Reader Q&A: CurlyNikki On Avoiding Single Strand Knots

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Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you're in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by tweeting them to @EssenceMag with the hashtag #AskCurlyNikki.

READER QUESTION: Nikki, I saw your post on all the single strand knots you’re finding in your hair and want you to know that I have them too. Is this an inevitable part of being natural? Can I prevent them?

CURLYNIKKI's RESPONSE: I wish there was an easy answer to your question but there really isn't. The consensus is that single strand knots come with the natural hair territory. They’re also commonly referred to as 'fairy knots' because they're so impossibly small, that only a fairy could've tied them! While some believe them to be a benign issue, they drive me nuts and I have no choice but to seek them out and snip them off.

For those of you that have no idea what I'm talking about, good for you! They unfortunately have plagued me since going natural. They're so strange and unfortunate... a single strand of your hair, actually ties a knot in itself! Ridic. I hate the way they feel and they always get caught on adjacent hairs and cause even more tangling than usual and I just... I can't... so I snip them, or else I snap them off with my finger nails. Ratchet. I know. This is a very annoying problem — one of which a resolution has yet to be found.

Although I haven’t found a routine to eliminate the knots completely, the below tips will most certainly help you reduce the situation and keep them at bay.

-No more wash and gos!- Leaving my hair to dry unmanipulated and shrink fully, no matter the leave-in or styler, led to knot city. I never experienced more knots than when I was wearing wash-and-gos. I recently revisited the wash-and-go and in less than a month I’ve developed no less than 30 single strand knots.

-Seal ends (with a butter or oil)- Remember to use a water based moisturizer first, sealing in the goodness with the oil. I find that the layer of oil really helps to smooth and calm my hyper-curly ends.

-Stretch ends- Straighter ends have a harder time coiling up on themselves, and thus a harder time forming "fairy knots." I stretch my ends on rollers when I prep for my signature style, the wash and go.

-Protect ends- Buns helped a bit, but the knots were still there. Twist-out, then bun for best results. You could also rock, twists, or braids or any other style that keeps the hair stretched and protected. It’s also important to protect your hair from the elements. Humidity causes my hair to take on a rough texture and the resulting shrinkage leads to knots. Also, I avoid windy situations.

I don't let my hair blow in the wind while driving down the highway, or even wisp about on windy days out doors. I'll end up with a mess of knots!

I hope this helps! Please feel free to share your experience with fairy knots and what if anything has worked for you!

Nikki "CurlyNikki" Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural haircare, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.

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