All You Need to Know About Bantu Knots

Learn all about this iconic hairstyle.

Deeply rooted in African culture, Bantu knots is a Black hairstyle that’s both fabulous and steeped in heritage. It also serves as a perfect protective look for natural hair, while serving up some hot-weather-friendly practicality.

Read on to see how to make this iconic natural hairstyle in minutes.

Bantu knots are traditionally an African style worn by African women of certain cultural groups. And despite what its name suggests, it’s actually not a knot at all!

Bantu knots are coiled buns pinned to your head. To create these buns, all you have to do is coil each section of hair around itself to form a bun, then secure each with pins or small hair elastics. The knot size and amount of hair (or buns!) is totally up to you!

Bantu knots are particularly great for natural hair because they serve as a great protective style: It doesn’t require heat-styling or the use of a ton of products.

Your Bantu knots can last you up to two weeks, and when you’re ready to take them out, some can also enjoy a curled style called a knot-out, which is similar to a twist-out. To do so, release each knot carefully and separate them with your fingers to keep the curls they’ve created in place. This will last you another few days if you preserve the curls properly.

Step 1: Start with a Clean Scalp

Bantu knots create a grid on your head that exposes your scalp, so make sure it’s healthy-looking and definitely grease-free. Try Dove Dermacare Scalp Invigorating Mint Anti-Dandruff 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner.

Step 2: Start on Dry, Well-Moisturized, Detangled Hair

Although wet hair makes your knots more compact, they won’t hold a ringlet’s shape in the event you want to remove your knots for a curly Bantu knot-out. A light coating of leave-in conditioner like SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner is great in keeping hair, especially natural textures, in optimum knotting condition.

Step 3: Section Your Hair

You can vary the number of sections depending on how tight you want your eventual Bantu hair knots to be. Some women prefer creating around four mini-buns all throughout; some prefer a lot more (and smaller) bulbs. Using a fine-toothed or rat-tail comb, create a grid on your hair starting with bigger horizontal sections, then further dividing them vertically.

Step 4: Twirl

Working section by section, begin twirling the hair strands by first using your finger (to make a rope-like string), and then coiling this now-twirled section around itself, creating a knot that resembles a spring. Longer hair can result in snake-like coils or figure-eights, which can also produce a more interesting curl when removed. Shorter hair needs a bobby pin to secure itself; longer/thicker Bantu hair knots can be secured by tucking the ends around their own base. If all else fails, there’s always a hair tie! Note: Don’t knot your hair too tight! Best to start twirling and coiling around ½” to 1” away from your scalp for less tension and more slack, in case you end up sleeping on your knots.

Step 5: Unfurl or Let Sit

If you’re looking to create knot-out curls, unfurl the knots the next day and loosely shake them out. You’re done!

1. Jumbo Bantu Braids

Bantu knots for Black women
A classic, easy look.

Going for a jumbo style will make the styling process faster and when you finally take them out, you’ll have a larger curl style to play with.

2. Side Bantu Knots

Bantu knots for Black women side
A side style you will love.

Not feeling committed to a whole head of Bantu knots? Go for just a few on the side of your style for a fun look.

3. Braided Bantu Knots

Bantu knots with extensions
Mix it up with extensions for an even higher-impact look. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

How chic and trendy is this braided look? Braid your own hair or add some colored hair extensions for a two-toned, multi-textural style that combines Bantu knots and twists.

4. Half-Up Box Braids and Bantu Knots

bantu knots half updo
Wearing box braids in half-up Bantu knots is hitting two styles in one go.

Half up, half down, the best of both worlds!

5. Bantu Knot-Out

bantu knots knot out
Once you take out your knots, you’ve got beautiful curls!

One of the great things about Bantu knots is that they also leave you with a fab look once unfurled. Remove the knots to reveal a beautiful curled style called a knot-out.

6. Flat Twist Bantu Knot Out

bantu knots flat twist knot out
Use Bantu knots as a way to style your curls.

You can also create Bantu knots for just a few hours to create quick curls. While making your knots, start with a flat twist to make sure every section of your hair gets wrapped so it can uncoil into a curl in less time.

7. Add Some Accessories!

bantu knots accessories
Add some fun accessories to your Bantu knots!

Create some drama by adding in a few accessories—we love beads or rings to amp up the entire look.

8. Small Bantu Knots

bantu knots small knots
Go for a small knot style.

Small knots make for a clean and sophisticated style that will stand out in any crowd.

9. Dreadlock Bantu Knots

Bantu knots half-up dreadlocks
Spruce up your locs by putting them up in twin half-up Bantu knots.

If you have dreadlocks you can still pull off this look! Your locs will add some drama to your style.

10. Simple Bantu Knots

bantu knots simple
Chic and classic!

A simple knotted style is one of our favorites.

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