like others have said. she is 2 i am not so sure about styling products yet but Paul Mitchel does have great kids stuff i used on my little ones to wash their hair. no need to cut it until she asks.

i also have curly hair and i asked to have mine cut when i was 7 i didn't want to have to comb it anymore. my mother was devastated but i was liberated!

1 mom found this helpful

I don't if she will stand for it, but what worked for me was to French braid my child's hair before bed after all the knots are out. Then send her to bed. She always has the braid in the morning and no knots (or is she did have knots only VERY little ones...). Another fix my mother in law taught me was rag curlers. You do the child's hair in curlers and send her to bed. Again no knots because the hair isn't free to knot!

My daughter is 5 now and has never had a haircut. Her hair is not thick, but it is long and gets very very tangly. Our salvation has been using WEN as her shampoo (I already use it for my hair, so it made sense to try it out on her)and tying it up at night.

WEN is a specialty shampoo that is really a cleansing conditioner. It cleans her hair very gently and really does a lot for helping it to be more manageable, and have less tangles. We use it to wash her hair, and it combs out very easily afterwards.

Then, every night before she goes to sleep, I put her hair up somehow. Usually, a bun or a loose braid at the base of her neck. This keeps it from getting all tangled up while she sleeps and rolls around. In the morning, it's very easy to undo the bun or braid and then brush it out. She may have a few snags around her crown, but because of the WEN, they're much less difficult to work out, and usually very small in size.

If your daughter's hair is too short to tie it up at night, try a sleep cap. They have them at Sally's Beauty Supply for pretty cheap. They basically keep the hair from getting matted while they sleep by allowing the hair to slide around inside, or by keeping it in one position.

You need to keep her hair braided and moisturized! Just 4 Me has detanglers and Soft Sheen has a daily moisturizer that should really help with your tangling issue. Again...keep her hair braided. It will make your life and hers soooooooooooo much easier!

I have 4 daughters, one way that I found to limit the tangles was to put their hair in a high pony tail at night or when taking a nap. Since the Ponytail is high it doesn't hurt their heads when sleeping.

Busy Busy Mom

Hi M.,

I used to have the same issue with my hair getting all tangled. I tried all the products there were on the market. A friend suggested using olive oil. Just dab a little on the tangle and work it into the hair with your fingers, let it set for a few minutes, and then comb the tangle out. The oil is good for hair and washes out easily. Hope this helps.

Good luck!

A friend of mine braids her daughters hair every night before bed to prevent tangles the next day. Also, what I've found works better than any store bought detangler is mixing about 1/4 of conditioner in a spray bottle with 3/4 water. You can use more conditioner to suit your needs and I just use those huge, inexpensive bottles of Suave. It makes the hair quite slick (in addition to the walls and floors) but it's better than my daughter crying. btw, my daughter is bi-racial with curly but not super thick hair.

First, the shorter her hair is, the less its going to tangle, so keeping it short will help.
Buy a baby doll with hair and a little brush, make it a game, play beauty shop, she brushes the dolls hair while you brush her's. Also encourage her to brush her own hair if possible, I know she wont be able to get many tangles our herself but it still might help.
You could also try putting her hair in a ponytail while she sleeps or maybe even having her wear a thin hat to bed to help minimize the tangles.
Hope this helps, good luck!

Wash it at night and use conditioner.. heavily. Brush or comb out all the tangles after using a leave on spray conditioner. After you brush the tangles out put her hair up in a bun before she goes to bed.. less the chance of getting more knots if her hair is up. My daughter has very long thick hair I do this everynight and in the morning it is sooo easy to take care of because there isn't any knots. She wears her hair up in a ponytail to school because if she goes out in the rain or the wind for more than 5 minutes her hair is all knots and it drives me nuts... another thing you can do as far as getting the knots out is keep wetting the comb and place your had firmly on her head then use the comb it will take alot of pressure off her scalp and it wont hurt so bad to get the knots out.

