“The purpose of a twist out is to ensure your hair has even wave or curl root to ends and all around your head, as many women have tighter texture in one part of their head than they do in another,” says Faith Huffnagle, a New York City stylist and Prose director of education. A twist out can also control frizz, add volume and make very tight coils appear longer. In simplest terms, a twist out entails dividing the hair into multiple sections all over the head, then dividing each section into two separate pieces and wrapping the pieces around each other like a candy cane, root to end.
There are, however, variations on the twist out. A traditional twist out is done by wrapping sections, root to end, and letting them swing away from the scalp like pigtails. For women who may have more curl at the roots (or who have relaxed ends and natural roots and are thus seeking uniformity), there is a variation on the twist out called a flat out that creates more tension at the roots to relax the tighter texture. This type of twist out is done cornrow-style against the scalp, and the end result lies flat, more like a French braid, explains Huffnagle.
While a twist out sounds pretty straight forward, there are four tricks that can help ensure the results are even and long-lasting. Huffnagle shares her best strategies for successful styling:
1. Decide whether to start damp or dry
For tighter, more uniform definition and greater volume, begin twisting when the hair is damp; for looser, longer waves and less volume, twist dry hair. Note: It’s also important, dry or damp, that the hair is detangled before you twist (or you risk creating stubborn snarls).
2. Determine how tight you want your texture
Small sections make tighter curls, larger sections will create curls with a softer feel and less definition.
Pro Tip: Dividing your hair and clipping each section before you start will make the twisting process easier and neater.
3. Coat and twist
Apply your favorite product, such as a curl cream, gel or mousse, to each individual section, split the section into two pieces and wrap root to end. Then add a tiny drop of product to just the ends and, using the tip of a tail comb, coil the ends in a circular motion to seal the twist shut. Repeat this process all over your head.
4. Allow the hair to dry (really dry)
For best results, you want to allow the hair to fully dry before you unwind—and this could take a while (as in hours). If you’d rather not wear the twist out during the day while your hair dries, do it at night, wrap your hair with a scarf—and sleep on it.
Pro Tip: Before you unravel each twist, coat your fingertips with a little oil or styling cream so they slide over the hair and don’t inadvertently cause frizz.