Rat's Nest Hair: How To Manage It

Have you ever looked in the mirror, and your hair was so knotted up that it literally looked like a rat's nest? You try to brush it out, and nothing happens except… pain. This has happened to the best of us at least once. 

We will discuss why this happened, how to avoid it happening again, and what to do if it happens again. 

What Does Rat’s Nest Hair Look Like?

You may not understand exactly what rat’s nest hair is or why it’s called that. Rat’s nest hair looks like a rat family could live in your hair. Rat’s nest hair is a mess that looks almost unsalvageable, but hopefully you’ve had a giggle or two at your reflection when your hair is a mess. 

Many people wake up and are in shock when they find their once smooth hair now looks like the ball of hair you remove from your hairbrush. Rat’s nest hair happens all the time — we’ve got you covered!

Why Did Your Hair Turn Into a Rat’s Nest?

Hair care is important at all stages of your life. It’s good to treat your hair as you would your body, like a temple. There are certain steps you can take for your hair to keep it healthy and beautiful.

Not taking proper care of your hair can cause a rat’s nest. Maintaining your hair in some form every day is essential. It is easy to neglect it or simply forget it, it’s okay! 

Rat’s nest hair can build over time or happen to you overnight, leaving you in disbelief that the hair you see on top of your head is your own. When you’re done laughing into the mirror, read on for tips on avoiding and dealing with a mess on top of your head.

How Can You Avoid Rat’s Nest Hair In the Future?

If you notice your hair is becoming more dry and knotty day by day, you may be on your way to waking up with a real situation on your hands (or on your head). Treating any signs of hair damage as soon as you notice them can help prevent further damage. 

Here are some steps to prevent a rat’s nest from happening to you. 

Wash Your Hair Properly

A big cause of rat’s nest hair is not conditioning thoroughly — your hair deserves moisture! When washing your hair, make sure to wash it thoroughly with shampoo and use a moisturizing conditioner. 

Leaving out a conditioner or using a harsh shampoo can lead to tangled and knotted hair. 

Use More Than Just Shampoo and Conditioner

A leave-in conditioner is a great way to keep your hair smooth and shiny as well. This extra layer can help your hair retain moisture and stay silky for days to come.

It is also recommended to add a hair mask at least once a week to your hair routine.Better Not Younger conditioning masks soothe your strands back to health with a blend of deep-conditioning butters and restorative ingredients. 

Our conditioners can help you maintain healthy-looking aging hair with nourishing ingredients that smooth and shine without the weight.

Remove Knots Daily

Not removing knots can also cause rat’s nest hair. Brushing or combing your hair daily to prevent knots is a great way to ensure smooth hair, even after tossing and turning. When you leave knots unbrushed, they can tangle together to create bigger ones.

Find the right hair tool for your hair type. If you notice that brushing or combing your hair hurts or ends up creating noticeable breakage, it may be time to try out different products. Use a detangling spray to make removing knots a less painful process. 

Hydrate Your Hair

Keeping your hair full of moisture is crucial when trying to avoid rat’s nest hair. The dryer your hair is, the more susceptible it can be to knots. 

Moisture is needed in your hair to keep it smooth, soft, and frizz-free. Make sure to have a shampoo and conditioner that hydrates your hair to keep it full of moisture.

Avoid Teasing

We all love a great tease, but when done in excess, it can leave your hair full of knots and can take on that rat's nest hair look. If you need a teased look for an event, use a detangler and wide-toothed comb to gently remove the teasing before bed.

Trim Your Hair

Trimming your hair every six to eight weeks is important to keep healthy locks. If your hair goes untrimmed for too long, the ends of your hair can begin to break. 

The ends can become dry, knot up, and leave you with tangled hair no matter how hard you try to brush them. 

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

When trying to avoid overly tangled hair, it is best to avoid putting harsh chemicals into your hair. Bleach can be super damaging to your hair. At Better Not Younger, we endeavor to use formulas that are vegan, cruelty-free, and void of parabens, sulfates, and other harmful ingredients. 

Be kind to that hair, you both deserve it!

Use a Protective Scarf

As stated previously, when you sleep, you toss and turn to create knots in your hair. A nice silk scarf is great to put over your hair for bedtime. You can also use a silk pillowcase to achieve the same effect.

Silk protects the hair and prevents tangling. If you follow these steps, you can hopefully avoid the experience of awakening to a rat’s nest on top of your head. In the chance that you do, fear not; there are ways to get your hair looking back to the way it once was.

How Can You Get Rid Of Rat’s Nest Hair?

When you have a rat’s nest, detangling your hair will be your secret weapon. This process will take time and effort as getting rid of a rat’s nest hair is not easy or quick. Focusing on each tangle individually can ease the process (and the pain!). 

If you do this with dry hair, put on a movie and relax — this might take a while. You might as well enjoy the time you spend getting your hair back to its silky self.

A hair detangler is important to keep on hand when you have more knots than usual. The detangling spray not only aids in removing the knots but also gives you extra protection for your hair. This spray can also leave your hair smooth and shiny.

Spray the detangler throughout your entire head, coating all strands of hair. You want to ensure you do not miss any parts of your hair. 

Then, grab a comb and begin to comb out the knots gently. Make sure to start from the bottom while working your way up to prevent you from pulling too hard on your hair. 

Keep combing from the bottom up until all the knots are removed. If you notice that a knot is just not coming out, add more detangler spray and try again.

You can also put conditioner in dry hair if you do not have detangling spray. Coat your hair in conditioner and comb your hair starting from the bottom. Again, ensure that your entire head is covered to make getting the knots out easier.

Take your time and make sure to comb all of the knots out. You can section up your hair to be sure that all the knots are gone. Once all the knots are combed out, you can shower to wash out the conditioner. 

Your hair will be smooth and knot free. Add a leave-in conditioner to your hair to give it that extra care.

You can also detangle your hair in the shower. This method can work for all hair types but is particularly good for curly hair. Curly hair is best detangled when wet, as the curls are easier to manipulate.

Lather your hair in conditioner, making sure to cover all the knots. If you think you’ve put enough, put a little more! Get every strand covered in conditioner. 

Once your whole head is covered, you can begin detangling it with a comb. Like dry hair, start from the bottom and work your way up. Repeat this process until you are sure that all of the knots are gone. 

When the knots are combed out, you can rinse the conditioner and style your hair as normal. You may want to add a leave-in conditioner to decrease your chances of this happening again.


It is easy to become discouraged when your hair looks like one giant knot. Just remember that it is reversible! 

After removing all the knots and having your beautiful hair back, try not to fall into the same routine. Figure out what caused this to happen and move forward with the steps to prevent this from happening again.

Better Not Younger masks and conditioners were formulated to nourish all hair types, and can keep those pesky rodents out! Our products are suited for all hair types and textures and specifically created for women over 40. Visit our shop page to discover all of our Better Not Younger hair-care products for dry, damaged hair as well as all your hair concerns.

Stay on top of your hair health and find the best products for you and your hair type. In no time, you will develop a routine and will no longer have to worry about waking up to a hair disaster.


The biology and genetics of curly hair - Westgate - 2017 - Experimental Dermatology | Wiley Online Library

The effect of brushing on hair loss in women | PMC

Hair Dye Ingredients and Potential Health Risks from Exposure to Hair Dyeing | PMC