I like Biosilk silk therapy. Its a leave in product, it is kinda pricey but it lasts forever! Just put a SMALL amount on you hands, rub together and then run your fingers threw her hair. Brush it first while its wet with conditioner on it in that tub. This will HELP alot, and also a bandana around her head at night and a silk pillow case will help! Good luck.

Their is a product called mixed chicks great for detangling not that your child has to be mixed but it works great on really tightly curled hair and the other thing is that type of texter of hair is best kept braided. My daughter has those spring board curls also, it maintains much better after I come it out and braid it up. Hopes it helps

I had the same problem with my own hair. Try to find a silk or satin pillowcase. Doesn't solve it 100%, but it's a LOT better.
Good luck!

well I have extremely thick and curly hair myself and my mom had a hec of time dealing with it when i was little, so in 4th grade she had enough of it and cut it off, gave me a cute pixie cut, which we kept up until high school when I took over my own hair care, and never bothered her again.
I don't necessarily recommend chopping off all the hair though it is one option. My daughter (now almost 5) used to hate it when I would brush her hair.we find all the tangles, we call them "puppies" and we have to find all the puppies and take them to the pound. We count all the tangles. We use adult conditioner in the shower/bath panteen smooth and sleek and spray with infusion 23 after the bath. Then every night she gets braids, either one long one or pig tails. In the morning brushing her hair is so easy. The baby stuff doesn't always work. If I leave my hair alone, it goes into dread locks, so I also braid up my hair at night. I use a detangler/leave in conditioner, anti-friz serum, and a product called secret weapon.
Good luck. :)

I also have a 2 1/2 yr old blessed with the same beautiful curly hair from top to bottom. i know this post is old and your 2 yr old is much older so i was hoping maybe you found something that actually worked because i myself have tried every detangler out there and nothing works and you are right its the same back matted piece that constantly gets tangled and i have literally tried everything nothing will work so if you ever did find anything please write me back!!! thank you

Hello M.,
I manufacture a hair product that is designed to eliminate the static electricity from the hair. Static electricity is what causes the hair to tangle. I would love for you to try my product. The cost for an 8oz.bottle is $5.00.
I sell my products in beauty salons throughout the L.A. metropolitan area.
I believe I can help.

H M.-

I found the leave-in conditioners worked the best for my daughter. The two that I liked the best are Infusium and Paul Mitchell.

Good Luck!

I have the same problem with my own hair. I find combing it out while still in the shower with the conditioner in works the best. Then rinse it out and your set!

I have a child with the hair you described. What I found helpful was to use the detangling product and braid my daughters hair at night. It would prevent her from waking up with unmanageable hair.

Hope this helps.

My daughter hair is very curly as well. i use a leave in conditoner once i comb her hair out and it helps. i also put her hair in a braidr b4 she goes to sleep and it cuts down on the tangles. i also start to comb her hair out from the tips up and it seems to help untangle it better.

well patience is a virtue. we call ourselves the hair family so we feel your pain - literally. your child may not be old enough but let's pretend she's 5. remember how she pitched a fit about having her teeth brushed. but you won't let her get cavities and rotten teeth will you. so you do it anyway. remember how she pitched a fit about having her diaper changed because she's being potty trained? well you won't let her go around in a poopy diaper all day and she will eventually learn to use the toilet. remember when she was a baby and you started reading to her early because that's how she'll learn to be a life long lover of books but she didn't want to sit on your lap and squirmed and tried to escape but you read to her anyway because it's the right thing to do.

hair is that way!

my mom did nothing with my hair and i was the only white girl in georgia with a huge afro. don't do it to your kid! spray a ton of detangler on it. plop her in front of the tv or with a book or a handheld game or whatever you do to distract a 2 1/2 year old, and using your fingers (maybe even a little conditioner) you start "combing" it. call it beauty parlor or barber shop or whatever. but it MUST be done.

my daughter and son both looked like shirley temple but with 10 x the amount of hair. now at age 10 i finally took her into a grown up salon to have her hair layered and thinned out and she looks terrific. stay on it. keep her loving her hair. it's really part of your identity. good luck.

