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!

1 / 3
Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.