How to Prevent Single Strand Knots

Single strand knots or “fairy knots” are most common with those who have curly, coily and kinkier hair. These knots will feel like tiny beads along your hair shaft. Not only are they annoying, but they can also cause breakage when combing, manipulating, and styling your hair. These single strand knots also can become double strand knots or bigger knots and eventually cause tangles since other strands of hair will get caught on the knot.

Since the knots are tight and small, they are almost impossible to undo and must be cut off. This can lead to constant trims causing a lack of length retention or thinner hair if the hair is trimmed improperly.


Single-strand knots can be caused by the friction from pillows, scarves, shirts, hoods, cotton clothing, etc., and manipulation during shampooing, conditioning and styling. They also can form when hair is most shrunken. The tighter the hair’s natural curl or coil, the more prone the hair is to single-strand knots.


Although it is not possible to 100% avoid single-strand knots from occurring but you can decease the number of knots that form. Here are some ways to dramatically decrease the occurrence of single strand knots:

  1. Get hair trimmed, but don’t cut your own hair. Getting regular trims doesn’t stop the single strand knots from happening but it does remove them from the hair reducing the change of further knots. I don’t recommend cutting you own hair, especially with any scissors. This can lead to split and frayed ends which will defeat the whole purpose of the trim.
  2. Wear more protective styles. The more that curls are worn out, the higher the chance of getting knots. By limiting the amount of loose hair styles that you wear, you can reduce the amount of knots that occur. Tucking your hair away in buns, braids, twists and other styles can decrease the amount of knots and damage that the hair experiences.
  3. Protect those ends. Styles that keep the hair stretched and tucked away are the best. Protect the hair from rubbing on clothes, chairs, etc. and from the elements such as humidity, wind, rain. Friction and the weather can cause hair to shrink, frizz and tangle.
  4. Keep the hair stretched. When hair is stretched, it is less likely to tangle and knot since the curls are looser.
  5. Keep hair detangled. Hair that is detangled is less likely to get caught onto itself and knot. Using a wide tooth comb or your fingers is the best way to detangle.
  6. Detangle in sections. By detangling the hair in sections, it is easier to properly detangle and smooth out the hair.
  7. Seal your ends.  By using an oil or butter to coat the hair strand, it  helps to reduce friction, tangling and knotting by sealing in moisture and lubricating the hair.
  8. Wrap and twist your hair at night. If you are sleeping on a cotton pillowcase, wrapping your hair in silk scarf to prevent friction. Also by twisting the hair, it further reduces the chance of tangles.


Published by Saphie Renee

I’m Saphie Reneé, an American living in the Netherlands.

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