“Bantu” refers to at least 600 ethnic groups located in southern parts of Africa. There isn’t any standard dialect or language shared between these groups – But what do they have in common is that they are referred to as ‘bantu’, a term which loosely translates to ‘people’. The hairstyle named after this word bantu knots, also go by the name of Zulu knots. That’s because a bantu ethnic group called Zulu are the inventors of this hairstyle, which remains popular with African-American women up to this day.
You might be surprised to know that a lot of people who wear bantu knots aren’t aware of the origins of this hairstyle. Bantu knots involve tiny coiled buns surrounding one’s scalp. For centuries, dozens of women in Africa have sported this ethnic hairstyle. You can form bantu knots by dividing your hair into several segments, then knotting or twisting these segments, forming small knots or twists. Feel free to create an afro comprising of tiny bantu knots, or go for giant knots when you have large and fluffy hair.
It’s highly possible that ancestors of African and African-American women wore bantu knots to protect their heads many decades ago. But lately, they are now starting to become a symbolism for loving one’s own heritage, and acceptance of their own culture. Not only does this hairstyle represent a black person’s colorful history, but it also comes to symbolize the pride that a lot of African women carry, to honor their ancestors or women of color who have changed history.
Bantu Knots Ideas You Should Know
- One of the great things about bantu knots is that they perfectly suit all hair types, both curly and straight. There aren’t any necessary pre-preparation techniques when you plan on placing bantu knots in your hair. Just rinse, shampoo, and condition your hair as usual. Then, with the help of a rat comb, gradually remove the tangles and knots in your hair and separate them into segments, which you will use to create the knots.
- A great thing about bantu knots is that they can still look very stylish, even when you haven’t even done any sort of preparation. If you run on an extremely busy schedule and don’t have time to do your hair, then allow the bantu knots on the bottom half of your scalp to tumble down. This gives you an adorable combination of tight bantu knots on top of your head, and cascading curls at the back.
- Bantu knots are excellent for stretching and straightening out your hair, providing it with additional volume once you finally let your hair down. These knots also give your hair a beautiful wavy look, which looks natural. You can actually do bantu knots on both damp and dry hair. When you apply bantu knots on damp or wet hair, your hair ends up drying right into the style, and you’ll have to leave them in that knot for a longer period of time so it can dry out completely. If your hair happens to be long or at least thick, you might end up leaving your hair in those knots for the rest of the day.
- Even though tying up your hair into little bantu knots can be tricky for the untrained, it’s actually great for you to obtain amazing curls, despite it being either straight or curly. What’s even better is that these curls can last for a couple of days, or even a week – They will slowly revert back to its original form as the days go by. So this is another reason why women love bantu knots so much. The curls that they get once you unravel the knots will not only save them plenty of time, but look voluminous as well.
- Bantu knots look excellent with long or short hair. Women who possess shorter natural hair often face a problem in which the amount of options for hairstyles aren’t enough. If your hair isn’t that long for other braided hairstyles like goddess braids and box braids, then bantu knots should do the trick. You can even include a small twist or curl along your hairline, to give it a bit of a flair.
- Bantu knots are an excellent way to protect your scalp too, since you will be tucking the tips of your hair away. If you want additional reasons why you must try out this style – Bantu knots don’t take too long to create, and are an essentially low-maintenance type of hairdo.
- Spring and summer are perhaps the two best seasons to rock those bantu knots – Because you won’t have to worry so much about the weather being too cold or hot. You can also wear bantu knots while hanging out with your friends at a café, or go to sleep at night still wearing it.
Easy Bantu Knot Hairstyles
- Neat Bantu Updo – This is a short and simple bantu updo that involves the usual tightened knots or curls. This is a hairstyle that flatters all sorts of hairstyles for women, and is great for showing off your natural tresses.
- Night Out Style – Wrapping your knots or curls is a great styling solution for your hair. Your knots will look fabulous, not to mention edgy and looks excellent when paired up with a baby doll dress, or a floral-themed sundress. This hair also looks nice with edgy makeup and piercings, if you have any.
- Royalty Bantu Knots – This gorgeous type of bantu knot hairstyle fits those who imagine themselves to be a part of African royalty. To complete this look, all you need is just one accessory – A giant chunky necklace, a hairpiece, or any ornament that can surely capture one’s attention. Put these accessories on your hairline, while you hold up your bantu knots. Make sure that you drape these accessories across your forehead.
- Half-up, Half-down – Not every girl out there is a fan of headbands. Sometimes, they find these hair accessories too colorful, too large, or too bold. They can also harm one’s hairstyle and, if placed on too tightly, lead up to a headache due to the tension. If you want to use a headband to style your knots, then just section off your hair from ear to ear, and form at least five bantu knots. These knots can help you keep your hair away from your face as well.
- Ornamental Bantu – To spruce up those simple bantu knots, throw in a couple of twists or braids in between each of them to achieve a sleek, dimensional look. You can unleash your creativity just coming up with ways to enhance those bantu knots.
