Throughout my hair journey I have had more Ah-Ha moments than I can even count. As I meet more and more natural women early in the journey of learning about their hair, I find myself recalling those epiphanies and trying my best to relay the important info.
Where did the curls go? Why is this so hard? Why is so much hair coming out? Why is it still tangled... WHY AM I COMBING MY HAIR?
Hair Epiphany: I stopped. I stopped coming my hair. Combing it after conditioning and rinsing creates frizz, combing while drying creates even more frizz, and combing while dry= snap a comb, snap an arm muscle and snap a thousand hairs off. There had to be a better way. In reality- there isn't. It just should not be done. There is no reason to comb 3c - 4c hair out with any frequency. It's not straight hair, it will always appear tangled and intertwined and that is the beauty of it. It just has to be prevented from locking, and occasionally the curls need to be separated. I have one large tooth comb that I keep IN the shower and I only use it 2 times a week (tops!) while the conditioner is still IN my hair. Sometimes I even just use my fingers. Start at the ends and work your way into the denser parts, in sections- the more the better. The more slippery or smooth the conditioner the better, sudsy light conditioners won't help much.
After this one de-tangling session I am DONE. I do not comb my hair again until I have conditioner saturating it again. This means however, that the hairs that are naturally shed accumulate and are all combed out at the same time during one of these sessions. It may look like a lot of hair because it is several days to a weeks worth.
I used to pick out my fro. I don't know why I did that. I think I was insane or had behaved badly and decided to punish myself. and my hair. I understand the desire for a fluffy puff sometimes, but the damage.... the damage and the shrinkage... I don't know why I thought it was worth it. I can't help but to give advice here: Just do a a few braids in your freshly de-tangled and wet, moisturized hair to encourage it to dry without coiling back up on its self. Once it's dry, take it out and finger comb it. Finger comb it again at night with a nice smoothing de-tangler and braid it back up (so it always dries in the braids). Save your hair, save your sanity.
I think women who complain that natural hair is hard to manage are trying to comb it. Are trying to stop it from doing the things it wants to do- like shrink up, stand up, intertwine and fuzz up. Combing makes all of these things worse, counter to relaxed hair care where combing is the answer. We are shown image and scene after scene where a man is running his fingers thorough a woman's hair, or a woman is flirtatiously running her fingers through or twirling her own hair. 100 brush strokes a day... Natural, ultra curly and kinky hair is so much more interesting than that! That is not how we care for our hair, nor respect what is gorgeous about it.
And real quick- I'll talk about the Denman brush- one of the only brushes worth mentioning (a boar or synthetic bristle brush for finishing edges is cool too). FOR ME, Denman is only like a cool effects tool. The curly clumps that it encourages to form are against the nature of my curl pattern so a few seconds after using it to de-tangle a conditioned section of hair- my hair is already reverting back to its desired set up. I won't be able to brush, or sometimes even finger comb, back through it again (unless I tie each section back = work and arrrggg...) Some Naturals swear by it, but I prefer it only for styling into a shingled ultra curly (sometimes later stretched out) style. The shrinkage is extreme for me when using the Denman this way however, so I have to be in the mood.
So to new curlies- Stop combing it after the conditioner has been rinsed out. It should not be combed at any point after this. Your curls have a starting chance of staying with you now. Do not break them back apart.