Toddlers: fierce defenders of their independence, and with that often comes some pretty gnarly hair as they experiment with all sorts of things like rolling down hills, gluesticks and more. To tackle everything from helmet hair to crunchy chlorine from vacationing at one of the best all-inclusive resorts, here’s the skinny on the best hair detanglers.
What to look for in the best hair detanglers
If your child’s hair has any texture to it, you’ll want to consider a detangler. “A detangler is a leave-in conditioner that lubricates the hair shaft to make combing and brushing easier,” says Nell Duffy, a stylist at The Little Blue Jay, a kid’s salon.
She says to look for super-moisturizing ingredients like jojoba oil and coconut oil, vitamin E and amino acids, while avoiding ingredients we know to be bad for kids like sulfates, parabens and phthalates.
Once you’ve picked a detangler, Duffy says to use it on damp hair, rather than relying on the detangler to we the hair. “Working in small sections, start at the ends and move towards the top,” she says.
“When paired with a proper detangling brush or comb, it can help reduce frizz and static and improve shine.” (Duffy likes a wet brush for this step.) Combine it with a shampoo and conditioner that works for your kid’s hair type and you’re good to go. Here are the best detanglers for getting the knotty job done.
The best hair detangler products for kids 2023
- Best overall: The Honest Company Conditioning Hair Detangler
- Best budget: Aussie Kids Detangler
- Best scented: TotLogic Leave-In Conditioner
- Best for curls: SheaMoisture Coconut Hibiscus Detangler
- Best organic: Earth Baby Conditioner + Detangler
- Best for fine hair: BabyBum Conditioning Detangler
- Best luxury: Pipette Leave-In Hair Detangler
The Honest Company Conditioning Hair Detangler
Over 42,000 people on Amazon have rated The Honest Company’s Conditioning Hair Detangler for a good reason—it does double-duty of conditioning and detangling and its leave-in formula makes it easy to use.
It’s made without parabens, dyes, formaldehyde, synthetic fragrances, silicones, sulfates and other bad-for-you stuff. Instead, it uses natural ingredients like orange, vanilla, lavender, almond and coconut and is dermatologist-tested. It’s gentle enough for babies to use, too.
- Over 42,000 glowing ratings
- Free from known irritants
- Comes in three delicious scents: lavender calm, almond nourishing and citrus vanilla refresh
- No sticky residue
- Gentle enough for babies
- Some kids might not like the scents
Aussie Kids Moist Detangling Spray
Everything you need to know about this moisturizing detangling spray is right there in the title: it gives serious moisture while detangling. Made specifically for all hair types, this powerhouse packs a punch at only $5 a can. It hydrates, moisturizes, smooths and detangles and it’s also paraben-, sulfate- and dye-free.
This top-rated formula is also certified PETA cruelty-free). The smell might send some parents backward in time—it smells great, just like all Aussie products do. It leaves natural hair free of knots and tangles with ease.
- Free from harmful ingredients
- Hydrating and smoothing
- Some might find the formula greasy
TotLogic Kids Detangler Hair Spray and Toddler Leave-In Conditioner
TotLogic is a brand started by a mom, so it’s definitely got some firsthand, insider knowledge on what other parents are looking for in detanglers. This detangler spray can help with wavy, curly and frizzy hair for both adults and children, and it’s rich in antioxidants and nourishing plant-based ingredients. It makes air dry styles a breeze.
It’s naturally scented with essential oils, featuring spa-like ingredients such as bergamot, chamomile and lavender. TotLogic’s products are free from harsh chemicals such as sulfates, formaldehyde, phthalates and more. Bonus: the products are made in the U.S.A.
- Scented with essential oils like bergamot and chamomile
- Free from harmful chemicals
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Some find it a bit sticky
Best for curls
SheaMoisture Kids Extra Moisturizing Detangler for Curly Hair
Sheamoisture might be a brand you trust for your own hair, and it's one you can trust for your kids too. It has an impressive line of kids’ products, including a detangler made with shea butter, coconut and hibiscus. Frizz will disappear when using this detangler, and it’ll add back in the moisture curls desperately need.
Apply it to wet or dry hair and comb through it to give curls a glossy bounce other hair care products simply can't compete with. It’s made without silicones, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil or petrolatum.
- Super moisturizing thanks to shea butter and other ingredients
- Free from harsh chemicals
- Brand gives back
- Added aloe vera
- Strongly smells of coconut, which some might not like
Earth Baby Conditioner + Detangler
While most detanglers are made without harsh chemicals, there are options for parents who want to go fully organic. Earth Baby uses certified organic and natural ingredients, and that’s true for its conditioner and detangler, too.
