As soon as you get up from your bed, you look into the mirror, but the reflection leaves you in utter disbelief. Your soft and silky tresses from the previous night now remind you of a bird’s nest that the rodents have wrecked. Your hair is full of massive snarls and knots tied in a clump. This particular position of twisted and tangled hair is known as a ‘rat nest in hair’, where tresses and curls look so knotted and intertwined that they look unmanageable at first glance. 

Rats’ nest hair is exceptionally untidy, uneven, and messy. Trying to smooth such chaotic hair not only needs a lot of energy but will also leave you hurting with a handful of broken hairs.

The rat’s nest hair may be wrapping up all of your head or, under some circumstances, can be restricted to a particular area, e.g. the underside of your hair or nape.

Widespread Reasons Behind Rats Nest In Hair

There can be many reasons behind the occurrence of these chaotic rat’s nest hair.

Hair Texture And Property

Some particular hair types have a higher chance of getting tangled and muddled. 

Curly and Wavy Hair: The wavy and curly locks and tresses quickly wrap around each other, forming and escalating the already present knots. 

Thick Hair: More hair density and volume increase the chances of them getting easily tangled around each other. 

Fine Hair:  Fine hairs are delicate and fragile and lack thickness due to which they effortlessly wrap and curl around each other. 

Dry And Damaged Hair: Dry hair lacks moisture and oils and thus wraps onto each other, forming massive tangles and knots. Furthermore, heat styling, chemicals, and environmental factors leave hair dry, spongy, and fragile. 

Hair Care Routine

Inappropriate hair care routines are also the reason behind rat nest hair. 

Sporadic brushing – Not carefully brushing daily leaves hair detangled and knotted. Missing out on touching regularly results in hair tangled up in hardly manageable knots and rat’s nest hair.

Uneven and Jagged Brushing Forceful and aggressive combing causes roughness, breakage, and tangles. Tugging a brush through hair puts pressure on filaments and strands, weakening hair.

Without proper conditioning and oiling, hair dries out and gets tangled. Conditioning and oiling provide moisture to the hair and help it detangle.

Sleeping unrestrained. Flipping and constantly turning rub hair into knots during the night. Rubbing and friction against pillows and bedding twist hairs, leaving them in knots. 

Not shielding hair Roughness from clothes, linens, helmets, etc; leaves hair in knots and tangles. Hoods, Scarves, and collars further leave hair in a non-glossy matt state. 

Environmental And Ecological Factors

Outside ecological and environmental factors are also one of the reasons behind the rat’s nest hair. 

1. Weather Dampness, downpours, and windy weather leave hair dry and non-glossy. Damp air causes hair filaments to inflate and fuse.

2. Chlorine Swimming pools contain a lot of chlorine, and swimming in it sucks out the moisture from within the hair strands. Chlorine dries natural oils from hair, leaving them dry and damaged. 

3. Product overdo: Using excessive gel, sprays, and other hair care and styling products leaves hair dry and damaged as they contain chemicals. Extra Usage of these products hurts the natural gloss. 

4. Pollution: Filth, dust, and smoke stick to hair, knotting and tangling it. Dust particles in the air stick to the hair strands, leaving them dry and damaged.

How to Avoid Rats Nest In Hair

Although a rat’s nest hair cannot be avoided entirely, specific preventive measures can significantly diminish its chances.

Habitual Moisturizing And Conditioning: Habitual moisturizing and conditioning provide hydration to damp and dry hair and help detangle it. After every wash, you should use a conditioner to restore moisture and softness.

Use leave-ins as they provide additional moisture that protects the hair between washes. Leave-in treatments keep hair detangled and smooth for days.

Deep condition weekly Passionate and intense weekly treatment undo the damage. Doing a mask restores protein and lipids to damaged hair filaments and cuticles.

Hair Oiling: Massaging and oiling hairs with oils like coconut lubricates and softens hair. Natural oils seal in moisture and give a smooth texture to the hair. 

Gentle Handling and Finger Detangling: Remove tangles occasionally with fingers to gently separate the knots and tangles. 

Wide-tooth comb: It is advised to use a tooth comb as it glides effortlessly through the knots. Wide tooth combs are gentler to use, and they do not put stress on the hair strands. 

