Whether it’s because you’ve got
pool party plans or are anticipating harsh winter air, protective hairstyles are a good idea year-round — especially for coily hair types, which tend to be naturally drier. Arguably the most dazzling category of protective styles is Bantu knots, the artsy bun-like twists that date back to the Zulu Kingdom of South Africa. Whenever a celebrity graces the red carpet in a Bantu knots hairstyle, it feels like a particularly special nod to Black culture and African ancestry, whether it's Rihanna in a sleek version or Yara Shahidi in a dreadlocked look.
Bantu knots belong to an exclusive group of
protective styles because they’re actually a two-in-one situation. You can wear them as a style all their own, or use them to create bouncy, heat-free curls. Perhaps most appealing is that the hairstyle is a beauty DIYers dream. Full disclosure: It’s not quite as simple as a high ponytail. So it may take a few (or more) times to get the hang of Bantu knots, but with patience, the right products, and a good YouTube tutorial, you can nail the look sans salon.
For inspiration, keep scrolling for the most memorable times your fave celebrities rocked eye-catching Bantu knots, each look more swoon-worthy than the next.
1 Cardi B’s Half-Up Half-Down Hairstyle Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images 2 Rapsody’s Simple Bantu Knots Aaron J. Thornton/WireImage/Getty Images
Rapper Rapsody stunned in classic Bantu knots, soft glam makeup, and thick
hoop earrings at a Black Girls Rock! event in 2019. 3 Yara Shahidi’s Dreadlock Bantu Knots Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images star Grown-ish Yara Shahidi showed up at the Thom Browne show during Paris Fashion Week in 2020 rocking dreads twisted into perfectly undone Bantu knots. 4 Amandla Stenberg’s Fluffy Bantu Knots Phillip Faraone/WireImage/Getty Images
In the ultimate monochromatic look,
The Hunger Games actor Amandla Stenberg wore bold blue eyeshadow and a matching ‘fit along with light-as-air Bantu knots to a press party during the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018. 5 Joan Smalls’ Loose Bantu Knots Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
For a super chic take on
water waves, supermodel Joan Smalls wore loosely twisted Bantu knots in a half-updo at a Karl Lagerfeld Paris launch event in New York City in 2016. 6 Issa Rae’s Multiple Bantu Knots Jason Koerner/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Issa Rae twisted her natural hair into Bantu knots for the 2022 American Black Film Festival in Miami Beach in 2022.
7 Rihanna’s Slick Bantu Knots Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Beauty chameleon Rihanna rocked super neat Bantu knots and emerald
green lipstick to accept the Best Fan Army award in 2014 at the iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles. 8 Kiki Layne’s Stylish Bantu Knots Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images 9 Logan Browning’s Bantu Knots Mohawk Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
You could wear your Bantu knots in a mohawk style à la Logan Browning, who dressed up the ‘do with a gorgeous pink gown.
10 Marsai Martin’s Bantu Knot Crown Noam Galai/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images Black-ish star Marsai Martin wore a pretty crown of Bantu knots and blown-out hair to the 11th annual Shorty Awards in 2019. 11 Teyana Taylor’s ’90s Style Gary Gershoff/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Teyana Taylor brought full-on ’90s vibes to the grand opening of her Junie Bee Nail Salon in New York City with Bantu knots,
face-framing tendrils, and bamboo earrings. 12 Tika Sumpter’s Braided Knots Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Take inspo from Tika Sumpter and try braided Bantu knots for a chic updo that’ll turn heads.
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