Despite how much of a hot topic they’ve become lately, bantu knots are anything but a new, trendy hairstyle. The protective hairstyle has a long history and has passed down many generations for women of color. Bantu knots are still prominently worn among women who are transitioning back to their natural hair or already embrace their natural hair texture. They’re typically worn at bedtime to be kept on overnight and let out into soft spirals, but it’s become more common to step out with the transitional hairstyle. We spoke to hairstylist Tina Outen who has worked with textured hairstyles throughout her career, on how exactly to nail down perfect Bantu knots.
Step 1: Section and detangle
Starting with dry hair, begin by parting the hair into square or diamond-shaped sections. Be sure to detangle any unwanted knots or kinks during this time. You can also use this time to spray in some leave-in conditioner, or some water to make the process easier.
Step 2: Prep with product
Use a Denman brush for each section and pass through to create some tension in the hair. Using the styling product of your choice, apply a generous amount to each section that was previously parted. If you plan on letting your knots out into curls, Tina recommends a moisturizing styling cream. However, if you plan on keeping your knots in tact for a little bit longer, use an edge control paste that will guarantee a strong hold with high shine.
Step 3: Start twisting
Now that you have enough product spread throughout each section of your hair, it’s time to twist your hair into coils. Take each section of hair and split it into two strands, from there twist one strands in one direction and the other strands in the opposite direction. Gather them together at the ends and twist both strands from the bottom up, and then in a circular motion to form a coil.
Step 4: Secure your knots
After you’ve created a tight Bantu knot, you’ll have to secure it even further. To prevent any split ends from making an appearance or having your hair unravel altogether, use a U-shaped pin to keep it in place. Make sure you’re pinning your hair through the base of each twist. If you’re sleeping with your twists, you can tie a headscarf around your head for added protection.
Step 5: Style
If you’d like to wear your knots as they are, Tina recommends dabbing a little bit of edge control on flyaway and unrulier areas. She also suggests putting a little bit of the product onto a toothbrush to lay down your actual edges up front. On the other hand, if you’d like to let your hair out into loose spirals, gently untwist your Bantu knots and begin to separate your hair. Lightly shake out your hair and run your fingers through it to keep the new volume.