Wet Brush’s unique bristles minimize hair damage. The stretchy bristles grasp hair firmly without pulling.

Brush bottom up. Initially, you should start detangling hair at the ends to avoid hurting your scalp. Knots and tangles mostly form at the ends, so one should start from there. 

Nighttime Safety Measures for Nest in Hair

Silk pillowcase: Always use a soft and smooth pillowcase as it helps avoid friction. The silky material doesn’t suck up moisture from hair during the night, and thus, hair remains manageable.

Satin bonnet/scarf: Keep your hair in a bonnet or scarf during the night, as they help prevent hair from getting tangled during the night. 

Braids/buns: One should tie hair in braids or buns at night as it guarantees no friction against the fabric or skin, further enhancing the hair quality and smoothness.

Guard Against Damage

Evade harsh products. Regarding hair, one should prefer sulfate-free products with fewer chemicals. Chemicals are harsh for hair quality and strip natural oils from hair, resulting in dry and damaged hair, causing tangles and knots. 

Protect from chlorine. Use protection before swimming, as pools contain a lot of chlorine, and using leave-ins or some protection caps will help minimize the absorption of drying chlorine.

Reduce the Usage of heat styling. You should avoid heat-styling tools as much as possible as they cause dryness. The heat from the styling tools weakens hair filaments, causing damage to tangles and knots. 

Trimin regularly: You should trim your hair every 6-8 weeks. Regular trims help end the split ends, forming tangles and knots. 

Clarify buildup: You should use a monthly clarifying shampoo. This helps remove product residue that weighs hair down.

How to Untangle Rats Nest In Hair

Rats nest in hair need some rigorous detangling which are following;

Managing Tools

Detangling spray: These particular sprays help soften the hair as they lubricate and untie the knots. Formulas used in such sprays as silicone help in separating the strands.

Conditioner or mask helps in hydrating the hair and makes it manageable. Thick conditioners provide lubrication, thus reducing and hurting the scalp.

Wide-tooth comb: It is advised to use a wide-tooth comb as it glides effortlessly through the knots. Wide tooth combs are gentler to use and they do not put stress on the hair strands.

Wet Brush: The bristles of a damp brush are more flexible and thus reduce hair breakage. The bristles effortlessly glide through the knots with zero to no tugging. 

Clips: You should section your hair with clips for detangling. Clips help in detangling various sections in a proper order and minimize the pain. 

Patience! Rat’s nest hair is not a joke and is a lengthy process. It can take a lot of time, so patience is the key to handling hair in such a situation. 

Step-by-step and Gradual Detangling

Infuse hair With Water. You should properly wet your hair and then start detangling it. Water helps the hair strands to bend easily thu, making the process more convenient and manageable.   

Apply conditioner/mask. Certainly, Conditioners and hair masks reduce friction and make gliding your comb or brushing through your hair manageable. Put your conditioner generously, coat every strand, and let it sit for 5+ minutes. You’ll see the magic within minutes. 

First, detangle the finger. It would help if you initially started with finger detangling and separated strands with fingers. Fingers help in carefully loosening the tangles and knots. 

Wide-tooth comb: These combs are a lifesaver when it comes to tangles and knots. Start from the bottom while dividing the hair into sections. The comb gently helps in smoothening the knots and tangles. 

Switch to a wet brush: The wet brush adds shine and helps untangle the hair. It is advised to detangle hair from the bottom first. 

Rinse conditioner: Properly wash out the conditioner, as residue will only weigh your hair down. 

Leave-in conditioners hydrate your hair, lock in the natural oils, and prevent it from forming knots and tangles. 

Oiling Habitual: Oiling will provide extra lubrication to your hair. Argan oil and other oils, such as coconut, provide smoothness to your hair and also give it shine. 

Dos and Don’ts


Take breaks as otherwise; you’ll end up frustrated. Remember, patience is the key here.  

Water is another solution; add it if hair dries – Re-wet and reapply as needed.

Bind off detangled sections as keeping hair separated prevents re-tangling.

Expect the process to be long and time-consuming, as severely tangled hair requires significant time and attention.


