why is my hair so tangled after washing

Have you ever found yourself struggling with tangled hair after washing it, wondering why it gets so knotty? You're not alone! Many people face this hair conundrum, and it can be a real pain to deal with. But fear not - we've got your back! 

In this article, we'll explore why hair can become so tangled after a wash, and more importantly, how to detangle it and prevent those knots from forming in the first place. So, let's dive in and unravel this tangled mystery together!

Why Is My Hair So Knotty After Washing?

So, what's the deal with hair tangling after washing? Several factors can cause your hair to get knotty after a good scrub. Let's dive into a more detailed explanation of these factors:

Hair Structure

The cuticles (the outer layer of your hair)(1) can become raised when your hair is wet, making it more prone to tangles. This is especially true for those with curly or wavy hair, as the hair structure itself can encourage knots to form. The twists and turns of curly hair can cause individual strands to wrap around each other, leading to tangles.

Shampooing Technique

The way you shampoo your hair can contribute to tangles(2). If you pile your hair on top of your head while lathering up, it can lead to more knots because the hair strands can become entangled. Instead, try gently massaging the shampoo into your scalp using your fingertips, and letting the shampoo run down your hair's length as you rinse, maintaining your hair's natural alignment.

Lack of Moisture

Dry hair is more susceptible to tangling. If you're not properly moisturizing your hair or using products that strip away natural oils, it can lead to knots and tangles after washing. Hair that is well-moisturized has smoother cuticles, making it easier to detangle and less likely to form knots.

Why Is My Hair So Knotty After Washing

Hair Products

Using the wrong hair products or not rinsing them out thoroughly can also cause your hair to tangle. Some products can leave residue behind, making your hair feel sticky or greasy, which contributes to knots. Make sure to choose products that are suited to your hair type and texture, and rinse them out thoroughly during washing.

Towel Drying

Rubbing your hair vigorously with a towel after washing can roughen up the cuticles and cause tangles. It's better to gently squeeze out excess water with your hands and then wrap your hair in a microfiber towel or an old t-shirt to absorb moisture. Pat or press the towel against your hair rather than rubbing it to minimize friction and reduce the risk of tangling.

Hair Damage

Damaged hair is more likely to tangle. If your hair has been exposed to harsh chemicals, heat styling, or other damaging factors(3), it can become weak, brittle, and prone to knots. Damaged hair often has raised cuticles, which can catch on neighboring strands, causing tangles.

Understanding these factors can help you tackle the root causes of tangled hair after washing. Now, let's explore some tips for detangling your hair and how to prevent knots in the first place!

Tips for Detangling Your Hair

Apologies for the oversight! Here's a more detailed version of the tips for detangling your hair:

Be Patient

Take your time when detangling, as rushing can cause breakage. Work in small sections, starting from the ends and gradually working your way up to the roots. Hold the section you're working on firmly to avoid pulling on your scalp.

Use a Wide-Tooth Comb or Detangling Brush

These tools are specifically designed to tackle tangles without causing damage. Choose one with smooth, rounded teeth or bristles to avoid snagging. Avoid using a fine-tooth comb or a regular brush, as they can worsen the situation and lead to breakage.

Apply a Leave-In Conditioner or Detangling Spray

These products can help provide slip and make it easier to comb through your hair. Look for ones with nourishing ingredients like natural oils, shea butter, or aloe vera. Apply them to damp hair and work them through with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb, focusing on the most tangled areas.

Use Your Fingers

Sometimes, using your fingers can be the most gentle and effective way to detangle knots. Gently work out tangles with your fingertips, being careful not to pull or tug on your hair. If you encounter a particularly stubborn knot, try adding a bit more leave-in conditioner or detangling spray.

Detangle In The Shower

When your hair is still wet and coated with conditioner, it can be easier to work through tangles. Use a wide-tooth comb or your fingers to gently work through your hair while rinsing out the conditioner. This can help minimize knots and make post-shower detangling a breeze.

Invest In a Silk or Satin Pillowcase

These materials create less friction on your hair while you sleep, which can help minimize tangles. Additionally, they can help maintain your hair's moisture levels, leading to less dryness and fewer knots.

Get Regular Trims

Keeping your hair free from split ends and damage can help prevent tangles in the long run. Regular trims ensure that your hair remains healthy and less prone to knots. Aim to trim your hair every 6-8 weeks, or as needed, depending on your hair type and growth rate.

Detangle Before Washing

Gently detangle your hair with a wide-tooth comb or your fingers before stepping into the shower. This can make the post-wash detangling process smoother and less time-consuming.

