Natural Hair Style: Bantu Knot Out

Bantu Knot Outs are one of those styles that always get a double-take. People are always amazed by the the unique coils produced.  However producing this style does have its challenges.  The knots can take forever to dry, they are uncomfortable to sleep in and will result in frizzy mess if they are not completely dry when taken down.  However I have acquired a few tips since my last go round to share with you.

5 Tips on Creating the Perfect Bantu Knot Out

  1. Start with dry stretched hair.  My stylist blowdried my hair it wasn’t bone-straight just enough to dry it and stretch.
  2. Use a styling cream that is butter based but moisturizing.  I used Bee Mine Curly Butter its first ingredient is shea butter, but it also includes aloe and vegetable glycerin which have moisturizing properties but don’t  make the hair wet.
  3. Make sure your hair dries completely do not rush.  I was under the dryer for 1.5 hours but there were still a few knots that were not dry.  So I left the salon with my bantu knots in tact and let them air dry the rest of the day.
  4. After taking each knot down, I separated each knot into about three coils carefully coiling them in the same direction using my finger.  This helps to minimize the frizz.
  5. Lastly I left it alone.  Too much manipulation can cause excessive frizz. I was able to get 5 day hair from this style by just sleeping on my satin pillowcase and leaving it alone.

For a complete review check out my YouTube video

DIY Molasses Pre-Poo Treatment

Another great additive for you DIYers out there and this one is in your kitchen cupboard:molasses. Why use molasses in your hair? Molasses can help soften and strengthen your hair while it is also rumored to help dark up those grays naturally. Molasses is a humectant similar to glycerin, honey and agave nectar all of which I have used previously in my hair and had fantastic results!

What is Molasses?  There are three types of molasses which vary in color and nutrients.  Molasses is a by-product of sugar production process in which sugar cane juice is boiled and concentrated to create sugar crystallization.  This process of boiling and concentrating sugar is repeated several times.  The results of the first boiling yields a light honey colored first molasses.  This syrup is very sweet as there still is a lot of sugar remaining in the mixture.  Repeating the boiling yields a darker second molasses.  This syrup is the most popular and widely available.  A third boiling yields Blackstrap molasses, which has relatively less sugar, a bitter (burnt) taste and is black in color.  Blackstrap molasses contains increased nutrients including calcium, iron and magnesium.

To create an easy molasses treatment you can add a tablespoon or two into a bottle of conditioner and use just as you would regular conditioner.  I have thoughts of mixing molasses with coconut cream and imagine it would make an awesome treatment though I have yet to try it.  Or you can follow the recipe below for a pre-poo treatment (also can be used as a deep conditioner).

Molasses Pre-Poo Treatment

  • 1 oz molasses
  • 1 oz conditioner (I used Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition)
  • 1 oz oil (I used Rice Bran Oil)

Add ingredients to color applicator or another empty bottle and shake well. Once thoroughly incorporated apply to dry hair.  Place plastic cap on your hair for at least 20 minutes.  Rinse with warm water and shampoo/condition as normal.

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Honestly no matter how dry, matted and frizzy my hair is before when I use a humectant/conditioner/oil pre-poo treatment the knots just melt away, my hair feels super soft and the frizz is kept at bay.  This treatment worked equally well to the honey and agave nectar treatments, no one is better than another as far as results go.  I like the agave nectar the best however because it is not as sticky and is easier to pour.  However, I would not suggest you run out and purchase agave nectar just use what is in your cabinets.  Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.

Brown Sugar Scalp Scrub

So ya’ll know I love all things pre-poo and here is a cool one for you to try.  This pre-poo scalp scrub is simple and easy for you to do and you already have the ingredients in your kitchen.  This scrub will not only help remove sweat, flakes, dandruff from your scalp but it will also increase circulation and stimulate blood flow which is important for scalp health.  While anyone can try this recipe I recommend it for those with dry scalp, dandruff sufferers or those with psoriasis.  You can also apply this to any area of your body.

Brown Sugar Scalp Scrub

  • 2 Tbsp of Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil (or your favorite oil)

Place sugar in a bowl and press with fork to remove any lumps. Mix in oil a teaspoon at a time to your liking, it should form a nice thin paste.  Part hair into 8-10 sections and secure.  Next apply the scrub directly to your scalp and massage in circular motion, removing clips as you go along to reach all of your scalp. Rinse your hair then clense and condition as normal.

This recipe is easily customizable by adjusting the ratio of sugar to oil you can make a courser mixture by using more sugar or thinner with more oil.  You can also experiment with different types of sugar like sugar in the raw, demerara, turninado or muscovado.  Or you can use a drop or two of essential oils to suit your scalp needs.

