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With holidays come parties, so finish your cat-eye (or Euphoria-inspired glitter look) and take your tresses to the next level with disco waves. Hairstylist extraordinaire Ellie Hotaling from N.Y.C.’s Fringe Salon used Bantu knots to create this particular style. Originating centuries ago in southern Africa, Bantu knots are styled by twisting individual sections of hair into small, coiled buns, which can create cool waves when undone. It’s a technique that can be easily modified to fit your individual style and texture—prepping with the right type and amount of product for your hair is key. You’ll also need a setting product of your choice; a dry, flexible texture spray; a clip; and lots of bobby pins. 

1. On towel-dried hair add your preferred setting product like mousse, wave serum, or sea salt spray, depending on your hair’s texture (we used Bumble and Bumble Thickening Spray, $30, bumbleandbumble.com). If your locks are on the finer side, use a lighter product that won’t weigh them down.

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Section the front of your hair by creating a deep part on your preferred side to the crown of your head. At the crown, create a part that runs down the sides of your head to just behind your ears. If you have bangs, mold them into a swoop on your side part and secure with a clip. Pull this front section over the front of your shoulders so you’ll have plenty of room to work on the back (A).

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Starting at the nape of your neck, begin loosely sectioning some parts. Clip any excess hair on top. Take a small to medium section of hair and create a Bantu knot by twisting it firmly until the hair wraps around and under itself (B & C). Wrap the end of the twisted hair underneath the knot and secure with a bobby pin (the ridges always go against the scalp for maximum hold) (D).

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Once the first knot is secured, section off more hair using the tips of your fingers and continue repeating step 3, working your way up (E). The more knots you make, the tighter the curls and bigger the volume of your finished hair will be. We made about 12 knots total for this look.  

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Once you’ve finished knotting the back, it’s time to knot the front. If the hair around your face has dried by the time you get to it, re-dampen with a spray bottle. Traditionally, Bantu knots are formed all over the head but for this style, the top of the front sections should be flat and smooth. Like in the back, knot the lower sections first. On the side with less hair, gently pull the sections down so the hair towards the crown lies flat on the scalp, then twist from the bottom to create Bantu knots on the side of your head (F).

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For the side with the deep part, use your setting product to keep any fringes or flyaways in place. For the top section, again pull the section down and twist from the bottom, wrapping the final knot around another knot on the side of your head (G).

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Once all your hair is knotted, blow-dry it or air-dry overnight.

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When your hair is set and dry, unwrap the knots (H). As you unroll keep twisting the sections with your fingers. After all the knots have been removed, rustle the sections together with your fingers.

Finish with a dry, flexible texture spray (we used Bumble and Bumble Thickening Dryspun Texture Spray, $31, bumbleandbumble.com). Mist the product up into the hair and fluff it out. You can also tease your hair by taking a section and using your fingers or a comb to gently push up against the hair from the middle to the root. The end goal is a smooth, polished top and airy movement throughout.

Feel free to add a fun clip or pin for that extra bit of sparkle.   

By Francesca Volpe
Photographed by Erin Baiano
Model: Gretchen Hall at Dorothy Combs Models; Hair: Ellie Hotaling; Makeup: Theo Kogan; Location: Fringe NY
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2020 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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