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Curly Nikki

Achieving the Perfect Bantu Knot-Out: Wet or Dry Hair?

By August 6th, 202145 Comments
Achieving the Perfect Bantu Knot-Out: Wet or Dry Hair?

Hola Chicas,

Bantu Knots create the most gorgeous spiral effect when you release them… it gives you results unlike any twist or braid out. It’s the perfect style because everyone can try it– transitioners looking to blend textures, divas with straight hair and naturals of most lengths.

But the question is always the same…do you get the perfect bantu knot out on wet or dry hair?

Read More!!>>>

Bantu Knots on Dry Hair:

Here’s a video from Alyssa Forever on how she styles her bantu knot outs with dry hair. She washes her hair first and then detangles it. She then gets her hair dry by blow drying it (after putting on a heat protectant, of course). This is up to you, you can always choose to air dry your hair rather than blow dry. But she swears by dry bantu knots, and putting as little product as possible. For Alyssa, the key to perfect dry bantu knots is ensuring that each twist is perfect. No tangles, knots or snags. Brush each strand of hair before you twist to make sure it’s as smooth as possible.

Bantu Knots on Wet Hair:

This video is from CurlyKTwintyone. She likes to do her bantu knot outs on wet hair. She styles her hair with freshly co-washed, deep conditioned hair so it’s nice and slippery. If her hair dries out during the process, she sprays it with a mixture of water and aloe vera gel. When she takes down, she separates with her fingers, and twirls the less defined more frizzy spots. The result? Super moisturized, defined fluffy coils.

Put to the Test

4CHairChick and Evelyn from the Internets took this matter into their own hands and decided to test both. Evelyn preferred doing bantu knots on dry hair, which resulted in more defined, frizz free coils. 4cHairChick agreed that wet bantu knots look too separated, and not fluffy enough to her liking. She preferred dry bantu knots as well. Overall, wet bantu knots were too unpredictable and took too long to dry. Watch the episode here:

What CN Says About Bantu Knots:

Do you create them on wet, damp or dry hair?
-Wet in the past, but damp would work MUCH better! They’d actually have a chance to dry.
Fav products?
-Conditioner and an oil or butter to seal the ends. Remember to go light with products as this style has a tendency to take forever and a day to dry.

Twirl and knot one strand, or do you create two strand twists?
-I create two strand twists, and then knot.

Bobby pins or tuck the ends?
-I tuck the ends, you’d be amazed at how well they hold!
Air dry or bonnet dryer?
-I air dry, but bonnet drying creates a smoother and longer lasting set in my opinion. Occasionally, if pressed for time, I’ll bonnet dry for 30 minutes and allow it to air dry the rest of the way. 

Take down method?
-I carefully unravel them one at a time. Take down the twist and massage the roots to cover up any patchiness. I then separate and gently finger comb through the roots to fluff.
Maintenance routine?
-I sleep with my hair out on a satin pillow case.

Are you a knot-out queen?! If so, how do you achieve the perfect Bantu Knot-Out?!



  • Wiscogirl says:

    I just tried this. I have been transitioning for a month now and have been struggling to find a style that suits me and my big head! I'm excited to see the results. I just did mine on dry hair with setting foam and shea butter on my ends. I had to unravel some because they were too big and they already looked gorgeous! I can't wait to see how it looks in the morning!

  • Anonymous says:

    I did this on Saturday and had amazing results. I have permed hair and was trying to find a summer due. I take a break from the salon and generally go with braids or wear a cap most days. So anyway, I tried!
    Washed/conditioned hair
    Let it air dry to just about dry
    Sectioned hair and put on fingertip size Motions Shine Enhancing Pomade and Olive Oil Styling gel
    Massaged it in and began twisting into knots, my hair is shoulder length so I wanted smaller for the front and medium for the back.

    I got so many compliments!

  • Anonymous says:

    to Anonymous at 3:57pm, do you twist your hair all the way to the end & tuck them under when you secure your knots?

  • Anonymous says:

    i love bantu knot outs, but the texture of my hair gives me a wavy look as opposed to a curly one. it's a quick & easy style and it's great for the inbetween time during relaxers.

  • Anonymous says:

    My hair always turns out straight at the tips ;( help me any adivice

  • Reeece says:

    Who is the lady in Blue?

