If there’s one thing about having kinky/curly/coily hair that can be quite annoying it’s having to deal with single strand knots (SSK’s), aka fairy knots. If you don’t know what single strand knots are, they are tiny knots that form on one single strand of hair. The hair loops around itself and forms a knot, mostly towards the end of the strand, but it can also form towards to the top of the strand. I don’t know how, but it’s also possible for more than one knot to form on an individual strand. While I was trimming my SSK’s over the weekend I discovered a few strands with 3 knots on them!
These types of knots are a lot more common with longer hair and is thankfully something you won’t have to deal with much if you choose to wear your hair short.
How to identify SSK’s
If you run your fingers over your strands and they feel bumpy towards the ends, it’s more than likely that it’s a knot. Take a closer look at the individual strand in the mirror if you’re not sure. I needed to trim my hair over the weekend anyway, but decided to aggressively tackle the SSK’s as well.
This picture shows the trimmed curls in addition to the individually trimmed strands with the knots clearly visible.
What causes SSK’s and how can they be prevented?
Some people believe that a knot is a symptom of a weak part on the hair strand. Others believe that it is simply the nature of natural hair to form these pesky little knots at some point, especially as the hair gets longer, because there are more curls and kinks on the strands.
It’s worth considering then that you’ll probably develop a few at some point, but keeping your hair tangle free and moisturised as much as possible will help to minimise them. Here are a few things you can do right now to help keep them at bay.
- Wash hair in sections and continuously smooth and wash the hair in a downward motion to minimise tangles and prevent the hair from twisting and looping around itself.
- Use loads of conditioner while detangling to give you maximum slip.
- Add a generous amount of your favourite oil to your conditioner to aid in giving maximum slip.
- Protect your ends by making sure you are sealing them properly and wearing some type of protective style. I know we see this advice often, but it definitely does help, so this Autumn and approaching Winter I plan to protect my ends with an extra layer of hair butter as well as step up my protective styling game by keeping my ends hidden more frequently. I noticed that I had more knots on the hair towards the back of my neck and realised it’s because this is the hair that is constantly touching my clothes and creating friction.
- Stretch your ends with twist/braid-outs and roller sets as opposed to wearing wash & go’s as the resulting curled up ends provide the perfect opportunity for tangles.
- Trim your hair when necessary – while having only a few SSK’s shouldn’t have you too worried, if left unmanaged, they’ll seem to suddenly appear en masse which is when they can cause ridiculous tangling and a nightmare of a detangling session. They can also cause weak points in the hair which can lead to breakage or even split ends. So just trim your hair when necessary in order to limit the damage.
- I’ve also read somewhere that you can try unravelling them with a needle, but I really don’t know who has the time for that!
Check out this short video to see how I trim my single strand knots.
Hope this helps Girls. If you have any more advice or experience to share on dealing with SSK’s please comment below.
Love your curls!
Thanks Eleanor. I know this might sound horrid but I usually break this suckers off. It’s time this lazy naturalista starts taking better care of her hair.
Haha, I’ve done that myself as well, but I’m really trying to keep my ends healthy. Otherwise holding on to any length past the shoulders just becomes that much more difficult, well for me anyway.
I recently had to buckle down and trim my ssk’s as well. Such an annoying process but I’m just glad they’re gone. My hair feels so much healthier now!
Yea, it takes a while to do it, but it definitely makes a big difference once you’ve snipped those ends and end up with healthy hair all around again. Thanks for reading 🙂
Wow I wish I had the time and patience to trim my ssk. I just trim when my hair gets tangled for no reason. I don’t usually look for ssks. maybe I should start! Thanks for the tips