1. What exactly are Senegalese Twists?
Senegalese Twists, or “rope twists” are one of the many protective styles for Afro-textured hair. Wearing protective styles help promote healthy hair growth while protecting your own hair from damage that could result from the environment, over manipulation, heat styling and daily styling habits.
Senegalese twists are created by first wrapping your choice of braiding hair around the root of your natural hair. The hair is then two-strand twisted from the root all the way to the ends of the hair shaft.
2. What Type of Hair Should I Use?
Although Marley hair may seem to be the number one choice for many naturals who choose to use extensions as a method for protective styling, the most commonly used types of braiding hair for Senegalese twists are Kanekalon (silky braiding hair) and Toyokalon (yaki braiding hair). Some people even choose to use human hair but synthetic hair usually works best for this style because the texture helps to prevent the twists from unraveling prematurely. The two most commonly used hair types for Senegalese twist are Kanekalon and Toyokalon, which has a tendency to tangle faster.
- Toyokalon– light and fluffy texture, becomes tangled easily if not properly managed, better for smaller-sized braids, averages at $3.99 per pack
- Kanekalon– more realistic looking, easy to manage, low price point, better for medium-larger sized braids, averages at $1.99 per pack
3. Before the Install
Try to have at least 3/4 of an inch of hair growth so that the hair can be easily gripped without causing damage to your hair. Try not to apply too much tension especially around your hairline. Too much tension on the scalp can lead to severe damage, hair loss, and even traction alopecia. There are tons of horror stories where women have lost massive amounts of hair from their braids being too tight.
If you’re using Kanekalon, you may want to soak it in apple cider vinegar. You can find out why here.
Start by cleansing your natural hair with a sulfate-free, moisturizing shampoo that will help protect your hair against breakage such as Design Essentials Natural Almond & Avocado Moisturizing Shampoo or Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo. Follow-up with a moisturizing conditioner or a deep conditioner as needed.
Detangle the hair using a wide-tooth comb and a good detangling product. If you don’t have one available, try detangling your hair using a thick, creamy, slippery conditioner which will work just as well. Some naturals choose to blow-dry the hair on a cool setting to stretch the hair before braiding. Also, the banding method can be utilized to stretch your hair overnight in preparation for your install. Apply a small amount of leave-in conditioner or a hair milk, but not too much. Using too much oil will make it harder for the braider to install the hair without it slipping.
4. Installing your Senegalese Twists
When installing Senegalese twists, the hair is parted in neat sections based on the desired size of your twists. Be sure they aren’t too big or too small. Kanekalon hair is smoother than many other synthetic hair types so you can use a styling aid such as:
- As I Am Twist Defining Cream
- Oscar Blandi Braid Paste
- Jamaican Mango & Lime Locking gel
- Cantu Shea Butter Twist & Lock gel
- Whipped Shea Butter
- Beja Flor Naturals Creme Brulee Curling and Twisting Cream
Starting at the nape of the neck, a small section of the hair is separated from the rest of the hair. The section is then split into two sections of the same size. The hair is also split into two sections, and each individual section is then coiled around the two sections of your hair at least one inch down the shaft. The two sections are then conjoined and the twist is then continued to the ends of the hair shaft. Once your entire head has been completed, the ends are usually dipped in boiling water to prevent them from unraveling.
5. Maintaining your New Hairstyle
You can expect your Senegalese twists to last anywhere from 8-16 weeks depending on how you care for them. You should wrap your hair nightly with a satin scarf or bonnet to prevent the hair and your edges from becoming frayed too quickly. Don’t forget to take care of your own hair while protective styling. Cleanse your hair as you normally would using the pads of your fingertips on your scalp. Allow the hair to dry completely by using a blow-dryer on the cool setting or sitting under a hooded dryer. This will prevent the hair from smelling like mildew.
If the hair begins to feel heavy, if you notice more than 1/2 inch of growth, or if you notice that your twists are starting to hang from any new growth then the twists should be removed to prevent damage to your hair or breakage.
6. Removing the Twists
- Conditioner with good slip
- Rat-tail comb for for detangling the twists
The best way to remove your Senegalese install is to first cut the ends of your hair 2-3 inches from where your natural hair ends. Apply a nice amount of conditioner to the hair all the way to the ends. This will loosen the twists to make the removal process easier. Don’t apply to the scalp just yet, you don’t want your hair to become too saturated. Natural hair is at its most fragile state when wet.
Be patient, the smaller the twists, the longer it will take you to remove them. Don’t shortcut this step. The last thing you want is to damage your own hair. Being patient and taking the time to remove the twists safely is the key. Remove all shed hair and finger-detangle before shampooing the hair. Co-wash with a clarifying conditioner before shampooing and continue finger detangling, otherwise you may end up with a tangled, matted mess.
Senegalese Twist Tutorial with Toyokalon Hair
Video courtesy of YouTube
Senegalese Twists Tutorial with Kanekalon Hair
Video courtesy of YouTube