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How To Style A French Twist On Every Hair Type & Texture

photo of stylist styling french twist how to style a french twist
There are some hairstyles that seem to transcend time, fitting appropriately into every decade and set of trends. The bob, the chignon, and the French twist are a holy triumvirate of classic styling—just as appropriate on politicians as they are on the average college student.

However, the French twist has a reputation for being notoriously difficult to style at home. While we always recommend booking an appointment with a professional stylist if you have a wedding or formal event to attend, there’s a quick and dirty way to twist your hair at home.

Wondering how to style a French twist? We’ve got you covered.

Gather your supplies.

Prep for updo styling the way you might an exam. Instead of pens, water, and tissues in front of you, you’ll need to prepare an array of products and tools. We recommend stocking your vanity with a hair dryer, comb, and detangling brush as well as hairpins, hairspray, heat protectant, and any other formulas you’re likely to use.

Battle station in place, you’re ready to start your style.

Wash with purpose.

Every updo begins with a thorough shampoo and conditioner session. If you can, trade your usual formulas for a set specially formulated to create volume. From the L’Oréal portfolio of products, we’re big fans of Redken’s High Rise Volume Lifting Shampoo and Conditioner. For a style like the French twist, it’s essential to start with as much hair and volume as possible. If you start with a lifting shampoo, you may not have to work as hard to achieve the same effect!

Not so keen on washing? We think it’s essential to achieve the best twist possible. Many updos mask oiliness at the roots, but the French twist really shows off the hair right at the part. If it’s greasy, the truth will be evident.

Dry away.

Whether you’re emotionally attached to your hair dryer or see yourself as more of a carefree, air-dry type, you’ll need to ensure your mane has been thoroughly dried before styling. Damp hair can be fragile, so styling with any dampness to your hair can mean damage and split ends.

Because sleekness is an integral part of the French twist, try blowing out your hair with the help of an oversize paddle brush. The flat surface will help ensure a shiny, manageable finish. Don’t forget to protect your hair from unnecessary heat styling damage with the help of a priming product—we love Mythic Oil Huile Radiance Oil from L'Oréal Professionnel.

Build volume.

Teasing is fundamental to the French twist. There’s no such thing as one that sits flat and lifeless against the scalp—no, French twists should be outspoken and dynamic, just like the lady wearing them. To achieve the over-the-top height required, you can try one of several techniques.

The first way to build volume is good old-fashioned teasing. Using a small teasing comb, you’ll take small sections at the top of your head and backcomb them—literally moving the comb toward your head to force your hair to crumple up. Make sure you leave yourself enough smooth hair to comb over the top of the teased sections for a polished look.

If teasing isn’t for you (and hey, we don’t blame you), use a product that's designed to accomplish similar end results with almost no elbow grease involved. We’re pretty obsessed with Kérastase’s Volume in Powder Texturizing Spray, which boasts a volumizing and texturizing formula that helps create immediate body, volume, and grip. Spray it all over the top section of your head before starting to style.

Twist, twist again.

Now, we’ve arrived at the main (mane?) event. Pull all of your hair into a low ponytail at your nape. Holding the unbound hair with one hand, use the other to twist it up against the back of your head. Keep twisting, using your free hand to even out the hair at the outside of the roll (that’s what creates the trademark French twist look).

Once you’ve run out of hair to twist, look in the mirror. If you have long hair, you may have several inches of tail that are too long for the twist. If so, now is your time to hide them underneath the rest of your twist. Using one finger to keep the top of the French twist in place, bring the twisted tail down along your head and tuck it under the main roll. Use as many pins as you need to secure the tail, ensuring that your extra hair is hidden from view.

Secure your ‘do.

There’s no point in styling an updo if it’s just going to fall apart the second you hit the wedding dance floor. We find that it’s sometimes most comfortable to secure a French twist with an oversize metal barrette or clip. If you’re aiming for comfort over looks, try a claw clip—after all, they’re back in style.

Before leaving the house, pull a few strands out of the updo to frame your face and create a slightly more youthful look. We’d also recommend a final spritz of extreme hold hairspray to lock your ‘do in place—Kérastase Laque Extrême Hair Spray would be a good fit.

Now you’re set to style a French twist. Just wait until your next formal event to show this one off!

Interested in a personalized styling appointment? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.

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