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How to Avoid Getting Single Strand Knots

June 28, 2022

 by

Verna Meachum

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Last Updated on September 5, 2022 by Verna Meachum

We’ve all been there- you’re minding your own business, going about your day, when you run your fingers through your hair and notice a single strand knot (or SSK) in your hair.

You try to ignore it, but it’s just so darn pesky. And the next thing you know, you’ve got a whole head full of them!

But fear not, there are ways to avoid getting single strand knots.

Overview

Anyone who has ever dealt with single strand knots knows the pain of trying to detangle them.

Those little buggers seem to appear out of nowhere, and they can quickly turn healthy hair into a rat’s nest.

Not to mention, they can be extremely frustrating to deal with.

So what exactly are single strand knots?

What Are Single Strand Knots?

Single strand knots - magnified
Photo credit: Int J Trichology

Technically, single strand knots are called trichonodosis. They are also known as fairy hair knots, and they occur when a single strand of hair wraps around itself, resulting in a small, tight knot that feels like little beads along the strand of hair.

They can vary in size, but they are typically small and can be very difficult to see, but you can definitely feel them when you run your fingers through your hair.

They can happen when your hair is wet, dry, or even when you’re sleeping. But regardless of how they form, single strand knots are a pain to deal with.

Not only are they hard to get rid of, but they can also lead to breakage.

How Do Single Strand Knots Form?

There are a few different ways that single strand knots can form. While single strand knots can occur on any type of hair, they are most common in curly hair.

This is because curly hair is more likely to become tangled, and the curls can act as little hooks that catch on other strands of hair and lead to knots.

Also, when curly hair is softly tugged and released, it springs back into spirals. This recoiling may lead to the formation of single strand knots.

Damage to the hair shaft

One of the most common ways for these knots to form is from damage to the hair shaft.

When the cuticle is damaged, it becomes raised, which makes the hair shaft more likely to catch on things and become tangled.

This can happen from using heat styling tools, combing/brushing hair, harsh chemicals, vigorous scratching, washing hair, or even from sleeping on wet hair.

Dryness

Another way that single strand knots can form is from dryness.

When the hair shaft is dry, it is more likely to break, and the ends of the hair can become frayed.

This makes it more likely for single strand knots to form, because the hair is more likely to wrap around itself when it’s dry and brittle.

Wet hair

Finally, single strand knots can also form when the hair is wet.

This is because when hair is wet, it is more elastic and can stretch.

If the hair is stretched too much, it can break, and the ends can become frayed.

This makes it more likely for single strand knots to form.

Strong wind

Another factor that can contribute to single strand knots is strong wind.

When the hair is blown around in the wind, it can become tangled and knotted.

How to Fix An Existing Hair Knot?

While single strand knots can be a pain to deal with, there are a few ways that you can get rid of them.

The best way to get rid of single strand knots is to avoid them in the first place.

If you already have single strand knots, try rubbing them gently with conditioner applied directly to the knot and searching for a loop opening. I’ve used a small needle (be careful not to stab yourself) to help loosen the knot before. You can also use the end of a rattail comb.

If the single strand knots are close to the tip of the hair, I usually use professional scissors (make sure they’re not dull) to snip them out.

How to Prevent Single Strand Knots

If you’re struggling with single strand knots, there are a few things you can do to avoid them.

Now that we know how single strand knots form, let’s talk about how to prevent them.

  1. For starters, try to avoid handling your hair too much. This can cause the strands to become tangled and knotted.
  2. Be sure to use a wide-tooth comb, detangling brush, or fingers when detangling your hair- yanking a fine-tooth comb through knots will only make them worse. Always detangle your hair by starting at the bottom and work your way up.
  3. Make sure you’re using the right products for your hair type. If your hair is prone to tangling, look for products that contain slip, which can help to smooth the cuticle and prevent knots from forming in the first place.
  4. Be careful not to overdo it with styling products. Too much product can weigh down your hair and make it more susceptible to tangles.
  5. Bedtime. Use a satin pillowcase, scarf, or bonnet to minimize friction and breakage while you sleep.
  6. Don’t neglect trims. If you don’t trim your ends, they will become frayed.
  7. Use a detangling brush. A detangling brush has soft bristles that are spaced out, which makes it easier to brush through knots without causing any damage to the hair. Start at the bottom of your hair and work your way up, being careful not to pull or tug too hard on the knots.
  8. Use oils. Oils can help to lubricate the hair, reduce friction, and make it more manageable.
  9. Deep conditioning helps to hydrate and nourish the hair, making it less likely to tangle.
  10. Use the Praying Hands method. The praying hands method is a way of styling your hair without a lot of manipulation. The praying hands technique is where you clasp your hands together with your hair in the middle, and slowly smooth your hand all the way down to the ends.
  11. Strengthen your strands. Your ends are the oldest part of your hair, and the weakest. Split ends can lead to single strand knots, so it’s important to keep your strands strong and healthy. Applying a protein treatment can help to strengthen your hair.
  12. Stretch it out hairstyles. If you have super curly or coily hair, you already know what stretch it out means. When you stretch your hair out, it becomes less likely to tangle. It’s vital to stretch the hair strands all the way to the tips. You can achieve this by braiding your hair or doing twists.
  13. Blot your hair dry. When you get out of the shower, gently blot your hair dry with a towel instead of rubbing it. This can help to minimize tangles and knots. 
  14. Talk with your hairstylist. If you’re struggling with single strand knots, make an appointment to talk with your hairstylist. They can help you to identify the cause of your knots and give you advice.

FAQs

Do single strand knots stop hair growth?

Single strand knots do not stop hair growth, but they can cause breakage, which gives the appearance of stunted hair growth. Single strand knots can also make your hair appear thinner and weaker.

How do you get single strand knots out of straight hair?

If you have single strand knots in your straight hair, the best way to remove them is by using a pair of sharp scissors. Cut as close to the knot as possible without cutting any of the surrounding hair.

Are single strand knots normal?

Single strand knots are normal and can happen to anyone, regardless of hair type. However, if you find that you’re getting a lot of single strand knots, it could be a sign that your hair is damaged and in need of some extra care.

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troubleshooting
Curl care

 We treat our blog with a curious, open-minded, and customer-focused attitude. We ask lots of questions about everything.

We think that people should take what information they need and leave what they don't. We suggest things we enjoy and believe are worth your attention.

Above all, we value your trust above anything else. We're so glad you’re here!

Hi,I'm Verna

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