  • Teresa says:

    I tried this last night on my 3c hair. I did it with wet hair after shampooing and deep conditioning. I used Curls Unleashed let loose curl defining jelly (is great gives soft hold never flaky) and twisted with my finger and knotted using bobby pins. I sat under the dryer for an hour and went to bed. This morning they were still damp so I sat under the dryer 30 min more then unwrapped the knots and used the blow dryer. Pulled apart with coconut oil. It turned out cute, but next time I think I'll try it on damp hair with fewer knots to get bigger curls.

  • Anonymous says:

    Yaaaaasssss, oh I'm so going to try bantu knots. I did a roller set on my hair today. I like it, but I can't help but wonder what damaging effects the rollers had on my hair. I need a natural style that frames my face, is work safe, and easy on my hair. Protective styling is good………..but a lot of protective styling is not glamorous. This will be the perfect growth promoting yet pretty style that I need. Thanks

  • brizzz says:

    I wash my hair w. Suave Professionals Almond and Shea Butter Shampoo and conditioner then put in a styling gloss and Suave proffesionals touchable curls mousse while still wet. Then towel dry it and knot it up and let it air dry. The results are AMAZING. Believe it or not, Suave Professionals is like the only thing that gets my hair the way I want it to be and it's super cheap too!

  • Unknown says:

    I love Bantu knot outs…I usually do the twist around my finger and tuck but since I did a semi Bc I have to use hairpins to hold my knots…I sit under the dryer and I have used cantu leave in as well as shea moisture products …I did get to day 2 by reknotting at night and sleeping in my satin bonnet.

  • Lunden Daniel says:

    I did the bantu knots today. Its been hours and they are still wet! Here I was, worried my hair would dry before I finished…we will see. BTW..Please do a meetup in Chicago when the weather gets better! Chi-town loves you!

  • Anonymous says:

    I am on day 3 of my knot out and i did them on slightly damp hair. I blow dried my hair with cool air until it was about 75% dry. Then I added sheep placenta leave in (dominican product) to my hair, oil and twisted. I find that they are easier to do and look more uniform if i section it and blow dry one section at a time, then twist that section and move on to the next… I think the curls will probably start to fall tomorrow on day four so I will be wearing it up in a knot out pony… still with curls. Next time I'll use some aloe vera gell for hold.

  • Phronomenal says:

    I love this look. I have about 4" of 4C hair.

    Thus far, I like to Bantu with:
    *damp hair
    *use SheaMoisture curl milk all over with eco styler (green jar) on the ends while doing the knots
    *two strand twists and knot. I also do mine kinda small for the more tight curl look (my hair is already SUPER thick)
    *I use bobby pins. I noticed that they tend to loosen a bit at the roots whenever I try to tuck
    *Air dry but I do wanna try the bonnet dry (dont have one yet tho)
    *take down by pulling apart from the ROOT NOT THE ENDS with EVOO on my fingers. Since my hair is so dry, I spritz it with SheaMoisture mist after they are all seperated once THEN I seperate each of those locks one more time and gently massage the scalp to cover parts
    *maintenace routine: this lasts me for about 4 maybeee 5 days. after that its super frizzy and i hate that. Sleep with a satin pillow with hair out. Wake up and spritz all over with EVOO/water mixture then gently rub SheaMoisture curl smoothie all over and massage scalp til curls resuscitate! Beautiful :)

  • Anonymous says:

    I've tried the bantu knot out several ways but the method I prefer best is on dry stretched hair. I was blowdrying but now I use curlformers to stretch using keracare foaming setting lotion. Once they dry I put my hair in knots using Aveda Control Paste. I don't part but I comb through a section of hair to smooth, apply the paste, do a two stand twist, and then knot the hair. I can usually tuck the ends but if not I use a hair pin. I spritz the knots with a little rose water (it helps it set better) and take it out in the a.m. by separating the curls with my fingers and I use a plastic afro pick at the roots only to blend the curls. I finish off with oil sheen or just a little grapeseed oil helps fight frizzies and gives shine. Another good method after stretching (whatever your preferred method is) is to moisturize and use setting lotion as the styling agent. Setting lotion is wet enough to help define the style but it will also dry in a couple hours or so. If you want bouncy curls its best to keep the product usage light. I like Qhemet Biologics Burdock root butter cream to moisturize. If your hair is more coarse then a heavier product may be okay just use it sparingly. This style usually lasts me a week. Since I work out I tend to reknot every other night. It doesn't take long and you can do it while watching TV. It takes me 30 mins tops. It gets bigger and curlier as the days go on. I really like this style and get a lot of compliments.

