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How to Plop Hair

In my journey from Hair Novice to what I would comfortably call Hair Intermediate, I’ve definitely come across some interestingly-named curly hair hacks that have made me take a second look. First, it was co-washing, then pineappling, and now: plopping. And like both of its predecessors, it’s being hailed as a must-try for anyone with curly hair who wants an easy routine that leaves you with beautiful, frizz-free curls. 

What does it mean to “plop” your hair?

My favorite hair and beauty hacks are the ones that are so smart and simple that they make me think “seriously, how did I not think of that?” Essentially, plopping is just what it sounds like: after applying your go-to moisturizing curly hair products, just plop your hair down onto a microfiber towel or old long-sleeved t-shirt, and wrap your hair up and let it dry for a bit. It’s being lauded as a smart way to get defined, frizz-free curls without any of the usual stress that comes from styling. Those with curly hair know firsthand how important the right routine is to maintain bouncy, defined curls, and often this can mean a lot of struggling and patient styling to get the desired effect. But that’s why plopping is such a smart technique — you’re essentially letting the microfiber towel do all of the styling work, and you’re free to go about the rest of your morning routine, stress-free. Interested in trying plopping on your own curls? Let’s discuss the top tips (plop tips?) and techniques behind this viral trend.

Tips for plopping hair

Along with being a super easy routine to follow, another great part about the plopping technique is that it probably won’t require getting anything other than what you already have on hand. First stop: raiding either your bathroom storage or bedroom closet...

1. Choose the right towel

Either a microfiber towel or t-shirt will work with this technique — the key is to avoid traditional terry cloth towels. While definitely absorbent, these towels can do their job a little too well, removing essential moisture that curly locks need, while also roughening up the cuticle and causing frizz. I’m a big fan of the AQUIS hair turban, since it basically does all of the wrapping and securing work for you, but a regular microfiber towel or old t-shirt will still do the trick well if you adhere to the rest of this haircare routine.

Davines LOVE Curl and Smoothing Essential Haircare

photo by @goldandglowco

2. Shampoo and condition your hair

Once you’ve decided between a microfiber towel or an old t-shirt, plopping starts with clean, freshly-washed hair. Even though we’ll be applying curl styling products as the next step, you should also start with a strong base. Wash your hair with a curl moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to ensure that your curls and waves have a head start toward moisture and definition. Or if you’re struggling with how to fix frizzy hair, use an anti-frizz shampoo or conditioner with anti-frizz action to help fight flyaways from the start. Then once you’re out of the shower, gently squeeze out any excess water to avoid over-saturating your towel when it’s time to plop.

3. Apply your curl-enhancing products

Next, apply your favorite curl-enhancing products and evenly distribute them throughout. If you’re looking for some new recommendations and aren’t sure where to start, try a leave-in curl serum: you’ll get defined, elastic and soft curls, that will leave your hair moisturized without being too weighed down. Another smart choice is a curl-building serum, which also adds elasticity and shine to curls, while blocking out frizz and outside humidity.

4. Lay your hair on the towel

Next comes the actual plopping part: after laying your microfiber towel or t-shirt onto a flat surface, gently lay your head on top of it and wrap the fabric around your hair. Scrunch and arrange your hair to make sure that all strands are within the fabric, then either wrap up the towel or tie the arms of your t-shirt into a secure knot. 

5. Let your curls rest

And now, the easiest part: the waiting period as you let your hair air dry. You’ll want to let your curls dry in the towel for at least 20-30 minutes, but this is also a great overnight hair trick to start the day with the fastest morning routine ever. If you’re plopping your hair as a part of your morning shower, just move onto the rest of your pre-work routine and let your curls get defined all by themselves. I personally like to do my plopping first thing, then move onto makeup and breakfast while I let it sit, but the right plopping routine is all personal preference.

6. Enjoy your perfect curls!

After unwrapping your hair from the towel, use your fingertips to gently separate and work through the curls. You should now be able to enjoy beautiful, frizz-free curls for days since plopping is also a great way to help lock in your curls with a shiny, defined shape. If you’re noticing your scalp getting a little too oily, try applying some dry shampoo instead of showering, to help prolong the life of your newly-plopped hair. For more tips and tricks on how to use dry shampoo, be sure to check out our previous blog post.

Wavy curl hair

photo by @blackprints

Benefits of plopping your hair

Aside from the relative ease and accessibility of this routine, plopping is a great way to get your best-looking curls ever.

Reduced drying time

With plopping, the towel is really doing all of the work. By letting it aid in the drying process and not having to turn to a diffuser, you’re going to have a faster morning routine and ultimately healthier-looking hair.

Softer, more defined curls

Another great thing about plopping is that your curls will actually end up looking softer and more defined. The t-shirt or microfiber towel will partially absorb excessive hair product, which will help you avoid the dreaded dry, crunchy-looking curls that can come from using too much stuff on your hair.

More volume

Who can say no to more voluminous hair? Gathering your hair at the top of your hair while it dries will create more lift at the root, leaving you with significantly more voluminous-looking hair. This technique also means your curls will end up looking more defined as well: since the towel is scrunching and securing your hair at the top of your head, it’s reinforcing the curl pattern, and will leave you with beautiful, ultra-defined, and glossy-looking curls.

Less frizz

And of course, one of the main benefits of the hair plopping technique is that it helps to fight frizz. Microfiber towels are much more gentle on the hair than traditional terry cloth ones: this means that while they absorb just as well, they won’t be rough on the cuticle, which can lead to lifeless looking curls and damaged hair. The plopping technique will give you all of the convenience of shiny, effortless-looking curls, minus any of the frizz that curly-haired folks have come to fear.

So the next time your curls are ready for a wash day, give plopping a try — I suspect you (and most importantly, your curls) will be really happy you did. If you’ve tried the plopping technique, or have other curl-enhancing tips and tricks you’d like to share, let us know in the comments below!

By Lauren Hannel, staff contributor

cover photo by @blackprints

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