Maxine Harrison on the best detangling tools for afro hair
Afro hair is full of coils that need special care in order for them to be effectively detangled. So finding the right tools is key to maintaining these types of tresses.
Black hair textures are vastly diverse and range from curly to coily textures. Oprah’s stylist, Andre Walker, created The Hair
Chart in the 1990s, and it is now often used in the Black hair community to help identify different hair textures. The Hair Chart depicts hair textures from 1a-4c, with 1a being the straightest and 4c being the most coily, which leans more towards afro hair.
A 2021 study by TreasureTress found that Black British women in the UK spend £168m a year on hair products alone, indicating that hair is a key part of maintenance for this community.
With the rise of Black haircare brands over the past few years, there’s been an increasing number of hair tools better designed to care for afro hair. Along with more combs and brushes on the market, there has also been an increased focus on sustainable materials.
Our tester has herself struggled to find a plastic-free hair tool to style and detangle the edges of her hair. This led to the creation of her own hair brand, LaidLocs, which offers a bamboo edgestyling tool as a plastic-free hair tool solution.
How we tested
Each of the hair tools was tested on tangled afro hair. Before using the hair tool, we applied a moisturising product with an easy slip. This is a common method used for detangling afro hair, due to the lack of natural oil (sebum) that this hair texture has compared with straighter hair types. After testing 12 detangling hair tools, these are the six we found to be best for detangling afro-textured hair.
Healthy Hair Studio anti-static seamless comb £10.50, Healthy Hair Studio
This bamboo wide-toothed comb is snagless when detangling afro hair from root to tip, on both wet and dry hair. The thick and blunt wide teeth of the comb are designed to imitate finger detangling, while the smooth texture of the bamboo creates a seamless combing experience to reduce hair breakage. Together, these distinct features make it equipped to effectively sink into thick hair roots and detangle without tearing tresses.
Owned by a Black British-Nigerian woman and accredited trichologist, Enitan, the Healthy Hair Studio’s 100 per cent antistatic seamless comb also has its own touch of African culture with its Ankara print. Buy now
EZ detangler brush £13.50, Naturalistic Products
The EZ detangler is a great tool to use on a hair-wash day – straight after conditioning your hair, for example. The flexible bristles glide in the direction that you brush your hair – aiming to capture and dismantle any knots and tangles it encounters on the way.
If you’re not a fan of how flexibly the brush moves with your hair, the detangler also comes with a removable tool that restricts the flexibility of the bristles.
ReGrowz bamboo hair brush £7.99, ReGrowz
This bamboo hair brush is not only plastic-free and biodegradable, but the light bristles are incredibly flexible, making it better equipped to detangle afro hair. Flexible bristles on brushes are a key indicator that they can deal with the complex kinks and coil strands of afro hair, and this brush does exactly that.
The bamboo brush also helps create a fluffy, blow-out hairstyle look on afro hair, so it’s great for styling hair, too.
Purely Natural By Anastasia sandalwood long wide comb £30.00, Purely Natural By Anastasia
Owned by award-winning natural hairdresser Anastasia Chikezie, the sandalwood long wide comb is designed with an ergonomic handle, making it a comfortable tool to use while detangling your tresses.
These detangling sessions can be hard work for your hand, so the ergonomic handle on this tool makes it an easier experience. The longer length of the comb’s teeth also makes it quicker to detangle a larger section of long, thick hair.
Cantu sturdy detangling brush £8.00, Boots
The bristles of this Cantu sturdy detangling brush do a good job of detangling afro hair from the bottom of the hair upwards. What’s unique with this hair tool is the linear fashion in which the teeth are positioned. This makes it easier to remove hair and clean the brush when finishing with a detangling session.
This hair tool can also achieve that fluffy-style look when brushed throughout the hair.
Charlotte Mensah duafe wide tooth comb £40.00, Charlotte Mensah
Black British-Ghanaian hairstylist Charlotte Mensah has her own hair brand, which includes the duafe wide-tooth comb for detangling. Designed for thick, curly and afro hair types, the comb’s wide teeth make it a great tool for detangling afro hair and limiting unnecessary tugging.
Although the comb is handle-less, because of the large size of the tool and particularly wide teeth you don’t feel left like you’re desperately grasping for a place to hold the comb when detangling.
Overall, the best hair tool detangler for afro hair is Healthy Hair Studio’s seamless anti-static seamless comb. Not only is it affordable, but the unique positioning of the tool’s teeth make it a great way to detangle hair on a daily basis. The EZ detangler comes in as a close second because it’s perfect for detangling hair that is wet.
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