Flat rope twists are just rope twists that are done "flat" against the head, much like how cornrows are done. Although they are very easy to do, and allow you to get the same sort of styles that you would get if you were doing cornrows, there are some pluses and minuses to going this route. If you don't already know how to do a two-strand rope twist, head on over and check out that post. These instructions sort of build on that concept, so having a good basic knowledge of rope twists will really help.
Flat rope twists are a great way to go if you do not know how to cornrow but want to try out a cornrow-type style. However, if you think that you'll be saving time doing it this way rather than cornrowing, that's probably not the case. Rope twists take a great deal of time because you have to twist (and twist, and twist, and twist). Cornrows are just braids, which require no twisting. So they are definitely faster if you know how to do them.
The other downside to rope twists is that they are difficult to get really tight, so they tend to not last as long as cornrows. So if you're looking for a style that you want to get a lot of wear out of, this probably isn't going to get you much longer than a week, maybe two depending on your styling products and how well you do them.
The upside to flat rope twists is that they're not really tight. Yeah, I just said that's a downside. But it's an upside, too. Even if you start the twist out really tight, by the time you get to the rope section it has loosened up quite a bit. In fact, you don't want them to be too tight because that actually hides the shape of the rope. So you don't need to worry too much about putting too much stress on the scalp. And if you're gentle about not pulling too hard while twisting them, then it's a great style for finer baby hair and/or hair that might be a little brittle. Again, it won't last as long as cornrows, but you run less of a risk of stressing the scalp and/or breaking hair with them. Like I said, pluses and minuses.
As always, I try to detangle and plait Boo's hair the night before styling. This stretches her hair out (i.e., pulls some of the curl a bit straighter so it's not so kinky), thus making it easier for me to do intricate styles such as cornrows and these flat rope twists.
Last night I sectioned each side of her head into four sections, in diagonals going in opposite directions. I knew that I wanted smaller rows, but I wasn't about to part them until after her hair had been stretched a bit. So this morning I took one of the sections that I parted last night and divided it into two smaller sections this morning.
Two start the flat rope twist I make sure that the section of hair with which I am working is fully detangled, nicely moistured, and brushed through, using a soft bristle brush, with a styling cream for hold. I then start a rope twist just like I would any other rope twist, grabbing two sections and twisting each section by itself.
After the two sections are twisted (I twisted them clockwise), I then pass the right section over the left section counter-clockwise, just like a regular rope twist.
This is how you make them flat: Rather than just continuing to twist the two sections of hair over one another, with each pass I picked up a section of hair in the row and added it to the section of the rope in my right hand. I then twist that together to form a single section, and then passed it counter-clockwise over the section in my left hand.
I just repeat this step, adding hair from the row to the right-handed section, twist that together to clockwise, then pass it over the left-handed section counter-clockwise. Keep going until you reach the end of the row of hair and continue with the two sections working them into a regular two-strand rope twist.
Yes, this is the part where I like to get a little fancy. You can always pull the ropes into the ponytail on the side of their row, but my favourite thing to do (as I do this all the time) is to weave the strands in and out of one another and pull them into the ponytail on the opposite side of the row. It just adds and extra touch to the style.
These are what the finished flat twists rope twists look like. Like I mentioned before, if you do them too tightly then you smash the rope-look of the twists, which sort of defeats the purpose. So if you find that you're twisting and they don't look anything like rope twists, try loosing them them up a bit and see if that doesn't help.
Usually I do this style with just two puffs in the back, but now that Boo is in preschool I want for her to have those puffs more protected. So after pulling all the twists into the ponytail, I detangled the puff and created four new rope twists in the back. I have clips on the bottom of them in the above photo to weight them down while they dry. I don't plan on adding anything to the bottom of the twists. Boo's hair will stay twisted pretty well on it's own once it's dried in this style, and even if it does start to unravel a twist out wouldn't be so bad, either.
The finished look after nap. The twists in the back are dry and are holding together nicely (if she can keep her hands off of them). It took a while to do these, but everything was completed before lunch so not an insane amount of time.
We also have a Flat Rope Twist How-Two Video, so if these instructions are unclear, or you need further help, please check it out! ;-)