Bantu Knots Styling Guide + Hairstyle Inspirations

Bantu knots, Zulu Knots, or Nubian Knots are traditional African hairstyles that women have worn for centuries. The style is achieved by twisting small sections of hair around itself to form a knot. Bantu knots can be worn as is or can be undone to create beautiful, cascading curls.

This versatile hairstyle has gained popularity in recent years. Thanks in part to celebrities like Rihanna, Beyonce, and Lupita Nyong’o rocking the look on red carpets and at other high-profile events.

Whether you’re looking to add some personality to your everyday hairstyle or want to try something new for a special occasion, Bantu knots are an attractive option.

How to Do Bantu Knots

Bantu Knots

Despite their intricate appearance, Bantu knots are actually relatively easy to do. All you need is a comb, gel, mousse, and patience! Here are the tools needed and a step-by-step guide on achieving the look. 

Bantu Knots Styling Guide: Tools Needed

  1. Rat Tail Comb – For sectioning
  2. Water Spray Bottle – For moisturizing locs
  3. Styling Jam – For holding knots
  4. Curly Hair/Braids Extensions – For longer hairstyles

Bantu Knots Styling Guide: Step-by-Step

1. Preparation 

To start, section off your into box, diamond, or triangle patterns. You can braid them to keep hair out of the way. The smaller the knots, the tighter the curl will be. For looser curls, opt for larger sections.

2. Unravel the first section.

Detangle,  brush and spray it with water and add your preferred moisturizer or jam. This step will help keep your hairstyle in place once it’s complete.

3. Begin twisting the hair around itself.

Start at the root and work your way down. As you twist, coil the hair around itself until it forms a knot. 

One pro tip (especially if you have longer hair) is to avoid wrapping it tightly when you start a knot. Create a looser knot at the base and tighter as you go on to make the knot more stable, like a pyramid. 

4. Finishing.

Before you finish each knot, apply more gel to the ends of your hair. Twist these ends tightly, then wrap, tuck, and secure them under the knot. If you’ve done this correctly, you will not need any pins or hair elastics.

5. Repeat.

That’s it; proceed to the net section and do the same steps above.

Bantu Knots Hair Style

As you may have seen, installing Bantu knots is pretty straightforward. If you’re looking for ways to make your style look more unique, here are some loc style inspirations. 

Small Bantu Knots

Small Bantu Knots

Let’s start with the most popular style, these tiny Bantu knots. The key to making them look great is ensuring they are tight and uniform. You can use various products to help keep them in place, including gel, hair growth grease, and pomades for thick hair

Pineapple Bantu Knots

Pineapple Bantu Knots
Photo from @smiling.curls

The pineapple Bantu knot hairstyle is a unique and gorgeous way to wear your hair. This crazy hair style is achieved by dividing the hair into diamond sections and then creating perfect little knots all over the head. The result is a look that resembles a pineapple.

Wakanda Knots for Men

Bantu Knots for Men

Wakanda knots are a Bantu knot style made popular by Lupita Nyong’o’s character Nakia in the movie Black Panther. They are similar to traditional Bantu knots in that they are small and round knots secured close to the scalp.

However, Wakanda knots are less likely to protrude from the hair and have a more textured, afro-like appearance.

Space Bun & Bantu Knots

Space Bun & Bantu Knots

The Bantu knot hairstyle is a versatile look that can be customized to suit your style. This modern take on the Bantu knot features two knots instead of multiple, giving the appearance of space buns. To add a bit of personality to the look, try braiding the bangs and framing the face with them.

Bantu Knots with Braids on the Side

Bantu Knots with Braid on the Side

These Bantu Knots with braids on the side hairstyle are a great way to achieve a neat, polished look. The Bantu knots help to keep the hair in place, and the braids on the side help to add a bit of style and flair. The large beads add a bit of personality and can help to dress up the look.

Giant Top Zulu Knot

Giant Top Bantu Knot
Photo from @246hairbyde

There’s nothing like a giant, fluffy top knot to make you feel like a million bucks. This particular style is inspired by the classic top bun, coiled like a Bantu Knot. This hairstyle is perfect for those with long hair who want to keep it out of their face.

To create a top Bantu knot, brush your hair back away from your face and gather it into a high ponytail. Next, use a boar bristle brush to smooth down any flyaways. Then, twist your hair, wrap it around the base of the ponytail, and secure it with gel or bobby pins.

Bantu Knots with Hair Ties

Bantu Knots with Hair Ties

Bantu knots are a versatile and stylish way to wear your hair. You can use them to create different looks or simply to keep your hair out of your face.

