101 Guide to Plopping Hair for Bouncy and Defined Curls

Do your bouncy wet curls loose most of their definition while drying? Plopping hair can make a ton of difference, enhancing volume and definition while reducing the nasty frizz. The best part, it takes just an old t-shirt and 20 minutes with a t-shirt plop to have a few good hair days ahead!

Read on to learn how to plop curly hair, how to use the plop method for wavy and short curly hair, and how to plop hair overnight.

What is Plopping?

Plopping is the method of drying wet curly hair by piling it on top or your head in a t-ship wrap. When you have your curly hair down during the air-dry stage, the heavy wet curls will stretch under their own weight; likewise, a classic towel wrap will make curls stretched and uneven. At the same time, plopping with a cotton t-shirt allows your curls to dry in a scrunched form on top of your head, which maximizes their definition and volume at the roots.

A cotton fabric absorbs excess water very well and doesn’t cause split ends or frizz (that’s what regular towels normally do). Since everyone has an old cotton t-shirt around and it is easy to tie the sleeves into a knot, a t-shirt plop has become the most popular option. However, you may use a cotton pillowcase or a microfiber towel for hair plopping too.

Plopping Method for Curly Hair Before and After

How to Wrap Hair in a T-Shirt

Get your t-shirt ready and wash your hair following the Curly Girl method or its modified variant. Apply a leave-in conditioner and the stylers you use on wet hair before plopping your hair! Then, wrap hair in a t-shirt following these steps:

Step 1: Lay your t-shirt on a lower flat surface and bend over it, placing your curls in the middle of the t-shirt.

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How to Plop Hair in a T Shirt Step 1

Step 2: Bring the side of the t-shirt that is closer to you to your forehead and bring the end together at the nape of your head.

How to Plop Hair in a T Shirt Step 2

Step 3: Bring the side of the t-shirt that is away from you to the nape of your head and press it to secure the ends you have brought before.

How to Plop Hair in a T Shirt Step 3

Step 4: Rise, while holding the sleeves in your hands and tugging them gently.

How to Plop Hair in a T Shirt Step 4

Step 5: Tighten the plop until it feels secure and tie the sleeves at the front. If the sleeves are long, you may need to bring them to the back and tie again or tuck the ends at the sides.

How to Plop Hair in a T Shirt Step 5

The instructions may sound confusing at first, but just a little practice will make you plop your hair in seconds, not even minutes! Might there be a contest for speed plopping?

How Long to Plop Hair

If you wash hair in the morning (during the day), plop hair for 10 to 20 minutes. Then, air dry or diffuse your curls. Otherwise, plop your hair overnight. Forget the horror stories about going to bed with wet hair – plopping saves the day. More than that, many curlies see much better results using this method, so it is best to try and see for yourself.

Plopping wet curly hair overnight is a great time saver, as you may head to bed right after your relaxing night shower. Besides, your hair will be just slightly damp in the morning, so 5 to 10 minutes of diffusing or simply having it air dry while you have breakfast will be enough. A quick tip: if your t-shirt becomes too wet and doesn’t let you get all the comfort while sleeping, plop hair for 10 minutes in one t-shirt and then tie a dry one for the night.

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Let us note that you can plop your hair dry too. Sleeping with a curly hair plop will help you preserve the curls overnight and get great definition in your second- and third-day curls. Feel free to spray hair with water or scrunch with hair oil before plopping.

Curly Hair Towel Wrap

As mentioned before, it is possible to plop curly hair in a towel, too. Two important things to remember here are:

  1. To use only a microfiber or a cotton towel (a piece of linen will do, too); the regular towel is a big no, as it will cause frizz and breakage in a gentle curly hair pattern;
  2. To pile all the hair on top, not letting the curls be inside the part of a towel that you twist to secure the wrap.

If you use a modern towel turban, put all of your hair into the hood and twist the end with no hair in it to tighten the wrap:

If you use a classic, rectangular towel, lay it flat before you and flip your head to place the curls in the middle. Then, take the two sides into your hands and start twisting them. When the towel is tight enough to keep your hair in place, rise and tie the twisted ends behind or in front of your head (do not overthink: you will know where to tie it, as the front or the back position will be more comfortable, depending on the direction for twisting you have chosen).

Plopping Wavy Hair

Have you ever scrunched your wet wavy hair to force more bends and curls in it? Plopping wavy hair works the same way, yet giving more definition at a shorter time. The longer you let your wavy hair rest in a scrunched position, the curlier it will become.

The technique of putting hair in a plop is basically the same, only products that you use on your hair will differ. When you have wavy hair, you need to use lighter stylers. Also, this hair type does not crave moisture as much as curly and coily hair does, so there is no need to use oils to lock the moisture inside. Do scrunch your hair a dozen times before plopping it to get the structure you want to be retained and enhanced in a plop!

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Related Post: 12 Tricks to Modify the Curly Girl Method for Wavy Hair in 2021

Does Plopping Work for Short Curly Hair?

Some curlies see perfect results even with long pixie cuts, while other say plopping leaves weird strands in their short hair. If this is your case, try plopping for up to 5 minutes.

A useful hack for girls with a curly bob is not to flip hair to gather all hair at the top, as short hair at the back will not make it anyway. Instead, slightly bend your head and cover it with a t-shirt. Bring the curls at the back close to your scalp, and press them with a shirt; then bring the ends forward and tie them in the front.

Otherwise, try micro plopping: scrunching hair with a cotton t-shirt or a microfiber towel to squeeze out excess water.

Whether you are perfectly satisfied with your mane or struggle to instill some springy nature into your curls, plopping is an absolute must-try. Combining impressive results with minimal efforts, the method makes many curlies fall in love at the first plop!

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