- Goddess of Protection – Placing in embellishments into your bantu knots can make them special – Take cowrie shells, for example. People who have cowrie shells in their hair often mean that they come from an affluent family, or a place of pure opulence. Not to mention that cowrie shells themselves are cute, and look mighty similar to bantu knots. This is a great way to personalize that hairstyle of yours.
- Buns, Knots, and Braids – Knot-outs, the other hairstyle resulting from unfurled bantu knots, are wonderful to look at – But occasionally, you might feel like switching out that hairstyle for another type of braid. You can try out pairing those bantu knots with twists or braids. Grab a segment of your hair and begin braiding it from the tip up to the root. Twist it then curl it into a knot. They will give your bantu knots an interesting texture, as well as a personal touch for you.
- Soft Look – Ease up the strain on your head if you have tied your bantu knots too tightly. Loosen them up by placing distance between one knot with the others. Lessening the amount of makeup you wear also helps. What’s great about this particular bantu knot hairstyle is that it’s completely functional – You can sport this hairstyle wherever you go.
- Golden Triangles – One of the things that people mostly feel nervous about when they dye their hair is what the finished product will look like as their natural hair starts growing out over time, and your roots will show. Don’t bleach your hair too often though, since it can eventually result in dried hair. Always take extra care of your dyed locks.
- Exquisite and Exotic Blue Bantu Knots – Bantu knots provide a gorgeous and somewhat exotic vibe especially if you throw in a bit of color and highlights, making them stand out from other people’s hairstyles. But in case you want to take it a notch higher, then add in some colored extensions before you start braiding your hair into twists and knots. The hints of color basically screams a fun and edgy personality, and will get people to compliment your curls as well.
- Balls of Fury – If you want to make a type of protective style that is sure to last a couple of days or even weeks, then this type of bantu knots hairstyle is for you. You can do this style with extensions as well. Feel free to go crazy by adding in lots of embellishments and colors.
- Short Hair Bantu Knots – This hairstyle just proves that bantu knots are not just for those with flowing tresses. Aim for cute little bantu knots when making this hairstyle. You just need to separate your hair into even-sized segments, and add a bit of conditioner while rinsing to prevent your knots from drying. Try to include a twist alongside the hairline, to add some variety to it. Let’s be real here – There’s a limit when it comes to options on bantu knot hairstyles for short-haired ladies, but this hairstyle is proof that that is not the case.
- Buttery Blonde Bantu – Bantu knots using a person’s natural hair is not just the only way to sport a hairstyle involving tiny buns. This hairstyle looks great on ladies who have flowing, straight locks, however this can also apply to those who have naturally curly hair.
- Stylish and Classy – Tying bantu knots with natural hair results in a really great hairstyle, especially when you’re still in the process of growing out those tresses. Hair that is still growing out of your scalp will look a bit awkward when you transform them into bantu knots, since they’re not too long or not too short either. So when you do decide to knot them, make it a classy type of hairstyle.
How to do Bantu Knots
Bantu knots are a type of hairstyle sported by plenty of African-American women, and African women. These are flirty and cute short braids composed of weaves and the person’s natural hair. Although this you will mostly see bantu knots on black women as based earlier, this type of hairstyle can still be applicable to women of all ethnicities.
Despite its name, however, bantu knots are not actual knots. Instead, they are small and coiled buns that you can secure on the side of your head. What’s fun about bantu knots is that you can actually create two hairstyles in one go: After you have removed and uncoiled those knots, you can make another hairstyle from it called bantu knot-outs. This is what you have to do if you’re planning to style your hair into bantu knots:
- First, wash your hair. Because bantu knots tend to have a large portion of your scalp exposed, it has to be clean and free of dust. If your scalp has flaky skin (dandruff), dirt, buildup and grime in it, your bantu knots can itch frequently lose its purpose. No, you don’t have to purchase any type of special hair care products for this step – Regular shampoo and conditioner is fine.
- As much as possible, try to use a good amount of conditioner, especially if your hair has flyaway strands, split ends or frizz. You can pick from either a leave-in conditioner, or a rinse-out conditioner. Rinse-out conditioners are great if your hair is prone to drying out easily, but not with flyaway strands. Meanwhile, leave-in conditioners are highly suggested if your hair gets really frizzy and dried out after braiding or placing it in twists, or in this case, bantu knots. But either way though, both types of conditioner do keep your hair protected from the harsh elements, while preventing it from possible breakage and further damage as you wrap it in bantu knots, twist it around, or place it in coils or braids.
- If you can, remove your hair from knots and tangles. You can brush away prone to tangling and knotting with a comb, or a detangler brush for ethnic hair. You must also apply a detangler serum to help out with the comb. If you have straightened, tangle-free, or if your hair stretches out, then the serum isn’t necessary. One more advantage of detangling your hair is to make your bantu knots as shiny and smooth after making them.