  • Anonymous says:

    i like doing them…but i cant get them too last more than 2 days

  • Anonymous says:

    Today i tried bantu knots. They came out very pretty however, they are kinda frizzy. Any suggestions on getting rid of the frizzies??

  • Anonymous says:

    I haven't done one.. Yet, but i think i will try one in the summer were i have lots of time to experiment with new hairstyles. The style look amazing on u all. :)

  • Unknown says:

    I just did these tonight, but I decided to switch up my routine.

    Usually, if I do them it'll be a few days before I wash my hair. I usually straighten my hair. But here's my usual routine if my hair has been pre-straightened:

    1. Wet/Dampen hair with Infusium 23 leave-in condition, water and oil (jojoba, peppermint and rosemary) mixture

    2. Take a section of hair and apply Shea Moisture Masque Treatment and a small amount of ECO Styler Hair gel, comb through and twist into one bantu knot. I have fine hair so I usually make really small bantu knots all over my head for a tighter curl pattern and more curls.

    3. Secure with small rubber bands. Most people secure them with bobby pins, but Im afraid my knots will unravel so I usually just cut out the rubber bands in the morning (carefully avoiding my hair)

    4. After securing, I sleep with a satin bonnet. Then in the morning I wake up and apply a little oil to each knot as I unravel it. Then I separate my knots and use some more gel to secure the curl.

    My only issue with this method has been that if I do it when my hair is dirty or even semi-clean I get a lot of buildup and flakes and my curls looks pretty…and dirty.

    However, tonight I switched up my routine and instead of using Shea Moisture I tried Cantu Shea Butter.

    As far as maintenance, I just put my hair up in a satin bonnet and maybe I'll retwist it the next day. Does anyone have a better maintenance routine?

  • lilly says:

    how do u get a 2 day out of them? because every time i have bantu knots they only last a day because the next morning there flat because of the way i sleep.

  • Anonymous says:

    Theres are the steps I follow for my bantu-knot outs:
    1) I detangle, shampoo and acv rinse as usual.
    2) I squeeze excess water out of my hair with a microfiber towel.
    3) For each bantu knot, I apply Shea Moisture DTM, two-strand twist and tuck the ends under. I make about 8-15 knots in total. I don't part.
    4) Sleep
    6) Slowly unravel the bantu knots and seperate them to my liking.
    7) Fluff and go! :)

  • Anonymous says:

    I do mine on totally dry hair, sometimes blown out, sometimes a light flat iron. I two-strand twist ussing Fekkai Glossing Creme, then knot. Anywhere from 8-20 knots depending on how tight I want the curl to be(and how much time I have b4 I doze off!). After I have all the knots in, I spritz the whole thing with several sprays of rose water, then tie with a scarf and bonnet.

  • mika says:

    I JUST did that this morning! I flat ironed a few days ago, but i can never get it as straight as the Domingas, so I bantu knotted it. It looked AMAZING this morning. Likw i had used a big barrel curling iron, but with out the heat. Kind of like Tracey Ellis Ross-ish, but after a few hours it fell. :( so the next challenge is: when you hair is blown straight how do you get the curls to hold?? hairspray?? meh….

  • Michelle says:

    I'm giving this another try tonight. I have tried it on wet hair…took too long to dry. I did it on damp hair…frizzy as a mug…now I'm doing this on hair that was blow dried last week and flat ironed. I have been transitioning for 7 months. I will keep you posted if it works. Cross your fingers.

  • Unknown says:

    Bantu knot outs is my signature hairstyle! The way I do it gives me a curly afro. I have been natural all my life, but I applied heat regularly (blow drying, pressing, flat-iorning). I am now wearing my natural hair heat free and this style looks great. Always receive tons of compliments.

    If it is a wash day, I shampoo/dc for about 30 min under a hooded dryer. I apply my leave-in (back and forth between cantu shea leave in or humectress deep conditioner) I then seal with my oil mix (olive, coconut, jojoba, peppermint, rosemary…) I then take small/med sections and apply a dab of Carol's Daughter Marguerite's Magic to the ends mostly for curly definition and hold. I then two-strand twist and roll around my finger until a knot is formed then secure with a bobby pin.

