Google Header -->
Skip to main content
Curly Nikki


By January 27th, 202132 Comments

Due to a uprising in my single strand knot count, I thought I’d re-post this. I’ve been using the smaller, rod rollers with great results. However, the tighter curls have created an environment for knots to thrive (my ends are rolling up on themselves). I’m going on a snipping mission tonight, and will probably bun for a bit.


Many of you have asked me about single strand knots and how to avoid them. I wish there was an easy answer, but there really isn’t :0(
The consensus is that single strand knots come with the natural hair territory. Ladies on LongHairCommunity call them ‘fairy knots’ because they’re so impossibly small, that only a fairy could’ve tied them, lol.

For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, good for you!!! I unfortunately have been plagued by these little buggers since going natural. They’re so strange and unfortunate…a single strand of your hair, actually ties a knot in itself!!! Ridiculous. And for me, the knots can sometimes appear 2-4 inches up the hair shaft, which means loss of length. I do search and destroys once a month or so to find the knots and cut them out- if I leave them be, hairs adjacent to them tangle and snap. This is a very annoying problem- one of which a resolution has yet to be found.

I’ve been lucky enough to REDUCE the knots, but not stop them in their tracks (I went from a head full to 10 or so per month).

These are a few tricks of the trade:

-No more wash and gos!!!- leaving my hair to dry and fully shrink, no matter the gel/cream styler, led to knot city! I never experienced more knots than when I was wash and go’ing.

-Seal ends (with shea butter or oil)- I prefer butter…but it’s your call. Remember to use a water based moisturizer under that butter/oil!!!

-Stretch ends -straighter ends have a harder time coiling up on themselves, and thus a harder time forming ‘fairy knots’. Obviously, I stretch my ends on rollers.

-Protect ends- Buns helped a bit, but the knots were still there.

-Protect your hair from high winds…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!

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

Later Gators,


  • Anonymous says:

    The following have virtually eliminated ssks (and tangles) in my 4a/b hair:

    -Finger combing
    -Constant stretched styles (braid outs, flat twist outs, bantu knot outs, etc)
    -sealing ends w/ shea butter after twisting/braiding/etc

    Check this vid out for more info on preventing ssks: (

    With that said, I don't stress over ssks–They are the in the nature of our hair.

  • Day says:

    I have to wash and go my hair, or else it will get tangled, poofy and dry. That said, I really cannnot use shea butter or any conditioner with shea butter in my hair. once it dries, it causes even more knots by clumping the hair together if you fail to wash all of it out completely.

    I would say, try "washin'na'goin" again and replace that evil shea butter with a conditioner made with coconut oil. I also have very little breakage, shedding or knots when I use baby shampoo along with said conditioner.

  • Anonymous says:

    "Possible Causes of Trichonodosis:

    Because tightly curled hair is not oval or round, like straight hair, but ribbon-shaped and does not lie flat, it creates spirals which when pulled and released may lead to entangled hair forming knots. (English & Jones, 1973)"

    Also, try:

    There is a name for it…

  • Anya says:

    Why is it important to use a water base moisturizer under a butter or oil. Is a leave in conditioner consider the same things as a water base moisturizer

  • blaccofe says:

    Great post! I'm new to your site. Thank for all the advice and wisdom.

    I do notice more knots when I do wash n gos. I tried to cut the little buggers off whenever I feel em. I want to ignore them like curlychronicles and other ladies suggests…but do knots lead to split ends? I dunno *scratching my head*

  • MP says:

    I don't like fairy knots but they don't bother me enough to make me stop rocking my big hair and letting it blow in the wind. My hair blowing in the wind is probably my favorite part of being natural.

  • KayC, The Quiet Storm says:

    I think it depends on your curl size. The curls on the ends of my hair are very small and they tend to wrap around themselves to form the "Fairy knots" no matter what I do.

    I went almost 4 years without a trim and the knots eventually started to snag and pull on each other. Recently got a trim in the salon (about 2 inches) but like everything else our hair is different. Some of us are plagued by this while others are not.

  • Unknown says:

    I'm with curlychronicles, I've let them be. It seems like no matter what you do, they won't stop from forming. I had gotten really bad and just pulling my hair at the knot to rid of them that way. A big no no, causes split ends. So I've stopped all of that, trimming didn't help me either.

