Your Complete Guide to Hair Plopping for Perfect Curls

Updated 10/23/19
Product Disclosure

When I heard the term "hair plopping," I thought the technique was something I hadn't tried before. But, with a little research, I realized I've been plopping for the past few months. Instead of using the method in the morning, I have used the popular curly method at night using a silk scarf to protect my curls and following that up with a cotton t-shirt. 

Using a cotton t-shirt on my hair was a tried and true method until I realized using that to dry my hair made it frizzy. I prefer a microfiber towel if I dry my hair sans the plopping. The one thing I love about this method is it seems to work for a range of curl types for 2 type hair to some "4" hair types. Depending on your hair concerns, you should always feel free to adjust a haircare system to your own personal needs. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to hairstyling. 

Here I'll answer the basic questions you may have about hair plopping, and give you the details on why you should never use a towel to dry your curls again. 

What is hair plopping?

To put it simply, hair plopping is a heat-free styling technique that helps cut down on drying time while keeping frizz at bay since it will keep you from touching your curls while they dry. 

Does this method work on all hair types?

Like any hair method, it can take some trial and error to get a new technique to give you the results you're hoping for. As a 4c girl, I can say that hair plopping has been a great tool for stretching my curls and cutting down on my styling time, but I have adjusted a few things in the method. I do turn my head over, but I don't lay my curls in the middle of the towel. I think that step works well for hair types that scrunch while drying. I also secure my hair with a silk scarf first, then wrap a t-shirt around the scarf to absorb the moisture. 

What do I need to try hair plopping?

  • A leave-in conditioner
  • Defining hair gel
  • Hair tie
  • A blowdryer with a diffuser (optional)
  • A shirt or microfiber towel

Why use a t-shirt versus a towel? Before I had a one on one with a curly stylist, I used a towel to dry my hair. Little did I know, I was doing more harm than good as my hair needs a lot of water to stay hydrated. T-shirts and microfiber cloths soak up access moisture without causing frizz or disrupting the cuticle of the hair

  1. Start With Freshly Washed Wet Hair

    hair plopping
     Bianca Lambert

    Every curly stylist I've talked to recommends doing my entire hair routine in the shower from washing to layering my products so that I can keep my hair soaking wet. When plopping my curls, I like to use a creamy leave-in conditioner like Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream since it helps keep my hair hydrated without weighing it down and a gel-like DevaCurl's Ultra Defining Hair Gel that gives definition without the crunch. Next, I give my curls a shake up and down and side to side to loosen my curls without touching to prevent frizz.

    Shea Butter Leave in Conditioning Repair Cream
    Cantu Shea Butter Leave in Conditioning Repair Cream $6
    Shop
    DevaCurl
    DevaCurl Ultra Defining Gel Strong Hold Curl Styler $24
    Shop
  2. Grab Your T-Shirt Or Microfiber Towel

    Take your t-shirt (microfiber towel), and lay it on a flat surface with the sleeves facing you. I prefer to place the t-shirt at the nape of my neck while I'm folded over in the mirror.

    MICROFIBER HAIR TOWEL - LEOPARD
    Kitsch Microfiber Towel $23
    Shop
  3. Set Your Curls

    hair plopping 2
     Bianca Lambert

    Gently fold over from the waist, place your curls in the center of the fabric with the t-shirt and position the t-shirt at the nape of your neck; if you're using the traditional method to plop your curls. If you want to stretch the hair, I recommend wrapping the hair without scrunching your curls in the towel like an accordion. You might need a little help securing the ends of the hair, so have a hair tie like Snappee No-Crease Hair Ties nearby.

    Snappee
    Snappee No-Crease Hair Tie $19.97
    Shop
  4. Fold The Sleeves

    hair plopping
     Bianca Lambert

Now take the sleeves of the shirt and tie them in a knot behind your head. You should have created a turban. Depending on your hair texture, you'll wait for 10- 20 minutes for the excess water to absorb. For type 4 hair, I recommend leaving your hair wrapped overnight.

After you follow these steps, if your hair isn't completely dry, you can give it a good shake and let it air dry, or grab a blowdry and diffuser to finish the process, keeping the heat on low. No matter which you choose, keep your fingers out of your hair to prevent unwanted frizz and let your hair be.

Supersonic Hair Dryer
Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer $399
Shop
Drybar The Bouncer Diffuser
Drybar The Bouncer Diffuser $34
Shop

The more you plop your curls, you will find new ways to make it work even better for your specific hair.

Related Stories