    I have fine hair with more length in the back and less at the top and crown. When my knots are dry i just unravel, untwist and fluff. I massage my roots to cover up parts and continue to fluff until my curly afro looks the way i want. Sometimes I pin up one side (very 80s) or I scrunch the side and back for a more tapered look. I will also rock headbands with it. At night, i push up into a satin bonnet. For second day, I may push it up into a cute curly puff or mist with my water/hair milk spray and do the afro again. Second day, it's less defined but still soft and fluffy. I looooove it!!

  • Unknown says:

    10 years ago I transitioned using this method. I wanted an afro and this was the perfect style achieve the look. I recently tried this method and ended up looking like Annie! I think I did the knots too small or something. I'll try it again with larger knots and will report the results!

  • Unknown says:

    Will this work on 4a or 4b hair? (this erika badu texture) if so, do any of you 4a/b ladies have pictures??

  • Rochon says:

    I love, love, love bantu knot outs. In fact, I'm sitting with bantu knots in my hair now (washed my hair yesterday and too lazy to take them out today). And what I love most is that it actually looks GREAT on short hair. This is how I acheive the look:

    – wash and deep condition hair
    – wrap a towel around hair for about 5 mins to soak up excess water (never rub the towel through hair)
    – rub mixed chicks leave in conditioner or Shea Moisture hair milk through hair
    – while hair is still damp, take sections of hair (no parting, just grap hair) and put a little shea moisture curl enhancing smoothie on each section and seal ends with an oil
    – smooth out by combing through and twist into bantu knot and secure with bobby pin
    – let air dry
    – take down each bantu knot (with EVOO on finger tips) and separate by massaging scalp to cover parts
    – sleep in a satin cap

    *I've also used aloe vera gel or Miss Jessie's curly meringue when creating bantu knots.

  • butterfly3000 says:

    I developed this technique on my hair because my two-strand twists wouldn't stay twisted at the end and the roots were poofy. Twirling the twist into a knot was the only way I could keep the pattern I wanted to achieve. I never knew they had an official name. Now next time someone asks what I do to my hair I'll know what to say! ;-) Oh, and after washing, I use setting lotion and a water bottle. For my texture, this only works when hair is wet. I also use little silver clips in case those suckers try to unravel, my hair is only about 3 inches long right now.

  • jerseygurlwitdacurls says:

    Thanks for posting this! I'm still trying to get this right :-…The last time, I used Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie and sealed with organic mango butter. It worked well for holding the knots in place, but once I took them down, it was really frizzy. It was also a really humid day since it had just rained. I think the product I used was too thick and didn't have enough hold. Can anyone name any other products? Because I think that was the only thing I might change next time :)

  • Monique says:

    I am currently transitioning and have been relaxer free since August 2009. I think the bantu knots give the best curl pattern for my below shoulder length hair and also last the longest. Here are my answers to CN's questions…..

    Do you create them on wet, damp or dry hair?
    I create them on wet or damp hair, but if the hair is soaking wet, plan to be under the dryer for 2 hours or more if you have shoulder length hair…..yikes!

    -Fav products?
    still in product junkie mode, but Cantu Shea butter leave-in or one of the Shea Moisture line leave-ins seem to work well so far. I have been sealing with a coconut-shea-jojoba-lavender butter mix that a friend gave me.

    -Twirl and knot one strand, or do you create two strand twists?
    Twirl and one not strands are easier for me, especially when my 7 month old is sitting there waiting for me to finish!

    -Bobby pins or tuck the ends?
    I tuck the ends but my hair tends to unravel easily so I have been using these little kiddie scrunchies to hold the knots in place and keep the ends tucked.

    -Air dry or bonnet dryer? I sit under a bonnet dryer for 2 hours approx. unless I want to walk around with damp knots for 4 days while they air dry!

    -Take down method?
    I have been mixing some shea oil and coconut oil and rubbing it on my hands while I unravel the knots and separate the curls. I usually separate each knot into two curls for the first few days and then by week end I pull the curls apart even further for really big curly hair.

    -Maintenance routine?
    I pin up the sides most nights and tuck all of the hair in a satin sleep cap. Before I cut off two inches, I would pineapple my hair on top of my head and put my sleep cap on. I re-apply shea oil and coconut mixture daily for moisture. If it wasn't for my itchy scalp, I could make this style last for 2 weeks.

  • Alesia-Mason says:

    how long does your hair have to be to get good results with the knot out?

