A quick scroll through #flattwists on Instagram will land you thousands of gorgeous variations of flat twists, all styled in different ways. Regular two-strand twists, which can hang loosely, are usually best for natural hair, but flat twist hairstyles can work well on both natural and relaxed textures. And while they are touted for being a versatile hairstyle, they can lead to healthier hair, too.
What Are Flat Twists?
According to Michelle O’Connor, a professional hairstylist and the artistic director at Matrix, "flat twisting is a protective style that minimizes manipulation of hair on a daily basis. It’s, therefore, a path to healthier hair." Whether they're the first step to achieving bouncy curls overnight (called a twist-out) or they're the base of a flattering updo, this is an easy, customizable style that anyone can achieve.
"Flat twists are comprised of two twists that are done on the scalp," says O'Connor. "The sectioning is determined by preference and how you may want to position your hair once the twists are pulled out." Generally, flat twists are worn for a few days and then transition into an unraveled style that carries the impression of the twists. Keep in mind: The larger the section you twist, the less definition there will be.
Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on how to flat twist natural hair.
Wash and Condition Your Hair
It's best to flat twist on clean hair, so before twisting, wash and condition your hair, making sure to properly cleanse the scalp. If your hair is straight, twist it while it's dry. Otherwise, curly hair should be twisted while it's damp. We love the Pattern Hydration Shampoo ($20)—it leaves your scalp feeling clean without your hair feeling dry.
Part the Hairline
To begin, use a rat tail comb like the Evolve Rat Tail Comb ($7) to part the hairline, leading back to the nape of the neck.
O'Connor recommends determining what you’d like the finished result to look like and working backward from there. "Figure out where you want your part line, how long you want to wear the style, if it's being worn as a protective style, or if it'll be a set to be pulled out solely for the purpose of creating definition," she says.
Start Working a Small Section
Starting from the inner edges of the part, begin working with a small section at the hairline. Divide this section of hair into two equal parts.
Twist the two sections of hair around each other, moving back along this parted section.
Add Hair from the Part
As you twist the hair, gently incorporate hair from along the part into the twist as you work backward. It's important to use gentle tension to avoid causing pain or damage to the hair follicles.
Secure Your Twists
If the hair you're twisting is long enough, you'll reach a point where the twist is no longer attached to the scalp. You can either secure the twist here or experiment with using a small butterfly clip (These Urban Renewal butterfly clips, $10, fit the bill) to keep the twist from unraveling. The thicker and curlier the hair, the better it'll be at holding itself together without coming untwisted.
Repeat for the Rest of Your Head
Repeat the flat twists over the entire head, moving outwards along the hairline. As you become more comfortable with your technique, you may find yourself wanting to create parts that direct to one side instead of straight back for more variety.
How to Style
- Ponytail: If you don't want to let your twists hang loose, try pulling them back into a ponytail. This is a good option for those who want a protective style without many accessories, as the ends don't need to be secured.
- Side part or middle part: Play around with parting to see what style suits you the most. Flat twists can be worn in a deep side part, middle part, or traditional side part.
- Updo: Flat twists can be worn in an updo with a side part or middle part added.
- Pigtails: If you have very thick hair, this style might be better than traditional ponytails, as it may relieve some of the bulk, allowing you to create various styles without combing through larger chunks of hair every day.