My girls have long curly hair too. You need at least three things. Lots of conditioner (after the shower/bath), comfortable wide combs (experiment until you find what you need, I found a wide one for coming tangles out, and a thin one for styling at Sally's), and (here's where most rookies blow it) DISTRACTION. I use tivo to put on happily ever after, between the lions, schoolhouse rock, etc (I like my distractions to educate & entertain).
Comb (don't brush) hair WET, applying a small handful of extra conditioner (I like dove or suave) first (don't use too much, you're going to leave it in the hair). Start from the bottom, comb through working your way up to the scalp.
You will be amazed at how fast she settles down if dragon tails is on.
VERY IMPORTANT: Braid hair before bed and have her sleep in a satin cap or wig cap.
Good luck! Be brave! Distract!

This won't eliminate tangled hair altogether, but maybe this at least will make it so that her detangled hair can last a bit longer. Change her pillowcase to a satin one. When I got hair extensions, the stylist said that it would reduce breakage and matting.

Good luck!

Put conditioner in it and comb it through in the bath. You pretty much have to do this every day. I have the same hair and so does my daughter. Check out the book "Curly Girl" for lots of other good ideas.

Redkin makes a product called butter cream that you can get at Ulta or a beauty supply. I use it on my hair (I have really curly unruly hair). I have also used it on my sons hair to help with the mats that he gets in the back of his hair too (he was blessed with the curls as well). This product makes it really easy to run a brush or even a comb through. He never fights me when I use it. Good luck.

I HAVE to ue conditioner on my 4 year old's hair. When she takes a bath I don't necessairly wash it every night unless it has something in it that needs to be washed. BUt I doo wet it and use conditioner in it. I let it go 3 or 4 days w/o shampoo. I also use leave in contitioner diluted with a little water to "do" her hair in the morning. Sometimes when she sleeps I braid it so we don't have many tangles. Good luck!

There is a spray by Paul Mitchell kids line called "Taming Spray" that is in a white and yellow bottle. It works really well. My only other suggestion would be to maybe have your hairstylist give your daughter a trim with thinning shears and that way it won't get so tangled.

Best of luck.

sounds like youre talking about my daughter.. funny... what I found works is to use treseme conditioner.. LOTS of it... and then keep it braided... it REALLY helps...

My 3 y.o still has her baby curls (I haven't cut it yet) but they are long and also get matted together. I only brush it wet, with LOTS of detangler spray while she watches her favorite show with a popsicle. I don't hear a peep AND her hair gets brushed. You could try this and maybe a braid to keep it untangled through the night? Then when you let it out, hit it up with a little detangler and voila... curls!

My hair also tangles quite easily, and can be a bear to work through after a full night's sleep. I discovered that using a leave in conditioner after washing my hair makes it more manageable and I get far less tangles. I usually use the spray in kind. My favorite at this point is the Giovanni leave in conditioner which can be purchased from most health food stores.

M. It would help to know your ethnic background in terms of suggesting products, but since I don't I will mention a couple that work for me.

Creme of Nature shampoo - leaves hair soft and tangle free
"Hair" - conditioner that also really detangles hair
Infusium leave-in conditioner - is also good for combing out hair.

These products can be found in beauty supply stores that cater to afro american customers. You can find one in the Carson Mall (avalon and Del Amo blvd.)

Hair care:
If your daughter's hair is long enough I would consider washing with these products, combing through it with the conditioner in, use the leave-in conditioner last and add a tinge of olive oil (for hair also at beauty supply) to keep the hair from drying out when as it dries. I would part her hair down the middle and make two braids and place a rubber band (not rubber, use the small scruchie kind to avoid breakage.

