Rope braids are technically not true braids, as they require a hair elastic to keep them from falling apart. Rather than being held together using a woven technique, rope braids rely on opposing tension to form the braid. Many people find rope braiding initially confusing because of the confusion caused by remembering when to twist clockwise and anti-clockwise; however, once the technique is learned rope braiding is extremely fast – quicker than a regular 3-strand plait. The resulting braids look much more complicated than they are!
How to Make a Two-Strand Rope Braid
- Divide your hair in half at the nape of the neck.
- Hold each half in a different hand, close to the scalp. Twist both halves in the same direction. It doesn’t matter which direction you use as long as you use the opposite direction later –in these instructions, you will be twisting clockwise, or to the right.
- Once both halves are twisted tightly for the top few inches of hair, twist the strands around each other in an anti-clockwise direction (opposite from the way you previously twisted them). This means the right-hand half goes to the left of the left-hand half by passing it over the top.
- Continue twisting the two halves clockwise for a few more inches.
- Twist the strands around each other in an anti-clockwise direction once again.
- Continue braiding in this manner down the length of the hair – twisting both strands clockwise, and then around each other anti-clockwise.
- Once you reach the end of your hair, hold the braid secure and use a hair elastic to prevent the braid unravelling. The strands and the braid will both want to untwist in opposite directions, but the opposing tensions and hair elastic will prevent them.
An Alternative Method for Two-Strand Rope Braiding
If the above method is confusing, it can be helpful to start using this method. This technique produces a braid that is slower to execute and not quite as neat, but it makes the principles of rope braiding clearer and is useful for beginners.
- Divide the hair in half at the nape of the neck.
- Take the right-hand half of your hair and twist it clockwise (to the right), all the way down until the entire strand of hair is twisted. Secure this twist by getting a friend to hold it, or hold it in your mouth (not glamorous, but efficient!)
- Take the left-hand half of your hair and do the same, making sure it is twisted clockwise, the same way as the other half.
- Hold both twists and twist them around each other anti-clockwise (to the left). It can be helpful to think about one strand only, imagining it winding to the left over and over the other strand.
- Secure the rope braid.
How to Make a Rose Bun
Rose buns are so named because the sections of a rope braid look like the petals of a rose when bunned.
To make a rose bun, take the finished rope braid and twist the whole thing a few times to tighten it up. Wrap the length of the braid around the base in a spiral, just as if you were making a regular bun ; tuck the end of the braid under the bun and use hair-friendly pins to secure.
How to Make a Hawser Braid
Hawser braids look similar to square four-strand braids, but are much easier to make. To make a hawser braid, make two identical rope braids close together at the back of the head. Then rope braid those braids together. You’ll need to twist both braids the same way (clockwise) and then wrap them around each other the opposite way (anticlockwise). Once they have been braided together remove the hair elastics and secure the braid with a single hair elastic.