It has become very apparent that  people have no idea what causes matted hair.

When we say matted hair, many people think of  locked hair but there are many other examples  that we see as hairstylists.

Matted hair happens more frequently than is reported.  In my career, I have

seen matted hair in all ages.  In many cases, the hair found itself in this state because:

  • Parent is too casual about doing child cleanliness checks 
  • Child has to parent themself
  • Failing to check hair or dreads/locs regularly
  • Not combing out the hair regularly
  • Keeping the hair/locs in the same style for long periods of time
  • Thinking that “going natural” means not coming out the hair at least once a week
  • Not maintaining hair under wigs, ponytails etc.
  • Not removing glue totally from hair before doing another style
  • Not removing dead hair when taking down braids.


To avoid having matted hair, here are some helpful hints:

If you have dreads/locs, ensure you go through your head every three days, maximum a week to pull them apart.  You will be able to clean them better and can lay off doing ACV washes so regularly.

Children’s hair should be checked to make sure they are combed regularly.  I get that (a) your child wants to be independent; (b) you wish to give them space or © you don’t have the time, but, if they have to shave their head because it gets matted, it is on you.  A hairstylist cannot guarantee that it can be combed out or taking it out will not be very painful.

Your hair should be combed out at least once a week.  What causes matted hair is all those dead hairs that fall within the hair.  If you find it challenging to do the comb out, use any type of edible oil, detangler, moisturizer or conditioner to soak the hair for some minutes before starting.  Shampoo generously after.

If you still find combing your hair very painful, go slowly in sections.  Have a set of three combs:  a large one to start; one with smaller teeth to go through it for the second time and one with small teeth to remove the final snags.  Unfortunately, painful or not, it has to be done.  Set aside your whole afternoon if you have to.  Do not relax your hair to avoid doing this important step.  It only causes over-processing and breakage.

I have a pet peeve about wigs which some may not agree.  I understand your hair is protected but it is under a cap basically.  Many people wear wigs for extended periods of time, forgetting about their real hair.  This behaviour shows up in the thin growth of hair at the top of the heads of these ladies later in life.  And no, we cannot fix something you let happen for decades with one treatment.

When unbraiding or taking down glue styles, a fine tooth comb along with lots of conditioner; detangler; oil or whatever is your choice to soften hair, must be used.  If you allow this to remain in the hair, you will cause breakage and hair loss.

While some people are unaware of what causes matted hair, it is mostly the lack of regular checks that makes them become a problem.  Sometimes, even with our knowledge of what causes knotted hair, a haircut is the only solution.

By Paula Barker, Silkie Locks Hair Design


Call (613) 789-2179 For An Appointment If You Are In The Ottawa, Ontario Area.