12 January 2011

Painless detangling: "roll" hair instead of brushing it

Amazon: Round styling brush Lisa tells a wonderful story about their hairbrushing-and-detangling breakthrough:

Our daughter is 7 now but really it’s been probably 3-4 years that we’ve battled with the hairbrush.  One of her priorities in life is to keep her straight hair long. Of course it needs to be brushed at least once a day which is no fun when dealing with rats at the top of a long head of hair.

We’ve tried spraying her hair to smooth out the mess combined with using a silky cap for overnight but there are still a few nests in there in the morning.  So my husband, who couldn’t find the regular brush one day, used my round styling brush.  And we were finished brushing faster than you can say “ouch mommy you are mean and cruel for torturing me like this!”  In fact most days now she doesn’t even notice that while she eats breakfast, I stand behind her and smooth out her hair to become luscious (did I really just use that word?).

Here’s what we do now - we roll her hair.  That is we don’t brush and pull, we roll the brush down her mane.  The first time I thought I was still asleep and dreaming. In no time her long locks become silk.  We don’t pull, we roll.

It might not work for every child (especially those with curly hair) but if you have a round styling brush, it's worth a try.  We will never go back to ordinary brushes because our mornings have become peaceful again.

WOW. As a survivor of painful, nightly hairbrushing when I was a kid, this sounds revolutionary. Would love to hear how this works for others.

More: Homemade detangler saves money and works just as well

Your comments

Feed Follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Alas, that is an implement of torture to a curly-haired kid!

Ohhhh...please let this work for my daughters hair! I can't wait to try!

I think it's a function of the soft bristles. We start off with a 'soft' natural bristle brush to get the worst of the knots out and follow with a stiffer brush. The best, best thing though is that we de-tangle her hair at night (while she 'reads' a book) and then she sleeps with her hair in a braid. It makes our mornings go SO much smoother.

My kids hate these brushes, we seem to end up with more tangles than we started with, so it must definitely depend on the child.

We do better with a large flat paddle brush, the larger the brush the easier it seems to be to get through the tangles quickly.

I've never had worse tangles than when I turned the round brush the wrong way and ended up with my long hair wrapped around it. Ouch!

Braid the hair before bed and tangles won't be there in the morning. Use a spray bottle with water and a comb if you want to get rid of the waves that show up.

My cousin got one of these stuck to her head once. I once attempted to use one...and very quickly realized my curly hair could not do this. I do have 2 with long straight hair, though. Our trick is leave in conditioner. The same stuff I use to keep my hair from frizzing out...I will rub a little through their still damp hair...I won't even brush it before bedtime most nights...in the morning they're fine. One has really THICK hair, one has really FINE hair...and seems to work for them both. I use Garnier Fructis...I don't know if they have different varieties for leave-in...and I'm not near enough to the bathroom to check. ;)

I'd like to re-iterate what Sheri Bheri said. As a kid my mother had a soft-bristle brush (not round). It was great to use it first to get out the big tangles, then a regular brush afterwards for the smaller ones.

Her soft-bristle brush was from the 70s, I haven't seen one since. :(

Just be careful...don't let your child use a round brush themselves. I once did this when I was younger. My long hair was wrapped around the brush and it was a pain to get out.

My kids have taken over my boar bristle brush - they whine and moan when I use any other brush on them. The natural brush seems to pull less, and doesn't feel as hard on the scalp. They're pricier (I paid about $20 for mine - Ambassador brand on Amazon), but it's well worth it!

My hair is also the fine, tangly type, and many years ago I discovered that brushing can be quick and painless by starting at the bottom and working up, (brush out the bottom third, then the middle third, then work down from the top) instead of trying to fight the tangles out top to bottom. I've taught my daughter the same technique, and we've had very little trouble with tangles.

Putting her hair into a ponytail for swimming lessons, though...!

We use a leave-in conditioner right after she gets out of th bathtub and then braid the hair. No tangles in the morning!


Listen, I have the same problem now that I had when I was 3. I have fine hair that no barrette can conquer and all brushes are potential enemies.

Don't miss this number one thing that my parents missed too!

Start brushing from the bottom of the tangle and gradually work your way up.

Below the tangle, really.

This was a great hack for us. My wife has begun doing it exactly as Lisa described with our two oldest girls. They all have straight dark hair, and for them it is has been magic.


I have wavy curly hair, as does my older sister and I'm so grateful to her for this tip - start detangling at the bottom and work your way up. I get my hair and my (3yo) daughter's hair brushed in like 2 minutes (and mine is long) with minimal whining from either of us :)

We close comments after a month to guard against spam. Want to talk about this hack? Join us on Twitter and Facebook!


Free updates

  • Subscribers are my VIPs. My weekly newsletter includes a personal update, the latest from Parent Hacks, interesting links and news.

    Subscribers also get priority event invitations and occasional surprises via snail mail.

Asha's Book

  • At Amazon: Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less

    Find out why doing less is the key to resourceful, thriving kids, and a calmer, happier YOU.

    Minimalist Parenting is an encouraging roadmap for decluttering your schedule, your home, and your vision for family life. Reviewers call it "a much welcome alternative to the usual parenting advice."

    Learn More at Amazon

    Also available at Barnes & Noble or your favorite local bookstore.

New Book Coming Soon!

  • Coming soon: Parent Hacks Book

Start Amazon shopping here