Small knotless braids have become an increasingly popular protective hairstyle choice for many people. Knotless braids create a smooth, sleek look while allowing you to give your natural hair a break from daily styling and manipulation. But are small knotless braids actually a good option? Here is an in-depth look at the pros and cons of small knotless braids.
What are small knotless braids?
Small knotless braids, also sometimes called micro braids, are a type of protective braided hairstyle. They are done by braiding small sections of your natural hair seamlessly with extensions, without using knots to secure the hair. This gives a seamless look that resembles micro cornrows laid closely together.
Knotless braids are often done in a bricklay pattern, with each braid lying perpendicular to the one beside it. They can be done in straight back rows or in more creative patterns such as zigzags or waves. The braids are usually relatively small in size compared to other braided styles. The braids themselves are often between 1/16″ to 1/8″ in width when finished.
Pros of small knotless braids
There are many potential benefits that make small knotless braids an attractive protective style choice for many people:
Low tension and manipulation of natural hair
One of the biggest pros of knotless braids is that they allow you to put minimal tension and manipulation on your natural hair. The extensions do most of the work, while your natural hair stays tucked away and protected inside the braids. This can promote growth and retention.
Small knotless braids tend to last a relatively long time compared to other protective styles. They can often last 6-8 weeks or longer before needing to be redone. This allows you to worry less about constant styling and upkeep.
Sleek and professional look
The small, smooth appearance of knotless braids gives them a very sleek and elegant look. This makes them a great option for professional settings or whenever you want a polished appearance.
Once initially installed, small knotless braids require relatively little day-to-day maintenance. You can wake up and go without having to restyle. Just occasional moisturizing and re-braiding of any loose braids is required.
Small knotless braids are incredibly versatile. You can choose to have them straight back, in creative patterns, with beads or other accessories added, in different colors, etc. This versatility works for many different personal styles.
By keeping your natural hair tucked away, small knotless braids protect it from damage that can be caused by environmental factors like sun, wind, and cold air exposure. It also protects against damage from daily manipulation, styling, and drying.
Cons of small knotless braids
However, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider with small knotless braids:
Time consuming installation
It can take 8-10+ hours or even multiple sessions to initially install small knotless braids. This requires a significant time commitment. The time and cost of professional installation can be high as well.
Difficult to remove
Removing small braids yourself can be a very lengthy and tedious process, often taking hours. It’s recommended to have them professionally removed, which comes with an added cost. Improper removal can also risk damage to the hair.
Heavy weight on hair
The extensions add noticeable weight to your hair. This constant pull on your strands over an extended period can put strain on your roots and lead to potential traction damage if the braids are too tight.
Potential scalp issues
If the braids are installed too tightly, they can cause irritation, tenderness, and discomfort of the scalp. Some people may also have an adverse reaction to the extensions or experience buildup and itching over time.
The extensions, professional installation, and removal can make knotless braids an expensive style. It’s important to factor in these recurring costs.
Limited styling options
The tightness of the braids limits what you can do with them styling-wise. You can’t easily curl them, pull them up, etc. Options are restricted compared to loose natural hair or box braids.
Difficult to access scalp
With small braids densely packed together, it can be difficult to effectively reach the scalp beneath to properly cleanse and moisturize as needed.
Who are small knotless braids best suited for?
When considering if small knotless braids are a good option for you, it helps to think about these factors:
Small knotless braids work best on tightly coiled hair types like types 3C–4C. These hair types can better hold the braided style and are at less risk of slippage. Looser curl patterns may have more difficulty keeping the extensions securely braided in.
Lifestyle and job
These braids are a great low maintenance option if you have an active job or busy lifestyle. You don’t have to worry about styling and upkeep as you would with loose natural hair.
If you have a thicker, denser head of hair, small knotless braids allow you to stretch your hair into a sleeker look by braiding it flat to your scalp. Those with thinner hair may be better off with larger braids instead.
You’ll want to closely monitor tension and take measures to prevent buildup if you already prone to a sensitive or irritated scalp. Avoid overly tight braiding.
The cost associated with getting and maintaining small knotless braids is relatively high. Make sure this fits within your beauty budget.
You need the time and patience to sit through the lengthy installation process as well as take proper steps to maintain the braids.
Maintenance tips for small knotless braids
Caring properly for your small knotless braids helps prevent damage and irritation. Here are some key maintenance tips:
Gently wash 1-2 times per week
Use a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo to wash your braids, scrubbing the scalp and lightly washing the length of the braids. Rinse thoroughly and air dry or softly pat dry.
Moisturize braids 2-3 times per week
Spray your braids with a leave-in conditioner. Pay special attention to the ends. Seal in the moisture with an oil like coconut or argan oil.
Sleep on a satin pillowcase
Satin creates less friction to minimize frizz, tangling, and breakage. Use a satin scarf or bonnet if regular pillowcases are unavoidable.
Avoid heat styling
Heat can damage the extensions and your natural hair. Let your braids air dry rather than blow drying on hot settings.
Gently remove shed hairs
Carefully remove any loose hairs with your fingers to prevent tangling and buildup.
Deep condition prior to removal
Nourish and strengthen your natural hair before taking your braids out. This helps prevent breakage.
Get regular retightening
Every 2-3 weeks get any loose braids re-braided to maintain a neat appearance and prevent excessive take down damage.
Small knotless braids can be a great protective style when properly installed and maintained. The look is sleek, low maintenance, and long lasting. Take the time to carefully consider the pros and cons to decide if they align with your hair needs and lifestyle. Proper braiding technique and upkeep is key to minimizing any potential downsides and keeping your natural hair healthy underneath.
|– Low manipulation of natural hair
– Long lasting
– Sleek, professional look
– Low maintenance
– Very versatile
– Protective benefits
|– Time consuming installation
– Difficult removal
– Heavy weight
– Potential scalp issues
– Limited styling
– Hard to access scalp
With the right expectations and proper care, small knotless braids can be a fabulous protective style option for many people looking to give their natural hair a break. As with any style, it comes down to choosing what works best for your individual hair needs and lifestyle.