  • honeysmoke says:

    when nikki first posted this, i wondered what in the heck she was talking about. at the time time i got my hair trimmed every six weeks. i stopped doing that and got some good growth, but now i have all of these knots all over the place. i did my own trim, but i'm sure i was way too conservative. so, it's back to the beauty salon i go for a cut. i may not go every six weeks, but these little knots are maddening. maybe i'll go every four months.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm a wash and goer and I've definitely started getting these a lot lately but I think it's b/c I haven't been detangling regularly like I should. ~KF519

  • Nicole says:

    Nikki, how often do you trim your hair? I know that I was experiencing something similar but after I got a trim, I didn't have any more issues. . . .

  • Brie, naturally. says:

    I rarely get knots when doing twist outs or braid outs on the regular. But when I do a wash and go or a puff they come out of the wood work like nobody's business. I used to cut them off, but grew tired of that. Now I make a conscious effort to pay close attention to my ends with shea butter, and I try to refrain from wearing a puff unless necessary.

  • Jaycee says:

    I am so glad to know that my misery has company! I have had "fairy knots" (love the name) for ages, and my sister tells me to use more conditioner! I am a washer and go'er, and I dont forsee doing twists and sets any time in the near future, my hair will go limp:O( Is there any other way, besides cutting every 6-8 weeks like I do?

  • Maria says:

    Never got these till I went natural. I hate them! I have seen less and less of them since I started to rollerset on a regular basis. Wash and go's are only for the weekends. I find that butters, oils and braiding my hair at night before going to bed helps too.
    Off topic, SHADOW that is one awesome camera!

  • Anonymous says:

    i used to do wash and gos like crazey but since i have started to twist my hair and wear as twistout in loose poneytail my favorite style for everyday, i hardly ever get knots anymore. I do seal the ends with a moisturizing butter .

  • ccmac says:

    I've been natural for 14 years. This used to happen to me quite frequently, and I would always have to trim my hair. The key to avoiding this is to keep the hair moist continually.

    I condition rinse daily because if water does not touch my hair everyday, it becomes very dry, and coating it with product will not alleviate the situation.

    My hair is much easier to handle when wet/well conditioned (because I'm not pulling on dry, very curly hair = breakage),so the "No more wash and gos!!!" rule does not apply in my case.

    I make sure I use very moisturizing conditioners, a leave-in, a styling butter, and then oil the ends (My favourite lines are Blended Beauty and Oyin Handmade). Then I wrap my hair in a microfibre turban for 20 minutes. My hair (3c/4a) has great definition and sheen and is well sealed when I do this.

    It is also a good idea to twist your hair at night. Everyone is different, try what works for you. I have not had knots in over a year, and quality products make ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

  • blestpearl says:

    Oh-Forgot to say — just bought extra virgin coconut oil and washed and two-stranded twisted my hair and it is WONDERFULLY, shiny and smooth!!!

  • blestpearl says:

    This site is soooo great!!! It seems that you nail my questions almost the same day that I have them. I have long natural hair (natural since 2004-but would blow dry and flat iron often). I have recently decided to use no heat on my hair anymore and this site along with honey brown sugar has been a complete Godsend!!! Don't stop doing what you do!!

  • NappySince10/01/08 says:

    Thanks so much, for this post! I thought this was kinda rare (not sure y i thought so) but im tired of cutting off these knots almost daily… one of the reasons why Im dying to try KC's Knot Today lol. Im going to take heed to the tips b/c this snipping here and there is tiring.

  • Anonymous says:

    i love the term "fairy knots", because it matches my thoughts about my hair- that there is something magical about it. to be friendly to the little knot makers i try to keep my ends nourished (shea butter or anita grants cocnut sapote pomade or anita grants curly caffe latte) and this feeds my strands -and the fairies. my fairies must be from the carribean or from africa-they love them some coconut and shea butter ;-), the fairy knots are also a warning sign for me-it is like – lovely, you are not taking proper care of this beautful head of yours-change this asap or we willcome over and knot your strands together….

  • b. says:


    It's hard to say what's causing the breakage, b/c so many things could cause breakage. One thought: how tight are the braids? If you place too much stress on the hair when braiding or on the ends for styling, it could break off.

