How To Plop Hair For Perfect Curls 

By  Emily Konatella

LAST UPDATED - December 11, 2023

If you haven't started hair plopping, you're seriously missing out. The time-tested, Tik-Tok-approved drying technique adds volume and enhances your natural curls while minimizing flyaways and frizzy hair.

This speedy guide will teach you how to plop hair for perfect curls every time. Along the way, we'll offer helpful tips to help you master this curly hair method in no time. While it may take some experimenting at first, you'll get the hang of it in no time!

What Is Hair Plopping?

Hair plopping is a drying technique designed for wavy and curly hair types 2C- 4C). The popular method involves 'plopping' your sopping wet curls on top of your head and wrapping them in a cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel until they're dry. This allows your curls to dry in their natural spiral shape without being affected by gravity, humidity, and fiddling hands.

Everyone's curls are a little different, so there's no one right way to plop curly hair. It may take a few tries to find the perfect combination of techniques, products, and dry times for your exact hair type. For example, extra length may require extra material to create a fully-covered, self-contained mound. Don't be afraid to ask your fellow curly girls for their hair-plopping routines!

How to Plop Hair in 5 Easy Steps

Here are the basics on how to nail the technique on your next wash day:

Step 1— Gather Your Supplies

Unlike other styling techniques, you don't need any fancy tools or products to plop curly hair. All you'll need is:

A T-Shirt or Microfiber Towel

Start with a long-sleeved shirt made from 100% cotton. The natural material is breathable and absorbent, helping your hair to air dry faster. Steer clear of athletic fabrics and shirts made with more than 25% polyester. They're notorious for causing frizz and leaving too much moisture behind.

If you've got short or fine hair, try a short-sleeve cotton t-shirt to eliminate extra fabric that can mess with your curl pattern. Don't be afraid to experiment with a few different head wraps. While some people swear by plopping with a microfiber towel, others prefer a large cotton handkerchief.

Here's a helpful tip: Lay your t-shirt or microfiber towel on a flat surface before you hit the shower. That way, you won't drip water all over the floor after hopping out of the shower.

Curl-enhancing Hair Products

The right products can make all the difference. A good curly hair product defines your curls and keeps them frizz-free for longer. Before you plop, scrunch in a handful of leave-in conditioner, curl cream, or gel. Finish with a bit of hairspray or hair oil when you've unveiled your masterpiece.

Step 2— Shampoo & Condition As Usual

Hair plopping is strictly reserved for wash days. Start with your usual routine of shampoo and conditioner (or perhaps a one-step cleansing conditioner). Scrunch out excess water after you get out of the shower. The key is not to dry your hair afterward but damp hair. Flip your head upside down and give your hair a quick detangle with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb before it starts to dry.

Step 3— Apply Your Desired Hair Products

Once you're out of the shower, it's time to prep your curls with your go-to hair products: curl cream, leave-in conditioner, mousse, gel, or whatever you prefer. With your head flipped upside down, scrunch in your desired product and get ready to plop. While adding it to sopping wet hair may seem counterintuitive, it's the key to success. Use a bit more than usual, so your t-shirt or microfiber towel can soak up the excess product.

Step 4— Wrap Your Hair In The T-Shirt

Here comes the hard part: wrapping your hair. Lay the t-shirt out flat and flip your hair upside-down onto the center. Try to keep all of your curls on top of your head so they flatten like an accordion.

Then, grab the far end of the shirt and fold it over your hair towards the nape of your neck. Be sure all of your hair is fully covered for even, bouncy curls. Holding the long sleeves, twist the edges of the tee until it's snug around your head. Wrap the sleeves around your head and tie or tuck them into place to keep the shirt from sliding off.

Step 5— Unwrap Your Curls

Once your hair dries to your desired level, unwrap the sleeves and remove the tee to let your curls free. Be gentle to avoid disrupting your hard-earned curls. Expect ample volume and well-defined curls, especially after a touch of oil for your split ends and some hair spray to fight frizz.

How Long Do You Plop Your Hair?

How long you plop your hair depends entirely on your hair type, length, and personal preference. While some people leave damp hair plopped for 10-20 minutes, others plop for at least an hour or two until their hair is fully dry. Some even swear by plopping overnight. Don't be afraid to experiment until you find the perfect length.

Does Hair Plopping Work On All Hair Types?

Unfortunately, hair plopping can't magically turn your straight hair curly. But it can enhance your natural waves and curls. Hair plopping is best-suited for hair types 3A-4B (and with some adjustments, hair types 2C and 4C too).

About the author

Emily is a fashion consultant, designer and creative director with more than 15 years experience creating, designing and developing clothing & jewelry. From managing pageant shows to turning concepts into actual designs, she has experience with almost all fabric types and jewelry designs and is in touch with the latest fashion trends.


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