Two-Strand Twists Are One of the Easiest—and Healthiest—Protective Styles

Model wearing two-strand twists

Dee Mills / Byrdie

Two-strand twists are an easy, beautiful protective style with an added bonus: They can help lock in moisture. While flat twists work well on different textures, two-strand twists generally work better on completely natural hair as the ends usually hold together without additional help from bands or barrettes. Twists can also be combined with other styles, such as braids, and afros.

If you've ever tried to two-strand twist and ended up saying to yourself I don't think this is for me, we want you to consider giving twists one more try. We asked stylists Larry Sims and Ebony Bomani to give us their expert-approved guide on two-strand twists, from the benefits of the protective style to how to maintain twist styles on natural hair. Plus, we show you to master the style on your own.

Meet the Expert

  • Larry Sims is a celebrity stylist and master hair educator who works with Gabrielle Union, Danai Guirra, Kerry Washington, and Alicia Keys. Sims is also the co-founder of Flawless by Gabrielle Union.
  • Ebony Bomani is a hairstylist and master cosmetologist.

What Are Two-Strand Twists? 

Twists, also widely referred to as two-strand twists, are a hairstyle created by twisting two sections of hair around one another to the ends. Sections of hair may range from large to small.

The Benefits of Two-Strand Twists

"Two-strand twists are one of my favorite styles for naturals," says Sims. "They're lightweight, [add] no tension on the hair, [and] require zero heat." Bomani agrees: "[Two-strand twists] help the hair hold on to moisture longer and keep it tangle-free. Low-maintenance hairstyles allow the hair to rest, as there's less manipulation. Less manipulation, coupled with better moisture retention, causes hair to break less."

With all of those benefits, we can see why two-strand twists receive high marks from hair experts and naturals alike. Two-strand twists are a great protective style because you can leave them in for days or weeks. You can also cleanse and condition your hair while in twists if you want to wear them for a while. Not to mention, twists also work well in combination with other natural styles. You can flat twist the front of your hair to the crown and leave the remaining lengths in two-strand twists. You might also get creative by fashioning the same set of twists into an updo, one big braid or ponytail, or a simple bun. There are a variety of styling possibilities you can attempt with this one hairdo. Plus, when you're tired of leaving your hair twisted, unravel them and you have yet another hairstyle: the twist-out.

How to Two-Strand Twist

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Wash and Detangle Your Hair

A model with clean, detangled hair

Dee Mills / Byrdie

Starting any style with a clean, hydrated base is essential. "When prepping for two-strand twists, it's imperative that the hair is hydrated and thoroughly detangled to avoid possible matting and breakage in the future," says Bomani.

Wash your hair with a hydrating shampoo and follow with a deep conditioning treatment. Once your hair is cleansed and conditioned, towel dry with a microfiber towel. Sims recommends applying a leave-in, then layering a cream or oil (or both) to keep the moisture locked in. Then you can start detangling your hair in sections, working your way from the bottom to the root.

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Select Your Twist Size and Add Curl Cream

Model adds curl cream to her hair

Dee Mills / Byrdie

First, decide how big you want your twists to be; the smaller the twist, the more definition if and when you take the style out. After landing on a twist size, take that section of the hair and add curl cream.

Until you find tried-and-true favorites, you may have to experiment with different products to get the final look and hold you want in this style. A good degree of hold helps twists keep their shape without unraveling or frizzing up too soon, but steer clear of tacky, heavy gels.

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Divide Your Twisting Section

Model twists her hair

Dee Mills / Byrdie

Take your twisting section and divide it in two. One of the most important things to remember when creating your twists is to begin with two sections that are even. If one section is thicker and/or longer than the other, you won't be able to create a uniform twist down the entire length of that section. You'll have to "borrow" from the other section, leading to an uneven twist.

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Continue to the Ends

Close up of a model twisting her hair

Dee Mills / Byrdie

Twist each piece over the other, moving all the way down. Be sure to twist the hair away from the face.

Adding extensions isn't a requirement when creating twists, but if you want a longer-lasting, fuller style adding synthetic hair is your best bet—affording you the option to create twisted styles like Senegalese or Marley twists. You can also add in colored extension hair if you want to create a different look than your usual go-to.

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The Final Look

Final two-strand twist look, viewed from the back

Dee Mills / Byrdie

Make sure to sleep on a satin or silk pillowcase to try to help preserve your twists at night. "After a few days, your twists may begin to feel dry," hairstylist Sarah Sango told us. "Simply spritz each of your twists with a small amount of water. This will reawaken the existing products in your hair. If you feel that your hair needs more product, add accordingly." 

Although it's a simple hairstyle to create, not everyone gets it perfect the first (or fifth) time. You may need to practice more, paying special attention to the size of each section you're twisting; your results will be more uniform if you make sure each section is even. You may need to experiment with products to find the best ones for you. Either way, you'll eventually master the twist out of your dreams.

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