Why A Twist Out Is The Best Protective 'Do

If there is one afro-textured hairstyle that my strands love most, it is hands down the twist out. The twist out style is several twists on wet or dry hair that can be worn as is, but adds length with texture when you take the twists out. The two-strand twist is the most common and the easiest to master. The style naturally protects the hair by being a low-maintenance style and protecting strands (including your ends) from moisture loss. Moreover, it's one of the easiest way to maintain length without the application of heat on natural hair.

I first fell in love with the twist out after my big chop. I found it to be the easiest style to do myself, plus gave my strands more length than any other look — something I was definitely seeking during my awkward growout phase.

According to sources at Curly Nikki, low-manipulation styles like the twist out can help hair grow. Eventually, my new style started growing into the blossoming curls I wear today. Of course, I found my new hair growth came with a price: I was spending a substantial amount of dedication and time on my hair. As I continued to learn more about my method of twisting, a new routine emerged, keeping me from over-manipulating my hair and keeping those bad hair days to an all-time minimum.

From my personal experience, here are 17 ways to make the twist out the best protective style for your afro-textured hair.

1. Twist On Wet Hair

I love a style that can easily be performed on wet or dry hair, especially since my hair doesn’t love being simultaneously out and wet. Every two to three weeks, I give my hair and scalp a healthy cleansing and deep condition while finger detangling. When it’s time to put my leave-in conditioner in? You better believe I’m immediately twisting.

On wet hair, I find twisting in smaller sections retains more moisture and allows me to detangle those small sections, ensuring that any past knots are taken care of. Twisting on wet hair also helps identify dead or split ends, which every so often, I’ll cut as I twist.

2. Add Some Headwear

More often than not, when I'm donning one of my many hats or headscarves, my hair is twisted underneath. This is great for when I'm going to be in extreme temperatures of AC or natural cold weather because it prevents premature drying of my protective style. The downside is that headwear can sometimes pull at your hair depending on the placement and tightness of the piece, so just make sure your headwear is loose-fitting so it doesn't end up doing more damage.

3. Style As Is

The reason the crown braid was my only protective style for so long was because I didn't feel shy about wearing the style as is. Even when I first began twisting, I always had a head-wrap or hat on to cover my twists. Eventually, I had to give myself a stern lecture: Twists are not "ghetto." A good twist-out deserves the same amount of respect and compliments as any other hair style. I'll wear my twists in pony tail or even have them hanging loose as long as my frizzies are at a minimum.

4. Pay Special Attention To Areas With Breakage

Whether it’s from too many hats chaffing the fine hairs of my edges or my mother’s suspicion that I have my father’s hair line, the areas closest to my face are very fragile. Whether I’m twisting on wet or dry hair, I always section this part of my hair off and apply a hearty, hair growing serum and twist small and tight to keep the tiny hairs in.

5. Stretch While You Twist

The first time I successfully twisted my hair (there was about a year of unsuccessful attempts), I realized my hair was long enough to put in a ponytail which created more length. The longer I kept my hair in a ponytail, the longer my curls became when I took my twists out because it had some ample time to stretch. Even if the hair isn’t long enough to put completely up, use any previous hair-wrapping skills to stretch with bobby pins for maximum length retention while still keeping a curl pattern.

6. Change Your Curl Size Based On The Twist

Springy, cutesy curls always have a special place in my heart and on my head. Twisting in smaller sections gives me that effect, but the downside of course is I always feel that I lose length when I do this on wet hair. Fortunately, I am all about stretching for a few days until I'm at a desired length.

