How To Get Rid Of Stubborn Fairy Knots In Your Natural Hair

If you have naturally curly hair, you've probably noticed tiny knots that have, inexplicably, appeared in your hair. Because they look like Tinkerbell snuck into your room at night and had ball twisting and tying your hair, these little things are called fairy knots, according to Miche Beauty. But despite the adorable name, anyone who's had to deal with fairy knots, knows they're not as cute as they sound.

"Single-strand knots occur when a single strand of hair loops around and knots on itself," scientist, certified hair practitioner, and owner of Absolutely Everything Curly Dr. Gaby Longsworth, Ph.D., tells Bustle. "Once formed, they are virtually impossible to untangle because they are so tiny and tight... Curly and coily hair is much more prone to single-strand knots because the hair follicle is flat and oval in shape."

Because of this oval shape, the hair grows out of your head in a twisty, curly fashion that gives your curls their, well, curls. But because of the way it grows, the cuticles on the strands of hair are more raised, so they get caught up in each other and create fairy knots. Split ends, too, encourage these delightful knots because the hair is extra brittle at that point (via Naturally Curly). So, what's a curly-haired person to do? You have a few options.

Deep condition and detangle regularly

As anyone with naturally curly hair will tell you, for all its beauty, it's also naturally dry. This can be blamed on those oval-shaped follicles again. "A strand of hair receives sebum on its exterior from the secretion of the sebaceous gland," board-certified dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D., tells Allure. "Sebum is not evenly distributed along curls, resulting in drier hair."

Fairy knots love a dry head of hair so they can do their tangled-up thing and annoy the person attached to them. Because of this, conditioning isn't just important, but essential. And not just regular conditioning, but deep conditioning. Making deep conditioning part of your hair care routine, won't only inject moisture back into the follicles, keeping fairy knots at bay, but will also strengthen the strands and make them look healthier. Make sure to put extra focus on those ends!

It's only when your hair is covered in conditioner that you should start the detangling process. You can't just jump into it, brushing your hair maniacally in an attempt to rid your head of fairy knots. Instead, you need to ease into it, carefully, making sure you don't add any more damage — in other words, ditch the brush. "Use your fingers and/or a wide-toothed comb to gently detangle," scientist, certified hair practitioner, and owner of Absolutely Everything Curly Dr. Gaby Longsworth, Ph.D., tells Bustle. "The key is not to snap or break off hair which will only cause more single-strand knots to form."

Trim often and protect your locks at night

If curly hair looks like it requires a lot of effort, then you're absolutely right. In addition to deep conditioning and detangling every time you wash your hair, make sure you get regular trims too. "No matter how gentle you are, the ends of your hair will degrade after a certain point, and you need to regularly trim those ends off to keep them from knotting," hairstylist and natural hair expert Jazzee Santiago tells Cosmopolitan. "Think of your ends as the senior citizens of your hair — they've been through years and years of blow-drying, braiding, wrapping, tangling, and detangling, so they'll naturally split after a certain point."

If you can imagine the faces of your grandparents being tossed around in your curls, then you'll probably want to protect them 24/7, right? Of course. What people don't tell curly-haired folks is that, from the get-go, hair protection is necessary in keeping it looking luxurious and free of fairy knots. If you don't already know it, silk is a curl's best friend. Silk pillowcases prevent friction against hair, minimize breakage, and keep hair hydrated (via Good Housekeeping). If you can toss your hair in a silk scarf during the day too, that will also help.

Having naturally curly hair can feel like a full-time job, but considering the fact that it's the rarest of all hair types, it just means you and your fairy knots are extra special. So, don't hate them. Instead, learn to love them — then learn to let them go.