Easy DIY Detangler

By Liesl Clark

DIY Detangler Before and After. Photo © Liesl Clark

DIY Detangler Before and After. Photo © Liesl Clark

Detangle yourself from purchasing unnecessary hair products when the secret to getting difficult-to-brush curly or coarse hair tangle-free is oil and water. We’ve learned this secret the hard way. With a daughter who loves her hair long, but doesn’t love to brush it, we end up with tangled dreadlocks in a matter of hours. And sleeping on them makes them multiply.

Rather than buying yet another bottle of detangler, we came up with the perfect solution. Put some of your favorite oils with some water in a pretty bottle that has a spray pump on the top of it. That’s the secret! An attractive bottle, oil and water.

Our detangler bottle is an old Aveda bottle. Photo © Liesl Clark

Our detangler bottle is an old Aveda bottle. Photo © Liesl Clark

Be sure to shake the bottle before spraying it on your hair. We take the added step of doing the major detangling when her hair is wet. It seems to ease the pain for our 7-year-old who won’t let me near her locks with a brush.

What oils to use?

We simply looked in our cabinet and found some delicious-sounding massage oils and have used those. The key is to choose an oil as a base and then add a few drops of essential oil for a soothing scent.

These are our favorite oils to use as a base:

Coconut oil (heated up)

Avocado oil

Apricot oil (this was a bottle given to us from our women friends in the village of Kagbeni in Nepal, they use it on their hair daily)

Olive oil (then add a favorite essential oil)

Jojoba oil

Sweet almond oil

Possible essential oils to use are:

Geranium oil

Lavender essential oil




Grapefruit seed extract

Round up your favorite oils to mix with water for a DIY detangler. Photo © Liesl Clark

Round up your favorite oils to mix with water for a DIY detangler. Photo © Liesl Clark

As her Daddy says, “Goodbye Buffalo Soldier Girl!” At least for this week.

Interested in more green DIY inspirations? Please visit our Trash Backwards app where we have lots of green ideas and recipes for your bathroom and personal care:

Click Through for Green DIY Ideas at Trash Backwards

Click Through for Green DIY Ideas at Trash Backwards

What’s your DIY secret to tangle-free hair?

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Categories: DIY, Reduce Your Use, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff


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13 Comments on “Easy DIY Detangler”

  1. February 12, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    I definitely have to share this I know a little one who wakes with the same kind of hair.

    • February 13, 2013 at 7:14 am #

      Thanks for sharing, Lois! Sadly, that head of hair wasn’t from bed head. We took that picture after dinner! Luckily, the DIY detangler for a few minutes finally did the trick.
      — Liesl at Trash Backwards

  2. Kyle C P M
    March 4, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Awsome, I have to try this! I’m a guy with long hair. I never knew that when people said “matted hair” that it was actually possible for hair to get litteraly matted. I thought it was just an exaggerated expression. My hair has litteraly become like a matted rug. Like a tuke woven to the back of my head. I found the cause of this. The cause of my tangle problem is tiny lint like fibers. I suspect its from fleece blankets and dryer lint mostly. I actualy bought a lint brush to try to brush it out. It yielded some results, but my hair is to far gone to get to the center and brush it through. I spent hours pulling 1 to a few hairs gently out and away of the tangled mess….but hours..like ‘Alot’ of hours.. so no.. I tried shampooing it out obviosly.. but surprisingly some shampoos make it worse. Axe shampoo, Gillette 2in1 body and hair wash, etc, make it worse. They give my hair a rubber like coating, which seems to hold onto the tangle fibers more. I was gonna buy a really girly shampoo and check for a difference. Maybe it’s something it the guys brand shampoos that gives that rubbery feeling. Then thought maybe I should research a de-tangling shampoo instead. I found your Before and After image and thought That’s The Link I Need “click”! So Oil and Water eh? Okay. that sounds like it makes sense. I hope it works for me! I can hardly wait to give this a try and get my curly locks back! Thanks so much in advance!

  3. Rose
    March 5, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    Could you be a little more specific as to the ratio of oil to water that you use? I am wary of experimenting, but I would like to try this out ASAP since I just picked up some sweet almond oil.

    • March 5, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

      Hi Rose. The oil-to-water ratio depends on your tolerance for oiliness. The more oil, for our daughter’s hair, the easier it is to get the tangles out. But we don’t want a pure oily look either. A good place to start might be 3 parts water to one part oil. That’s just about what we do. It also depends on the oil. Some oils tend to be less “oily” dare-I-say? Nevertheless, if you use less oil to start out with, you can always add more to your mixture. Good luck.
      — Liesl

      • Rose
        March 6, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

        Thanks for the suggestion to start out with less oil and increase as necessary. I was very wary of ending up with a “I just put salad dressing in my hair” look. I started with a 5:1 water to sweet almond oil ratio with a few drops of lavender EO for fun. That ratio works perfectly for my thick, straight hair.

      • March 7, 2013 at 8:26 am #

        That’s great to know, Rose. I’m so glad you’ve found how easy (and cheap) this DIY solution is!
        — All my best, Liesl.

  4. Jess
    April 18, 2013 at 10:23 pm #


    Could you tell me what the original product in that aveda bottle is? I used to have it but I can’t seem to find it anywhere now. And also thanks for the great tips.

    • April 19, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

      Hi Jess:
      It says “Purefume Brilliant Emollient For Hair”
      Hope that helps.
      — Liesl

  5. CC
    July 22, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    Oh my gosh! Here I am at 60 years old still have long hair almost down to my rear -end…and all these years I have had to put my hair up in an uncomfortable bun to sleep at night! I tried this with just water 3 Tablespoons and 1 1/2 Tablespoon of Emu oil…I used warm water…it worked like a charm… although I will decrease the oil to only 1 T next time I make it…it took out all the tangles and left my hair as soft as a baby’s butt and as shiny as can be…you didn’t mention the added advantages! I look 5 years younger just from my hair looking so healthy!
    Detangler always made my head itch -no itching now!

  6. w b
    September 12, 2014 at 5:40 am #

    Have you ever tried a “wet brush”? My two girls won’t let me near their hair and the detanglers don’t really help (though I’m interested to try this idea). Our hairdresser suggested buying a wet brush, which is (oddly enough) a brush that is safe to use on wet hair. They will brush their own hair very thoroughly with this brush because it doesn’t pull like a comb or a regular brush. No more rat’s nest. Thanks for the detangler suggestion.


  1. Friday Favorites, February 15th | livingsimplyfree - February 14, 2013

    […] There is a direct connection to the products we use on our body and our health.    Liesl, like many other parents love the long hair of their young daughters but that young hair will tangle easily and cause much arguing and tears trying to get the tangles out.  Check out Liesl’s easy and effective natural detangler here. […]

  2. 100 Things You Never Need To Buy | Trash Backwards - May 15, 2013

    […] Hair Detangler: If you haven’t tried our secret hair detangler recipe, now’s your chance. It really […]

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