TANGLED UP: How To Get These F-ing Hobo Knots Out Goddammit! (PLUS: The Secret Shampooing Life of Pillheads)

I am sooo sick of working these disgusting DREADLOCK-Y knots out of my HAIR! But there are, I've found, solutions. Vaguely.
Publish date:
December 14, 2011
shoppables, best friends, hair, friendship, tangles, social networks, how do you keep a best friend?

Okay, first of all, I apologize for that headline, which couldn't be worse. The punny Dylan reference, at least. [UPDATE: It was such a bad pun that I took it out.] Jane has a policy about no songs titles as heds, and whenever bosses give me policies I freak and aggressively refuse to follow them. And the more I love the boss, the more confusingly I navigate her "rules"-- to test her love for me and my specialness, you see!

No, it has never been easy being a Cat Marnell employer. Just ask Jean Godfrey-June.

Anyway, YO! Sorry I haven’t posted for a while. I’ve been so busy occupying Courtney Love’s and prepping for our second xojane.com MAKEUNDER tomorrow in a secret location, with a secret subject. I hinted at her identity on my Twitter yesterday. If you missed our first Makeunder with New York’s #1 socialite Tinsley Mortimer, click here. She is wearing my t-shirt! I worship the Tinz.

Okay, so today we are going to talk about tangles. I fucking hate them! And I have worse tangles than almost anybody. To give you some perspective, let me tell you a story about one of the sickest times in my life – right before I quit my job at Lucky because of my raging addiction to pills (a.k.a. the “I Spent Two Weeks In The Mental Hospital, But I Left With Better Hair” era).

I had stopped taking care of myself physically and grooming-wise almost completely, save for the occasional bath (showers made me too woozy). I started washing my hair only in the bath tub, which incidentally Tinsley Mortimer told me that she does, too. But I didn’t do it in a glamorous way. I did it in a lazy junkie way!

Also: sometimes I fell asleep in the bath tub.

Anyway, I was so exhausted and apathetic about my appearance that basically I just didn’t brush my hair for days and then weeks and then it turned into like a month, and when I washed it I was just dipping it in the bathwater to wet it, lathering at the scalp, and then dipping to rinse, and then half-heartedly conditioning, and then barely rinsing that, and then just wrapping a dirty towel around the whole mess and taking a bunch of Xanax and Ambien and Seroquel and Suboxone or whatever the hell I had laying around, and blacking out for twelve hours.

When I'd wake up every morning, you guessed it -- the tangles would be even worse. So I'd throw that shit under a baseball cap and head to work. (Yes, I'd gotten to the point of wearing baseball caps to the Conde Nast building. Do. You. Die.)

It was a obviously going to turn into a nightmarish situation for my long, endlessly color-processed hair, which has always been prone to rats' nest steez ever since I was a little neglected rich kid. Finally the knots in the back got so bad that I had big squirrel-knots the size of baseballs. And they looked like the mess of yarn you find inside of a baseball:

And I had to go to a fancy salon (Butterfly Studio, in New York’s Flatiron district) and get them cut out by the very concerned and very kind salon owner, whom I'd just written a story on for the magazine and everything. While I cried. I didn't want to lose my hair! And also, I was a big deal magazine beauty editor (I liked to think, har har) at the time. It was embarassing to be there in that situation, and obviously so sick.

Not swag.

Ever since then I’ve been a lot more conscientious about minding my tangles. You have to nip those bitches at the bud and work on them a little every day, so that they don’t become so unmanageable.

No one knows this better than anyone who has ever been a mom or a babysitter to a little girl who insists on having long hair, like my zillion Eastern European and then Midwestern import nannies from childhood, or our Jane, who of course has a little Charlotte. I called the boss (she was over at Courtney Love’s place, natch) to ask her for insight into her own tangle hell experience. Sayeth Jane:

“It’s a big deal . It’s ongoing. I keep telling Charlotte that I wish she would get more vain -- like Coco [Arquette] -- so she would want to brush her own hair instead of me doing it for her, now, at the age of nine. When she used to have a regular sitter in the mornings, they would do her hair, but that stopped when she was four. And she has lots of hair – it’s really fine, like mine, so it gets bad. It’s gotten as far along as close to dreads as it can get. She doesn’t care if it’s dreads or not; she just wants long hair. She genuinely does not care. So I’ve started thinking, ‘Maybe dreads are okay.’ I got the Hair Bean thing that they advertise on TV and it worked okay.”

But what really made the difference for Jane and Charlotte? A Mason Pearson child's brush (they come in pink and blue -- do you die?!), of course. They are fucking expensive (though you save on the child's size) but so, so worth it. Jane finally splurged and got one recently, and it has made all the difference. ”I couldn’t bear to spend that much on a hairbrush initially,” she told me. And Jane's rich, mang! “But it’s the only thing that’s really worked. It’s cut the time that we spend on it in half. I still haven’t bought one for myself yet.”

So share, I thought, though for the first time maybe ever I didn't interuppt Jane to order her to do this. Then I remembered that there is a lice problem at Charlotte's school! Okay, so don't share. And BTW Char, honey, I’ve been there! Probably five times before the age of ten, and once it was so bad that my parents sent me with an aforementioned nanny (the Polish one -- Margeaux; I was four) to Disneyworld while they fumigated the house and she picked those things off of me one by one. I am still traumatized. Shudder.

Not that Charlotte has lice. But if she's hasn't yet...she will. Just saying.

ANYWAY. Gross! Okay, so the thing with detangling is that you have to do it before you wash your hair. When I was shampooing in the bath without brushing the dreads out first, I was just making them a zillion times worse. So you brush out the knots, shampooo, condition condition condition, and then after I get out of the shower I like to use this freaky-looking bad boy:

The Ouidad Double Detangler comb! It is delightfully heavy to almost the point of clunky -- if you drop it on your bare foot, you'll know it -- and it's designed for detangling curly hair (but whatever), since the most challenging part of having curly hair is getting the knots out.

It has double rows of long teeth with rounded tips that won't hurt hair cuticles or your scalp, and the hefty weight of the thing enables it to pull through knots and the length of hair much better than anything I've used. I like it to comb conditioner through my hair in the shower, then again when my hair is wet. Sexy!

And finally, I like a cheap little kids' detangling spray (they are generally way fruity-scented and delicious-seeming, but do not drink them) (swag though, if you do), though I am not married to any particular product or brand. L'Oreal Paris, of course, makes a good one called Tangle Tamer in a "sweet pear" scent, because they are a drugstore brand that does almost everything right:

Now I want to know all of your tangle solutions, knotty hair horror stories, childhood lice and snarl traumas. Go! And I especially want product recommendations. XO

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