    Also check and see if their nails are also brittle. If that's the case, they may have a vitamin/mineral deficiency of some sort.

    Don't forget to use a wide-toothed comb for styling/detangling. Some type of leave-in moisturizer is key, then a sealant (castor oil is fine). I personally don't do the whole "sealant" thing all the time, but I won't go without a leave-in of some sort. Right now, I use Giovanni's 50/50 conditioner, but you can use whatever lightweight conditioner you have. Are your little ones wearing hats of any sort? Hats are also abrasive.

    Hope this helps….

  • curlychronicles says:

    I know this may be odd but I've completely stopped caring about my knots lol..I leave em be. I'll probably get knots for the rest of my curly little life so I made a conscious decision to not care!

  • Passion says:

    Thanks for the tips. I wash-n-go 97% of the time and I get knots like crazy. I guess I will have to try twist outs or braid outs more often. Thanks again!

  • diamondgem says:

    I'd suggest more smoothing action with a calming creme, butter, or oil. For example, some lavender oil cut with water and olive oil and take smaller individual sections of hair (perhaps after detangling) and with your thumb and index finger clasping the hair (remember to be super gentle) smooth the hair a few times.
    Also, you could try, after detangling with what ever tools you prefer, use a "finer" tool. This also creates the same smoothing effect.

  • Anonymous says:

    I dont know if this is off topic, but I think I do a fairly good job of keeping protein/moisture balance for my hair. But for some reason, every time I go to style my hair, I ALWAYS get these little hair balls in the wide tooth comb. I trim my ends and keep them moisturized. I only detangle when wet. I don't know what I am doing wrong. Any suggestions?

  • SHADOW says:

    Tell me about it. Ugh! Here is 2 shots of my very own single strand knots taken on macro for those lucky ones who have no idea what they are…

    It's like, as soon as I chopped my hair and went natural, they came out to party. I just snip them myself, and sometimes I just leave them. They don't plague me in certain sections and yet they seem to cluster in others (like I will smooth out one curl lock and the end of it would be rough and loaded with them). They make my skin crawl.

  • Celia says:

    I've been experiencing a lot of knots lately. My problem is my curls look nicer when I do wash and go and opposed to doing double strand twists. I don't like it when I see these darn knots!!

  • CoarseDame says:

    Thanks for the post Nikki! I'm not really sure if this happens to my hair or not, I'm one of those people who have no idea what you are talking about lol, but it's good to know anyway!!

  • CMOM says:

    Ooops don’t know if this comment gets logged twice. I’m a mom trying to care for the natural care of 2 girls. I have come quite a long way in transitioning to great natural care products. I wash, deep condition, and use a natural moisturizer. I don’t use heat. I mostly from the wet hair make cornrows/braids/or ponytails. They wear silk caps or du-rags at night to prevent rubbing against the pillowcase. But I can’t seem to retain length for them. When I take the hair down or redo the front braids (to keep a fresh look) I find that the ends are dry and break. I have even added regular trims to the regime. Maybe I’m missing this sealing thing? So what do I do? After rinsing conditioner apply castor oil to the ends along with my moisturizer? Or Castor oil all over the hair and then start to style with the moisturizer? Thanks for this site!! It is awesome and has been very helpful.

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m a mom with daughters who have natural hair. I used high quality natural products and get regular trims. I don’t use heat either. I usually just wash, deep condition, apply the moisurizer and braid/conrnrow/make ponytails. But still find that I can’t retain length in their hair. Maybe this “sealing” is my issue?? So what do I do? Rinse conditioner and apply castor oil to the ends before styling? Or are you saying use some other moisturizer first and then apply the castor oil to ends? Thanks for this site!! It is great!!

    A concerned MOM

  • CURLYNIKKI says:

    HI Shones!!!

    I consider water based moisturizers and moisturizing conditioner or leave-in that has water/aqua as the first ingredient.

    My favorite by far, is Deavacare One C, and the second is Jessicurl Weekly Deep Treatment…both are rich but have a high water content. I seal them with shea butter…my hair stays happy for about 3 days.


  • Anonymous says:

    I should know this from (blushing), but I don’t, so please help me, Nikki: what water-based sealers do you like best? Thanks!

Leave a Reply