What is Slip in Hair Conditioners or Oil?

If you are looking for the perfect hair conditioner to detangle your hair or if you dry detangle your hair then what you are looking for is slip! I hear you ask, so, what exactly is slip? Here is a handy 3D explanation for you.

First you have to imagine some tangled strands

Tangled hair strands with two hot spots for possible trouble
Now when you are trying to get your comb (or fingers!) through these hot spots, there are three likely scenarios
1. The comb passes through with no problem
2. The comb passes through as long as you use force (i.e damage the surface of your hair)
3. The comb does not pass through and instead the strands create a knot

A knot.....really a knot? Well yes, as those strands tighten which happens easily with no slip, it is very easy to form a knot

Simulation : How a hair knot can form through tangled hair strands
Simulation: Continued tightening of intertwined strands during detangling, strands do not separate
Obviously the best outcome is number 1 where the strands slip out (hint hint!). The best way to guarantee this result is simply to coat the trouble spots in either hair conditioner (which should have some type of oil - silicone and mineral oil do count!) or a natural oil or both. This will create slip which in simple terms means a coating to reduce friction (two uncoated 'naked' hair strand grinding against each other's cuticles).

Hair strands separate smoothly due to slip from hair conditioner (yellow) or oil (green)

 Conclusion :

Do you need slip when detangling hair?

Yes!The more slip your conditioner or oil gives to your hair, the easier and less damaging it will be to detangle (both conditioner detangle or dry detangling with oil).

Now it is your turn to share: What is your best detangling conditioner or oil?


  1. Curl Junkie Smoothing Lotion is my favorite for slip.

  2. Hands down, Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner.

  3. After trying many conditioners and multiple techniques, I found that dry detangling with olive oil works best for my hair

  4. Thank you! These illustrations are very helpful. They remind me that I need to use oil or condish for detangling and slooooow down.

  5. Can no slip actually make your hair easier to detangle in some cases? The last time I took out braids I neglected my hair for a few days and it got really dry. I noticed that when I tried to detangle it the shed hair came out more easily than usual. I didnt use any oil or conditioner. I checked the hair and it was mostly shed not breakage. Do you think there's any reason behind this or was this a coincidence?

  6. I found that a mixture of H2O, oil and a conditioner give extremely good slip to detangle.

  7. A mix of coconut oil and water or Kinky Curly Knot Today

  8. I tried once to detangle with only olive oil and my hair just tangled up in a big mess of knots real bad...now I use a spray bottle with warm water and sevaral oils (what ever oils I put my hands on)...the next time I detangle I'm going to try add conditioner to my mix and see if this gives better slip.


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