The Single Strand Knot Dilemma


I’ve been getting quite a few questions about preventing single strand knots (SSK) lately, so it seemed like the time to do a post devoted to them. I don’t think that there is any way to avoid SSKs entirely … they are just part of the curly hair package … especially when one is frequently wearing WnGs. However, I do think that they can be minimized, so that they don’t ruin the appearance and feel of your hair or impede your ability to retain length.

In order to keep SSKs at bay, I do the following:

  • Stretch my hair with TnCs, twist-outs and braid outs.
  • Keep my hair moisturized by conditioning (pre-poo, DC and leave-in) and lubricated (sealed with an oil).
  • Fortify my strands with strengthening protein treatments/conditioners.
  • Conduct search and destroys (S&D) during my pre-poo routine on wash day to cut off any split, damaged or knotted hair that I see/feel in the course of finger detangling.
  • Finger detangle to remove as much shed hair as I can prior to washing as loosened strands tend to get captured in curly hair, knotting and wrapping around unshed hair.

These steps seem to help me to reduce SSK and prevent the collateral damage that can be caused by friction between knotted and damaged ends and healthy ones.

SSKs and WnGs
Recently, I started revisiting the WnG and plan to do it more frequently for the summer months. That being said, this means that the first step in my SSK prevention routine is a no-go … i.e. stretching. However, I will continue to employ the other techniques that I mentioned above.

That being said, let me say that I was a regular WnG girl for the majority of my natural hair journey. And, prior to 2010, I did nothing prophylactically to address SSKs other than getting my hair pressed and trimmed every 6 months. I definitely had them, as the ends of my hair would get difficult to detangle and would feel horrible. However, I was still able to retain a good deal of length with these infrequent trims. The following picture from 2006 shows the length that I reached wearing WnGs on a daily basis and just getting trims every 6 months.

So, if they don’t bother you too much and aren’t damaging your hair excessively, you can opt to leave SSKs alone and just get your ends trimmed periodically (every 3-6 months). But, that’s a decision you have to make based on your preferences, goals and what works best for you.

Finally, whenever I am asked about preventing SSKs, I share this cute video, which I previously posted on a GOC update in response to a cry for help.

via BrwnBarbie24

And, more recently, I’ve also been sharing this interesting article that Chy’s Curlz did on using Oil Rinsing as a post-shampoo step that can help minimize SSKs for those regularly rocking WnGs. Finally, Madame Noire provides several tips for preventing SSK in the article, 7 Ways to Keep Your Single Strand Knots to a Minimum.

So, although eliminating SSKs entirely is probably not possible for those who regularly rock curls, there are a few things that one can do to reduce the numbers. With a little trial and error, you can pick and chose the techniques that work best for you!



What techniques have you found to be effective in preventing/reducing Single Strand Knots?


17 responses »

  1. Nooooooo you beat me to it LOL. I started writing this post 3 days ago! Well actually I specifically wrote about prevention in detail and its scheduled to go up on Monday but dang girl this is the second time this has happened where we were thinking the exact same thing!


    • Michelle, I thought you were writing on how to detangle hair!! I actually saw your comment on Nikki’s post and wrote my own suggestions further down in the comments with the same conclusion …. “I feel a post coming on.” But, this post was prompted because Rece and several others were talking about the specific problem of SSKs. I plan on doing a post with the detangling tips I shared on CurlyNikki at a later date.


  2. Thank you ladies soooo much for your knowledge & this post. I have THE worst ssk. With my hair nearly reaching my tail bone it’s unbelievable the amount of tangles & ssk, I get. I think there is such a thing as hair that is too long. I also have several idfferent textures so that in itself also proves to be a problem. The rubbing of my hair on my shoulders makes an ssk nightmare!! *deep sigh* nonetheless I look to you girls for advice & support. Thank you Shelli & Michelle. I might be taking that BC plunge again and just cutting it all off.


  3. Thanks Shelli for recommending my post. One thing I know for sure is that the oil rinsing works for preventing/reducing, not touching your hair too much works for avoiding the frustration, moisturizing very very well is amazing as well as getting regular trims.


    • Your post was great. I agree. That oil just helps give the slip so the hair doesn’t wrap all around itself… a common issue for curly hair as you know. I have a much looser curl pattern which I believe is why i don’t really get SSKs as much as others.


  4. I just chopped off the last 3 inches of my relaxed ends last month. I rocked twists and mini twists for most of my 18 month transition, I was so ready to embrace my curls. So naturally, I you tubed the curly girl method and raked and smooth conditioner in my hair. The curls were beautiful. But two days later, my hair was a nightmare to de-tangle, and I came across my first SSk and then another, and then another! Through my entire transition, I never had one, I am guessing because of the straight relaxed ends. No more wash and goes for me, that stuff is scary. Twist n curl all the way.


  5. Oh single strand knots. I agree that stretching my hair helps but I will when I need to I get out a pin ( pin you use for sewing) and I get out about 95% of those knots. The only way I don’t get the knot out is if it’s to tight. I put the pin through the hole of the knot and I gentle rub my thumb and pointer finger back and forth and I gentle take the knot out.


  6. Pingback: Single Strand Knots – A Curly Girl’s Nemesis | My Natural State

  7. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker
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