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How To Install Marley Twists for Beginners on Natural Hair or With Hair Extensions

How to Do Marley Twists Hairstyles

Marley twists are extremely popular in the natural hair community. They have a delightfully disheveled quality that naturals can’t get enough of.

If you have seen the hairstyle on family members, friends, and social media outlets and would like to give it a try, we’re here to assist. 

What are Marley Twists?

Marley twists are a protective hairstyle made from twisting your hair, using a technique similar (i.e., twisting process) to two-strand twists. Marley twists are usually done with extension hair for fullness and movement, but Marley twists can also be done without using hair extensions.

We will share instructions for both methods in this article. Note that these styles can be created on many different hair types, including type 3 and type 4.

Gather Your Supplies

Be sure to gather all of the necessary supplies before you begin installing your Marley twists. Although the hairstyle does take a while to complete, having all of your supplies ready will simplify the process.

For Hair Prep:

  • Clarifying shampoo
  • Moisturizing shampoo
  • Moisturizing conditioner
  • Leave-in conditioner, serum/oil, or other moisturizing products of your choice

For Hair Stretching (optional):

  • Hair bands
  • Blow dryer

For Styling:

  • Rattail comb
  • Detangling brush
  • Wide-tooth comb
  • Edge control gel (hair gel)
  • Marley Hair (optional)
  • Scissors (optional)

What Type of Hair Do You Use For Marley Twists?

You’ll need to purchase Marley hair for this hairstyle. This extension hair (i.e., braiding hair) will have a coarse texture that is important for achieving the Marley twist’s texture. A commonly recommended brand for Marley twists is FreeTress Equal, but any brand of Marley braiding hair will do.

This style is a great opportunity to play around with colored hair as well. Combining a small amount of colored Marley hair with your natural hair color adds a layer of fun!

How Many Packs of Hair Do You Need For Marley Twists?

You will need 5-6 packs of your preferred color and brand of Marley hair. The amount of hair needed will vary based on how thick you want your twists to be. It’s always a good idea to buy more extension hair than you think you need. 

Prepare Your Hair for DIY Marley Twists

When done properly, Marley twists are a great way to protect your hair from damage and retain length. But if you begin styling while your hair is dry, tangled, and full of product buildup, you will likely end up doing damage to your hair.

Following all of the steps below will ensure that your hair is clean, moisturized, and ready for the styling process.

Shampoo Your Hair

Giving your hair a good wash is the first step to preparing your hair, as this will remove product buildup. 

Begin with a clarifying shampoo: wet your hair and apply the shampoo, focusing on your roots. Allow the shampoo to work down to your ends, but do not apply any shampoo directly to your ends, as this will cause tangles and dryness, which will lead to damage.

Hold onto your ends while you work the shampoo into your roots – this will prevent tangles. Rinse out the clarifying shampoo and then follow up with a moisturizing shampoo, repeating the same process described above.

The clarifying shampoo will strip your hair of product, and the moisturizing shampoo will replace some of the moisture taken away by the clarifying shampoo.

Condition Your Hair

Thoroughly conditioning your hair is the next step to preparing your hair. This step is crucial, as shampooing may strip your hair of its moisture and natural oils, and you must restore the moisture to maintain healthy, hydrated hair.

Apply a moisturizing conditioner to your hair, focusing on your ends. Your ends need the most moisture, as they are usually the driest part of the hair. 

If you have time, leave the conditioner in your hair for a few minutes. You can put on a shower cap to trap the heat from your scalp and increase the absorption of nutrients and moisture.

Then, rinse out the conditioner using cold water to seal your hair’s cuticles and lock in the moisture that your hair just soaked in.

If you struggle with chronically dry hair, try using a deep conditioner instead of a regular rinse-out conditioner. It makes for a deeper conditioning session that will leave your hair smooth and hydrated.  

While you wait for the conditioner to do its thing, you can detangle your hair. 

