Bantu Knots: History, Steps plus 10 Iconic Styles for You

Learn all about this iconic hairstyle.

bantu knots

Hair Types

Deeply rooted in African culture, Bantu knots are 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.

What are Bantu Knots?

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

Bantu knots are coiled buns pinned to your head. To create these buns, you must 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!) are totally up to you!

Bantu knots are great for natural hair because they are a great protective style: It doesn’t require heat-styling or many 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, 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.

How to Do Bantu Knots

Here is a 5 step routine to create Bantu Knots:

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 a leave-in conditioner like SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner is great for 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 sleep 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!

Easy Bantu Knot Styles

Here are 10 iconic ways to wear Bantu Knots:

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. These all-over knots add plenty of visual interest to your style for a major state-making style.

2. Side Bantu Knots on Afro Hair

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. This style gives the same impression as a side-shaven hairstyle but without that level of commitment. Use this style to create an asymmetrical style.

3. Braided Bantu Knots

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

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. This combination of colors adds an instant touch of dimension to your style.

4. Half-Up Box Braids

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! This oversized style makes a major statement and leaves plenty of hair for the “half down” portion of the style. We especially love this look because of the dimensional hair color details included.

5. Bantu Knot Braid-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. This voluminous style is an added bonus!

6. Flat Twist 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 ensure 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 a few accessories—we love beads or rings to amp up the entire look. Incorporate small beads into your style for a pop of unexpected contrast and enjoy an accessorized look. Top off the look with styled edges using Emerge Edge Control.

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. Those with thinner hair might feel like this style just isn’t for them, but these small knots prove that theory wrong!

9. Bantu Braids on Faux Locs

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. This is another high-contrast look when it comes to hair colors. This addition adds instant drama to your style!

10. Simple Bantu Knots

bantu knots simple
Chic and classic!

A simple knotted style is one of our favorites. A classic for a reason, this simple style manages to be glamorous and understated simultaneously. Pair this look with gold accessories and a bright red lip for a super glamorous look.

Are you thinking about trying one of these styles? Be sure to share the final look with us over @AllThingsHairUS!


Sign up to our newsletter and get exclusive hair care tips and tricks from the experts at All Things Hair.


All Things Hair on Instagram