They are also easy to accessorize. You can use colorful, thin, or thick hair ties to add a bit of personality to your aesthetic hairstyle look. If you’re looking for a more unique look, you can even wrap yarn or ribbon around the base of the knot.

Braided Bantu Knots

Braided Bantu Knots

Instead of twisting hair, you can also braid yours before wrapping them into knots. This style is best for those who have longer hair, as twisted hair can be a little bit bulkier than braids. Then finish the look with beads or cowrie shells.

Half Up Bantu Half Curly Hair Down

Half Up Bantu Half Curyl Hair Down

This half-up, half-down style is a great way to show off your curls while keeping your hair out of your face. To achieve this look, start by sectioning your hair into two parts. Then, create small Nubian knots on the top half of your head.

Once all the knots are in place, let the bottom half of your hair down in its natural curly state. You can also add a few decorative clips or pins to the bottom half of your hair for an extra bit of flair. This hairstyle is perfect for any occasion, whether you’re going to work or out on the town.

Half Up Bantu Half Braids Down

Half Up Braided Bantu Half Braided Hair Down

This look is inspired by Beyonce’s musical film Black Is King. In this visual album, Beyonce wears her hair in a half-up Bantu Knots, half-down braids style.

But to make the style more unique, you can create braided Bantu knots instead. You can also finish the look with gold bead accessories and some curly edges.

Nubian Knots with Shaved Side

Bantu Knots with Shaved Side

Bantu knots with shaved sides are a bold hairstyle not only for men but for women as well. There are a few different ways to achieve this easy quick crazy hair style for black hair, but the most popular option is to fade or undercut the sides of the head. This will help create a clean and sharp contrast between the shaved sides and the Bantu knots on top.

Bantu Knots vs. Bantu Knot Out

Bantu Knot Out

Aside from being a gorgeous hairstyle itself, Bantu knots can also be used to create shiny, springy, and coily locs. The process of leaving your Bantu Knots overnight and unraveling them in the morning is called “Bantu Knot out.” 

FAQs about Bantu Knots

Where did Bantu knots originate?

The Bantu knots hairstyle originated from the Zulu people of Southern West Africa. In fact, the name “Bantu” comes from the Zulu word for “people.” Founded in 1574, the Zulu nation has a rich culture and history, and they are known for their traditional clothing, hairstyles, and beaded jewelry.

Do Bantu knots damage hair?

Bantu knots style is a protective hairstyle, but there is no easy answer when it comes to whether or not Bantu knots can damage hair. That’s because tight winding of the hair can lead to breakage, especially if the knots are pulled too tight. On the other hand, Bantu knots can actually help to protect the hair from damage by creating a barrier against environmental factors such as wind and sun. In addition, the knots can help to keep moisturizers and oils in place, preventing the hair from becoming dry and brittle.

Ultimately, whether or not Bantu knots damage hair depends on how they are done and how well they are cared for. If they are done carefully and kept clean, they are unlikely to cause any damage. However, if they are done too tightly or left in for too long, they may cause breakage.

Should you do Bantu knots wet or dry?

Bantu knots should be done on damp hair. Make sure to brush and detangle hair before sectioning, so you’ll have less of a chance of damaging your hair while you’re knotting it. Spray it with water BEFORE adding gel, jam, or oils to keep it moisturized. Adding jams on dry hair will make your hair frizzier.

Can anyone wear Bantu knots?

Bantu knots can be worn by anyone, regardless of hair type. However, the style suits people with kinky or curly hair. This is because the knots help to define and accentuate the natural curl pattern.

How to sleep with Bantu Knots?

Sleeping with Zulu knots is a breeze if you’ve ensured that your knots were installed not too tight. On the other hand, the best way to protect them while you sleep is to use a headwrap or silk scarf. Simply tie the headwrap around your head, and secure any loose ends with gels or bobby pins. This will prevent your knots from unraveling during the night.

Experiment with Bantu Knots

Bantu knots are a versatile and stylish option for anyone looking for an alternative to their everyday hairstyle. Whether you want tight ringlets or loose rolls, this African-inspired look is sure to turn heads.

And best of all, it’s surprisingly easy to do! So grab some gel, put on your favorite playlist, and get ready to rock those gorgeous new knots!

Gen R.

Gen is a Master Stylist in Tampa, Florida who specializes in extremely thin hair and hair loss care. Working with hundreds of clients with hair loss/thinning concerns allowed her to recognize products and routines that can cause damage. She has discovered what hair products work and what doesn’t and shares all of this info to the readers of Union of Barber. When she’s not writing, you can find Gen hiking or at home with her army of cats!