Friday, September 13, 2013

Single Strand Knots: 5 ways to eliminate them!

I think everyone can agree with me when I say I absolutely LOATHE single strand knots! Ugh they are super annoying, seems like they appear on every single hair strand, and freaks/stresses me out because I have to cut them! :(

Single strand knots (SSKS) or fairy knots are fairly common among naturals especially as 

hair starts to get longer (usually 6 inches or more). There are two important questions 

that arise when it comes to managing knots:

What do you do when you find knots?

Welp there are three options:

1. Leave them alone

2. Undo them
3. Cut them

Of these three methods, the one that isn't recommend is leaving them alone. 

Knots have the ability to create more problems if left alone. Knots create an obstruction 

around which tangles form. During combing, hair is also likely to snap above the knot 

creating rough edges and potential split ends.

If you can unravel a knot (which I can't! They're too small!)  it is perfectly fine to do so, 

some people have success with the use of a needle or by slowly pulling out any 

hair trapped within a knot. The down side to this is that if you have to poke at the knot 

several times with a needle instead of having a clear pathway to unravel, you may end up 

with damage to the strand. Trimming directly above the knot is the easiest option and as 

knots tend to fray the edges of the hair strand as they form, it is also the most effective 

method of preventing further damage to the hair strand.

How do you prevent knots?

Knots form mainly in free hair which is being manipulated (i.e detangled, combed, 

brushed or styled). To prevent knots forming there are several strategies to consider.

1. Wash in Sections

Once your hair starts to approach 5-6 inches in length, consider sectioning your hair and 

washing it in loose braids or twists. This reduces tangling and the likelihood of loops 

forming in the hair to create knots.

2. Use gentle cleansers that don’t strip natural oils

Of course the intention of washing is to remove excess dirt and oil from the hair. But you 

don’t want a cleanser that strips the strand entirely, leaving it with a ‘squeaky’ feeling. 

That feeling means that there are no natural oils on the strand, and the cuticle is raised. 

The raised cuticles will tangle with each other during the wash process.

3. Increase Protective Styling

As free hair has a greater tendency to form knots, protective style involving twisting or 

braiding which protect the hair ends are better. This does not mean that you cannot 

enjoy your free hair but it does mean that if your aim is to grow your hair longer, 

balance out the time you spend with your hair out with the time you spend with it 

protected. When your hair is out, choose stretched styles which may also help reduce 

knot formation.

4. Stretch your Ends

When ends curl up they provide the perfect opportunity for knotting. So, if you’re 

wearing twists or an ‘out’ style (twist out, bantu knot out, etc), be sure to seal then 

stretch your ends at night. An easy way to do this is putting in large bantu knots. Just 

section your hair, apply a dab of shea butter (or your sealing product of choice) to your 

ends and then roll the sections into large bantu knots. Make sure the entire section — all 

the way to the ends — gets rolled into the knot. You can also try setting your ends on 

rollers. When you wake up the next day your ends will be fully stretched, providing no 

opportunity for knots to form.

5. Special note: Oil rinsing

In natural forums "Oil rinsing"is credited with knot prevention. I do not have a solid 

scientific theory or explanation for this, I would think perhaps the oil adds extra slip 

during the wash which may help the hair strands slide past each other instead of tangling 

and forming knots. I do generally like oil rinsing for other reasons, but as this is a 

commonly discussed knot prevention technique, I thought I would include it in this 

article even though there is no direct evidence of its working.

What do you do for single strand knots?

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