Tag Archives: single strand knots

The Single Strand Knot Dilemma

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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.

Prevention/Reduction
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!

HTH!

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

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Split Ends: A Cautionary Tale

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M of Hair and Other Stuff

I waited too long to trim my hair. No doubt, I was trying to hang on to some length or something silly like that. I’ll not beat around the bush though, it’s not worth it. By the time I got my hair trimmed, the hairdresser had to take off about about 2-3 inches of brillo-pad like hair. That STILL was not enough because my hair continued to act a donkey and felt hard and rough. This was irking me to no end so I began to really look at my hair strand by strand.

Upon inspection, I saw a jungle of split ends, bent (damaged) strands and single strand knots. A head FULL! I thought I had been doing so well with taking care of my hair. :-(. In order to do something about it, I started trimming individual strands (Search and Destroys) like a lunatic. I even inadvertently cut off healthy hair! I clearly got carried away y’all! That was in March. It’s now May. I just got about 2 more inches cut off this Month. That’s a total of 4-5 inches in 2 months.

late summer 2011

May 2012: Pre-trim

May 2012: Post-trim

Shameful. The funny thing is, by trying to hold on to a little bit of hair, I lost much more than I needed (or wanted) to lose. If I had just gotten it trimmed when I first noticed something was awry, I wouldn’t be writing this post now (that lesson could preach, but I digress.).

To be fair, I’ve had problems retaining moisture, which has contributed to the terrible condition of my hair. Seems like I’m starting from the beginning, yet again, but that’s ok. You live and you learn. I’m hoping that others will learn from my mistake. If you notice your hair needs a trim (split ends, dry ends, breakage, knots, etc.), do not wait, do not think, do not stop, but RUN to your nearest salon (or do it yourself) and get that junk cut off! Your hair will thank you for it. 🙂

(p.s. One last thing. I think it’s important to note that trimming your ends will not always get all of the damaged hair, especially in the interior of your hair, so search and destroys are crucial! You may also need to face that fact that some hair damage requires more than a trim. It might require an actual cut. For those who aren’t as skilled, there are definitely times you need to seek professional help! I did.)

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When is the last time YOU had a trim? Do you know the difference between when you need a trim vs. an actual cut?