How to Make Two-Strand Twists: A Step-by-Step Guide

Behold, two-strand twists.

Behold, two-strand twists.

If you’re like me, your hair is thick, curly and borderline unmanageable. You want it to look nice, but you don’t always feel like blowdrying it straight, and pulling it back in a ponytail gets old really fast.

Enter two-strand twists, the hairstyle that has become my personal savior over the years. It’s attractive, it’s easy to maintain, and once you know how to twist your hair properly, it’s a cinch to do.

I have long, thick hair, and it usually takes me about two to three hours to put my hair in thin, two-strand twists (also called Senegalese twists). So when you’re ready to try some twists, set aside a good chunk of time, put on your favorite movie, get in front of a mirror (or better yet get a portable mirror and position it in front of you) and go to work.

You’ll need the following items:

– brush to detangle hair
– hard-bristled brush to smooth fly-aways and baby hair
– comb to part hair
– several elastics (or clips if your hair is short)
– cream or pomade to help smooth hair and hold it in place (I use Healthy Hair Butter from Carol’s Daughter  — it’s awesome!)
– (optional) spray or oil to add sheen (I use Carol’s Daughter Tui Jojoba and Shea Butter Hair Sheen – it smells great and adds a nice shine)
– (optional) oil or spray to moisturize the scalp


1. Starting out, your hair should be clean and dry. Begin at the bottom of your head. I usually take a small section of hair by the nape of my neck, make a horizontal part, separate the hair on the bottom out and put the rest in a ponytail on top of my head.

2. Then, from the loose section of hair, take a small mini-section of hair, perhaps the width of a toothbrush (maybe thicker if you want bigger twists).

3. Brush that mini-section to detangle it, then smooth some cream/pomade down it, then divide it in half. You can also use the hard-bristled brush to smooth it out.

4. Starting near your scalp, wrap one half of the mini-section around the other. It’s as if you’re braiding your hair, but instead of three sections you have two. So instead of weaving the three sections in and out of each other, you’re wrapping the two sections around each other. Do this all the way to the bottom. Once finished, your twist should look something like a rope.

If you have African-American hair, or if you’re mixed like I am, the twist should stay together without coming undone. The pomade you put on your hair will help with this. But if your hair is anything close to straight, it’s probably not going to hold a twist, and this style is probably not for you (unless you want to put elastics on the bottom to hold the twists together).

Note that if the two halves in the twists are the same size, then you will be able to twist all the way to the bottom and won’t have many leftover strands of hair. If one half of the twist was significantly bigger than the other, you’ll end up with a lot of leftover, untwistable hair, so always try to divide your mini-section in half — or as close to half as possible.

3. Once you’ve finished that twist, move on to the next mini-section of hair, and repeat the same actions: Brush and moisturize the mini-section, then split it in half. Wrap those halves around each other to the bottom. Then move onto the next mini-section and twist that, and twist the next one until the whole section of loose hair is twisted. You can spray the completed section with some oil to give it a nice shine, then wrap that section in an elastic so it’s out of the way.

4. Once you’re done with a whole section, you guessed it, create another section and move onto that. Do this by letting the untwisted portion of your hair loose, and parting another section of hair to twist using your comb. Then put the rest of your hair (that you won’t be twisting at the moment) at the top of your head in an elastic. If your hair is short, you can always use clips instead of elastics. Then, begin the twisting routine again.

Once you get to the top of your head, you’ll have some leeway as to how and where you want to arrange the parts. There is no right or wrong way to part your twists, so it’s really your call as far as how you want your hair to look and how you’d like it to fall. I usually do a side part and wear my twists down, with an elastic headband in to keep my hair slightly back off my face.

The finished product!

The finished product!

Once your hair is twisted, I’d suggest sleeping with a silk scarf to preserve the style for as long as possible. How soon you wash it after twisting is up to you; you may be able to go for weeks without your hair looking or smelling dirty and without your scalp getting itchy or flaky, so it’s really just a matter of your own comfort and personal preference.

Once your hair is twisted, you can create many hairstyles — everything from basic ponytails to fancy updos, and don’t hesitate to incorporate some scarves — or just leave it down and let it flow as I usually do, maybe throwing on a headband.

As an added bonus, you can create another hairstyle by untwisting your hair and leaving it out in its crimped and curly state. I get tons of compliments when I un-twist my hair and leave it wavy/crimpy for a couple of days.

The twist-out look.

The twist-out look.

Another twist-out look.

Another twist-out look.

Hopefully this guide helped you out and you’re ready to create some beautiful two-strand twists. Good luck!


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