Friday, February 15, 2013

SOS: Single Strand Knots

April 2012
My first relaxer stretch was painful. And that's putting it nicely. Then, in the Spring of 2011, I tex-laxed for the first time after stretching  for 5 months. Yep. 5 whole months, 20 weeks, 100 days. When I think back to those days now--I still shudder. Still fresh in my memory are the massive tangles that I would go to war with every wash day. These weren't your ordinary-run-of-the-mill tangles--that I was accustomed to while my hair was relaxed bone straight every other month. No sir, I'm talking about dozens of matted tightly curled new growth entangled and intertwined with my bone straight ends plus shed hairs throughout my entire head. It was a nightmare. There were a couple times when I would sit on the floor of my bathroom for hours upon hours with a bottle of conditioner on left and coconut oil on the right carefully using both to slowly work through each matted clump of hair. While it was a great exercise to test my patience and tone my arms. I never  (sola que nunca would be entirely too soon) ever ever ever ever never wanted to deal with those monsters again. Today, I'm thankful for that tremulous time. Why? You ask. Well, my last wash day was almost a complete fail because: THEY'RE BACK!!! My enemies have reared their ugly heads once again. Luckily, I (and you) have a plan of action to first reduce and second prevent silly single strand knots from driving us batty.

Although completely eliminating single strand knots is basically impossible, after that first stretch, I sat down and brainstormed ways to keep them at bay. Here's what I came up with: 
  1. Ten Paciencia Mamita (Have Patience). You'll never know the meaning of patience until you are plagued with gazillions of large single strand knots every time you wash. And since scissors are the very last resort--the only way out is to go through layer by layer slowly and methodically detangling each knot. I've found that being rid of these knots are much easier on my dry hair than on wet hair--simply because my wet hairs are far more prone to breakage. 
  2. Thorough Daily Detangling. Although I (thought that) was detangling my hair throughout the week, I often ignored my roots. The shed hairs would catch near the line of demarcation and hangout for a while. Throughout the week, I had more the hairs coiling up around themselves thus forming huge knots. I didn't think to gently uncoil/stretch my roots out then take the time to tackle, unravel the knot, and simply ditch the shed hairs. Duh!
  3. Everything in sections. From detangling to styling. I now know that everything works better in sections. During my first stretch, I had the unfortunate habit of rubbing shampoo into my hair. This was completely and utterly counterproductive. Why detangle before shampooing only to rub all the strands back together while trying to work the hair into a lather creating friction and you guessed it--more knots. Now I rub a quarter size amount of shampoo  between my hands to work into the thick later that I love. Then massage with as little focus on the length of my hair and concentrated cleansing on my scalp--where the shampoo is actually needed. I've also diluted shampoo in an applicator bottle then squeezed only on my scalp in sections.
  4. Trim if necessary. Oh the dreaded "T" word! When you start to notice knots closer to the end of your hairs, it could be that a trim is in order. Rough, dry, thin, and damaged ends easily attach themselves itself to other strands wrapping around and creating knots. Try micro trimming with very sharp scissors to be rid of split ends then be sure to keep your hair especially the roots and ends moisturized, sealed and protected from the elements. 
  5. Rethink your styling choices. The curlier the style--the more knots I found. Weird right? Well not so much if you think about it like this: What's number 1 thing that you can do to kill a perfect braid out, bantu set, or wash-n-go? Combing it! So I didn't. Big mistake. Enough said about not detangling.
Old Ben Franklin said it best "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." With Spring getting ready to knock on our doors, I'm getting excited about unleashing my curls, but not without preparing myself today to prevent a setback's tomorrow

How do you prevent single strand knots?

Un mil besitos



  1. Excellent post! And at least you know what the cause of your "setback" was, that is the most important thing for prevention!


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