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10 Life-Changing Hair Hacks That Will Eliminate Tangles Forever

by Martha Adams

Unless you're one of the lucky few who consider themselves "morning people," a.m.'s can be particularly dreadful. Convincing yourself to get up after hitting snooze four times—or five, but who's counting?—after a full eight hours of sleep is pretty rough in our book, but waking up to a matted mess of tangles can make mornings even more miserable. Whether your hair is long or short, curly or stick-straight, basic instinct tells you to attack those knots aggressively with a brush should you stumble across them (day or night) and hope for the best—ignore it. The pros weighed in on the best ways to avoid, and deal with, knots on the daily so you don't have to worry about doing any more damage to your strands.

First (and quite possibly the biggest) mistake: stepping into the warm mist of your shower with a huge tangle. "Avoid adding water to hair that's knotty beyond belief," recommends celeb stylist Juan Carlos . "It's much harder to work a comb or brush through it because the tangles basically congeal when wet." Just imagine soaking your hair in H2O immediately after teasing your roots—attempting to comb it out could take hours. The same applies to knotted hair, so be sure to slide a brush through your strands before your hop in the shower.

Another habit to eliminate from your haircare routine: going overboard with shampoo. It isn't necessary to wash from root to tip to get shampoo ad-worthy hair, says Sarah Potempa , the genius/stylist behind the Victoria's Secret Angels' effortless waves. "The spot you should concentrate on is the roots—otherwise you risk drying out your ends, making them more susceptible to tangling." After conditioner, end your shower session on a cool note by turning the temperature down. "Piping hot water opens up the cuticle, essentially making it easier for hair to knot," Potempa says. She suggests thinking of the cuticle like shingles on a roof. "By sealing it with cool water, it lays flat and won't catch."

Hair is especially delicate when it wet—it can stretch up to 50% more, which means you should take extra caution running a brush or comb through it. "Brushing wet hair without the right tools can tear the cuticle," says Shaun Pulfrey, founder and inventor of the beyond brilliant Tangle Teezer . "And if it's damaged, the cuticle won't lie flat." In non-hairdresser speak, you sacrifice shine for dullness. "Hair requires a flat surface to bounce light off, making it shiny," he explains. You may also want to try raking your fingers through your hair as a first pass to loosen knots, starting at your ends and working your way up to avoid any tugging or pulling—they mimic a widetooth comb.

Believe it or not, aiming your blowdryer in the wrong direction can cause seriously annoying, unwanted knots. Potempa recommends pointing the dryer downwards, parallel to your hair. "Most girls blowdry their hair perpendicular to their heads, and wind up fraying the ends." Remember: Frayed ends equal knots, since dry or damaged hair is more likely to get caught on itself.

If you're a fan of the beach wave and don't want to settle for the same straight style every day, pay careful attention to the bottom section. "Brush it out, blow dry it, and save the texture for the top only," Potempa says. "The back, bottom section of hair tends to be the knottiest because no one takes much care of it."

If you're aiming for loose, Selena-style curls, try curling your hair and leaving the ends loose. Why? Bouncy, Toddlers and Tiaras -type waves are notorious for getting tangled, Potempa explains.

For curly girls with a shorter crop, twisting strands back and securing them is an easy way to keep hair from knotting throughout the day, says Tippi Shorter , Aveda 's global artistic director for textured hair. Or if your hair is on the longer side, she suggests piling hair into a loose ponytail, pineapple-like, on the top of the head.

And if you stumble across a matted section despite your efforts, try massaging a hydrating conditioner into the knot and gently pulling at it with your fingers until it loosens. Then, remove the last traces of a tangle with a paddle brush. "The bristles move with the hair and have a bit of give, so there is no tearing of the hair," Shorter says.

No ifs, ands or buts—brush your hair before bedtime, period. "Girls will attempt to save a style by not brushing it, but that's just a recipe for bedhead, and not the desirable kind," Carlos says. Since loose hair can get matted more easily, try tying your hair up or braiding it before hitting the pillow—just be sure to switch up the position or style each night. "If you wear the same style to bed every night, over and over, you can end up damaging your hair because the ties tug at the same place," Potempa notes. Try alternating a bun one night, and a French braid the next. And treat yourself to a silk pillowcase when getting your zzz's. "No matter your texture, the key is to keep hair from rubbing on the pillow while you sleep," Shorter says. Not only is a silky pillowcase better for your skin, but strands won't catch on such a slippery fabric.

by Tina Ferraro , Teen Vogue

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