  • Anonymous says:

    I absolutley love bantu knot outs!I use to do them on wet hair but they do take forever to dry.So I started doing mine on damp hair,or after my wash and go.For example the other night I was going on day three of my wash and go and I was watching tv and playing in my hair.I started doing two strand twist and I used the shea butter moisture mask to do that. After I made the twist I made my bantu knot I dont need to use bobby pins .The next morning I just took my knots out and gathered my hair together in a loose poneytail using a scrunchy. I recieved a ton of dont get any hold using the shea moisture mask as a leave in so the next night I made sure to use some aloe vera gel with it.So yes I love bantu knotouts you can create soo many styles with them its soo easy! Raina

  • Anonymous says:

    i worry about damaging my ends by wrapping them at the end. how do you all protect your ends with this style?

  • says:

    I've been sitting around the house all day dying of boredom, so I may do this right now! I did four twists on my dry hair last night just to stretch my WNG before going to bed so I wouldn't wake up with a matted fro. I forgot all about these, even though I used to LOVE them when I was transitioning. The thing is they're so hard to sleep on….for me, anyway.

    What I usually do is moisturize and seal my hair with coconut oil, do 8-10 knots, and leave them in for a few hours. I have some aloe vera gel that I will use for hold. Now all I need are bobby pins…

    By the way, thanks for the two-strand twist idea, Nik!

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been wearing bantu knots/knot outs since my transitioning period and continue to do them as a natural. One of my favorite styles…

    I actually do the knots on dry, stretched hair. I find that this prevents the problem that many people have with the knots not completely drying; and also, lessens the shrinkage.

    After moisturizing, I do medium sized knots using a product that has hold (i.e. ORS Lock and Twist Gel). The smaller the knots, the tighter the curl pattern will be. If you want a nice, wavy pattern, do bigger knots. I try and twist in the direction I want the hair to fall so it won't be as wild when I take my hair down.

    To secure, I use bobby pins. (I just do regular knots and don't 2-strand twist first.)

    Hope this helps somebody.


  • Anonymous says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Tiffany says:

    Mine always come out crazy looking. I guess it has been awhile and I should try try try again.

    Peace, Love and Chocolate

  • Anonymous says:

    Oh my, why have I not tried this style!

  • Anonymous says:

    I tried this actually 2 days ago. I am going to have to try a different method. I tried it on damp hair and for some reason, I lose my curls. When i take it down, my hair is flat, and wavy. No BOUNCY curls :(

    I tried it on dry hair and it was frizzy as I dont know what. I never get any of this if i use my flexi rods……I have 3c hair.

    For one my hair isnt thick so I dont dont if flexi rods are for me only.. I so want to master this style

  • Renee says:

    Okay, I have never commented on a post before, I usually just stalk this blog.

    But my birthday is tomorrow and I was racking my brain trying to come up with a style for my little gathering….and once again CN saves the day.

    Only problem is I've never even attempted a bantu knot out before!!! I have 4a/b hair. I've been watching youtube videos since I first saw this post. And I noticed a LOT of ppl with my texture do it on stretched or straightened hair. Is this best?? Any other 4-type ladies achieved a drool-worthy knot out like the ones above without stretching???? PLEASE SHARE!!!

  • Nitserk says:

    For my bantu knots I…
    1) wash and condition like regular (They work best on freshly washed hair)
    2) Let my hair slightly dry for about 15mins
    3)I section my hair, I make about 8-15 knots in total…however I don't part it because in the end you end up hiding the parts anyway
    4)I put Cantu Shea butter on each section, comb and twist into knots..I do this for each
    6) Take out the pins and slowly unravel
    7) A beautiful style and gets tons of compliments!

  • melanie says:

    I have not been able to perfect this do. I've tried several times and get seem to get it right. Maybe I'll try it again.

  • LittleOne says:

    Ooh ladies, do share! I love the look of bantu knot outs. I have only done it on wet hair. I was worried that if I do it on dry hair, the result will be too huge. I am a small woman with a small head, lol.

    For me, the curls were too tight and it took too long to dry. I will definitely try it on damp hair with a few minutes under the dryer to set. Can't wait to see other responses!

  • Latoya says:

    I LOVE bantu knot outs. The curls are so luscious. I can't wait until I have enough hair to try one. But until then, I'll stick to my curl rods…

  • Sheena LaShay says:

    I have yet to try the bantu knot out. I think I will try and document the process this weekend.

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