Take your time with knots, as this will only lead to splitting, tearing, and breakage.

Avoid brushing your dry and unconditioned hair.

Rip through tangles aggressively – Harsh handling damages hair.

Avoid tackling all hair at once and always divide hair into sections. 

Exceptional Cases of Rats Nest In Hair

rat nest hairs

Rat’s nest hair can turn up in anyone’s hair, but certain groups face more risks.

Children’s Hair

Kids usually have long hair and can have rat’s nest hair more quickly than the average populace. Their long hairs have a higher chance of getting knotted in tangles. Special measures need to be taken to save them from this particular situation. 

  • Apply detangler spray and leave-in conditioners as they make hair smooth, thus preventing knots and twists. 
  • Combing wet and moist hair as Water helps loosen the tangles for an easy and painless experience.
  • Start teaching your kids to brush their hair thoroughly and comprehensively, and show them how to do it in detail. 
  • Tie or braid their hair before bedtime as it keeps hair orderly and contained over the night.
  • Use satin caps or pillowcases, as the smooth fabric prevents friction while sleeping.
  • Habitual trims also prove to be very helpful as they help get rid of the dry and damaged ends. 

Curly and Textured Hair

  • Curly hairs are more likely to get tangled and need special care. 
  • Deep conditioning treatments are necessary for curly hair as they nourish and hydrate parched curls.
  • Sleeping on silk pillowcases helps as they help in detangling. 
  • Use a handsome and thick conditioner and fingers to detangle hair. Try to separate the strands smoothly with your fingers.
  • Avoid brushing wet hair, as wet hairs are not only easy to comb but also prevent knots and breakage.
  • Always use curl-friendly shampoos and styling products, and prefer formulas without sulfates and silicones.

Locks and Protective Styles

  • The abandoned roots and hair at the nape can knot even in locks or braids. Following this particular routine can be helpful.  
  • Cleanse your scalp and lengths regularly, preventing dirt buildup on the scalp and keeping your hair fresh. 
  • Ensure that the braids aren’t too tight; otherwise, they can damage your hair because of pressure.
  • Try to loosely cover your hair overnight to prevent friction, which can lead to hair breakage. 
  • Detangle your hair gently after you have styled it; otherwise, the knots will rip off. 

Senior Hair

  • Ageing hair needs extra attention and care to prevent rat nests
  • Use hydrating shampoos and conditioners, and look for formulas catering to mature hair.
  • Apply leave-ins and serums as they replenish lost oils and proteins.
  • Protect fragile strands overnight, sleep on silk pillowcases, and gently tie back your hair.
  • Avoid over-washing and use many heat styling tools, as too much cleansing and heat can weaken your hair strands.
  • Trimming regularly is very important. It is suggested to cut your hair every 6-8 weeks so you’ll get rid of the dry and damaged ends. 

When to Seek Expert’s Help For Rat’s Nest Hair

  • It is advised to seek professional detangling services for severe or persistent cases.
  • If knots cover your whole head, it needs an expert’s touch.
  • If hair loss/breakage occurs when trying to detangle your hair, seek an expert.  
  • A professional can work through knots if you find it very time-consuming. 
  •  If you are constantly facing the issue of rat nest hair, then seek professional help and try to find the underlying issue

Hairstylists have professional-grade detangling experience, products, and tools to tackle intense nesting competently, thus minimizing the damage. Salon conditioning treatments can also help get damaged hair back on track.

The Takeaway: Consistent Care Prevents Rats Nests

While rat nest hair can’t always be avoided altogether, staying on top of hydration, protection, and gentle handling goes a long way. Pay attention to the health of your hair and scalp.

Notice signs of dryness or damage and address them as soon as possible. Avoid letting tangles accumulate over time. Establish a hair care routine suited to your hair type and needs.

With some TLC, you can keep knotting and matting at bay. But should you ever wake to find your strands resembling a rodent’s nest, don’t panic.

Meanwhile, With the proper techniques and products, you can smooth your hair to silkiness again. Just be patient and gentle as you unravel the mess.

Your diligent detangling will be rewarded with renewed glossy, flowing locks.