It's not a good idea to leave her hair out while sleeping. She is probably sweating and lying on her back causing the matting in that area. Try the braids. You can use a blow dryer on low heat once the hair is braided to get excess water out so she doesn't get sick.

The key is to comb it out with a leave-in conditioner and a little oil applied to the hair.

Best of luck

I know this sounds like a ridiculous gadget, but it works. It's called The Detangler (made by Remington) and you can find it on Overstock.com and other websites. It's got these vibrating comb teeth that actually work! My daughter found the vibrating feature to be funny and would let me use it with little protest. If you do it slowly (follow the suggested directions they include), you will have success. We were given it as a gift when she was 4 years old and now, five years later, we still use it every day!

I have two year old son and his hair get tangled easy because he has really curly long hair. Like you I have tried everything, but the one thing I started using that works great is hair conditioner, this is the cheaper alternative. I don't comb his hair out unless its wet, which makes it much easier. Sounds like your daughter has curly hair, so there is a product at the beauty supply store (not sallys) called mix chix. They have a thick leave in conditoner that keeps the hair moisturized and smooth.
I have also learned that the baby shampoos/body washes dries his hair, so I use adult shampoos/conditioner.
Lastly put her hair in a pony tail at night so that it doesn't get so matted and tangled.

Please don't cut the hair!!! Mix 1 part your fav conditioner 3 parts water in a spray bottle use after bath and then braid while the tangles are all out if you can do a french braid if not pig tails low on the side below the ears with cotton scrunchies not any type of rubberband or even covered rubber band think the fabric cute covered ones. then give a brush through in the morning and try to keep it pulledup. Show her pictures of other lil girls with their hair pulled up let her pick out some hair stuff at the dollar store (don't spend a fortune she is going to loose them!) Make her hair a part of your routine and she will get used to it set her in front of a mirror and let her style one of those barbie heads and use barrets and stuff. I used to let my DD do my hair when I was done with hers! it works but you have to do it when she gets up and again if it is real messy during the day and try to prevent it at night.

put her hair in 1 or 2 braids at night or put it in a low pony tail with a cloth hair ties (not rubber bands) and that should help. also it may help to comb through her hair and do this when her hair is wet. i hope this helps

I don't think my daughters hair is this bad, but she still hates it and it isn't any fun at all. Lots of conditioner helps. Leave in conditioners work really well too.

We don't buy detangler stuff anymore. We just mix a little conditioner with water and spray that on. It works so much better.

We usually put my daughters long hair into a braid or a bun at night to keep it from getting all tangled. Maybe that (if it's long enough) or a hair wrap or a hair net over your daughters hair while she's sleeping would help too.

Good luck!

Oh... girl and hair... issues start so early don't they ? ;) Try using a little conditioner after the shampoo and brushing it in the shower. I have curly hair and brushing it when dry is much harder and makes the hair just "big". I used to be called a "lion" when a kid. When dry - skip the detangler and used a moisturizing leave in conditioner or silk infusion and use your fingers instead of a brush. If she has long hair cut it in long layers. There - maybe your little girl can have a childhood of enjoying curly hair. ;) BTW, my little girl has straight hair and hates brushing her hair too - so i brush during shower too! No more tears!

I see you have lots of responses, but didn't see any specific products for this problem. My daughter is 4 and we still have never cut her crazy frizzy curls. We only wash it every other day, but when we do we put a ton of conditioner in it and comb it with a wide tooth comb, holding at the roots as we pick at the tangles.
Our favorite product is Circle of Friends


We tried the detangler, but ended up sticking with the Raspberry Conditioner and the Leave-in Papaya. We order it online and also buy it at Ulta.

WE haven't tried this yet, but I have been dying to!


Another site to check out is:


I found with the tangles in my daughters hair that putting them in the bath/shower and brushing/combing the hair while the conditioner is in and it is wet makes it real easy.

Good luck,

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