Senegalese Twist Braids – A Guide to Wearing & Maintaining the Latest Protective ‘It-Girl’ Hairstyle

by Stephanie Yankova

Maintaining textured hair is a time-consuming process that can easily become quite tiresome. Understandably, many women with curly hair seek out different methods that can help them not only tame their luscious locks but also protect them. Braiding and twisting of the hair is an age-old ritual instilled in the DNA of people of African descent. These hairstyles are incredibly practical for summer because they protect your natural hair from the heat that dries out and damages the textured curls. This happens because of tight hair texture and retains less water due to its low porosity, which leads to excessive drying out of the hair follicle. Here’s how to protect your hair during the upcoming summer season with easy tips on how to make Senegalese twists and ways to style them!

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What are Senegalese Twists?

The Senegalese twists are named after their city of origin – Senegal, Africa. Expert braider and hairstylist of the stars Helena Koudou explains that Senegalese twists are a specialized braiding style that’s strictly done on straight or stretched hair. This hairstyle allows your hair to grow healthy while protecting it from environmental and chemical damage.

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Are Senegalese Twists Good For Your Hair?

Compared to box braids, Senegalese twists are a much easier hairstyle to do by yourself. They are a lot more gentle on your hair because there is less friction in the braiding process. Another great benefit of the Senegalese twists is that they are much easier and quicker to unravel than other braids. A downside of this hairstyle is that they don’t tend to last for long. With regular maintenance, these braids will last you between 4–6 weeks.

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How to Take Care of Senegalese Twists?

One of the biggest hassles when having braids is the process of washing your hair. While it is something that you can and should do, you need to know that your hair will become more frizzy once you wash it. The method that I find to be the easiest when washing either braids or locks, is by using a spray bottle to clean your scalp. Here are the ingredients I use that help me keep it itch-free and thoroughly moisturized:

  • First off, you’re going to need an empty 500 ml (16 oz) bottle with a spray pump.
  • Pour 20ml (0.6 oz) of shampoo into the empty bottle. I suggest you use a sulfate-free shampoo with lemongrass, witch hazel, or aloe vera, as they have a soothing effect on the scalp.
  • Fill the rest of the bottle with water and shake until you get a homogeneous mixture.
  • Spray the concoction onto your roots, let it soak in for 2–3 minutes, and then wash thoroughly with warm water.

Note: I don’t advise you to use any conditioner as this may lead to product build-up which will further irritate your skin.

Once your hair is completely dry apply peppermint or tea tree oil to your scalp. These two oils have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties which will not only soothe your scalp but also nourish the hair follicle. You can also apply macadamia oil instead of conditioner. The fatty acids of the macadamia will help moisturize the hair while also adding a protective layer that further stops the scalp from drying out.

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Protect your Twists While You’re Sleeping

It’s good to oil your scalp at least once a week at night before you go to bed. For the best results, use a silk durag or a bonnet to lock in all that moisture and refresh your scalp. If you don’t like wearing coverings on your head while you sleep, you can get a silk pillowcase which will minimize hair breakage and frizziness.

How to do Senegalese Twists?

Probably the biggest upside of the Senegalese twists in comparison to other protective hairstyles is that the braiding technique is incredibly quick and simple. This makes it the perfect at-home hairstyle you can do on your own in just a few simple steps! Here’s everything you’re going to need :

  • A double-detangling comb
  • Deep conditioner of choice or conditioning oil
  • A shower cap
  • Tea Tree/Peppermint Shampoo
  • Curls Control Paste
  • “XPRESSION” 48” pre-stretched braiding hair

How to do Jumbo Senegalese Twists with Rubber Bands?

Jumbo twists are a great way to achieve an effortless, Bohemian look. This video will teach you the quickest and easiest way to achieve this look. Here is everything you’re going to need in order to achieve this goddess look in just 2 hours!

  • 2–3 packs of ZURY 60” Prestretched Hair
  • A pack of small black rubber bands
  • Wide comb
  • Leave in coconut oil conditioner
  • Styling Gel – opt for a product made with natural coconut oil or castor oil

Senegalese Twist Hairstyles

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Mix & Match Thick and Thin Senegalese Twist Braids

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Half Up-Half Down High Bun

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High Ponytail Tied with a Headscarf

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Side Jumbo Braid under a Wide Brim Hat

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Thin Senegalese Twist Braids on Medium Hair

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Senegalese Twists in a Messy High Bun

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