Two Radio City Rockettes explain how to create a French twist that won't budge.

By Renee Cherry
December 24, 2019
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Anyone who watches the Rockettes in their Christmas Spectacular can expect the dancers to wear elaborate costumes, a bold red lip, and nude heels to make their already lengthy limbs, look miles long. And when it comes to their hair, these ladies know a thing or two about sporting the classic French twist.

If you've ever attempted a French twist hairstyle, then you know it's much more difficult to make them tight and secure than a basic ballet bun. The Rockettes are each in charge of doing their own hair, so that means they need to be pros at creating a twist that won't unravel during high kicks nor headpiece changes. (Related: What Really Happens Behind the Scenes of the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular)

One secret to their lasting style is starting with dirty hair. "Personally I try to shampoo less, and I think most of the Rockette's shampoo less [during performance season] because it's easier to do the twist if your hair is a little bit dirty," says Rockette Tiffany Griffin. Second day hair is ideal, but if your hair is freshly washed, spraying dry shampoo can also add grit. (Related: Your Holiday Makeup Tutorial, Courtesy of Two Rockettes)

Also, no surprise here, but you'll need a quality hairspray. Rockette Lauren Renck estimates that she goes through three or four cans of John Frieda Luxurious Volume All-Out Hold Hairspray (Buy It, $9, ulta.com) in one season. For even more hold, she mixes L.A. Looks Hair Gel (Buy It, $4, walgreens.com) with water in a spray bottle to make a spray-on gel. Don't be shy–Griffin refers to hairspray as a Rockette's best friend, and it's a must for holding down a French Twist hairstyle. Even if you'll be wearing the style to a holiday party rather than performing, consider carrying a styling product for touch-ups. The dancers have hair stations backstage that are equipped with bobby pins, hairspray, and water, that they can make use of between numbers. Keep each on hand to smooth out any stray hairs that crop up throughout the day. (Related: Exactly What It Takes to Become One of the Radio City Rockettes)

Since the Rockettes' French twist is no trade secret, you can steal their techniques the next time you want a ~fancy~ style that won't budge. Here's a breakdown of how Renck does her hair before every show:

How to Do a French Twist Hairstyle

  1. Spray hair with dry shampoo or hairspray to add texture and hold.
  2. Brush and smooth hair straight back. Hold hair in left hand as if forming a ponytail.
  3. Place right index finger to left of ponytail, then dip finger below and to the right of ponytail. At this point, hair should be looped once around index finger.
  4. Using right hand, continue to twist hair outward until only the ends are left out of the twist.
  5. Pin hair in place using bobby pins into the base of the twist, continuing to tuck hair in. Use a brush to smooth out any remaining bumps.
  6. Spray hair with a final coat of hairspray to set the style.
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