Fairy knots on natural hair can be disastrous if you’re not careful. You may find yourself pulling on a single strand of hair while detangling, and notice that the fairy knot does not want to unravel itself from its stronghold.
Does it seem like you’re causing more damage than good when you detangle your hair? Don’t you wish you could avoid these pesky knots?
Having a few fairy knots is common, but having an excessive amount is a symptom of unhealthy hair. The more you have, the more you know if your natural hair is in an overall damaged condition.
Tackling fairy knots is easy once you know what to do. In this post I’ll discuss some ways of dealing with fairy knots so you can have healthy and long natural hair.
How do Fairy Knots Form?
Fairy knots are single-stranded knots that form on curly hair when the end makes its way up the strand and binds itself to a healthier part of the strand.
You may notice that you have more of them when your hair is dry and unmoisturized. It’s very common with curlier types of hair, and the result is a knot that clings and endangers surrounding hair.
Fairy knots in straight hair can happen, but it is not regarded as a common issue. Straight hair does not tend to travel upward on itself, so these kinds of knots are less frequent on relaxed hair.
What Causes Single-Strand Knots?
Single-strand knots are common with curly hair, so it’s perfectly reasonable to notice a few on wash day or during the week. It’s the nature of our curls. They wind and twirl themselves into knots. However, if you have excessive fairy knots, there’s a problem.
Several things can cause single-strand knots. Here are three main reasons:
- Not using enough hydration and moisturizing products. Lack of water and moisturizing products causes frizz. Frizz is harmful to hair because unruly strands shrink and tangle onto themselves.
Look for products containing slip to help keep your mane moisturized. It will take a few sessions of trial and error, but aim to avoid products known to cause dryness.
Products containing sulfates and some alcohols strip oils away from hair and cause dryness and fairy knots. There are a few exceptions, but you can usually tell if a product is good or bad for your hair on the first day of use.
Does your hair feel dry and matted after washing or soft and manageable? Are there excessive tiny, broken ringlets on the shower floor or do you mostly see longer strands signifying normal shedding?
These are things to observe on wash day that will help you decide whether to continue using a particular product or to dump it. And of course, if you notice an increase in fairy knots after trying a new product, you should toss the destructive product in the trash bin.
- Not keeping hair stretched. This is a hard one to follow, especially when you’re tempted to try a cute wash and go or an afro. When the hair is stretched, it is less likely to tangle.
Aim to use wash and go’s minimally, and to use protective styling if you have excessive fairy knots. Twists are easy to keep in your hair all week if you pair them with a fitting silk scarf or hat. Low buns also stretch the hair and allow you to tuck the ends.
- Not trimming hair. It’s tempting to avoid haircuts when you love your new growth, but refusing to sacrifice the weak points of your hair could mean losing even more of the strand to damage.
When hair is weak, it is often dry and frizzy. This condition can cause it to travel and cling onto a healthier strand. Conditions like fairy knots and split end travel upwards.
Always use a quality pair of shears when you cut. Otherwise, you’ll sabotage your efforts of having healthy hair.
Do Fairy Knots Cause Breakage?
Yes and no. It all depends on how you handle them. A fairy knot does not have to turn into a disaster if you use specific methods to get rid of it. First, let’s talk about how they could cause damage to a natural queen’s hair.
A single-strand knot can do a lot of harm to the surrounding hair if not treated properly. Single-strand knots tend to coil around other healthier strands of hair to seek moisture.
Are single strand knots bad? They can be. When you pull and tug at them, they take other strands along with them. This is where the damage happens. Pulling hair can cause frayed, split ends. As you probably know, split ends tend to travel upwards, leading to further damage.
Always deal with fairy knots at a dedicated time, like when you wash or hydrate your hair. Picking and pulling your hair all day at work or school can lead to damage because you’re not prepared to deal with the knots properly.
You may be wondering, should I cut my single strand knots? In the next section, I’ll give three ways to deal with fairy knots.
How to Deal with Fairy Knots
Now that you know about the nature of fairy knots let’s talk about how to deal with one when you spot it. There are three main methods of getting rid of fairy knots, and here they are from best to worst:
- Detangle it. The first, and best option would be to detangle the knot. Yes, it takes time and patience, but then you’d get to keep all your hair without cutting it or allowing it to drag the other strands down.
To detangle, dip your fingers in conditioner or a moisturizing curl cream and gently unravel the knot. Sometimes you’ll find that fairy knots become easily undone, and other times, you may need to cut.
- Cut it. The second option is to use the search and destroy method to spot and trim each fairy knot. It’s a great method to use before and after washing.
Always keep a pair of quality hair sheers in front of you while you detangle, so you’re not tempted to pull at fairy knots.
Sure, you’ll have a few strands that are shorter than the rest, but that is preferable to damage caused by pulling.
- Leave it alone. The third thing you can do is leave it alone to deal with later. It’s risky, but it’s preferable to pulling and snapping your strands. Leaving them alone can lead to further tangles and damage as knotted strands tend to coil themselves around more hair.
However, if you’re in a hurry, it is better to leave it alone to deal with later, rather than to pull and break the strand.
How to Prevent Fairy Knots
By now, you’re probably wondering how to stop fairy knots. There are several ways to prevent fairy knots from occurring. Here is a list of ways you can avoid them:
- Detangle before shampooing. When you’re in the shower, you may feel pressured to detangle quickly because water is running. If you detangle in front of the mirror before you get in, you’ll have a better chance of detangling with patience. It will also help your products coat the strand more efficiently.
- Do regular trims. Regular trims will help prevent fairy knots from occurring because you’ll be trimming the weakest hair. Knots can develop anywhere along the strand, but it’s the brittle, frizzed end that likes to travel upward and twirl itself around the best part of the strand.
You don’t need to make a rigorous schedule out of trimming, but be sure to trim when you feel it is time, or when some fairy knots increases.
- Seal the ends. Coating your ends with shea butter or another healing oil will help to keep strands from forming a knot. It will also protect them from frictional damage when they do. Sealing the ends makes it easier to keep the mane untangled and retained length.
- Use moisturizing products. Do you have natural hair knots on the ends? Use products with enough slip so that the ends slide apart instead of tangling.
Slip is a beauty term that refers to how slippery a product is. A good moisturizing shampoo and conditioner will allow the curls to slide apart easier.
- Do protective styling. Keep hair braided or twisted as much as possible, especially while sleeping. Stretch the ends, and keep wash and go styling to a minimum.
- Balance moisture and protein. It’s important to keep hair balanced with moisture and protein. Moisture protects the hair, and protein strengthens it. They must work in unison to form the perfect strand.
- Lubricate with oil rinsing. Oil rinsing is a way to keep hair sealed and less tangled. To do an effective oil rinse, douse the hair with coconut or olive oil after conditioning, and then rinse with water.
- Wash in sections. Keeping your hair in sections on wash day will help you keep control over your tresses and will aid in keeping unruly strands in place.
You probably can’t completely avoid fairy knots with kinky and curly hair, but you can take crucial steps to dealing with them.
When you do get single-strand knots, how well you deal with them can ultimately determine whether you’ll have long, healthy strands.
If you add a special procedure for dealing with fairy knots into your natural hair regimen, you’ll find that your hair detangles easier, looks less damaged, and makes it easier to retain desirable length.
What about you? Do you have a favorite way to deal with fairy knots on natural hair?
Hey Curl Friend, I’m Patrina Haupt the creator and author of Natural Hair Queen. I hope you find my healthy hair care tips helpful in your hair journey. Healthy hair care practices are definitely, what helped me to achieve waist length hair.