Plop Hair Woman

How to Plop Hair for Picture-Perfect Curls

How to Plop Hair for Picture-Perfect Curls

There are some hairstyles that are ubiquitous. For example, regardless of whether your hair is straight, curly, wavy, or coily, applying shampoo and conditioner is essentially the same. Those of us with curly hair, on the other hand, know how much time, planning, and preparation goes into attaining bouncy, immaculate spirals when it comes to drying and styling our locks. We don’t just wake up this way (most days, at least).

Plopping is one of the most popular drying procedures for curly hair. It may have an odd name, but it works like magic on wavy, curly, and coily strands, and it works on all hair lengths from short to long. Look no further if you’re unfamiliar with plopping or simply don’t know where to begin. We enlisted the help of a curly hair expert to learn the ins and outs of plopping hair.

Curly Hair Woman

If you have curls, you’ve probably noticed that when your hair is wet, your curls are smooth and defined, but when it’s dry, it’s a different story. Not only do you lose curl definition, but you also become prone to frizz. What you do to your hair between the wet and dry states is critical to having a good hair day, which brings us to the curly-hair plopping method.

Plopping is a technique that originated on NaturallyCurly’s forums and has become an essential part of our routine. You plop your wet hair after you’ve applied your styler but before you begin drying it. It will accordion your curls, allowing them to maintain their defined, spiral shape even after drying.

What is Curly Hair Plopping?

Plopping is a technique that involves drying your wet curls in a self-contained mound on top of your head with a cotton T-shirt (or pillowcase, or microfiber towel), which helps to increase definition and reduce frizz. It’s essentially the curly-approved alternative to wrapping a towel around your head.

Hair Plopping

Why is plopping preferable to the old twisted-towel scenario? Welp, because wrapping and twisting your curls in a towel causes them to become stretched out (from the twisting) and frizzy (from your rough, nubby towel). Plopping, on the other hand, keeps your wet curls compact and scrunched accordion-style on top of your head, keeping your roots volumized, curls clumped, and hair cuticle smooth (thanks to the soft cotton fabric).

Do you need a quick visual? See below (but don’t worry—continue reading for detailed instructions).

What are the Benefits of Plopping Curly Hair?

While hair plopping has been around for a while, people with curly hair have had little guidance in the mainstream media on how to make their curls look luxurious and voluminous after a wash until recently. Curls have never looked better, thanks to the abundance of hair products designed specifically for curly hair and the hair plopping trend that has taken over social media.

For starters, non-optimal drying methods can easily weigh down curls and waves. Curl patterns are naturally pulled down by the weight of water and hair products before hair has a chance to dry. As a result, the waves or curls are loose, stretched, and kind of meh. Hair plopping is fantastic because it actively works against this, giving curl patterns a fighting chance of surviving the drying process intact.

Plop Hair for Picture-Perfect Curls

Furthermore, plopping cuts your post-shower cleaning time in half. After washing and conditioning your hair, you’ll usually apply a leave-in texturizing product and scrunch your curls to encourage the curl pattern to become more compact. Plopping does a lot of scrunching for you because it presses your hair to your head and keeps it there for a long time, resulting in better definition and volume.

Finally, hair plopping can significantly shorten the drying time of your hair, especially if you frequently let your curls air dry. Plopping removes a lot of the excess moisture that would otherwise be absorbed before drying, without causing frizz. Furthermore, it absorbs any excess product if you apply it too thickly.

How Do You Style Curly Hair?

The hair should be washed and conditioned. The standard shampoo and conditioning treatment is the first step in good plopping. Choose your favorite formulas and try leaving a small quantity of conditioner in the hair, just enough to give it a smooth, slippery feel. This will add hydration to your hair as well as serve as a primer for your style products.

  • After showering, avoid touching your curls. Hair should be extremely damp at this stage, but don’t start wringing it out just yet. Instead, turn your head upside down and shake it from side to side gently. This will let you get rid of extra water without having to mess with your curls.
  • Gather your hairstyling supplies. Using your hands, dispense a glob of your favorite gel and/or leave-in over the curls, evenly scattering it. Next, squeeze the ends up to your roots while squeezing out all that extra water. Then, with the rest of your styling products, repeat the process. You should be able to see your spirals becoming more defined at this stage.
  • Using a microfiber towel or a t-shirt, plop hair. To squeeze out the excess water, use a short-sleeved t-shirt or a microfiber towel. It is recommended pulling the shirt or towel over the nape of your neck, crisscrossing it towards the front of your head, and gently flipping it up. And there you have it! Your hair has been plopped.
  • Leave the hair soaked for 15 to 45 minutes. Some people even sleep with their hair plopped overnight. Finding out what works best for you may require some trial and error. Choose a period that results in bouncy, powerful curls rather than flat, shattered curls.

How Often Should You Plop Curly Hair?

The goal of plopping is to speed up the drying process while keeping the curl shape as defined and frizz-free as possible. So, hair pros agree, it’s perfectly fine to plop every time you wash and style your hair.

T-shirt vs Towel Drying Hair

Instead of using a towel to dry your hair after a shower, use a cotton T-shirt. This is why:

When hair is wet, it becomes weaker and softer. If we use a regular towel to dry it, the towel’s grooves become aggressors to the hair’s cuticle. Towels absorb all of the moisture from our hair when what we want to do is absorb the excess water without removing the moisture that keeps our hair from frizzing.

What’s the Point of Wearing a Cotton Shirt?

The T-shirt will absorb excess water while preventing frizz. Because T-shirts lack the rough grooves of towels, the flat surface allows water to sink in and slide over the hair rather than roughing it up.

