Ready for this week’s “Hair Tip”?
I love twist outs. No really. I love twist outs. After two strand twists, a twist out is typically my go to hairstyle. I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately about how I maintain the style so figured it would be easier just to respond in a blog post. As you will see, I have a fairly simple pattern.
Step one: Prep hair for washing.
Before I wash my hair I often finger comb it in order to minimize tangles and knots. I typically use conditioner to aid in the finger combing and the goal is to minimize hair breakage. Once you see my full pattern, you’ll see why detangling before my hair gets wet is important.
Step two: Wash thoroughly.
Before I wet my hair I will often apply shampoo directly to my scalp and massage it all over. This was a trick I learned from my stylist and it does a great of job of clarifying my scalp. By the time I add water and shampoo my hair I can be sure that my scalp is already well on its way to being clean.
One thing my stylist taught me is that a lot of us wash our hair but pay little attention to our scalps. This is important because when you don’t get your scalp clean you run the risk of fungal and yeast build up on the skin. This has a direct (and negative) impact on hair health.
Step three: Condition with a hydrating conditioner.
We’ve all heard that natural hair needs a lot of moisture. So I’m going to add my voice to the chorus and remind you that you must use a hydrating conditioner in order for your hair to stay healthy and to minimize breakage.
Step three: Rinse and comb out.
After I’ve rinsed out the conditioner I use a wide tooth comb to comb out my hair. Now previously I’ve been a huge fan of the Tangle Teezer™, which I absolutely loved. But for reasons I’ll explain in a later post, I’ve returned to using the standard Black Girl Hair Tool: a wide tooth comb.
Step four: Style in two strand twists.
As I comb out my hair, I braid or twist it in big sections to make it easier to handle. Then I go section by section and put in two-strand twists. I really can’t tell you how much I adore two strand twists. On most days of the month—unless I’ve been to visit my stylist—two strand twists are my default.
Now that my hair is a good length, once the twists are in I can pull my hair back into a ponytail, use styling combs to create Mohawks, cornrow it or do any number of up-dos to diversify the style.
Creating Rules that Work for Me
Here’s one of the rules many people follow that I freely admit I break on a regular basis. I don’t wash my hair 3 times a week. Truthfully, I don’t wash it weekly. Want to know why? Because my hair doesn’t need it. If I were Caucasian and my hair scalp was very oily, then the oil would glide down my hair fairly easily. This is why White women have to wash their hair so frequently.
But I’m Black. And my hair is super kinky/nappy (Hey 4C Ladies!). It could take a million years for the oil from my scalp to make it half way down my hair shaft. When I did wash my hair multiple times a week it ended up dry and brittle. So I know this is stomping on some recently imposed natural hair rules but…I’m pretty happy with my hair so I think I’ll stick to my routine.
Step five: Nighttime care
Anyway, I typically keep my twists in for at least a week and a half. Sometimes two full weeks. Just depends on my mood. At night I will apply some form of moisturizer (depends on what I have on the shelf at the time) and braid my twists into three or four fat braids (or two Ms. Celie cornrows) before I put on a nightcap.
This step cannot be overstated.
By braiding my hair up at night (seriously—a process that might take 10 minutes) I am able to preserve the style longer. For a woman on the go, preserving that style is a key reason that my mornings flow fairly easily.
Step six: Twist out.
I gotta be honest. I love each “phase” of the twist out. Worn short or long I just adore having a head full of kinky twists doing their own thing. The longer I keep my twist out, the bigger and poofier my hair gets and if you know anything about you, you should know that I love big, poofy hair.
Now here’s the key to my twist out longevity.
I also braid up my twist out at night. This is how I can keep a twist out style for up to an additional week or two. If my twist out is short then I’ll keep the braids loose so that they don’t lengthen overnight. If the twist out is long, I’ll make sure the braids are tighter which will allow me to wear a longer version of the style. Now I know some people like to pineapple and that works for you then cool. But my hair is way to kinky for that so if I don’t go in and section in out into a fat braid or a twist, I’m asking for trouble.
The longer I keep the style the more Afro like it becomes. So I may start out with this:
Then I evolve to this:
Puff up to something like this:
And end up with this:
By this time I’m ready to wash, rinse and repeat. As you can see my hair is in a near Afro by the end of my twist out cycle so that detangling before I wash is going to be super important.
What about you? What is your twist out routine? How long do you keep your twists in? Sound off in the comments below! And if you’re looking for more thoughts from an Afro State of Mind, check out my book “Afro State of Mind: Memories of a Nappy Headed Black Girl now available on Amazon.com in paper back or e-book!