Dear FroBunni, I am getting these little knots on the end of my hair. Whenever I see one, I cut it off, but I am getting so many that I am worried about retaining length. Is there a way to get rid of them without cutting my hair.
What you have is the case of single strand knots, also known as fairy knots. Not to worry though, they are common for women with black natural hair (the hair curls upon itself causing it to knot) and even some women with straight hair. The most common way to handle them is to do exactly what you are doing, cutting them off. For most women, this is actually the best option. Single strand knots can actually cause more knots, along with tangles and potentially breakage, so removing prevents any possible damage to your hair.
Single strand knots, in and of themselves, are not harmful though. I have them and to be honest, I don't really pay much attention to them. The only time I pay them any mind is when I trim my hair, which is every 3-4 months. For the most part, they do not cause tangles or more knots, but when they start to get a bit out of hand and begin to cause damage, that is when I trim. To prevent or limit single strand knots, the best thing to do is keep your hair moisturized and stretched, using styles like roller sets, blowouts, or protective hairstyles.
So long as they don't cause damage, cutting or keeping them is really up to preference. Some naturals prefer not to have them, and others, like myself, don't care as much. It really is up to you.
(There is another way to remove them that I purposely left out, and that is by using a tiny pin (like a sewing needle) to undo the knot. In my opinion, this method is a lot of work, and if you have a lot then it just seems exhaustive to me. Also, constantly poking at the hair to get in the middle of the knot is really damaging. Again though, it is up to you, and I want to make sure my readers are aware of all methods).