The French twist is a simple but elegant way to wear your hair. I used to be intimidated by it until I realized that I was already doing a sloppy version of one before I take my shower every morning. If you are used to throwing your hair up and poking something in it to hold it there (pencil, anyone?), you'll be able to pull off a French twist. Your hair should be at least shoulder length to wear this style well. A few strands that stray look marvelous but if large pieces fall down from the twist, it detracts from the style's sleekness, which is its main appeal.
Once you've mastered this up-do, you'll probably want to try out all kinds of other new long hair styles.
Here are some styling tips on how to do a French twist well.
- Comb or brush your hair well. We're not talking your usual thirty-second job, but the kind of comb-through where you're getting the snarls out, smoothing it down, and channeling Catherine Deneuve.
- Create a loose ponytail with the hair framing your face in a way that you find flattering. For example, if you look good with a little extra height at the top of your head and you've got the kind of hair that poufs, create a ponytail with some built-in pouf. The way in which you frame your face now will be how it is framed when you're finished so this step is one you want to get right.
- Hold the ponytail with your hands and start twisting. I always twist in a clockwise direction and whether this has to do with the fact that I'm right-handed or not, I have no idea. I twist for approximately two full rotations. You'll notice the bottom of the ponytail tightening against your head.
- Hold your ponytail upright pointing to the sky.
- Fold the end of your ponytail down. Basically you are tucking the end of your ponytail into the space between your head and the beginning part of your ponytail.
- As you tuck the ends of the ponytail in, you'll slowly roll your wadded-up ponytail to the left. I grip the seam between my ponytail and my head between my thumb and my four other fingers, and use my thumb to push the hair beneath in while rolling the top in. You will feel the twist tightening against your scalp. Keep pushing and rolling until it feels secure.
- Use straight or bobby pins (depending on the thickness of your hair) to hold the hair in place and to demarcate the line that is created by your French twist.
- Once you become practiced with these pins, you'll find ways to conceal them through good placement, for example by hiding them just beneath the roll. I remember a boyfriend once who thought that he could just let my hair down like he'd seen it done in the movies and was quite dismayed when he pulled out what he thought was "the pin" only to realize that there were about twenty more to go! C'est la vie.
- Practice, practice, practice. If you don't get the twist down perfectly, you may end up creating a unique updo of your own: Some of my mistakes have turned into my favorite hairstyles. So don't be afraid to experiment when you style your hair.
Now you know how to create a French twist. I'll still go to a salon if I have a big event to attend because the salon can do a sleeker look than I can create at home. Every once in a while, however, I'll glance at myself in the mirror and realize that I have attained the status of "Ooh la la!"