Protective hairstyles help safeguard your natural hair from manipulation, heat, and pulling. Although people sport protective hairstyles all year long, with the cold and harsh weather associated with winter, they are an especially great option to shield against breakage and dead ends for curly and coily hair. One of the easiest and most versatile, protective hairstyles are flat twists, which are quickly becoming one of the most popular styles for winter.
A combination of two-strand twists and cornrows, flat twists are two hairstyles in one. The main difference: placement and the amount of strands used. “A cornrow is a three strand braid, braided on the scalp,” says Myrna Palacios, curl expert and stylist at Rita Hazan Salon. “Whereas, a twist out is two strand twists, twisted together. Each twist is separate.”
The flat twist involves parting hair into cornrowed sections but flat twisting the hair to the scalp (instead of grabbing hair as your braid) and allowing them to set before unraveling them to your desired style. To execute, a braider will intertwine two strands of hair on top of each other to form a rope-like braid.
“Flat twists are known for minimizing manipulation on the hair and its versatility,” says Brittney Ogike, natural hair expert and founder of BEAUTYBEEZ. Flat twists are an ideal protective style that work well on both natural and relaxed textures. They can give hair more of a uniformed curl pattern as the hair is braided flat on the head to create consistent definition from root to end. Plus, since flat twists are just two intertwined strands, they are a great style for beginners or those working on their own hair.
Ahead, TZR spoke to three master braiders for the low down on the seven flat twists hairstyles (whether you like them styled loose, in a classic two strand twist, or up) to try for a cute winter protective style.
Ponytail Flat Twists
Ponytail flat twists hairstyle are a great go-to for a combination of both loose curls and two-strand twists. The style has great versatility and can work for a wide array of events. “Ponytails don’t require the twists to have ends that are secured, while also giving you the the option to pin or unravel the twists,” Ogike tells TZR. “Rehydrate the twists with a leave-in conditioner and lock the moisture in with a hair butter or combination of natural oil.”
Deep Side Part Flat Twists
Customize your look with a dramatic deep side part. To execute: Palacios recommends starting with a wide tooth combing and raking a curl cream like Rita Hazan Curl Crème throughout the hair. Next, use an oil on each piece that you twist to add moisture. Like most flat twists, this style can be worn for up to four weeks and will dramatically reduce the time it takes you to get ready. For maintenance, spray twists with a leave-in conditioner and keep the scalp oiled with a scalp serum.
Mohawk Flat Twists
According to Ogike, mohawk flat twists (the smaller in width, the better) are perfect for achieving the ultimate curl definition without tension or breakage. “Mohawks require minimal pins or maintenance, so there is no tension or discomfort,” she tells TZR. To achieve: flat twist the bottom of your hair and allow curls to tumble down freely to frame the face. This style is great for those that have areas that are harder to retain curl patterns as it will enforce and encourage a long-lasting curl. Plus, mohawks are a great way to get curl definition without committing your whole head to the process.
Updo With Flat Twists
Janelle Fulton, Los Angeles-based master braider enjoys flat twists in an updo for the protection they provide in harsh weather conditions that can dry out and damage natural hair. “Flat twists left in an updo are a great style to keep your ends protected and tucked away for a couple days,” Fulton shares. In fact, many naturals style the base of their updos with a flat twist so they can easily customize the look. Like all flat twists hairstyles, this can be done on wet hair or stretched dry hair as both will hide any frizz or flyaways.
Classic Flat Twists
If you enjoy frequently changing up your hair style, the experts all suggest having classic loose flat twists that allow you to manipulate whenever you choose. Generally, flat twists are worn for a few days (or weeks, depending on preference) and then you can transition into the style that the impression left on your twists. So, if twisting at home, remember the larger you twist, the less definition you will have.
Pineapple Flat Twists
Due to the texture of natural hair, flat twists hold just as well as braids and open up the doors for a variety of both easier and more complex looks, like the pineapple updo. Pineapple-ing the hair is a method of wrapping the hair to best reduce frizz and hold onto hairstyles longer while sleeping. It can be worn out as long as you protect with a large silk or satin scarf at night.
Low Bun With Flat Twist
A low bun is simple, charming, and great for any occasion. To keep your flat twists nourished, Williams recommends moisturizing every couple of days right before you sleep. “Spray your twists with a leave-in conditioner and seal with nourishing oils or hair butter,” the expert tells TZR.
Ready to try one of these flat twist hairstyles this winter? Below are a couple items the braiders recommended to get you started.
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