Why I Don’t Wash My Hair When it’s in Mini Twists

twists june 2010

One of the most important steps in maintaining healthy natural hair is ensuring that your hair remains well moisturized. It may therefore seem a bit strange that I will be sharing a method of preserving a style that provides the very opposite advice. To be clear, washing and moisturizing your hair ought to be a part of your weekly regimen the majority of the time. Moreover, if your hair readily breaks or shows signs of damage after an extended time of not washing it then I suggest you not heed this advice. This is a method I implement one or two months out of the year after watching a few vloggers and weighing the pros and cons of washing my hair when wearing certain hair styles.

I very much enjoy wearing mini twists. Nowadays I don’t wear them as often as I once did because they take quite a while to complete at my current length. When my hair was shorter, however, I could finish 80 to 100 small twists in about 2-3 hours.  Because the style didn’t take an excessive amount of time to complete I had no problem taking them out and washing my hair after two weeks. A year after actively growing my hair out it was around bra strap length and twists took about 7 hours to complete, causing me to reconsider taking them out after only 2 weeks. In my search on Youtube I identified other naturals who wore mini-twists and chose not to wash their hair while wearing twists. Primarily because washing twists can make taking them out a major hassle. I knew this from firsthand experience. When I twisted my hair 10 months into my healthy hair journey I decided to wear them longer than my usual 2 weeks and keep them in for an entire month. I styled them, washed them and stretched them.  When it was time to take them down I realized that my hair was matted, tangled and an overall knotted mess.  Detangling, to say the least, was quite an experience. You can imagine, then, why I was willing to consider wearing the style without washing if it meant reducing tangles.

The first time I tried this method was during the summer, so I had to contend with perspiration in addition to buildup. To clean my scalp I used a mild astringent about twice a week beginning about a week after I started wearing twists. I simply applied the astringent or witch hazel to a cotton ball and gently dabbed between the parts of my hair. When I heard this advice I was initially skeptical but I was quite surprised at how well it removed buildup. In addition to removing buildup from my scalp I also moisturized my hair regularly, paying close attention to the ends of my hair. It is important to use a light moisturizer since you will need to use it 2 to 3 times a week. I would also lightly mist my hair with water and braid the twists into about 4 to 6 larger twists. This will create a cute wavy style while allowing me to moisturize my hair without creating too much frizz.

In this video vlogger KinkyKurlyQueen discusses why she doesn’t wash her twist  (you can skip to 2:30).

I’ll admit that going 4 consecutive weeks without washing your hair isn’t for everyone. If you have a scalp condition that requires regular washing and/or medication please do not forgo your wellbeing for a style. However, this is something that  you might consider if you find that your hair gets tangled if washed and you like to occasionally wear a style for longer than 2 weeks.

What methods have you use to maintain hair health when extending your time between washes?



Island girl raised in the most royal of NYC's boroughs. Proud nerd, social scientist, educator and recovering awkward black girl. When not listening to NPR, trying to grow spiritually, or detangling my fro, I'm searching for the best shrimp and grits in the Queen City.


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17 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Wash My Hair When it’s in Mini Twists

  1. This came right on time! I’m coming up on my second week with my first set of mini twists and I was just having this debate with myself. Definitely going to try the astringent.

  2. Washing my twist actually helped to to take them down faster. If I didn’t wash them and tried to take them down, that’s when I had a mess on my hands. My hair is pretty long and now I just twist them half way. I LOVE that style. But I only wash them when I am ready to take them down. It makes it easier for me.

  3. I tried to wash my minitwists last week; curly matted mess when it dried. 2 hours untwisting, 7 more hours retwisting my whole head again…. I was planning on just wiping the parts with a dampened washcloth, so the astringent idea seems brilliant.

  4. I usually wash my hair with the twists in, since I work out 4-5x a week. I did notice matting originally but I co-wash instead of shampoo, work the conditioner in a downward motion and gently massage my scalp to remove buildup. When I’m done and I have time, I will re-twist the front two rows so my hair looks neat (wash or no wash, my hair in the front frizzes). However, since my hair is marley twists, I will try the above method. I currently spritz my scalp with a mixture of tea tree oil, witch hazel and water. Let’s see….

