How to manage African ethnic hair and the comb | Natural hair struggles since childhood

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It freaks me out to see my strands on the comb teeth


Hello hello ! Tsokung naturals! Yeah,  I am back  with another natural hair post!

 I had a conversation with a friend recently and she was telling me that she keeps her natural hair short because she cannot bear the combing of longer natural hair. So I thought I could share with you all  how I  try to run away from the wrath of the  comb

Growing up as primary school kids, we hated combing hair in the morning, It was a horrible experience. There was  this white rectangular brush, which had hard bristles, it was the enemy. If you grew up in Africa, especially southern Africa, you will know that  there was this session during primary school morning assembly, whereby those with “uncombed” hair had  to be called out  in front of everyone .The main question was “Why is your hair uncombed?” We didn’t know why our hair-combing technique was not successful in front of the school principal, until one day someone said:

It is because you comb wet hair after taking a bath, therefore you should  wait until it is dry and then comb it dry

This was of course not a pleasant thing to hear ! However, It was the school standards of neatness to have shiny, combed hair , we  had to apply petroleum jelly! Our mothers made things easier and wool threaded our hair for school so that we did not have to comb in the morning, or we had shaved heads most of the time, especially for boys. However we (girls) ,  had to deal with the comb during  weekends when the hairstyles were renewed, therefore this called for chemically processing hair.

There are  different preferences among natural hair enthusiasts for ethnic hair in terms of combing it, all centred around breakage. Some people comb it wet like me and some people do not use the comb at all.

I comb my hair mostly during wash days for detangling to reduce the tangling and promote manageability. Regular deep conditioning is key to retaining moisture, elasticity and strength.



Due to the tendency of African ethnic hair’s tendency to tangle, Clipping hair in sections helps to reduce the struggle of dealing with a bulky afro and hence reduces the chances of breakage. Working on 1 section is much easier and less stressfull for the hairdresser, which would be myself.


DEEP CONDITIONING REGULARLY (atleast every 2 weeks)

If you read my blogs you will know that I deep condition my hair for as long as I can , about 5+ hours.

Plastic capping during deep conditioning is helpful to keep the moisture in and prevent the conditioner drying out  on my hair.

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It is important to be protective while combing your hair. I tend to run the comb freely from the roots to halfway the length of the strands, as soon as I feel tugging, I do not pull harder, I let go, I then hold the hair at the roots using my other hand and re-insert my comb where I left and gently run the comb again in short strokes, until it is easier to run the comb through without tugging. This helps to go easy on the roots while gently getting rid of the knots at the hair ends.

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On my previous post, I shared with you all how I manage to takedown my long-term braid singles , while detangling well but minimizing breakage and the wrath of the comb. Click here to check it out!


COMB TYPE (Rake wide toothed)

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This rake-wide toothed picker comb has been great to me, I just saw natural girls online loving this comb and I decided to check it out. It is also called a jumbo rake or bone comb. It is an awesome detangling tool. The plastic material gives the comb flexibility and the shape of the long  teeth with a converging effect helps to be guided by the strands(the teeth bend a bit) instead of being straight stiff and  pulling on the hair.

BEDTIME (Protection)

Good Bedtime management for natural hair is important to avoid tangles, we like to keep our hair separated  when we sleep so that we reduce the chances of tangled hair. I do this by keeping my hair in twists or banded using hair ribbons/bands . Wearing a silky scarf or satin bonnet is essential to keep the hair from friction and not to lose moisture to our bed linen and pillowcase fabrics. I certainly mentioned the above ideas because they help to reduce tangling, hence reducing the need for combs.

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That is all for now that helps my hair survive a session with the comb. Thanks for stopping by, Until next time:


Lots of love by Lebo @tsokungwoman


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