7. Twist Closer To Scalp Keeps A Close Curl

A properly done twist out lets you get close to your roots, which means you get tight curls right from the base of your 'do. Getting a grip on wet, moisturized hair takes practice, so you might want to start by practicing on moisturized, dry strands. (I added the word "moisturized" just because it's never completely "dry")

8. Avoid Twisting Too Tightly

Which brings me to one of the most important tips about twisting: Never twist too tight or else you’ll create stress on your scalp, making it more prone to breakage. Part of the reason so many people love this protective style is that it’s low-manipulation and it makes your hair grow, so you definitely don’t want to negate all your efforts by being heavy-handed. If you have a headache or the skin is pulling, tighten up that grip ASAP.

9. Detangle First

Speaking of knots, a 2-tiered detangling system is critical during my wet twist-outs. Without the help of my fingers and my favorite wet-detangling brush, I would be cutting out way more knots than I would if I had just worn my hair out. The small tangles of yesterday will become big knots in the future if you don’t deal with them before you start twisting.

10. Continue To Treat Your Hair

There is no such thing as a protective style that warrants zero hair treatment. As I mentioned, the longer you keep your twist-out stretched, the more length will be added to your curls. That stretching becomes worthless if your hair is coarse and dry when you untwist. Make a spray of water and emollients like coconut, grapeseed, and/or avocado oil to keep your hair moist while it's up. Don’t worry, you can still cleanse and condition in this protective style: Not only will it keep your hair healthy and hydrated, it will make knots or tangles easier to remove when you untwist.

11. Watch For Snaggle Strands

About those knots: Any knot while in a protective style is a beauty catch 22. To avoid the knots of my past, I pay attention to any snagging or loose strands while twisting; they can wrap around the twisted hair and become a huge problem. When removing a knot, I use the tail of a rat tail comb and my fingers, but experience has taught me that section becomes frizzy from the knot. Putting a little leave-in on the knot will moisten the hair which will make it easier for the knot to come out.

12. Use Satin Protection

The twist out can easily frizz up, especially on kinkier hair textures, the first night of a wet or dry twist out, I can sleep on my satin pillow cases and wake up with smooth twists, but anything after that will cause things to unravel. Adding a layer of protection on your head not only keeps the twists in longer and those frizzies at bay, but it also protects the ends of the hair that are always prone to tangles and dryness.

13. Use Double Strand Twisting On The Ends

Depending on the section of hair you're working with, you may find that when you are nearing completion of a twist, there is extra hair. I like twist that section with my fingers, but the result is that the hair loses a lot of curl when I take it out. I've found that twisting that section into another makes for an even curl instead of weird limp ends which can look like thinning hair.

14. Feel Free To Re-Twist When Needed

This has to be my fave way to wear my hair out and thanks to the twist out, I can have low maintenance for at least a couple of weeks while still having several hair-out days. After I first wear my twist out, I'll do some light finger-detangling in sections with my oil/water concoction to re-moisturize the hair that was exposed. Then, I'll twist my hair again, usually this takes half the time of my initial twist because my hair isn't super tangled and the sections are larger when they're dry. The twist-out is seriously great because you don't have to completely redo, detangle, re-condition each time you wear it, you can just twist as you go!

15. Try Twisting On Dry Hair Too

This brings me to one of my other favorite looks: hair big, lengthened, and bushy. Twisting on dry hair helps me achieve this look. To be clear, dry-twisting doesn't mean there is no moisture or water while you twist; I usually spritz my ends and smooth the twist with a homemade leave-in (that contains water) and brush my hair into larger sections before re-twisting. I'll choose this hairstyle for when I've had my hair out for a day or two and it needs to be detangled again.

16. Pull Out Your Twists

Personally, I can spot a twist-out from a mile away. While I love the look this protective style creates, I also love when people just think my I woke up like this. IMO, separating each twist when I take them out creates more volume and looks less like I spend too much time on my hair, particularly when the twists are smaller.

17. Wait For Best Results

A simple Google search of styles that help grow natural hair will prove this last item on the list. You may not see results overnight, but the ease and protection this style has on natural hair will promote the hair growth most of us are searching for.

Image: Scarlett Wilson (1); Kristin Collins Jackson (17)