Untreated matted or tangled hair may result in what is graphically referred to as a “rat’s nest.” Damage and breakage from chemically treated hair is often the culprit, and once mats and tangles occur, they must be treated immediately and in the correct way to stop it from getting worse and salvage as much of the hair as possible.

Things You'll Need

Spray the entire head with a detangling product, concentrating it on the matted or tangled areas of the hair. Work the detangling product into areas of the hair where large tangles have made it difficult for the product to reach them. Leave the detangler in the hair for at least 10 minutes.

Comb hair out by pulling only a small section of hair from the matted or dangled areas with the teeth of a large comb. Start with the pieces of hair on the outside edges of the “rat’s nest” and work toward the core.

Spray a dry conditioner into the hair as it starts to become free from the matted or tangled mess. The conditioner will return moisture to the hair to make it easier to comb through once it’s all free.

Switch to a soft bristled brush once the hair is free from large large tangled and matted areas.

Cut out matted or tangled hair as a last resort, especially with small children for whom combing and picking out a knot is causing them discomfort. Grip the area of hair between the knot and the scalp with the outstretched middle and forefinger of one hand. This will create a straight barrier to protect the head and guide the scissors as the knot is being cut away.


  • Avoid future tangles by minimizing damage to hair strands. Do not brush or apply high heat to wet hair and leave a buffer of about six to eight weeks between chemical treatments. Wash and condition chemically treated hair with shampoo and conditioner made for that hair type.