Whether you have natural curly, wavy, coily or kinky hair, chances are at some point in your hair story you have experienced the dreaded Single Strand Knots (SSK’s) also known as fairy knots. There are a number of reasons why we get SSK’s ranging from our hair naturally curling up on itself, not properly detangling our hair, over manipulation or even excessive dryness. In my experience it is not always possible to be 100% SSK-free however, there are steps we can take to help limit them.
What are SSK’s?
They are tiny knots (so tiny that “fairies” must have made them) formed when a single strand of your hair literally knots up on itself. Typically SSK’s tend to occur towards the ends of our hair since they are the oldest and “most abused” parts.
Ways to limit SSK’s
- Moisturizing and sealing
Ensuring that you not only moisturize your hair but also trap in that moisture through oils and/or butters means that there is little friction on the cuticle of the hair. If you limit the friction, then you hair has less to “grip onto” and therefore instead of clinging onto each other or itself, the strands glide over one another.
- Properly detangling
Getting rid of your tangles and shed hair can help limit SSK’s because there is less of a chance that they cause more tangles or knot up on themselves. If one piece of hair can knot on itself, imagine what several pieces of shed hair can do when not removed. Always remember to section your hair and take your time while detangling so you do not ripe out knots.
- Stretching your ends
Since the ends of our hair are the oldest parts, stretching them (e.g. using rollers) restricts the chances of our curls from coiling onto themselves, therefore making it harder for them to cause extra knots.
- Protecting your hair at night
Sleeping on a cotton pillow case can actually suck moisture from our hair and cause extra frizz and friction. Instead, try using a stain or silk pillow case, bonnet or scarf at night since they do not easily absorb moisture and reduce hair friction. You might also opt to pineapple or re-twist your hair before bed.
- Using Protective styles
Protective styles keeps your hair away from the elements, reduces the chances of your hair getting caught on clothes & jewelry, helps you keep your fingers out of your hair (hand in hair syndrome) and can also reduce the chances of your hair strands from rubbing against each another.
- Limiting over washing (cleansing)
While cleansing is an important part of a healthy routine over washing can systematically strip the hair from its natural oils and moisture which can invite extra SSK’s. Always remember to moisturize and seal your hair after cleansing to restore back moisture.
- Trimming when necessary
If left unmanaged, SSK’s can actually cause weak points in our hair which can led to breakage or even split ends. Trim your hair when necessary in order to limit damaged (do not worry it will grow back!)