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Knots in Hair Strands?

Over the years I have come across so many issues natural haired women are discovering with their hair. I’d like to help you all out by talking about some of them, what causes them and how to work with what you’ve got. We're dealing with knotted strands in this article. What they are, how they get there and how to minimize them. We've all had them from time to time - so what's the deal?


Our natural hair type is highly textured. This can mean O’s, Z’s, S’s, L’z etc... all appear on our individual shafts. One of the consequences of this is that hair shaft bends or rolls back on itself and sometimes, through itself. This action creates a knot in an individual hair shaft. The problem with these knots is that once they are in, they don’t come out and that knotted strand can become weak at the knot and break off. These knots usually appear midway to near the end of the hair shaft and can cause serious breakage and split ends, especially if you get too many. You may even find many knots on one strand!

You will find more of these knots if you are wearing “outs” wash and go’s and undefined styles such as knot-outs, afros and puffs a lot more than if you wear your hair in smoother, stretched, or tucked styles such as wraps, tails, updos, etc, which prevent the hair from naturally curling up on itself.

Unfortunately, getting knotted strands is a consequence of loving to wear our “outs” and the best thing you can do to minimize breakage from these knots is to alternate your hairstyles. But you can minimize it.

1. When it is time to wash your hair after wearing an “out” style for any length of time, and before you wash it, section it into big sections (how big to section is up to you – I make  4 – 6 sections)

2. Grab a creamy conditioner, add a little castor oil to it and coat the section well with it. Holding the section at the base and starting from the ends, comb or brush your hair out gently, smoothing out any tangles, working your way up to your scalp then braid the section.

3. Do this for each section. Leave the conditioner/oil mix in your hair for at least 30 minutes to get the best benefit.

4. Now when you go to wash your hair, saturate it with water first, then take out the sections and shampoo and condition as usual. You can do this section by section or all at once. It is up to you. I do mine in sections.

This is also a great method to detangle generally, especially if you have thick, dense hair, no matter what style you have worn your hair in. Sectioning the hair and working in sections is faster, causes less breakage and makes styling after washing easier.

You will find fewer knots in your hair if you do this every time you wash it. If you find them.... the best thing to do is cut them off. Don't pull at them and break them.

Good luck!


Patricia Gaines aka Deecoily is the founder and creator of Nappturality in 2002, the beginning of the natural hair movement. Since 2000 she has been blogging on all things natural hair, Black culture and politics.

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