How to Create Your Best Bantu Knot-Out Yet, Straight From the Pros

Close up of a woman with a Bantu knot-out hairstyle

Eden Stuart

The best thing about protective styles is that there are so many to choose from—box braids, weaves, and twist-outs are just a few of the looks naturals experiment with.

While it might be lesser known than some of its "-out" counterparts, the Bantu knot-out is a fantastic two-for-one protective hairstyle: After a few days of channeling your inner Mel B, you can unravel the knots and reveal a whole new 'do.

If you want to recreate this fun and playful hairstyle but aren’t sure where to begin, our step-by-step guide has you covered. We tapped hairstylists Jennie Roberts and Michelle Sultan to share their best tips and product recommendations for creating the ultimate Bantu knot-out. Read on to find out what they had to say.

Meet the Expert

  • Jennie Roberts is a celebrity hairstylist, textured hair educator, and Curlsmith ambassador.
  • Michelle Sultan is a hairstylist and Imbue creative ambassador.

What Is a Bantu Knot-Out?

Bantu knots are a hairstyle that originates from the Zulu people of Southern Africa. To create the style, hair is equally sectioned and then twisted, wrapped, and stacked upon itself, creating a spiraled knot. “The perfect Bantu knot is created by starting with a perfectly prepared base, so preparation is key when it comes to this style,” Sultan says.

Something you'll want to consider while prepping your hair for Bantu knots is how long you intend to wear the style. “If Bantu knots are to be worn for over a week, then a moisture hair mask is a great way to ensure the style stays hydrated in the days to come,” Roberts explains. She recommends the Curlsmith's Hydro Creme Soothing Mask ($12).

As you might have gathered, a Bantu knot-out—much like a braid-out or twist-out—is when you decide to let your fully dried Bantu knots out. The final look will provide larger, more defined curls than what you would normally get with a braid-out or twist-out.

What You'll Need

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Moisture mask 
  • Rat-tail comb 
  • Styling gel or mousse
  • Hair dryer
  • Paddle brush or wide-tooth comb
  • Silicone bands (optional)
  • Hairpins (optional)

How to Create a Bantu Knot Out

01 of 05

Cleanse and Condition

As is often the case, step one is to cleanse and condition your hair. “Curlsmith's Wash and Scrub Detox Shampoo ($28) and Double Cream Deep Quencher ($12) are a great combo for this,” Roberts says. If you plan on wearing your Bantu knots for up to a week, use a moisture mask; if you don't have one on hand (or you're short on time), apply a bit of leave-in conditioner as an alternative to lock in moisture.

02 of 05

Section the Hair

Once the hair has been prepped, section it into desired partings using a rat-tail comb. For those taking on this style themselves, you might want to use a mirror to ensure that your parts are equal. Roberts notes the importance of thinking about how you plan on styling your final look (i.e., with a middle part or a side part). "This will determine where you place your parting sections,” she says. 

Use tension to gather the hair, but don’t pull it too tight—this can lead to hair thinning, breakage, or traction alopecia. “Use a brush or wide-tooth comb if more tension is needed,” Roberts adds.

03 of 05

Start Twisting and Creating Your Knots

Be sure to keep your sections super smooth as you may have some flyaway hairs. Before twisting the hair, apply a styling gel to hold the new texture created by the Bantu knots in place. “Depending on the texture of your hair, a mousse or gel will work well,” Roberts says.

Once you’ve got the right amount of tension on each section, twist the hair from the roots and keep doing this until the section twists back on itself, forming a little knot. Check your knots to ensure that they are super smooth and hydrated, and secure them by tucking the ends into the bases. If you find it difficult to tuck your ends into the bases, use a small silicone hair band to secure them.

04 of 05

Let Them Dry

After you've completed all your sections, you can let the style air dry or diffuse until nearly dry. “Depending on the hair’s density, this part of the process could take some time," Roberts explains. "But if you’re wearing it in this style for a few days, it should be dry" by the time you take it out.

05 of 05

Remove Your Knots and Loosen Your Sections

When removing Bantu knots, Roberts says it’s important to start at the back so as not to disturb the hair’s new texture. “Gently unravel the knots, keeping everything smooth as you go, and gently pull apart each knot into sections until you have the desired volume,” she explains. “Once the knots have been unraveled safely, gently pick out the hair to hide any partings that might be showing." Finish off the look with a shine oil.

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