A Natural Annoyance: Single Strand Knots

Saturday, October 29, 2011

(Click to see a close up of some of my SSKs)
This weekend I've been in the process of (finally) twisting up my hair as a part of my winter hair care plan. I always thoroughly detangle my hair before twisting, and while that usually gets rid of most knots and tangles, there is always one particular kind of knot that defies detangling and always seems to hang around near the ends of my strands: the Single Strand Knot (hereby referred to as SSK). When twisting my hair I can usually feel at least one or two (or more) SSKs when I get to the end of each twist. They are really annoying because they are tiny and most of them are next to impossible to unknot. But I have learned to not obsess over SSKs because I truly believe that they come with the territory of natural hair - especially tightly curly/coily natural hair. I find that I usually see less SSKs when my hair is kept thoroughly detangled and in a stretched state (such as in twists) because the hair strand does not have the opportunity to curl up on itself and form a knot. Currently there are 3 ways I deal with SSKs when I feel them:
  1. Ignore them: This is what I do most of the time so that I don't drive myself crazy :)
  2. Search and destroy: I usually only do the "search and destroy" trim on a strand-by-strand basis if and when I come across SSKs while twisting. But I usually only trim away the SSKs that form at the very end of my strands. If an SSK forms too high up on my strand I usually leave it alone because I dont want to trim away too much of the length of the strand. 
  3. Smooth hair strand with aloe vera gel: This doesn't always work but occasionally I am able to unknot some SSKs by smoothing my strands in a downward motion with a generous glob of aloe vera gel. If it doesn't unravel the knot, the aloe vera gel and smoothing sometimes encourage the knot to travel further down the hair strand closer to the end of the strand where I feel more comfortable trimming it. 
Wonder what SSKs look like? See two close up shots of some stubborn SSKs I came across while twisting my hair. Each blue arrow points to a single SSK.
(Click image to see a close up of some of my SSKs)

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3 comments

  1. Great post! I am definately going to try the Aloe Vera gel method. These SSKs are killing me. :/

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  2. Thanks @Courtney and good luck! AV gel is my best friend. SSKs are definitely super annoying, but manageable. And I think I see less of them when I wear my hair stretched.

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  3. Like the number of..Ignore them..i think this is the hardest to do since they can get to you..I went completely natural a month ago...i have suffered SSK and couldn't figure out why they were there...even after trimming they couldn't go away...They piss me off so much i feel like chopping all of my hair

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