- Rinse and dry out your hair – But not too much. There are plenty of options that tell you if you must place your bantu knots while your hair is wet, dry, or semi-dry. However, a lot of experts have suggested that dampened hair is actually the best for both bantu knots and knot-outs. That’s because dry hair itself is hard to set, so your bantu knots might not hold up that well if your hair is kinky or straight. Not to mention it loses a curl only after a couple of hours. On the other hand, wet hair won’t dry quickly when you tie it in knots. Both knot-outs and knots will be limp because of over-saturation. So your best bet here is to probably go for towel-dry hair that is still a bit dampened, but not too much that water is still dripping from the strands.
Tying Your Hair Into Bantu Knots
- The first step is to divide your hair into many segments. The correct width for your bantu knots will all depend on the length of your hair, along with your preferred look for the knot-outs to come right after. If your hair is too short, only use shorter segments – And if your hair is long, go for larger ones. So the bigger the segment of hair you have, the larger the curls it will produce. Using rat tail combs are the best way to separate curly hair. Use the end of your comb to split it into divided, even-sized parts. If your hair is too short, make sections that measure up to four inches wide. For knot-outs, consider the texture and size of the curls that your bantu knots will produce when you’re still determining the thickness of your segments. If you want glorious waves, go for large or medium-sized knots measuring three inches wide. When you’re going for smaller, yet more defined knots and curls, take a segment that is two inches thick.
- Apply curling cream onto your bantu knots, or any other type of setting product. Make sure to use a product that can hold knots and knot-outs with ease, without the hair becoming too stiff and rough in the long run. Twist each segment of your hair after applying the product. Rub some of the product in your palms or fingertips, and curl all segments of the hair in between your fingers. Begin from the tips of your hair, and go all the way down. This lets you place on the product and form some sort of hair rope, which will serve as the base for your bantu knots. Keep in mind that you have to keep those knots high so you can retain its shape.
- Place a tiny coil of hair on your scalp’s base. Twist or curl every segment of your hair, taking a few turns in between your fingertips – Kind of similar to turning a doorknob or putting in a screw using a screwdriver. Just wind the hair enough to make a tiny coil lying against your scalp. Don’t twist every segment of your hair in the same manner, though – It can possibly lead to breakage.
- Wrap up the remainder of your hair around the coil, and bring the coil closer to your scalp with every layer. If you have longer hair, your bantu knots will form a funnel or a pyramid shape, and if your hair is short, they will resemble rosebuds or even baguettes. The final part of each segment must remain as close to the scalp as much as possible, so you can hold the bantu knots in place.
- Next step is to set those coils in place. If you have wrapped them tightly enough, tuck the ends beneath the coil to firmly keep them in place. Use hair pins or elastics to hold the coils in place, should they unravel even just a tiny bit. If you sport natural curls, place them beneath the knots. But if you have straight hair, then lock your tresses into place using elastics or hair pins.
- Repeat the same process on the other segments of your hair. You can gather these segments up in a tiny coil, or twisted. Then wrap up the other segments around its own coils and tie or tuck the ends to lock it. Remember that you also have to put in the same hair products to all segments before you can wrap and twist these bantu knots into place. Whenever your hair begins to dry out during the day, grab some mist spray or sheen and lightly spray some onto your hair. This keeps your bantu knots moisturized.
You can sport those bantu knots of yours in whatever style you prefer. Wear them proudly as you step outside in your best outfit. And once you loosen up those knots, you can enjoy a secondary hairstyle called knot-outs.
Best Type of Hair for Bantu Knots
Bantu knots, as well as knot-outs, tend to look different depending on your hair’s texture, as well as its length. Always have the right expectations before you start building up this look – Keep in mind that black hair has plenty of diverse textures, as compared to hair from other ethnicities. Bantu knot-outs regularly provide defined curls, but it seems like the kinkier the person’s hair is, the bouncier the curls it’ll create – Especially when you rinse and clean your hair with certain products. The longer the hair is, the more the knot-out curls will fall loosely on your back. Also, knot-outs on longer hair resemble waves instead of just normal curls.
Celebrities who Have Worn Bantu Knots
Bantu knots, along with other braided hairstyles, are slowly experiencing a resurgence and are now becoming the talk of the town since they’ve been making appearances in award shows and other glamorous events. It’s no surprise that there have been many celebrities who have worn this fun hairstyles to special occasions and other public events.
Blac Chyna – The model/reality TV star wore bantu knots paired up with smaller cornrows on a premiere event, creating a wonderfully trendy look at this gorgeous hairstyle.
FKA Twigs – The English singer is pretty famous for sporting bantu knots that incorporate plenty of styles. She has incorporated braids, baby hair, and cornrows in her eclectic range of looks.
Jada Pinkett Smith – In her role as Niobe in 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded, Pinkett Smith complimented her bantu knots with a sleek trenchcoat, and a cool pair of sunglasses.
Rihanna – She has also worn bantu knots during performances, often pairing them up with high couture fashions.