Protective Style: Bantu Knots

If you’ve spent any time on black hair blogs or on Zedhair, it’s likely that you have come across the term “Bantu knot” (According to the interwebs, they are also known as “Zulu knots”). But, what exactly is a bantu knot?? This is what you get when you throw bantu knot into google.com:

All of the sudden light bulbs go off and I think immediately, “it’s the hairstyle Scary Spice (Mel B.) used to wear. I searched and searched for a picture of her because I know she wore her hair this way and got absolutely nada but here’s a screen grab of images of bantu knots.

The bantu knot is a very iconic African image to me. I’m not too sure why, but there are aspects of tribalism and “African-ness” that it evokes. Another popular bantu knot image is Jada Pinkett-Smith in the Matrix. She wore her hair in some pretty cool bantu knots. And yes, there’s a picture in there of a guy with bantu knots in his hair and I’ve got to be honest, I’m not sure it’s the best look but hey, to each their own. So the Bantu knot is a protective style that doubles as a styling tool when you do a bantu knot-out. The pictures above show, bantu knots as well as the wavy style that is the result of taking down (or out) the bantu knots.
Here’s a brief tutorial on Bantu knots from carefair.com:
Bantu knots also known as Zulu knots are created when the hair is sectioned off and twisted into knots. The shapes of the sections depend on how the hair is parted, and can easily be made into diamond, triangle or square shapes, but the possibilities are endless. This hairstyle can be worn on any hair type and any hair length, although it is popular amongst people of African descent. Bantu knots are a way to wear the hair so it is protected form the elements and close to the scalps beneficial oils. Follow these steps to fashion beautiful Bantu knots of your own.
1. Detangle your Hair
This style requires smooth detangled hair. Wash and condition your hair beforehand if you have a lot of tangles to work out. Use shea butter on your hair before creating this style for soft and shiny hair that is easy to manage.

2. Part your Hair into Sections
Parting the hair into 1 x 1 inch sections is a popular size, but there are no rules. Try larger sections for longer hair. Be creative with the shape of your parts. Start with a diagonal part to make triangle or diamond shaped styles, and start with a part at the nape of your neck for a symmetrical shape. The larger you make the section, the larger the knot will be.

3. Twist Hair and Fashion it into a Knot
Working with one section at a time, take your hair and twist it. Spritz water from a spray bottle on each section as you go, or use gel or hair oil for shine. Twist the hair firmly. Consider braiding your hair, or double twisting the section before making your knot for a textured look to your knot.

4. Fashion Hair into a Bantu Knot
Take the twist and wrap it around itself in a circular fashion to form what looks like a knot. Do not actually knot your hair because it may be difficult to get the knot out. If you have hair extensions or dread locks, simply divide your sections by how big you want your knot to be, and twist your locks into a knot.

5. Secure your Hair
Tuck the hair under itself or use a cloth hair tie or hair rubber band to secure each Bantu knot. Do not use a tie that is too tight because it could break your hair, and choose something that is not too noticeable or can be hidden under the hair. Try using hair-ties made out of pantyhose for comfortable wraps that can usually be hidden underneath hair.

6. Add Accessories
For unique and dressy Bantu knots perfect for prom or any other formal evening, add shells, hair beads or hair jewels to the knots.
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If you are like me and need to see more than read, then here’s a good video tutorial, on how to put in bantu knots and how to take them out for a bantu knot-out. It is quite long, with a lot of detail but I thought that as we are an Afro-centric (an African) blog, it would be nice to feature some African commentary and so the lady featured in the video is from Somalia and she talks about how this is an easy, protective style that she grew up with and one that comes from home and was recommended by her mother.

I wasn’t able to find any information on how long one can or should wear bantu knots. I know that I have worn bantu knots for a week without any problems. I am not sure that I would recommend keeping it in longer than a week. Besides, why wait too long to rock a bantu knot-out?!?
The best part about Bantu knots….. they are GREAT FOR ALL HAIR TYPES, natural and relaxed. In addition they work for short and long hair. There are a few videos on youtube that show bantu knots on short hair, the shortest hair length I saw was about 1 inch and a half to 2 inches. Now it takes (typically) longer time and smaller sections to work bantu knots into shorter hair. However, bantu knots are good for straightening and stretching out hair and giving it more volume in a knot-out. They also give hair a natural looking wave. They can be done on wet or dry hair. With wet hair, you are drying your hair into the style and so you will need to leave the knots in place for longer to ensure that the hair dries all the way through; with wet natural hair, especially if it is thick and long, the drying process may take longer than a day.
Let us know if you’ve tried bantu knots and feel free to send pictures showing how they turned out for you. We’ll post our own bantu knots and knot-out pictures soon.
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10 responses to “Protective Style: Bantu Knots

  1. I just tryed doing it today while its wet and im crossing my fingers it'll turn out right.im going natural! its new to me so wish me good luck on my jurney.

  2. Today was my first day to do bantu knots and now I'm headed with them. I like the way the look on others, but I'm sure about on me. Maybe it just takes getting use to it.

  3. I have been toying with the idea of bantu knots, but I think I need to get the rest of the look right too. Occasion, outfit etc when I really want to look funky. They are definitely on my to-do style list for the next three months.

  4. I've been toying around with Bantu knot outs for a few weeks when I first started I two strand twisted it first then Bantu knotted it … now I'm just twirling this is my second attempt at thwarting twirl version hopefully it's better than the first .. wish me luck

  5. Pingback: Crazy Eyes And Taystee Made The Cutest Christmas Music Video | eGuidez·

  6. I loved your explanation so much I linked your post to my blog on What are protective styles? Hope you don’t mind I thought it would be great for my readers. If you do mind I will remove it from my blog. I would love to know your thoughts thank you!

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