Why Your Twistouts Aren’t Working

I’m here to talk to you about twist outs. They can be hit or miss if we’re being real and when my hair was finally long enough to style this way I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to have these beautiful, defined curls flowing from my scalp. More often than not, I got a mess of frizz and damp, tangled strands that formed an undefined fro sticking into weird directions on my head. 

Regardless of how many or how little products I used, regardless of how many YouTube videos I watched meticulously, I could not get a good twist out to save my life. And the few good hair days I had in those early moments always seemed to come out of thin air. What gives fam?!

If you’re like me, then you know the struggle and you’re sick of it. Like over it, done, tired and exhausted. I know. So I’m going to help you. I rarely have a bad hair day now (except weeks when I deliberately say to heck with it and don’t do anything) because I’ve figured out how to get the look that I want and how to avoid the epic twist out blunders that many of us make at the beginning of our natural hair journey.

The tips that have led me in the right direction will definitely help you too.

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#1 DRY YO HAIR

I’ll give you a few seconds to stop chuckling. Okay, ready? Now that the fun is over imagine me looking at you very seriously and telling you to pull yourself together. 

If you are embarking on a twist out, and I don’t care if this is a two-strand twist, three-strand twist, flat twist, or even braid out, there is one thing you WILL NOT do: take your hair down while it’s wet. While it’s damp. Even very close to being dry.

If you go home and do this, I don’t want to hear you complaining about a-ny-thing. Why you ask? There’s a simple answer:

If you take your twists or braids out while they are still wet, you’re going to get frizz from manipulating your hair in a wet state. You’re going to lack definition because your twist has not set. You will lose control over your volume. And you will end up with a shrunken look by the end of the day because your hair is now air drying after you’ve taken your twists down.

My twistouts often looked like the one above because I consistently washed my hair at night. Twisted it. Went to sleep like 30 minutes later and woke up 7 hours later, untwisting my hair in the bathroom at work as if it were supposed to be dry. As you know, my hair is coily, thick, dense and has low porosity (as I mentioned earlier), so there was no way it would dry in that amount of time. But I thought I could do it because YouTubers are always twisting their hair and announcing “the next morning I took my hair down…blah blah blah.” 

The truth of the matter is, the more hair you have and the longer or thicker your hair is, you will need more time for it to dry. Twists must be completely dry to really lock in the definition created by your twists. You know how good your hair looks after you take down cornrows from a protective style? That’s what we’re going for.

Hence why I recommend that you not dry your hair for any less than 24 hours. So if I have an event on Tuesday, I will style my hair Sunday night so it can set all Monday. You can absolutely leave it in longer. I’ve had some dope twistouts from wearing my twists for up to a week, although I try to max it out at 4-5 days to avoid them getting frizzy or crunchy.

If you simply don’t have time to air dry, make sure you have a sit-down dryer or attachment so you can dry your hair evenly. Still, don’t leave that dryer until your head is COMPLETELY DRY.

If you’re wondering what to do with your twists in the meantime, you have a lot of options.

You can pull them back half up and half down for a cute style.

You can tuck them under a hat

You can pull them into a ponytail or bun (bobby pin them as such if they’re not long enough). You can even use a headwrap.

You can wear them straight down

#2 Smaller is Better

You may have seen your favorite hair blogger create a beautiful twistout from 8 or even 4 twists and you’re dying to do it too because, hello! Do you know how quick that would be? Well, let’s have a collective reality check: it’s no bueno if you’re going for definition honey.

Most of us style in twistouts because we like the length and definition that comes with the style. You won’t get this if you’re using large chunks of hair, especially if your hair is thick. Like all things with wellness and beauty, you will have to experiment with what a large or small section of hair is for you, but you want to begin with very small sections to produce the best and most lasting results.

Even if you decide you want something fluffier, going small first will ensure that you have a defined foundation. From that point, you can separate the twists more and more to get the fluff and volume you desire.

If you plan to wear your twists down for a few days without hiding it under a hat or wrap, then you will definitely have to use tiny twists. It takes longer, but it pays off because you have a foolproof wearable style for the next week (sometimes longer).

#3 You Don’t Need Designer Products

For real. There are only three items necessary for a bomb twist out: a leave-in to ensure your hair is moisturized. A curl cream that fits your hair type for hold and definition. An oil to seal the moisture and add shine. There is no holy grail combination except for the one you create.

I have a favorite leave-in: Pattern Beauty’s Leave-in conditioner

I have a favorite curl creme: Shea Moisture’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie

And I have a favorite oil: Jamaican Mango and Lime’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil with Lavender

That’s it. I have tried soooo many curl creams. And I will likely try more. But when I find something that works, I stick to it. So grab your favorite products that work for your hair and use them. You won’t magically get a better twist out because you used a certain product. And more expensive doesn’t mean it’s better.

#4 Detangle

I’m not going to write too much here because this should be common knowledge but I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to style while tired. Don’t fall for the temptation! Comb or brush through every single section before you twist. If your hair has any tangles, knots or uneven sections it will be much harder to keep the twist uniform and virtually impossible to take it down without a mess on your hands. So if you want a bomb twist out, take the time to ensure that your hair is tangle-free so you don’t cause damage later.

#5 Quit Yanking Your Twists Apart

Once you’ve detangled, used the right products, twisted in small sections and allowed everything to dry entirely, guess what? You still have one more chance to screw it up!

Have you ever looked at your shiny, juicy twists and just knew you were about to have a bomb hair day, only to end up looking like a walking bird’s nest? Yeah, it’s a trash reality, but it happens.

Know why it happens? Cause you’re pulling and yanking the wrong way. Taking down your twists (or braids) is a very important and delicate process. You want to get some oil on your fingertips so as not to cause friction and be sure to apply throughout the process. 

Start at the bottom of the twist. I usually will start just above the bottom at a spot that naturally separates and then gently pull the bottom of the twist apart. (Some people seal the ends of their twists by wrapping around perm rods. If that’s the case, you’ll remove the perm rods first.) 

Once you have the bottom separated, you will begin unraveling the twist where it naturally separates in the two halves that you twisted originally. Don’t pull or yank, be slow, gentle and just unravel where it’s naturally coming apart.

You likely won’t keep your hair in these halves–you’ll want to separate a bit further depending on what you want your twistout to look like. This means taking the halves and stretching them a bit to see where they naturally separate. From this point, you’ll gently pull the strands apart where they’re already separating.

Repeat across your entire head until you’re happy with the look. From this point, you can take a pick and gently rustle your roots to make them more natural. If you like a formal defined look, you’ll stop here.

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If you want a more natural, carefree look, I suggest shaking your head back and forth to help it fall naturally.

And just like that, you’ve got a twistout that will have people chasing you down the aisle in Target. Trust me, it’s happened. *wink*

Happy twist out! I hope this helps you achieve many awesome hair days ahead.