Fairy Knots

Posted by Adria Marshall on

Are you tired of battling those pesky fairy knots in your curly hair? Discover the secrets to understanding and preventing these stubborn tangles. Fairy knots, also known as single-strand knots, can be a frustrating and common issue for those with curly hair. But fear not, we've got you covered with tips and tricks to tackle them head-on. Learn about the causes of fairy knots and how to remove them effectively without causing further damage. Explore preventive measures and hair care routines to minimize the occurrence of fairy knots. Say goodbye to the endless struggle and embrace smooth, tangle-free curls with our expert advice and personal insights.

What are Fairy Knots?

Curly hair can be prone to the dreaded fairy knots, also known as single-strand knots. These knots occur when a solitary strand of hair tangles upon itself, creating a stubborn knot. They are particularly common in coily hair textures, such as Type 3c and 4a. If you've struggled with fairy knots on your curls, you're not alone. Discover effective strategies for tackling and preventing these knots, regardless of your specific curl pattern. Learn how to identify and detangle single-strand knots, and explore hair care techniques tailored to managing them. 

How to Remove Them?

Dealing with fairy knots? Remember, a sharp pair of hair-cutting shears is your best friend. Avoid yanking off the knots, as this can lead to split ends and further damage. When faced with single-strand knots, it's best to nip them in the bud. As someone who dealt with these knots regularly, I made sure to keep a pair of hair-cutting shears within reach - in the shower, on the bathroom counter, and even by my bedside. By promptly snipping the knots, I prevented them from causing more trouble. (see: "Search and Destroy")

In doing my research, folks suggested getting trims regularly to get rid of Fairy Knots. To be honest, this didn't work for me. Being natural for over 20 years, I've experimented with my trim frequency and single-strand knots remained a constant.

How to Prevent Them?

Alrighty, the good stuff! Again, I read several articles and agree with some of the tidbits but not others.

Theory #1: Shorter hair seems to get Fairy Knots more frequently.

My Thoughts: I agree, kinda. When my hair was shorter and I wanted to keep it shorter, I was getting trims every couple of months. So, of course, I had very few single-strand knots. However, a few times in my journey, I decided to let my tresses grow out. Once I began spacing out my trims, the fairy knots were abundant. This would carry on for a couple of years until my hair reached arm pit length or so. At around that point, I began noticing fewer single-strand knots.

Theory #2: The curlier the hair, the more single-strand knots you'll find.

My Thoughts: I agree with this. Again, my hair is a 3c/4a combo and I've frequently experienced single-strand knots. As my hair has grown, it's weighed itself down and stretched out the pattern (I've also been stretching my hair more on wash day) - this very well might contribute to the reduction of fairy knots that I've noticed.

Theory #3: Adding moisture, specifically deep conditioning, often will prevent single-strand knots.

My Thoughts: I don't agree with this one. I've been deep conditioning weekly for decades and this had no impact on the number of single-strand knots that I found. 

Theory #4: Protecting your hair at night reduces single-strand knots.

My Thoughts: I might give this one partial credit. Although I've always used a satin pillowcase, over the past 6 months or so, I've also used a satin scarf to really keep my hair in place overnight. It is quite possible that this has contributed to the reduction of my Fairy Knots. However, I saw no impact to the amount of single-strand knots when using a satin pillowcase alone.


In Summary, I believe the following to have contributed the reduction of single-strand knots that I've experienced:

1. Protecting my hair with a satin scarf in addition to a satin pillowcase

2. Stretching my hair on wash day to elongate the pattern

3. Growing my hair out (elongates the pattern)

4. Keeping hair trimmed (if you're happy with your length/shape)


I really hope this post was helpful! What's your experience with Fairy Knots? Do you have tips to share that have worked for you or a different perspective? I'd love to hear your thoughts!



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  • Oh THANK YOU for this insight and information. I hate fairy knots. I have combination curls – tight / frizz prone underneath – and more waves / big curls on top – that underneath section is a fairy knots dream come true. Constant battle. I appreciate the sound advice – my hair cutting shears are on order. The rest I already do. ❤️

    Amy Drayer on
  • Thank you for this! My daughter has similar hair type as yours and I am constantly wondering what I am doing wrong! Scissors it is. I found If I got one knot, I would get more on the same strand and cause more fuzz to get caught. No luck on satin things yet… but will keep trying

    Pam on

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