Agave Nectar & Coconut Oil Pre-Poo

My favorite pre-poo treatment for my natural hair is a humectant/oil blend which is great for adding moisture and softness to the hair.  Humectants are water loving substances that attract water to the hair while oils aid to soften the strand and seal in moisture.  I like to use agave nectar is it pours easy and is not as sticky as compared to honey.

Agave-Coconut Pre-Poo Treatment

3 oz cheapy conditioner, I like Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut

2 oz coconut oil

2 oz agave nectar

Pour all ingredients into a color applicator bottle (found at your local beauty supply store), place your finger of the nozzle and shake well to mix.  Apply to the full length of  dry hair.  Cover hair with plastic cap and allow to sit for 10-20 minutes.  Add heat from hooded dryer or hot towel for added conditioning.  Rinse hair with warm water then cleanse and condition as normal.

This recipe is easily customizable.  You can change out agave nectar for your favorite humectant  like honey or change the coconut oil for your favorite oil.  If you need added protein you can use a protein rich conditioner.

After using this treatment my hair feels amazing; my curls are given new life, my hair soft to the touch and it also easy to detangle.  This will be a forever staple hair treatment for me.

Oils for Natural Hair

One of the plights of curly hair is dryness.  The sebum from your scalp has a difficult time making it down the shaft of the hair which results in dryness.  Oils do not moisturize the hair.  However they do help retain moisture within the shaft by creating a barrier.  There are a lot of natural oils on the market that are great for sealing the hair and scalp:

  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Jojoba Oil
  • Hemp Seed Oil
  • Sweet Almond Oil
  • Rice Bran Oil
  • Argan (Moroccan) Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Castor Oil

You can find most oils in your local grocery store.  Some oils you will find in the health and beauty section, others will be in the baking aisle.  My motto is: If it is good enough to eat, then it’s good enough to put on your hair.  Other oils can be found at a health food store like Whole Foods or online.

So which oils should you use? This like the other product questions is simply a matter of what your hair likes. Olive oil is by far the most wildly available and inexpensive.  Coconut and Castor oils are both fairly viscous and easy to find.  Safflower, Sesame and Sunflower oils are all light oils are are priced fairly reasonably.  Grapeseed oil is great for heat protection and Rice Bran oil works as a natural sunscreen for hair.  Hemp, Avocado, and Almond oils are said to have additional nutrients to aid in hair growth.  Argan and Jojoba oils are the more “exotic” oils, more pricey than the others but worth it as they are marketed as being closest to natural sebum.

I have used almost all of the oils listed above.  My current favorites are Jojoba, Almond and Safflower oil.  I also use Castor oil but not for daily use as it is too heavy for my hair but it is great for smoothing.

Here is my current hair oil blend which is a modification of the Lika Flower Hair Oil Recipe from Thank God I’m Natural blog.

  • 4 ounces Almond oil
  • 2 ounces Safflower oil
  • 2 ounces Jojoba oil

I mix all the ingredients together in a color applicator bottle with a narrow tip and use on my dry scalp as well as rubbing a little on my hands to seal my hair after moisturizing.

DIY Caramel Treatment

A quick post for those who are interested. A natural asked about Diva Smooth product from Janelle Beauty.  The product is supposed to be a “natural relaxer” that conditions the hair naturally without chemicals while loosening the curl pattern.  This is not a new claim.  There are tons of products out there claiming to be natural relaxers.  Some pretty dangerous like the Copola and others are just glorified pre-poos.

I have never used this product, but it is said to be similar to the Caramel Treatment.  I decided to post a how to on the Caramel Treatment as I love to support the DIYers out there and avoid paying $$$ for a product you can make in your kitchen.

Caramel Treatment

  • 6 Tbsp honey
  • 6 Tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 jar banana baby food
  • 3 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil

Add ingredients into a mixing bowl and blend using a handheld mixer or wire wisk (about 3 minutes).  Pour contents into nonstick pot and cook over medium heat until it thickened (it will look like caramel, hence the name).  Stir in a few Tbsp of water to thin the mixture until it is like frosting and allow to cool.

Apply to clean hair using the shingle method from root to tip.  Cover your head with a plastic cap or wrap in plastic wrap.  Allow to sit for 30 minutes or even overnight.  Rinse hair with warm water.  Blowdry and/or flat iron hair.  Results are said to last 3-4 weeks.

NOTE: This recipe is very messy so make sure you put newspaper down on the floor for easy cleanup or apply in the shower.  

Do You Pre-Poo?

