One of the difficulties that we encounter with natural hair is achieving a certain look without the use of heat. We love our kinks, but sometimes we want to trade them in for a smooth spring curl without sacrificing the integrity of our strands to a heat styling tool. We resort to braid outs, twist outs and bantu knot outs but sometimes, what should have been curls ends up being gathered tufts of our original kinks. This weekend, I decided to do a bantu knot out on my hair to monitor every little thing that I do to achieve my spring curls. I came up with some pointers that could lead to better results.
Minimal moisture: The amount of moisture that you put in your hair determines the amount of time that you will spend waiting on it to dry. Try moisturizing with very little product; just enough to dampen your hair. Minimal moisture means your hair will set in two hours, whereas too much moisture will have your hair taking its sweet time drying since bantu knots have an unusual way of holding onto moisture.
Use a curling aid: If your hair is as kinky as mine, you'll likely need all of the help you can get to make it hold a curl. Also, the natural hair care industry has evolved so much that we are able to get products that are designed to hydrate and define our curls. Coco curls curly styling aid is a great curling aid to use on your tresses.
Water and oil mix: Moisturizing and sealing our hair goes back further than we think. My mother used to use water and pomade to soften my hair. She adopted this method from her mother and I’m sure it goes back further than I can imagine. Now we can moisturize and seal with a variety of product choices that suit our preferences, but the fact still remains that this method will give you a more polished look when you remove your bantu knots.
Tension rules: You must tension your hair properly if you want a smooth curl. This does not mean that you should pull your hair tightly. What you want to do is firmly twist your hair in one direction. Once you get to your ends, loosen your hold just enough to form a slight loop at your roots. This will happen naturally and is the foundation of your knot. Wrap your hair under the loop until there is none left and I can almost guarantee that the vast majority of your curls will look the same. This method will also ensure that the hair at your roots will be straight.
Add a little slip on the ends: There’s nothing more annoying than having the perfect curl with a tuft of kinks on the ends. To avoid this, add a little more oil to your ends to provide enough slip so that you can tuck the remainder of your hair underneath the knot. It will be a tight space, so there will be no need to secure the hair with a bobby pin.
Size matters: The size of your knots should be based on your natural hair length and texture. If you have tightly coiled hair, you want smaller sections for your bantu knots. This will result in tight curls like mine, but they will be smooth and they will loosen over time. Try to section your hair in 1-1.5 inch cubes. It may take more time, but you will be pleased with your results. If your hair is longer than shoulder length, you can easily get away with larger bantu knot outs regardless of texture.
Tease them out and twirl them loose: Removal can be tricky and you must be careful not to ruin the curls in the process. Lightly oil your fingers then place two fingers on your knot and rotate from side to side until it loosens. Once loose, you can twirl your strands loose and be sure to only separate two or three sections with your fingers to avoid fizz. If you're going for bigger curls, you can section the hair more.
Essentially, these are just methods to achieve a more polished look. Bear in mind that bantu knots can be damaging to your hair if you do not take the time out to be gentle with your hair. I decided to pin mine up for a classy look, but sporting a curly afro with a scarf is a nice casual chic alternative.