Moisturize Your Hair

Once your hair has been washed and conditioned, the next step is to apply moisturizing products to maximize the moisture in your hair.

There are many products out there to choose from, including leave-in conditioner, mousse, cream, oil, and gel, and there are many different brands to choose from also.

Certain hair types might require different products, so finding the right products and styling methods for your specific hair type may take some experimentation. 

Here are some great moisturizers for curly natural hair

You should apply these products while your hair is still wet or damp to allow your hair to absorb as much hydration as possible.

One popular method of moisturizing curly hair is the “LOC Method.” Apply leave-in conditioner first, following up with oil to lock in the moisture from the leave-in, and then finish with a curl cream to seal the hair cuticle and lock in the moisture.

While finding the best products and styling routine for your hair is very important, it’s also important that you keep your body hydrated by drinking lots of water every day! 

Stretch Your Hair (Optional)

If you have very kinky curly hair, stretching your hair before you begin styling may be a good idea. This will eliminate some of the shrinkage in your hair and make it much more manageable when styling.

Also, if you apply products, such as hair growth oil, after your hair has been stretched, it will distribute much more evenly, enabling your hair to receive the moisture that it needs.

There are several different methods of stretching curly hair. Keep reading for a detailed description of each method:

Braiding

Braiding is a no-heat option for stretching your hair that will be worn overnight. If you are in a hurry and looking to stretch your hair quickly, this might not be the best option for you.

  1. Divide your hair into as many sections as you prefer using a wide-tooth comb. The more sections you use, the more stretched your hair will be.
  2. Apply moisturizing styling products to each section and gently detangle your hair.
  3. Braid each section, securing the end with a small rubber band if the braids don’t hold together on their own.
  4. Wrap your hair up in a bonnet or silk scarf and wear the braids overnight as you sleep.
  5. In the morning, gently remove the braids to reveal longer hair!

Banding

Banding is another option for stretching your hair. It’s not the quickest stretching option, but it requires no heat, which is better for your hair.

  1. Begin by applying a leave-in conditioner, oil, or both.
  2. Part your hair and create several sections using a wide-tooth comb. The more sections you use, the more stretched your hair will be.
  3. Wrap rubber bands down the length of your hair in each section.
  4. Wrap the sections up in a bonnet or silk scarf and wear it overnight.
  5. The next morning, gently and carefully unwrap the bands, and you’ll have longer and more stretched hair!

Blow Drying

A quicker stretching option is blow-drying. However, if you are trying to avoid heat damage, this may not be the best option for you. 

  1. Divide your hair into several sections using a wide-tooth comb.
  2. Apply your preferred products, such as leave-in conditioner, oil, or heat protectant spray, to each section.
  3. Blow-dry each section while gently applying tension to allow the heat to stretch your hair.

Install Your Marley Twists with Extensions

How to Marley Twist Like a PRO for beginners

Continue reading for detailed instructions on how to properly install your Marley twists:

  1. Beginning at the back of your head, part your hair into small to medium-sized sections using your rat tail comb. Triangle parts are commonly used with this style, but it’s most important to have neatly parted sections, regardless of their shape. Use the pointed edge of your rat tail comb to create parts with a neat and defined look.
  2. Apply a small amount of edge control to the base of the section. This gives a neater and more defined look to your parts and makes the hair easier to grip while twisting.
  3. Divide your natural hair section into two smaller, equally sized sections.
  4. Using 2-4 pieces of Marley hair (depending on the desired size of your twists), fold the pieces in half, and then gently brush out only the ends. Then, twist the section 1-2 times at the fold.
  5. Hold the Marley hair to the section of your natural hair, between the part that you just created between the two smaller sections. Incorporate one side of natural hair, with one half of the Marley hair, and then the other side of your natural hair with the other half of the Marley hair.
  6. Begin to twist both of the sections clockwise in the same direction.
  7. When you’ve twisted a small portion of both sections, overlap the right section over the left.
  8. As you move down the strand, you’ll repeatedly twist the individual sections clockwise and then overlap the right section over the left. This motion creates the “rope” look of Marley twists. *Tip: If you are installing this style on someone else’s hair, you can ask them to hold the twist’s base while you twist. This will minimize pain. 
  9. Repeat steps 2-8 for the rest of your head until you reach your hairline.
  10. For the sections along your hairline, you will use the same technique described above. However, when dividing the section into two smaller sections, be sure to separate into a front and back section, rather than left and right. This will allow the strands to lay more naturally around your face.
  11. When all of your Marley twists are complete, you can clean up your twists by carefully trimming any flyaways.