A Pre-Poo is easy, customizable, DIY treatment for your hair.  Plain and simply it is a conditioning treatment used to mositurizer and/or strengthen the hair that is applied prior to shampooing, hence the name pre-poo.  There are many different types of pre-poos from simple hot oil treatments to complex herbal/ayuvedic blends.  The beauty of it all is that you can add whatever you want according to your hair needs.  Below are a few simple pre-poo recipes that I have used.  I use a color applicator bottle to mix the ingredients.  You can pick one up at any Beauty Supply Store.

 

Basic Hot Oil Treatment

-1/2 cup Olive Oil (or your favorite oil)

Pour oil into color applicator bottle and place bottle into a cup of hot water for 3 minutes or until warm.

Apply to entire length of hair.

Cover hair with conditioning cap or hot towel for 10 minutes.

Rinse hair and co/wash as usual.

 

Triple Treat Pre-Poo ~ Conditioner, Oil & Humectant

-3 oz Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut Conditioner

-2 oz Olive Oil

-2 oz Honey

Pour all ingredients into applicator bottle.  With your finger covering the nozzle shake well until blended.

Apply to the entire length of the hair.

Cover hair with conditioning cap, then sit under warm hooded dryer or apply hot towel for 10-20 minutes.

Rinse hair and wash/co-wash as usual

 

This is my favorite pre-poo mix as I have discovered that this is what works best for my hair.  I often vary the ingredients and ratios based on what I feel my hair needs at that particular time.  If you feel like your hair needs protein replace the Suave condish with V05 Moisture Milk or Giovannii Smooth as Silk condish which has silk proteins.  Or you can substitute plain yogurt for the conditioner.  You can add any oil of your choosing or an oil blend.  As for humectants if you do not like honey you can try Agave Nectar available in the cooking section of the grocery store or you can use vegetable glycerin.

 

Herbal Oil Glaze

-1 Tbsp herbs

-1 cup oil

-2 Tbsp cassia or colloidal oatmeal

Add herbs and oil to a pot and steep gently over low heat.

Remove herbs and stir in cassia/oatmeal to make a paste.

Apply to the entire length of the hair.

Cover hair with conditioning cap, then sit under warm hooded dryer or apply hot towel for 10-20 minutes.

Rinse hair and wash/co-wash as usual.

 

There are many natural plants herbs and extracts that are said to aid in conditioning, hair growth, and scalp issues.  These include the use of cassia, henna, rosemary, lavendar, aloe, amla, hibiscus, brahmi, collodial oatmeal or essential oils.  You can steep herbs in water or oil over low heat to infuse them or add ground powders or essential oils directly into mixtures.

Oh, Honey!

Honey.  The Bible talks about it.  Cleopatra used it.  Burt’s Bees entire product line is built around it.

So what is the deal around honey? In a word: amazing!

Honey aids hair in softness, suppleness and elasticity.  Honey is a humectant meaning it is a natural moisturizer that absorbs and retains water.  Honey can add shine and promote growth.  Honey is also naturally anti-bacterial so it will never spoil.  Honey also has anti-inflammatory properties as well.  And best of all honey is cheap and readily available.

So last night I decided to do a honey pre-poo as my hair was dry and tangled.  The results were fantastic so I had to share with all of you.  I used a vinyl shower cap because they are thicker and I wanted to be sure it wouldn’t slip off during the night.  I left the mixture on for a total of 9 hours.  When I woke up in the morning I got into the shower and rinsed my hair.  I then took down each section individually and shampooed and conditioned.  My hair felt incredibly soft, conditioned, smooth and less tangled.  This is definitely going in my Holy Grail.

Honey Pre-Poo

2 oz olive oil

1 oz (2 Tbsp) honey

2 oz Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut Conditioner

1 Color Applicator Bottle (found at a beauty supply store)

Heat olive oil in microwave safe bowl for 40 second in 20 second increments. Pour oil into bottle.

Rub a little oil into Tbsp then measure out honey and add to bottle. If your honey is in a squeeze container then squeeze directly into bottle.

Screw applicator nozzle onto bottle.  Place finger over tip and shake until mixed. Add conditioner and shake again.

Separate hair into four sections. Apply honey mixture to your scalp parting in 1 inch segments beginning at the nape of the neck. Massage the mixture into scalp then apply to full length of hair. Braid or bun each section then move to next.

Cover hair with plastic cap. Leave in hair for 20-30 minutes or overnight. Wash/cowash and condition as usual.  For more intense treatment sit under dryer or apply hot towel for 10-15 minutes.

Yields 5 oz which is enough for 1 application on thick medium length hair.