We all know protective styles are an excellent way to give our hair (and ourselves_ a break from the styling process. There are a wealth of options out there for us, from box braids to an assortment of twist options. But what if I told you there's a protective style that lasts up to six weeks and doesn't require a trip to your braider? Now that I've got your attention, I'd like to introduce you to mini twists and braids.
These minis are popular among YouTubers and naturals everywhere—but there is a downside to the style. It can take up to two days to complete, mainly because the twists are so small. But, with any new style, you can amend it to fit your lifestyle and hair type, so going larger could be beneficial, like Jeanette J. Beauty demonstrates in this video.
Most of us with natural hair aren't new to the twisting game, but mini twists or braids call for a couple of technique switch-ups to ensure your hair stays frizz-free and intact. Whitney White, who many of us know as Naptural85, is an OG Youtube natural hair guru that I think has one of the best videos on the internet about how to properly install mini twists for longevity and hair health.
Keke J also has a detailed video on installing mini braids, which is helpful for those mini-braiding for the first time.
What You'll Need to Get Started
- A water bottle
- A leave-in conditioner
- A butter-based twisting cream
- A handheld mirror
- Patience (and maybe a new show to watch on your streaming service of choice)
Many ladies use the LOC method to apply products to their twists, using a shea butter-based cream as their foundation hair product. Making your own mixture at home is an option, but if you want a product that is all ready to go, Melanin Haircare has a twist-elongating style cream made with shea butter, mango butter, cocoa butter, kokum butter, and cupuacu butter, as well as aloe to keep the hair hydrated.
Start With Freshly Washed Hair
You can create the style on freshly washed hair or on stretched, dry hair (which I think might be best for hair types that easily tangle or that have the potential to loc up).
Section The Hair
Depending on the length and thickness of your hair, section your coils into four to six sections. Next, secure your hair with a clip after applying your leave-in conditioner.
Start at the Back of Your Head
You may need a handheld mirror if your goal is to create perfect parts. Part each section into squares, and apply your cream to each section of hair before twisting.
Let Your Hair Be Your Guide
In Whitney's mini twist video, she advises, "It's really important that you don't get lazy with your twisting," noting that it makes a difference in how long twists last and whether or not they'll prematurely unravel. To make a "strong twist," Whitney has one more piece of advice: "Instead of twisting and moving your hands down, you're going to twist it in place. Once you can't twist [the hair] in one spot, then you're going to move your hands down."
Don't Be Afraid to Cleanse and Deep Condition
Mini twists can be washed, but because they're so tiny, you want to ensure your hair doesn't get matted in the process and loc. Many people that wear mini twists and braids go about a month without washing their hair, but if you want to cleanse your scalp without disrupting your style, I recommend TXTR by Cantu's Apple Cider Vinegar + Tea Tree Soothing Shampoo for two important reasons: The bottle has a nozzle that helps get the shampoo to the scalp, and the product soothes and cleanses without stripping the hair.
Deep conditioning is an essential step to help your hair stay hydrated, and the conditioning process shouldn't disrupt your twists or braids as long as you use your palms in the "praying hands" motion to apply the conditioner gently. If your hair is feeling dry, leave a little conditioner on as you rinse it. (I learned this tip from a DevaCurl pro.)
Make Sure You Refresh
Aloe is one of the best products I've used on my hair. It's light, relatively inexpensive, and hydrates well. I keep my recipe simple with a half-water, half-aloe vera mixture in a continuous spray bottle. Don't be afraid to experiment with essential oils in your recipe. Tea tree, peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus oil are ideal because they each have antibacterial properties that can soothe the scalp.
You can also take your favorite leave-in and mix it with water as well. I keep two spray bottles filled in my bathroom and interchange them as my hair needs them.
Now for one of the least ideal moments of this mini style: Removing them can take a few hours or a couple of days. A good practice is to section the hair into four to six parts, spray each section with water, and use a product with slip to remove each twist or braid so that you don't damage your hair while taking them down. I personally would use oil here.
Now that you've got your twists installed, you might be asking: How do I wear them?
Hair influencer Lavishly Britt made a video that I think will give you the inspiration you need to try different styles with your minis.
In the video, she gives us fifteen different styles, taking us from a '90s vibe with hair clips and scrunchies all the way to an elegant look with a gorgeous head wrap. Ahead, see eight more styles to get your creativity flowing.
One thing that makes mini twists and braids standout protective styles is how versatile they are—a well-done set is easy to maneuver up and down for variety.
Looking to give your mini braids a more luxurious or meaningful feel? Accessorize with a few beads and charms.
A good set of mini twists is equally as stunning left free as pulled into a style. We love how the side-swept look here creates volume.
Want a protective style with layers to it? Add a few cornrows to one side when you're doing your mini twists, and you'll have the perfect balance of put-together and laid back.
Mini twists work on almost any length of hair, and we love how they accentuate the shorter strands here.
When pulling your mini braids into a ponytail or bun, try leaving the front pieces out for a '90s tendril effect.
You're in control of the size and tightness of your mini twists, so choose an option you'll love. Here, blogger Nelia's looser style is akin to bouncy, defined curls.
Head wraps are always great accessories, especially when they're helping to prolong the life of a protective style. We love the idea of keeping a few of your twists front and center for a stunningly balanced result.