Protective styling is one of the most important habits any person with natural hair must pick up. When done properly, various protective styles can provide a plethora of benefits to your hair. The right protective style for you depends on any damage your hair has, any deficits it may face or the time and resources you have on hand. Note that not all protective styles are created equal and some can do more damage than good if not installed or maintained properly.
Two of the most tried and true protective styles are the twist out and braid out. Both of these styles have been championed time and time again as the ultimate providers of moisture retention, shrinkage protection and the most important, they’re both a two for one deal! When you install your braid out or twist out, depending on your personal style, you can wear it as is. Then, when you think they’ve run their course, you can take down your twists or braids and now you are left with a hydrated, voluminous second style that can carry you through to your next wash day with ease.
No Matter What
Before you even begin to choose a style, you have to prepare your hair for installation. Whether you are a stan for the braid out or you just prefer a bouncy twist out, clean and moisturized scalp/hair are essential. You want to be sure that you blast your hair with hydration because as you install your style, any product you use afterwards is only going to seal in any hydration you’ve already introduced to your hair shaft during wash day. Your hair absorbs product best when wet so wash day is the prime time for the hair to absorb all it can before the product begins to just coat the outside.
It is always best practice to deep condition your hair before installing any protective style or any style that needs manipulation initially. Deep conditioning gives your hair the nourishment it will need to be more manageable and the vitality it will need for the duration of your style. We recommend using our Strengthening Ice Cream™ Treatment Deep Conditioner with Carrot and Moringa Monoi. This deep conditioner includes Jamaican Black Castor Oil which can help balance scalp pH, penetrate the hair shaft and helps fight bacteria. Adding the super nourishing ingredients like avocado, vitamin E and moringa, your hair will be able to withstand the twisting, parting and detangling your hair will endure.
What's The Difference? Pros and Cons
So the main difference between a braid out and a twist out is the literal action you're taking while installing. The most basic description of braids would be 3 strands of hair being intertwined together. Twists are usually two strands (there is such a thing as a 3-strand twist), that are twisted or wrapped around each other. A twist out will usually leave a more curled like appearance when taken down whereas a braid out will have a tighter texture, similar to coils.
Many people prefer twist outs over braid outs for quite a few reasons. One of the top reasons is the curl definition that you receive. Being that twists are not a tight, intertwining motion; they allow for a looser, bouncier take down that creates so much more volume. Additionally, twists are generally known for less frizz during the take down. Less strands to manipulate allows for less frizz caused by your own doing.
Pro Tip: Be sure that you maintain your twist out to get maximum wear! If applicable, pineapple your hair or loosely twist before bed to maintain moisture and retain curl pattern. Don’t forget to wrap it up too!
On the other hand, twists also have a few cons that you have to consider when you're choosing between these styles. Shrinkage is the main one. Being that twists are looser, they aren't as tight as a braid so they have the ability to let your hair do what it does best. You have to remember, shrinkage means health! But honestly, elongation is a goal when you think of a twist out or braid out.
As mentioned before, braid outs consist of 3 strands being intertwined. This pattern allows for a tighter end result which is why you end up with a more coiled texture when you take them down. A tighter pattern means more opportunities for moisture retention. Braid outs tend to stay hydrated for longer which helps the hair in manageability which aids in the take down. Braid outs also win in the elongation category by far.
On the down side, braid out usually comes with a little more frizz than most twist outs would. The key to avoiding this frizz is to take your time while you unravel. Also be sure to be gentle. Try not to pull or tug unnecessarily and make sure your hands are coated with a lightweight oil (just coated, no need to slather up) like our Hydrating AvoKiwi Oil Blend. Coating your hands reduces friction which is the #1 culprit for frizz. Being that braid outs include 3 stands, they are naturally a little more time consuming. You probably want to etch out a Sunday to do a full wash day plus a properly layered, even braid out. The results are well worth it so don’t run away too quick!
Pro Tip: To achieve a super defined and moisturized braid out without build up, you want to avoid any products based with wax. Wax sits on the hair shaft without penetrating so build up will most like occur. Our Hydrating Twisting Paste is a great alternative. This wax-free paste is infused with kiwi extract. This ingredient alone can penetrate the hair shaft and allow the hair to take in more nourishment.
Maintenance is Essential
No matter which you choose, maintaining your twist out or braid out is just as important as the choice to install one. You want to reintroduce moisture as frequently as your hair needs while you are wearing a twist out. The best practice is to reintroduce moisture to your hair in between wash days. One way we found that is super efficient to do this is just a good old spritzing bottle. Along with the bottle, grab your favorite lightweight oil, leave-in conditioner or moisturizer and some water (if your home is prone to hard water, try bottled or distilled). Try to stick with the products you used while installing the style so you have less probability of flaking or clumping.
Earlier we mentioned tying or twisting up your hair before bed and this is just another example of maintaining your twist out or braid out properly. You want to make sure your curl pattern is intact but most importantly, this step prevents your hair from losing moisture and gaining fizz from friction. If you do not like wrapping your hair at night, try a silk pillow case of even draping a silk scarf over the pillow you lay your head on.
One last important part of maintenance is scalp care. While your hair is in your respective braid or twist, your scalp is more exposed than normal. Since scalp health determines overall hair health, you want to be sure the scalp is well taken care of. Use your favorite oil or butter and moisturize the scalp as you see fit. If you find your exposed scalp is a bit more irritated than normal, try not to scratch and instead lightly tap.
The Choice is Yours
The truth of the matter is that whether you choose a braid out or a twist out, your hair is going to reap all the benefits. Both styles help you to protect and nourish your hair. Both help you tuck in split ends that could make other styles look frizzy and wild. Both styles require the same care and attention when choosing products and the application of said products. Just like a twist out, a braid out needs your hair to be prepared with a thorough wash and an adequate deep conditioner. Yes, there are differences but they are mostly aesthetics and you really just have to choose what you think works best for you visually. At the end of the day your hair will thank you for both!