  5. I regularly wash my hair with twists in and have been doing so for over a year. I usually twist my hair in medium to mini twists, depending on the time I have available (4-6 hrs), and then wear that style for two weeks (I usually put the twists in a protective style for week and half then I wash my hair and wear in down for a half a week. My hair is also bra-length. I find that if I use a gentle shampoo or cowash, rinse well in a downward motion (shower), smoother my hair in leave in conditioner and oils and then allow it to air dry its absolutely fine. When I go to retwist I moisten the hair with an aloe vera juice/water/essential oil mixture and detangle. Ive been repeating this cycle for at least a year.

    • maybe the size of the twists matter. i find that small mini twists which i love can become matted when washed. perhaps i’ll try medium twists. i sure would love to finish in 4 hours rather than the usual 8.

      • Many years back, I too went about 2 wks doing regular co-washes on medium-sized twists and mine matted also. Seriously, I could have just called that my transition to dreads – they were so frizzy and inter-webbed, yet crazy soft. Anyhoo, I don’t think it’s a size thing…maybe more so dependent on hair behavior.

  6. I just tried this on my scalp. I have w/Marly Twist extensions. I used Sea Breeze Astringent and a wash cloth. It felt really good on my scalp and now I’m going to use my evco. Wouldn’t a cotton ball leave tiny pieces of fuzz in your hair?

  7. Hi.
    How do u EXACTLY keep the twists moisturized in the summer without them matting? My Lola only stays moisturized for 4 days before becoming parched. I’m thinking of doing mini twists for two weeks but this dryness scares me. And there’s no point investing 5 hours twisting her up if I can’t keep her for at least two weeks

    • I use a light moisturizer. I like bee mines curly butter. i focus on the ends of the hair. because moisturizers have both water and oil the hair isn’t as matted as if i only used water.

  8. My hair is 4A,4B, just past shoulder length and I usually keep my hair in mini twists for 3 to 4 weeks.
    After the first week my scalp begins to itch so I use a dry shampoo(TRESemme Freshstart)for curly hair. I spray this on my twists in the backyard because you need to apply this in a well ventilated area. I leave the dry shampoo on my hair for about 2-3 minutes and I gently pat my twists to remove the excess dry shampoo, if I didn’t do this a dry film would be on my twists.
    If my scalp persists in its itchiness then I use a wet
    Q-tip dipped in baking soda (Arm & Hammer) and rub my scalp with the Q-tip. Baking soda is akaline, alkaline products remove dirt. Afterwards, I moisturize my twists with a spritz of Aloe Vera juice mixed with castor oil and olive oil. I don’t add water to this mix because it makes my hair frizz. Frizz is greatly reduced when I spritz my twists every other day with this aloe vera juice solution, although frizz is inevitable after the second or third week. I try to use the dry shampoo on my twists weekly. Have been using this method for about 6 months and have retained length.

  9. When I’ve worn mini twists in the past, I find washing is less problematic if the twists are installed tight and uniform (the Nap85 method). I tried washing loose two-stand mini twists, and they got very tangled. I haven’t worn a protective style since then. I’m definitely one of those people who has to wash their hair often to prevent itchiness and other scalp irritations.

  10. I have brastrap length hair and yes it takes a while to put in the minitwists (I usually devote a weekend). I’ve discovered that if I moisturize and seal (spritz w/ water, leave-in conditioner and then seal with evoo or some sort of natural(non hardening) gel), I can keep them in for about 3 wks. However, I usually do only 2wk stretches, simply because I like to change it up.

    I do cowash my twist, and, in fact, it is the only way that I remove them. What I do is braid the twists – either four – 8 regular braids (plats – 2-4 on each side and 2-4 in back) or 4 cornrows – 2 on each side and two in back). I then gently cowash. Sometimes prior to braiding and cowashing, I spray applecider vinegar/water mix on scalp, braid, rinse out, then cowash.

    The cowashing also makes it very easy for me to take down my twist – no tangles, just slips right out

  11. This method wouldn’t work for me, but its interesting. I’m going to get mini braids myself next month, so it was interesting to read this.

  12. Thanks, this is really helpful. I wore individual braids as a kid and always had locked roots when I took down the braids. It was a hassle to comb out. Maybe I could try this method the next time I wear long-term styles and wash much less frequently.

  13. I wear my mini twist 4-64-6 weeks without washing my hair. I made that mistake once and had a tangled mess on my hands. Never bugs my scalp and my hair grows good when I do twist for several months at a time. I’m continuing mini twist until after the new year. I’m washing and retwisting until then.

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