How to Get a Hair Knot Out

My daughter woke up one morning and I noticed a giant hair knot that covered the entire back of her head (like dreadlocks but all folded under into itself).  This photo wasn’t taken until after we got that folded part all out by pulling a few strands at a time and lots of crocodile tears.

I thought she had gum in there or something sticky, but no, it was just hair all bundled up into a huge knot!  She apparently had been hiding it under a ponytail for maybe a week until it got so bad it could no longer be hidden. It kept getting worse every day as she would sleep on it, play, and wash it.

If your daughter gets something like this in her hair, make sure you deal with it as soon as you can.  We narrowly avoided a pixie haircut.

Now I know how to get a hair knot out.  It takes a lot of patience, but you can save the hair if this happens to you.  It took 2 hours, but we got it out and she only needed an inch cut off!  She does have many broken strands in her hair, but you wouldn’t know unless you looked closely.


The first thing we did is put melted coconut oil all over the knot.  This helped the strands not get as damaged as well as making the hair a little slippery so we could pull out the part that was all turned under into itself.

Then we were left with the main knot (see photo above) that could be combed. We put the surrounding hair in pigtails to isolate the main knot.  Once we got to the main knot, it was impossible to pull out the hair anymore.  It was so tangled tightly and I was at a loss of what to do.

Lastly, I took her to my neighbor’s house for this hair emergency.  She is a hairstylist and she spent an hour combing the main knot out.  See the video for techniques.


This is what she looked like after her hair cut and a blow dry.  Whew!  We were so lucky to be able to save her hair!  We had a whole trashcan full of broken and pulled out hair (it had to be so painful for her), as a lot of it falls out in the pulling and combing process.  Just do the best you can to keep oil on it so it can stay hydrated and heal.

I now check every day to make sure the back of her hair is brushed well and she will try to sleep with braids in her hair at night so it doesn’t get matted back there.  A knot genie might be a good thing to use from now on! If your child does have something sticky in her hair, I have heard good things about Monkey Brains goop out shampoo. I have not tried it myself, but I’m sure I will in the future with all the gum my kids chew! Monkey brains also uses a knot out detangler.

Please post a comment if you have any questions.

*disclaimer: This process worked for my daughter, but make sure you seek out professional advice before attempting something drastic like this on your own or a child’s hair.  Every situation is different, so make sure you look into all the options!

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