I have a confession to make: I silently hate on women with beautiful twist-outs. I am not proud of this, but I just can’t help it! Although I feel like I have a a solid natural hair regimen in place, I still haven’t fully mastered twist-outs. And I have tried. Many times. However, I feel newly inspired to give it another shot, now that I have rounded up seven great tips that are sure to help anyone who has ever taken out their two-strand twists and wondered, What am I doing wrong? The answers are here — and so are the solutions.
1. You’re rushing through your detangling process
Life is busy and it might be tempting to cut corners, but good twist-outs take patience. “The way you set the hair is the way it’s going to come out. So, if it’s tangled before you twist it, you are going to get a tangled mess when you take it out,” says celebrity hairstylist Monae Everett, who has worked with everyone from Serena Williams to Taraji P. Henson. She suggests detangling with a wide-tooth comb or a Denman brush in the shower while your conditioner or mask is still in your hair. “Detangle in one-inch sections, starting from the ends and working your way up to the scalp. That’ll lessen the risk of breakage,” cautions Everett.
2. Your twists are too small (or too big)
The more often you twist your hair, the better you will become at figuring out how to section it for your unique hair type, but Everett has a general guideline that could save you some trial and error: “Larger twists are better for fine hair. I usually only do six to 12 because if the twists are too small, the hair will end up looking almost straight. If you have thick, coarse hair, make your twists smaller for more defined results.”
3. You’re not twisting correctly for your hair type
Even professional hairstylists can have a-ha hair moments. “It took me many years to realize that for fine hair, you don’t get enough definition unless you dry your hair before twisting it,” says Everett. Her technique: Separate clean, conditioned and prepped strands into chunks (absorb excess water with a microfiber towel like Aquis Original Hair Towel first). Grab one section at the ends and gently stretch it out. Work a blow dryer along the length of the hair. Repeat on each section. “You’re not taking a brush through it, you’re just using heat to stretch it and dry it,” explains Everett. When you are done, proceed to twisting. If you have fuller, coarser hair, do your twist-out while your strands are damp.
4. You’re not using the right mix of products
If your twist-out results usually warrant a facepalm emoji, it could be that your products aren’t delivering three crucial things: moisture, heat protection (from a blow-dryer, a diffuser or a hooded dryer), and hold. Everett says that whether you twist your hair wet or dry, these are musts for strands that look healthy, shiny and well-defined. To check off two boxes at once, spritz on Mizani 25 Miracle Milk Leave-In Conditioner after cleansing and rinsing out your regular conditioner — it hydrates and helps to prevent heat damage.
Got a ton of hair? Follow the leave-in with a non-crunchy styling cream like DevaCurl SuperCream, for lasting definition, then you are ready to start twisting. For both hair types, wait until after you finish your twists to apply a setting foam like ORS Olive Oil Shine Wrap/Set Mousse for extra hold. Just squeeze a bit down the length of each twist then dry as usual.
5. You’re undoing your twists too soon
There is no wiggle room here — your twists should be completely dry before you unravel them. “If you take the twists out when they’re still wet, you’ll get frizz. I don’t think frizz is necessarily a bad thing, if you want to rough up the texture later for fullness, but if you don’t let your hair set properly upfront, you probably won’t like the results,” says Everett. She recommends air-drying your hair if you have the time, or sitting under a hooded dryer. Better yet: Leave your twists in for a few days. “The longer you let your twists air-dry the better — it’ll really lock in the definition,” Everett says.
6. You’re not protecting your hair at night
Even if you have nailed your twist-out process, your hair won’t look its best if you don’t cover it while you sleep. To preserve your style and prevent dryness, “Sleep on a silk pillowcase or cover your hair with a satin bonnet,” says Everett. If your hair is long, pineapple it with a scrunchie first.
7. You’re ignoring your roots
Here is a quick way to elevate your twist-out: “Use a pick to lift up your hair at the roots. It gives you more volume all over and makes your hair look even more amazing,” says Everett. It doesn’t get easier than that.
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