Bantu knots and bantu knot outs are one of those styles that you hear about a lot and are meaning to try, but aren’t quite sure if it’s worth the effort. Or you’ve tried it and it didn’t quite come out as expected. The first time I tried a bantu knot out, I was shocked at how short it made my hair look. That’s because I didn’t realize what a bantu knot out really was.
- What’s a Bantu Knot and What’s a Bantu Knot Out?
- Different Textures, Different Lengths = Slightly Different Outcomes
- How to Do a Bantu Knot Out. Three Essential Tips.
- How to Do a Bantu Knot Out. The Details.
- Bantu Knot Tutorials by Hair Type and Length
What’s a Bantu Knot and What’s a Bantu Knot Out?
For those new to bantus, a bantu knot is both a hairstyle and a way to curl your hair without heat or rollers. You create them much in the same way you make a bun–by twisting (or two-strand twisting) a portion of your hair, then rolling the twist up around its base into a knot. A lot of women let the knots set overnight and unravel them to form tight springy curls. Doing this is called a bantu knot out because you take the knots out. I want to emphasize here that unlike a braid out or twist out, a bantu knot out gives you a tight curl because it’s rolled up, whereas braid outs and twists out give you stretched out waves. In addition to being a way to heatlessly curl your hair, the knots themselves have become a frequently worn style, usually seen on the crowns of the fashion-forward coolsters of AfroPunk fest.
Unlike a braid out or twist out, a bantu knot out gives you a tight curl because it’s rolled up, whereas braid outs and twists out give you stretched out waves.
Different Textures, Different Lengths = Slightly Different Outcomes
A bantu knot out will look different depending on the texture and how long it is. Before you create this look it’s good to set the right expectations. I’ve tried to get as many examples of different textures as possible, but Black hair is so diverse, so it wasn’t easy. The photo starts with girls with Type 3 hair (on the first row), mixed Type 3/Type 4 textures in the second row and Type 4 hair on the third row. As you can see, a bantu knot out on Type 3 hair, generally gives more defined curls, but you can create defined curls with Type 4 hair (second row, second photo from left) with certain products (see tutorial below). Furthermore, the longer your hair is, the more it will hang and the looser your curls will be. Bantu knot outs on really long hair tend to look more like waves vs curls.
How to Do a Bantu Knot Out. The Essentials.
In case you don’t want to read all of the instructions that follow, here are three things you absolutely have to do when doing bantu knot outs in order to get the best results…
- Stretch your hair first
- Give your bantus enough time to dry
- Put oil on your hands before you unravel
How to Do a Bantu Knot Out. The Details.
Everyone has their slight variation on how they do their knot out. But across all textures and hair lengths, there are some key steps. (Further below are video tutorials by hair texture and length).
- Wash your hair. Even though this is the first step, it’s not a critical step. You can do bantu knots or a knot out without washing your hair, but depending on how much products you use, you may want to wash your hair in order to have a clean slate and avoid product buildup.
- Stretch your hair. As you’ll see in some of the videos below, many people stretch out their hair before knotting it up. This makes it easier to create the knots and it also gives you more clearly defined curls versus frizzy curls.
- Have a sense of how many bantus you want to create. Generally, speaking the more bantus the better. If your hair is really short, like TWA (teeny weeny afro) short, you’ll have no choice but to do several small knots. The longer your hair is, the fewer you can get away with doing. For a good bantu knot out with nicely defined curls, expect to do at least 8 bantu knots evenly spread out across your head.
- Part your hair into four sections. Prep your hair by parting it into four even sections–create a vertical middle part, going from the center of your forehead to the center of your nape and create a horizontal middle part going from ear to ear. Use hair ties or clips to tuck the sections out of the way. Then start creating your bantu knots.
- Make a smaller section for your first bantu knot. If you plan on wearing your bantu knots as a style first, be sure to take your time (and a couple mirrors) and create neat parts. With your hair parted into four sections, you can either split each section into halves (for a total of eight knots) or fourths (for a total of 16) or even more. Remember, the more knots, the more definition, the less frizz.
- Apply a moisturizer. Whether you’ve just washed your hair or are creating the style dry, you’ll need to add a moisturizer to get the curls to set. Here’s where a lot of the variation comes in–different people use different products to moisturize their hair and set the curls. You can use your favorite leave-in, curl pudding or even gel.
- Begin twisting and then start wrapping. Once you’ve parted out your first ‘subsection’ begin twisting your hair from the base to the tips. Don’t start out by twisting too tightly because the twist will be super tight by the time you get to the tips. Once you get to about ¾ down the section of hair, you can start wrapping. Twisting the hair should automatically make it start to wrap at the base, but you’ll likely need to deliberately wrap the twist around the base to really form the ‘knot’. At this point, you’ll have to go by feel. Twist a little bit and wrap a little. As you wrap, be sure to leave a bit of space at the base for subsequent wraps. Be sure not to twist and wrap too tightly to avoid putting too much stress on your hair.
- Secure the knot. Secure the knot with a hairpin or hair tie at the base. If your hair is short or kinky, you may not need to secure the knot with anything. I did bantus on my dry 4C hair and didn’t use anything to secure them.
- Repeat. Continue creating bantus until you’ve done your whole head. Handy tip: Vlogger Michelle B leaves a section in the back of her head bantu free so that she can sleep comfortably at night.
