I’ve been fighting the uphill battle of keeping my hair knot-free for as long as I can remember. Someone has been, at least—I have vivid, profoundly traumatizing memories of my mother chasing me around the house armed with a brush and a spray bottle of L’Oreal Kids Tangle Tamer while I screamed in protest. Brushing through my fine but plentiful, easily tangled hair has always been a feat for everyone involved. (In her defense, I was born balder than Bruce Willis, so she was probably just really thankful I even had hair and wanted to keep it that way.)
So take it from age-10 me: Brushing your hair sucks, but if you absolutely must do it (and you do, sometimes), using a detangler takes much of the sting out of it. I forgot about this almost immediately once I got too damn old for my mom to be dousing me in the stuff: I regarded detangler as just a thing kids like me needed because we were too perfunctory to figure out how not to accumulate knots on our own.
But who knew? Adults can use it, too—just maybe something a little more grown-up than the L’Oreal Kids formula, and by “grown-up” I mean, like, $40 more expensive. On a more technical, less sentimental level, totally divergent from memory lane, overbrushing is a nightmare for hair, especially when you’ve just hopped out of the shower and it’s still wet. Hair is fragile, and brushing can lead to breakage. But not brushing also leads to breakage, because once tangles develop, you have no choice but to brush them through lest you look like Nell, and then those hairs sustain damage and break, and so on and so forth. It’s a vicious cycle, and nobody wins.
And thus: detangler. So simple, so necessary for any and all hair types, and not just for me and Christopher McCandless—if he had made it out of the wild, of course. Even if you don’t necessarily feel the need to brush your hair on the daily (brushing your hair all the time became passé at some point, though I’m not sure when or where), this newer breed of detangling sprays makes styling easier and hair softer and keeps it healthier for longer, as less aggressive brushing = fewer split ends. Math!
See: the six best detanglers for card-carrying adults, or at least those of us who put on a good show of acting like adults. However, if you choose to continue using the O.G. iteration (is it supposed to look like a whale??), for nostalgia’s sake, I’ll never tell. Burst of Sweet Pear still has its place in this world.