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What is a French Twist?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 21, 2024
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A French twist is a type of upswept hairstyle that was especially popular during the Gay Nineties Victorian period. It has different variations that can make it look either romantic or sleek, but a French twist never seems to go out of style. A French twist works best on longer hair and can be done quite easily with a good quality long hair comb and/or long bobby pins to hold the twist in place.

If your hair is very straight, the French twist may look better if you first set your hair in rollers or use a curling iron to create some waves. If your hair is very curly, you won't need to totally straighten it, but you may want to smooth it a little bit. To create a classic French twist, brush all your hair smoothly to one side. Run long pins down the middle of the back of your head to hold the hair near your scalp. Then, starting with the ends of your hair, twist hair around your thumb and secure it with pins at the back of your head.

The classic French twist is sleek and neat and takes some practice to pin properly. Looser, messier versions are contemporary versions of the French twist and these can look very romantic. You can pull out some tendrils of hair or create a soft sweep of bangs on one side. The great thing is that you can customize the look to suit your hair, your fashion style and the occasion.

To create an easier version of the classic French twist, first hold your hair at the back of your head as if to form it into a low ponytail. Then, using your free hand, hold up the end of your hand-held ponytail so it is pointing upwards. Finally, twist the length of the ponytail, tuck in the ends and secure with a long, or French, hair comb. You can add a few long bobby pins if needed. For a super-casual, super-easy take on the modern French twist, you can twist the ponytail section only part of the way up and then add a large plastic-toothed hair clip, or several smaller clips, at the bottom, leaving the top of the twist untwisted.

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Discussion Comments
By Rotergirl — On Mar 08, 2014

My mom wore her hair in a French twist when I was a little girl. Unfortunately, even though my hair is as fine and silky as hers was, there's less of it, so the style never worked well for me. I still like it, though. I think it's flattering on most women, regardless of face shape, and not many hair styles are flattering on everyone.

I know my mom used to keep full papers of bobby pins so she would never run short when she would do her hair. She wears her hair short and curly now, but I do miss the days when I'd stand in the bathroom and watch her put up her hair.

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