A microfiber towel is an excellent substitute for a regular towel because it’s lightweight and provides the same soothing benefits as a T-shirt. This drying method is especially beneficial for people with curly hair, who are all too familiar with frizzy hair disasters. A T-shirt or microfiber towel, as opposed to thick, fluffy towels, will dry your strands without disrupting your natural curl pattern.

How to Plop Your Hair with a T-Shirt?

So, depending on what you’re using, there are a few different ways to plop your hair (i.e., a T-shirt, a microfiber towel, or a pillowcase). I’ve tried all three, and I’ve discovered that using a T-shirt—specifically, a giant long-sleeved one—produces the best, most consistent results. Keeping this in mind, here’s how to plop curly hair:

  • Get yourself a big T-shirt the internet’s unofficial favorite pick? An XXL long-sleeve cotton T-shirt
  • Before you hop in the shower lay your T-shirt upside down—with the sleeves and neck hole closest to you—on your bathroom counter, or a chair.
  • After showering and applying your stylers (specifically, the stylers you’d normally use on your wet hair, such as leave-in conditioner or gel) flip your wet hair over and onto the center of the T-shirt, pressing your head down on the curls like an accordion.
  • With your head/hair still upside down reach up and grab the bottom of the shirt, laying it over your hair/head (so it touches the nape of your neck and completely covers your hair). You’re essentially wrapping your curls in a protective bag.
  • While holding the edges of the shirt grab the sleeves near your forehead at the nape of your neck and twist them together to tighten the “bag” around your head.
  • Wrap the twisted sleeves tie them around your head to keep the shirt from sliding or falling off. Congratulations—you did it correctly if you look like you’re wearing a wet helmet.

When you flip your head over, your curls will be perfectly nestled on top of your head like a bunch of compressed Slinkies, allowing them to dry in their natural formation, unaffected by gravity, humidity, or the roughness of a towel. That means that by the time you unwrap the shirt, your curls will have started to dry with better definition and volume, and no frizz.


Is plopping Bad for your Hair?

Plopping is a heat-free styling technique that reduces drying time while not damaging your hair. It adds definition and reduces frizz by preventing you from touching your curls while they dry.

Is Air-drying Hair Bad for CUrly Hair?

When you air-dry your hair, you maximize the amount of time it retains moisture. The longer your hair stays wet, the more the cortex of your hair will swell and break, resulting in brittle ends and a lot of flyaways.

Why are microfiber towels better for hair?

Because microfiber towel fibers are more densely packed than standard towel fibers, they reduce drying time. They are designed with a split feature in a hair towel to wick water and help your hair dry faster. Microfiber towel wraps eliminate the need to ruffle your hair.

Are cotton T-shirts good for drying hair?

Cotton t-shirts, like microfiber towels for hair, are soft and do not catch on the hair strands or cause breakage. Cotton t-shirts’ fibers are also woven closer together, so they absorb water without over-drying your hair. We must say, this is a hair hack worth attempting!

What is the Healthiest Way to Dry your Curly Hair?

Combining the two is the best way to keep your locks luscious and healthy. It is recommended that you let your hair air-dry 70-80% of the way before blow-drying it completely. This method will keep your hair healthy while also keeping it looking sleek and styled.

Is it better to air dry curly hair?

No Heat: Overheating your hair (whether with a flat iron or a hairdryer) can dehydrate it and harm the health of your curls. Air drying is ideal for healthy curls because it prevents heat damage and dry/split ends.

How to Keep Curls after Plopping?

Cotton also absorbs your hair’s natural oils while you sleep, dehydrating your strands. To combat this, try wrapping your hair in a silk scarf or sleeping on a silk pillowcase, which will help preserve your curl pattern while also reducing the amount of friction they’re exposed to throughout the night.

How do you plop curly hair without making it frizzy?

Before scrunching, use a leave-in conditioner to keep your hair hydrated. Then, to reduce frizz, finish with an oil serum. Curly hair necessitates the reinforcement of the curl pattern, as well as plenty of hydration and minimal frizz. Curly hair requires moisture, so a leave-in conditioner or curl cream is essential.

Does plopping hair make it curlier?

Because your hair is drying on top of your head rather than being weighed down, plopping can create lift at the roots if you have fine hair or looser waves. And if your waves or curls disappear or look limp on some days, this will enhance your curl pattern by scrunching up the curls while they dry.

Is it OK to plop hair overnight?

Plopping is a method developed by the Naturally Curly curl community years ago to help encourage curl formation and prevent frizz while drying. Your curls will be held in place if you sleep with your hair in a plop overnight, so they don’t dry all funky and weird if you move in your sleep.

Do you put mousse in before plopping?

Certainly before. This helps to hold your curls in place. You should also decide on the level of wetness that works best for your curls, such as dripping wet, soaking wet, or just wet.

Can You Plop if You Have Straight Hair?

In general, plopping only applies to curly hair, but Emilio says it’s similar to using a towel turban after getting out of the shower in terms of technique. Traditional towels are too thick and rough on fragile curls, so a t-shirt or microfiber towel is recommended for plopping instead of a terry-cloth towel. “They cause too much friction, which causes frizz,” Emilio explains. Straight-haired friends don’t have to worry about this as much, but if you want to reduce frizz (and breakage), reach for an old tee instead.

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Sphie Ross

Sophie Ross has written, edited, and produced beauty and fashion content for more than 3 years. She works full-time in the fashion and beauty categories as a copywriter, but she is passionate about all things related to beauty.