Opt For Gentle Hair Ties

Using hair ties that are gentle on your hair, such as scrunchies or spiral hair ties, can help prevent tangles caused by pulling or snagging. Avoid tight hair ties or rubber bands, as they can cause breakage and encourage knot formation.

By following these more detailed tips, you'll be well on your way to tangle-free hair! Next, let's learn how to prevent hair from tangling in the first place.

How to Prevent Hair from Tangling

How to Prevent Hair from Tangling

To minimize tangles and knots in the future, here are some effective strategies for preventing hair from tangling:

Choose The Right Hair Products

Use shampoos, conditioners, and styling products that are specifically formulated for your hair type and texture. Look for products that promote moisture and smoothness, as these can help keep your hair more manageable and less prone to tangles.

Moisturize Your Hair

Keep your hair well-hydrated by using deep conditioning treatments or hair masks regularly. This will help maintain the integrity of your hair cuticles, making them smoother and less likely to catch on other strands.

Be Gentle While Washing

When shampooing your hair, avoid piling your hair on top of your head. Instead, gently massage the shampoo into your scalp and let it flow down the length of your hair as you rinse. Apply conditioner from mid-length to the ends, and detangle your hair with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb while the conditioner is still in.

Avoid Heat Styling

Excessive heat styling can damage your hair, making it more prone to tangles. If possible, let your hair air dry and limit the use of heat-styling tools like flat irons, curling wands, and blow dryers. When you do use heat styling tools, apply a heat protectant to minimize damage.

Sleep Smart

Invest in a silk or satin pillowcase to minimize friction on your hair while you sleep. Also, consider wearing your hair in a loose braid or a pineapple-style bun to keep it from tangling during the night.

Brush Your Hair Regularly

Regularly brushing your hair can help distribute natural oils from the scalp to the ends and prevent tangles. Use a wide-tooth comb or a detangling brush to gently remove any knots, starting at the ends and working your way up.

Get Regular Trims

 Maintain your hair's health by getting regular trims to remove split ends and damaged sections. This can help prevent tangles by keeping your hair in good condition.

By following these preventative measures, you can enjoy smoother, more manageable hair that's less likely to tangle after washing. Keep these tips in mind and say goodbye to knots and tangles for good!

Final Thought

And that's a wrap, dear readers! We've delved into the causes of hair tangling after washing and the assortment of factors responsible for those pesky knots. By putting into practice our extensive tips for detangling your hair and embracing the preventative measures discussed, you can enjoy smoother, more manageable tresses.

Keep in mind that patience goes a long way when tackling tangles, and utilizing the proper hair care products and techniques can have a significant impact. Focus on maintaining well-moisturized hair, being gentle during washing, and investing in a silk or satin pillowcase to reduce friction while sleeping. So, get ready to say goodbye to those knotty hair days and welcome a tangle-free future!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my hair so tangled when wet?

Hair gets tangled when wet because the cuticles (the outer layer) become raised, making strands more prone to sticking together. Curly or wavy hair is particularly susceptible due to its structure, which causes strands to wrap around each other, forming knots.

Why is blonde hair so tangled after washing?

Blonde hair can be more tangled after washing because it's often finer and more delicate, making it prone to breakage and knotting. Additionally, blonde hair might be more damaged due to the bleaching process, which weakens the hair structure and raises cuticles, causing tangles.

Why is my hair so tangled after dying it?

Hair becomes tangled after dying because the chemical process can weaken the hair structure, raise the cuticles, and strip away natural oils. Damaged hair with raised cuticles is more prone to tangles as strands catch on neighboring strands, leading to knots.

How do I stop my hair from tangling when I wash it?

Prevent hair tangling by using the right hair products, gently massaging shampoo into the scalp, applying conditioner from mid-length to ends, and detangling with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb while the conditioner is still in. Avoid piling hair on top of your head while washing.

Why is my hair knotting all of a sudden?

Sudden hair knotting may be due to factors like increased dryness, changes in hair products, or damage from heat styling or chemicals. Additionally, improper washing techniques or sleeping on a rough pillowcase can contribute to sudden tangling.


1. Yang, F.-C., Zhang, Y. and Rheinstädter, M.C. (2014). The structure of people’s hair. PeerJ, {online} 2, p.e619. doi:https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.619.

‌2. Gavazzoni Dias, M.F. (2015). Hair cosmetics: An overview. International Journal of Trichology, {online} 7(1), p.2. doi:https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-7753.153450.

3. Diana Draelos, Z. (2000). THE BIOLOGY OF HAIR CARE. Dermatologic Clinics, {online} 18(4), pp.651–658. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/s0733-8635(05)70216-3.