Dip Your Ends to Secure

Now that you’re done with the braiding process, it’s time to dip your ends to eliminate the chance of unraveling. 

  1. Boil water, and then transfer the boiling water to a large cup.
  2. Wrap a towel around your shoulders to protect yourself from the heat, and then in 2-3 sections, dip your Marley twists into the boiling water (careful – don’t burn yourself!). This reduces the stiffness of the twists, gets rid of any kinks, and gives a cleaner and more uniform look to the twists. 
  3. Gently towel dry the twists.
  4. If needed, carefully trim the ends of the Marley twists so that they are even. This is an optional step.

Install Your Marley Twists Without Extensions

"Marley Twists" Using Your Natural Hair | Protective Styles

To create Marley twists using only your natural hair, you will follow very similar steps to those described in the last section.

  1. Beginning at the back of your head, part your hair into small to medium-sized sections using your rat tail comb.
  2. Apply a small amount of edge control or hair growth oil to the base of the section. This gives a neater and more defined look to your parts.
  3. Divide the natural hair section into two smaller, equally sized sections.
  4. Begin to twist both of the two smaller sections clockwise in the same direction.
  5. When you’ve twisted a small portion of both sections, begin to twist the two sections around each other, going counterclockwise.
  6. As you work down the strand, you will twist the individual sections clockwise as you wrap them around each other in a counterclockwise direction. 
  7. Repeat steps 2-6 for the rest of your head until you reach your hairline.
  8. For the sections along your hairline, you will use the same technique described above. However, when dividing the section into two smaller sections, be sure to separate into a front and back section, rather than left and right. This will allow the strands to lay more naturally around your face.
  9. Style your baby hairs using edge control, add accessories to your twists if you’d like, and the look is complete!

If you need a visual walkthrough of the style, watch the video tutorial above.

Pros and Cons of Marley Twists

Pros

  • Once you get the hang of the installation technique, it is very simple and repetitive, which will make styling go by quickly.
  • The style is protective and long-lasting, tucking away your natural hair for months at a time.
  • The style is low maintenance, only requiring you to oil your scalp, cover your hair at night, and wash your hair if buildup becomes an issue. 

Cons

  • The technique used to achieve these twists may require trial and error for beginners new to installing protective hairstyles.
  • This style takes several hours to complete. 

Dos and Don’ts of DIY Marley Twists

Dos

  • Experiment with this style! Try out different lengths, hair colors, parts, and twist sizes. There are many ways to make this style unique, so have fun with it!
  • Do block off several hours for the installation process. This hairstyle can take a while to complete.

Don’ts

  • Don’t pull the twists too tightly as you are styling, as this could cause damage to your scalp and natural hair.
  • Don’t skip out on properly preparing your hair. Creating a protective hairstyle with product buildup already on hair can cause damage to your natural hair.

Now you know exactly how to do Marley twists with and without extension hair.

We encourage you to experiment with different accessories, including hair clips, hair cuffs, and different styles, like Havana twists and faux locks (or imitation dreadlocks). These styles can be created with braid extensions, braiding hair, loc extensions, or traditional twist hair.

You can check out Instagram and YouTube for additional styles. We’ve also written articles on these hairstyles, including how to create the hairdo, maintenance, ongoing hair care, and more.

We hope this article gave some helpful insight on how to properly install Marley twists in a way that promotes healthy natural hair.

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