A popular hair trend of the 90s sported by style stars like Lauryn Hill and Gwen Stafani, Bantu knots actually have their roots in sub-Saharan Africa. Named after the region's far-migrating Bantu peoples, they look like tightly coiled little knots of hair, created when the locks are twisted and pinned into place. Also called Zulu knots, natural textured hair takes the style with ease, but with the right hair products, most hair types can adopt the look.
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- Shampoo and condition your hair as you normally would, then let it dry completely.
- Work shea butter or your favorite pomade into your hair to moisturize it, then add a curl cream for light hold if you plan to do a knot-out.
- Comb your hair with a wide-tooth comb, starting from the bottom, to detangle it.
- Separate your hair into sections as small as 1/2 inch wide or as large as 3 inches wide with a tail comb and tie off each section with an elastic band that matches your hair color. Make as many sections as you like -- more sections mean smaller knots. If your hair is long, your knots will be large, so make smaller sections if necessary.
- Twist each section two to three times. Stop twisting about 1 inch away from the roots to prevent breakage.
- Wrap each twist around itself clockwise. Make the last two revolutions at the base of the knot and tuck the ends underneath the elastic. If the hair won't stay in place, slide a bobby pin over the ends to hold them.
Get creative with the bantu knot pattern -- sections can be shaped like squares, triangles, diamonds or even scales. Some people also use braids instead of twists.
Bantu knots aren't just a hairstyle -- they are also clever way to create corkscrew curls without the use of heated tools. If you made many small knots in your bantu style, you'll get tight curls. Larger, fewer knots mean looser curls.
- Wear a shower cap to protect the knots overnight.
- Untuck the hair ends in the morning and gently untwist each knot.
- Coat your fingers with a small amount of hair oil and finger-comb the curls to get the style you want. If it looks flat at the roots, lift gently with a wide-tooth comb.
- Twist the knots back up at the end of the day and cover your hair again to get a second day of curls.
Untwist just part of the style to make a Mohawk or ponytail shape.