Textured hair is as complex as it is beautiful, that’s why protective hairstyles have been around for thousands of generations. Alongside looking intricate, they allow precious kinks and coils to be braided safely away from daily manipulation, breakage and split ends.
However, some experts have warned against the strain that certain styles can place on follicles and the tension they can place on scalps. One of the main causes of traction hair loss is the pulling created by tight or heavy styling.
Now, gentler alternatives are rising up the ranks, which helps to explain the 150% increase in searches for ‘knotless box braids’ on Pinterest. Considered by many to be ‘low-tension’, the style has developed a league of A-list followers including Beyonce, Zendaya, Yara Shahidi and Laura Harrier.
We spoke to braid queen and celebrity hair stylist, Molecia George, whose clients include Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Katerina Johnson Thompson and Jourdan Dunn. Here she explains everything you need to know about knotless braids.
What are knotless braids?
“Knotless braids are exactly what they’re called – braids without knots,” says Molecia. “Traditional box braids have a knot at the start where the extension is added at the beginning,” she explains. “Knotless is where the braid is started off with your hair and then you feed the extension through as you go along, creating a knotless look. It’s a trendier way of doing braids for clients who don’t like the knot look at the beginning of the braids. It’s a very sleek and natural-looking way of braiding.”
Why would you choose knotless braids over traditional box braids, what are the benefits?
“As a braider both ways of braiding have pros and cons,” says Molecia, but the benefits of knotless braids include:
Knotless braids are gentler
“Knotless braids are perfect for clients with sensitive scalps as there is little to no tension,” says Molecia. This can help prevent traction alopecia and supports healthier scalps and hair retention.
Knotless braids enable you to style immediately
Unlike traditional styles which can take a day or two to loosen up, “this style is perfect to put in a bun and style straight away,” says Molecia.
Knotless braids do last a relatively long time
“Depending on how quick your hair growth is, they can last for a long time – up to eight-to-ten weeks,” says Molecia
Knotless braids are trendier
“In terms of style, knotless braids are definitely trendier,” Molecia says. “They literally give you cleaner looking braids.”
Knotless braids enable you to care for your scalp more easily
“This style makes it easier to access and moisturise your scalp,” says Molecia.
Are there any downsides to knotless braids?
“In my opinion, if you have fast hair-growth, knotless braids won’t last as long on you,” Molecia says, and they take longer to install. “With me, traditional box braids can take me four-to-five hours tops, depending on how big or small you want the width and also the length. Knotless will take me an extra hour or two depending on the size and what length you like it,” says Molecia,” but the benefit is they’ll be kinder to your hair and scalp while you wear them.
How to prep for knotless braids?
“I always tell my clients to make sure their hair is washed and to do a deep treatment before doing any sort of protective style, especially knotless,” says Molecia. “It’s also a good idea to blow-dry your hair before getting knotless braids, as this will make the braids a lot neater and help them to last longer. Lastly, make sure hair is feathered or pulled at the ends and then put the hair out so it’s easier to braid as you go.”
Are there other gentle knotless styles that you love?
“I love knotless goddess box braids,” says Molecia. “Knotless twists is another one, and also knotless crochet locs. There’s so many!”
Knotless goddess box braids
Knotless jumbo twists
Knotless crochet Locs