When I had just transitioned from relaxed hair to natural, I had never really paid attention to what was different about the tools I was using. Hair is hair, right? And a comb is a comb, so I figured the combs I already had would be perrrrrfect for my newly textured mane. That was a dumb decision. Fundamentally, the change in texture meant this was a whole new head, a whole new experience which I had to exchange everything for.
So what’s the big deal?
Well, looking at relaxed hair, the “easier” hair type, we can use basically any kind of cob and be good to go. But to have that extra neat flat ‘not a hair out of place’ look, you used that tiny tail comb; one that looked a little like this:
Anyone who has natural hair can imagine what kind of torture it would be to try to pass that through a shaft of hair without at least blow drying it first. I broke 2 combs in my season of foolishness, and probably lost about 2 handfuls of hair in breakage.
Before I realized I could even detangle my hair much easier with just my fingers, I found out that wide tooth combs were a thing and they were a very REAL thing for someone like me. Turns out there are a lot of different combs that naturals need for different reasons that will leave your mane looking and feeling fresher than mint chocolate chip ice cream. Worry not; I’ll leave you the list later in this post.
Now for some, the radical solution would be to eliminate the comb completely and if that’s your decision, kudos to you! But I understand many women would not feel comfortable without some definite source of order in their lives.
Let me submit this to you; your hair thrives from the minimal manipulation you give it. This means you would be hurting, not helping your hair by combing it every day, or even changing the style every day. This is why you notice your hair grows a lot faster when you have braids put in. It’s not the tightness of the braid that forces your hair to grow! It’s the fact that you left it alone that does. So take a deep breath in and exhale that skewed image of perfection. It’s not expected everyday and that’s okay.
Here are the different kinds of combs and brushes you need to thrive as a natural. The list is super short because who needs extensive wahala?
Wide tooth comb: This does your basic detangling work; getting knots out, stretching out the hair, and sinking products into the curls. If you can, try to get the kind that’s not made of plastic, since the seams can get caught up in your precious hair. There are lots of great (and durable) combs made of bone.
Rat tail comb: I know I started this off by bashing this kind of comb but it helps to make a difference from behind. The back of the rat tail comb is perfect for making seamless parts in the hair, so you can make beautifully neat lines with whatever you might need to do; cornrows and pigtails and all.
Denman brush: This is perfect for detangling. I have emphasized spaced out combs and yet the Denman brush looks quite stuffy, but when detangling (with lots of water and conditioner) the brush comes in to make the process more thorough without damaging your hair. It’s surprisingly soothing and the curl that comes out of this thing is FIREEE!
Afro comb: A big mistake people make with this comb is using it to comb from root to tip. This is just painful for no real reason, because the use of the afro comb comes directly from its name: it’s for afros. It works best when you have your hair out and proud and poofy, and need it just a little bit poofier, or to make the afro even. The comb needs to only be used at the tips of the hair to bring out the most dramatic fro you can go for.
Toothbrush: How else are you supposed to have your edges laiddddt? I grabbed my trusty toothbrush when I had copped a new one so it graduated to being the edge layer general. Some people used the rat tail comb for edges as well, I mean, whatever works for you. But the toothbrush gives me the perfect swoop through them baby hairs and come out looking perfectly put together.
Ya hands: Please, feel free to treat your mane to a more personal treatment. Whenever I wash my hair, the first kind of combing my hair ever receives is form my hands. When they seem most agreeable then I can introduce my wide tooth companion, never before. Also it’s the best way to fluff out a day old twistout.
I have managed to keep my breakage on an all time low while using these methods, so I implore you, whether thinking about changing to natural hair or already on your journey, be gentle with your hair. Love it and give it what it needs and get ready to delight in the beauty of the way you were originally made, so wonderfully.
Catch me next time,