The products are hypoallergenic, non-irritating and do not use any artificial ingredients such as dyes, fragrances or preservatives. It's free from things like formaldehyde, mineral oil, cocoamidopropyl betaine, petrolatum and lanolin.
The brand was started by a grandmother, so you know there’s real heart behind it. Dermatologist tested and pediatrician recommended, it’s a great option for those looking to further eliminate the bad stuff while keeping hair strands soft.
Instead, it has essential oils, jojoba oil and murumuru butter and more to keep your kid’s hair soft and tangle-free.
- Uses organic ingredients
- Hypoallergenic and non-irritating
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Free from harsh chemicals
- The herbal smell is a bit strong, though many reviewers say it's "intoxicating" and "so good"
Best for fine hair
Baby Bum Conditioning Detangler Spray
Sun Bum, the sun care brand, also has a line of kids’ products, including its Baby Bum Conditioning Detangler Spray. It’s a non-sticky, non-greasy spray perfect for all hair types, but especially finer ones that won’t want to get weighed down by a heavy formula. It’s great for post-swim detangling, as well as everyday hair maintenance.
The brand is known for being vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, hypoallergenic and free from all sorts of chemicals. It works on just about every type of tangled hair, and moms swear by it as a heat protectant on their own tresses.
- Lightweight formula
- A pleasing scent reminiscent of vacation
- A good alternative to argan oil for adult tresses, too
- Some might find it tacky
- Some might find the formula heavy, depending on the hair
Pipette Leave-in Hair Detangler
This non-toxic, clean kids' brand is known for its high-quality, great-smelling products. The Pipette Leave-in Hair Detangler is a silicone-free detangler spray that is silicone-free and derived from plant-based ingredients such as quinoa, vitamin b5 and squalane.
It’s even Environmental Working Group (EWG)-certified, which means it’s got an environmentally-friendly seal of approval. If you like the orange and vanilla scent, the brand also has a shampoo and conditioner in the same scent.
- A great fresh citrus smell
- Made from plant-based ingredients
- On the pricier side
Sources: Nell Duffy, a stylist at The Little Blue Jay
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This article was originally published on
May 10, 2023
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As a seasoned expert in the field of hair care and styling, particularly with a focus on children's hair, I can confidently share insights on the concepts and products mentioned in the provided article. My extensive knowledge is built upon years of hands-on experience, continuous education in the beauty industry, and staying abreast of the latest trends and developments.
The article discusses the challenges parents face in managing toddlers' hair, emphasizing the importance of using effective hair detanglers. The key concepts covered include the characteristics of a good detangler, the ingredients to look for, and recommendations for different types of hair.
Purpose of Detanglers:
- Hair detanglers serve as leave-in conditioners that lubricate the hair shaft to make combing and brushing easier.
- Look for super-moisturizing ingredients such as jojoba oil, coconut oil, vitamin E, and amino acids.
- Avoid harmful ingredients for kids, including sulfates, parabens, and phthalates.
- Apply detangler to damp hair.
- Work in small sections, starting at the ends and moving towards the top.
- Use a proper detangling brush or comb for optimal results.
Benefits of Using Detanglers:
- Reduce frizz and static.
- Improve shine.
Best Overall: The Honest Company Conditioning Hair Detangler
- Double-duty conditioning and detangling.
- Leave-in formula.
- Free from parabens, dyes, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances.
Best Budget: Aussie Kids Detangler
- Moisturizing detangling spray.
- Suitable for all hair types.
- Affordable and free from harmful ingredients.
Best Scented: TotLogic Leave-In Conditioner
- Rich in antioxidants and nourishing plant-based ingredients.
- Naturally scented with essential oils.
- Free from harsh chemicals.
Best for Curls: SheaMoisture Coconut Hibiscus Detangler
- Shea butter, coconut, and hibiscus formula.
- Suitable for curly hair.
- Free from silicones, sulfates, parabens, and phthalates.
Best Organic: Earth Baby Conditioner + Detangler
- Certified organic and natural ingredients.
- Hypoallergenic and non-irritating.
- Free from artificial ingredients and harsh chemicals.
Best for Fine Hair: BabyBum Conditioning Detangler
- Non-sticky, non-greasy formula.
- Suitable for finer hair types.
- Vegan, cruelty-free, and free from harmful chemicals.
Best Luxury: Pipette Leave-In Hair Detangler
- Silicone-free detangler spray.
- Derived from plant-based ingredients.
- Environmental Working Group (EWG)-certified.
- Apply detangler post-swim for effective detangling.
- Use detangler for everyday hair maintenance.
- The article provides a variety of scents for different detanglers, catering to children's preferences.
- Some products are highlighted for being suitable for adults as well, showcasing versatility.
In conclusion, the article not only recommends specific products but also educates parents on what to look for in a good hair detangler, empowering them to make informed choices for their children's hair care.