The Complete Guide to Two-Strand Twist Hairstyles

Unsplash | Design by Zackary Angeline.

Twists are an ideal protective style with a bonus: they may lock in moisture. While flat twists work well on different textures, twists generally work better on completely natural hair as the ends usually hold together without additional help from bands or barrettes. Twists can be combined with other styles, such as flat twists, braids, and afros.

If you've ever tried a two-strand twist out and have said to yourself, I don't think this is for me, we want you to consider giving twists one more try. Stylists Larry Sims and Ebony Bomani 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.

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 cofounder 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 gurus and naturals alike. Two-strand twists are a great protective style because you can leave them in for days or weeks.You're also able to 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 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 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 another hairstyle: the twist-out.

How to Prep Hair For Twist Hairstyles

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. Once your hair is cleansed, Sims recommends applying a leave-in first, then layering a cream or oil (or both) to keep the moisture locked in.

Sleep on a satin or silk pillowcase to try to help preserve your twists at night.

How to Maintain Your Twist Hairstyle

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 funky or different look than your usual one. Besides adding extensions to help your twists last longer, wearing a satin scarf (or bonnet) at night and refreshing your hair with moisture is a must.

Shop The Best Products For Two-Strand Twists

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. You have many options that are better for your hair. Here are a few of our favorites.

Design Essentials Almond + Avocado Leave-In
Design Essentials Almond & Avocado Detangling Leave-In Conditioner $14.00

This leave-in has both almond and avocado oils, making it ideal for sealing in hydration and detangling.

Flawless by Gabrielle Union Defining Curl Hair Cream
Flawless by Gabrielle Union Defining Curl Hair Cream $10.00

“Our Flawless By Gabrielle Union Defining Curl Cream is great for twists. [It] helps define the curl and replenish moisture,” says Sims. If your curls soak up shea butter and coconut oil, this nourishing cream is worth a try.

Curl Gelée for Shine & Definition
Oribe Curl Gelée for Shine & Definition $44.00

Finding a hydrating gel that holds without the crunch can be a task. However, this murumuru, mango, and cocoa seed butter infused gelèe makes having the best of both worlds possible.

Voila New GLOWth Portion Drops Must Be Magic by The Mane Choice
The Mane Choice Must Be Magic Voila New GLOWth Portion Drops $16.00

Keeping a lightweight oil that packs a nutrient-filled punch in rotation will ensure the moisture you're striving for is locked in.

Final Thoughts

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. Also consider whether you get better results on wet, damp or dry hair—your final outcome will differ depending on what you begin with. 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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