Tips to Prevent Pesky Single Strand Knots

preventing single strand knots natural hair

When you’re relaxed, your hair has its own set of challenges like keeping it moisturized.  When you decided to get natural, a new set of challenges came along including keeping single strand knots (also known as fairy knots) at bay.

Last week I read an article on Curly Nikki called Tips on Detangling The Worst Knots. When I replied, I realized I had a lot to say and could provide some curly hair help on the subject matter.

You’ve heard the saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That’s how I feel about single strand knots.

Preventing them in the first place is best. Of course, you can’t prevent knots from occurring 100% of the time (especially as your hair gets longer), but you can cut down on how often you have to deal with those pesky boogers. Here are some tips:

Be careful with earrings

If you wear your hair loose and also wear big or long earrings, your hair can easily catch to them and get tangled. Just imagine loose hairs catching on your earrings and then catching on each other. Tangles and knots. I learned this the hard way.

I love big earrings but I save them for when I’m wearing an updo.

Skip The Wash ‘N Go

Wash ‘N Go’s are very popular among naturals. They yield lovely results but continuously styling your hair by ‘washing and going’ may cause all your lovely curls to wrap around each other – an increased risk for knotting.

If you find that you are getting fairy knots often, then skip or cut down on wash ‘n  go hairstyles.

Don’t sleep with your hair loose

I know. I know. Sometimes you just don’t feel like putting your hair up at night. You’re tired and can deal with it in the morning. Are you sure? If you allow your hair to roam free at night (especially if you sleep anything like me…wild woman central), you’re hair is moving and twisting all over the place – ricking matting and tangling.

Sleep with a satin bonnet or scarf on so that your hair does not get tangled and ultimately knotted.

Wrap your hair at night

If you have a looser curl pattern or relaxed hair (yes relaxed heads can get single strand knots too!), you can prevent tangles that lead to knots by wrapping your hair.

The smoother you can keep your hair, the less of a chance it has of getting fairy knots.

Don’t wash Bed Head

This kind of ties in with not going to bed and allowing your hair to roam free. I used to sleep without a satin bonnet when I was relaxed. I’d wake up with bed head (hair that needs detangling before washing) and then go to the hairdresser to get my hair washed.

There were tangles I didn’t even want to deal with. Now that I’m natural, I realize that if I could get single strand knots from washing a relaxed bed head, then surely the risk is greater with curly bed head.

Gently finger detangle your hair with an oil or conditioner (or both) before washing it. You don’t have to completely detangle but  you want to work out what you can before washing so you don’t get knots while washing.

Oil your hair with a light weight oil

Oiling your hair daily helps to keep the slip going before it’s time to wash. This prevents single strand knots because the individual strands of hair don’t readily wrap themselves around each other. The risk of knotting is minimized.

An oil like Jojoba oil is light enough to use daily so it won’t weigh your hair down.

Keep your hair well moisturized and in good condition

Making sure your hair is moisturized and conditioned is the basis of healthy hair. It’s also very helpful in preventing single strand knots.

Co-washing helps keep the hair soft and flowing. If you wash your hair weekly, adding a mid week co-wash session can help cut down single strand knots.

Many naturals also neglect to moisturize daily. They feel it’s unnecessary and while it may be for some, if you’re constantly getting knots, try these tips for adding moisture: Apply a leave in conditioner before styling and seal the moisture in with a light oil. Using a daily moisturizer cream before styling is another option.

Detangle More Often

If you find you still have a problem with single strand knots, add an additional detangling session to your hair care regimen.

Instead of waiting until wash day to detangle your hair, finger detangle it mid-week and twist or braid it up. It may be that your hair is prone to tangling and needs a little extra love and care during the week.

Some of these tips will work well for your hair and you’ll notice a reduction in single strand knots. Some of the tips may work better for others. There is no one size fits mold when it comes to caring for hair. We have different hair types and often a combination of them on our individual heads. So, what I’ve shared is what I’ve found works for my hair. Single strand knots are rarely a problem for me.

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Michelle Smith
Michelle is a Christian special needs mom residing in the NYC area who shares useful tips to grow and maintain fine natural hair. She's a published author and Creator of Fine Natural Hair and Faith, inspiring others with faith for living along side knowledge on how to care for their "crown."

13 thoughts on “Tips to Prevent Pesky Single Strand Knots

  1. Great post Michelle!! I never would have thought about making the suggestion about earrings … I don’t tend to wear large ones. BUT, I have had hair wrap around a thin wire or smaller earring. So, it’s definitely something to be conscious of. This is not related to SSK, but many years ago I stopped getting sunglasses with exposed/raised screws and became conscious of how I put them on and removed them as I was constantly popping hair because it would get caught in the arms or around the screws!!

    And, in regard to WnGs, I definitely agree that they make hair more SSK prone!! It was different for me to wear my hair in that state for the last few weeks, but think I’m going back to my TnCs and updos!!

  2. Ahhhh makes sense now….wash an go styles do lead to knots! Great tips, ill be implementing them into my routine 🙂

    1. Let me know if you find they work better for you! I kept my wash ‘n go this past weekend for 2 days. I can’t leave my hair out longer than that. Going back to my protective styles!

  3. Awesome post, I can’t wear wash and gos because I have a little bit of relaxed ends left. I have not had a relaxer for three years and did not do the big chop and that has worked for me. My hair is super curly so I have to moisturize and twist or braid at night. I use a sewing pin to get out single strand nots and it works 98% of the time. A knot can happen just with me wearing my hair down in a curly style. Sleeping with a bonnet on and a satin cap also helps me too.

    1. I read about the sewing pin but have never had to use it before. I can usually get a knot out with conditioner. It’s rare that I have to do so now.

  4. Great tips Michelle! For me, I find that my hair gets less tangled period if I do wash my hair every few days (shampoo once a week and co wash mid week). Wash days are the days I detangle and I find it helps a lot with the knots. With this hair, I could never be one of those girls who could go a whole month without washing her hair.

    With the Wash N Go’s I think it depends on the type of hair you have. My hair thrives best with Wash n go’s because I really leave it alone, because you know with fine hair it tends to break even easier.

    1. I did a wash and go yesterday and while it looked great, I know that I can’t maintain it this way. Back to protective styling I go! This fine hair of mine can’t be out for more than a day without knotting up. It’s all the friction that’s caused from being out.

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