- IMPORTANT: Let it dry. If you’ve created your bantus from freshly washed hair, it’s important that you give them enough time to dry. Bantus, unlike braids and twists, are wrapped, so air doesn’t pass through them as easily, and thus, they take a longer time to dry. Let your hair dry for at least 24 hours, 48 hours if you want to be really safe. Doing so can be the difference between a hairstyle you love and a hairstyle you hate, especially because you took all that time to make dem knots!
- Unravel with oil. To avoid a frizzy bantu knot out, put oil on your hands as you unravel. Coconut, argan and olive oil are frequently used for this. Choose whichever you prefer. Be patient as you unravel. You’ve come this far so it’s best not to rush things. Unravel by taking out the hairpins or hair ties you used to secure the knots. Then carefully twist the knots in the opposite direction you twisted them in.
- Separate. Once you’ve untwisted the knots, you’ll have super tight springy curls all over your head. Now it’s time to separate them. Separating them gives you more volume. The more you separate each twist, the more volume you’ll have. However, the more you separate, the more you open yourself up to frizz, so be careful. Separate each curl one to three times; again, it depends on your preference.
- Pick the roots. After separating your hair, you’ll likely still have visible parts. At this point you want to gently use an afro pick, a wide tooth comb, or even your fingers to gently pick at the roots. Don’t run the comb all the way through your hair. Just gently pick the roots.
- Voila. If you’ve made it this far, well done! You should have a glorious head of beautiful curls!
Bantu Knot Tutorials by Hair Type and Length
Bantu Knot Out on Short Type 3b/3c Hair
- Vlogger: Imshinestruck
- Hair type: short 3b/3c hair
- Approximate number of bantu knots: about 16
- Products use: virgin coconut oil to unravel
Medium Type 3b Hair
- Vlogger: Bianca Renee
- Hair type: medium length 3b hair
- Approximate number of bantu knots: about 19
- Products use: olive oil smooth and hold pudding to set curls, coconut oil to unravel
- Note: blow dries hair to stretch it out.
Thin Medium 3a/3b Hair
- Vlogger: NoLyeNaturallyMe
- Hair type: medium length thin 3a/3b hair
- Approximate number of bantu knots: about 6 for a wavy look
- Products use: eco styler gel oil to set curls, rosehip seed oil to unravel
Bantu Knot Out on Medium Long Type 3 Hair
- Vlogger: Mo Knows Hair doing her sister’s hair
- Hair type: long 3c hair
- Approximate number of bantu knots: about 18
- Products use: Agadir Shampoo & Conditioner, Argan Oil Hair Treatment, Oil Spray Treatment, Beautiful Textures Curl Definer Mousse, Creme of Nature Argan Oil Perfect 7 Leave-in, ORS Smooth & Hold Pudding, Conair Hooded Dryer
- Notice how her hair reaches her shoulders when wet then curls up to her chin after the knot out.
- Note: she deep conditions the hair for 30 minutes prior to styling.
Boob-Length Type 3 Hair
- Vlogger: ChandlerKnowsBest
- Hair type: boob-length type 3 hair
- Approximate number of bantu knots:
- Products use: a mixture of water, conditioner, coconut oil and argan oil; Cantu’s Curl Activator Cream, Cantu Coconut Curling Cream
- Note: she does her bantu knots on dry hair
Bantu Knot Out On TWA 4C Hair
- Vlogger: Sheila Ndinda
- Hair type: teeny weeny afro 4c hair
- Approximate number of bantu knots: about a million (just kidding), about 40
- Products use: Shea Moisture Strength and Grow from Jamaican Oil Black Castor line, Coconut Oil, Whipped Shea Butter from Majani Hand Made, Cream of Nature Perfect Edges for her edges
- Note: she does two strand twists vs single strand
Bantu Knot Out On Short 4C Hair
- Vlogger: Destiny Taylor
- Hair type: short 4c hair
- Approximate number of bantu knots: 12
- Products use: Cantu Shea Butter Cleansing Cream Shampoo and Hydrating Cream Conditioner, Hollywood Beauty Olive Oil, Pro Style Clear Ice Ultra Hold Gel
Medium Full 4a/4b Hair
- Vlogger: Daye La Soul
- Hair type: medium full 4a/4b hair
- Approximate number of bantu knots: about 24
- Products use: Ever Strand Earthy Hair Essentials Deep Moisture Hair Masque and Curling Cream, leave-in and heat protectant before blowing out
- Note: This is a really good video. She shows the mistakes she made the first time she did a bantu knot out and the things she does differently this time around.
Shoulder Length 4a/4b Hair
- Vlogger: Michelle B
- Hair type: medium long 4a/4b hair
- Approximate number of bantu knots: about 15
- Products use: Camille Rose Naturals Coconut Water Leave-in, Jane Carter Solution Creamy Leave-in Style in Smoother before blow-dry ing, Bee-Mine Curly Butter, avocado oil to unravel
Bantu Knot Out on Long 4c Hair
- Vlogger: Daphne Madyara
- Hair type: long 4c hair
- Approximate number of bantu knots: about 8
- Products use: raw shea butter
- Note: she two strand twists her hair vs single strand twisting them. She fastens her knots with thread vs hairties or hair pins.