How to Plop Hair – In 7 Simple Steps

By Leah Williams •  Updated: 01/03/22

Plopping has taken the internet by storm and curly-haired girls everywhere have rejoiced. In this article, I will show you how to plop hair in seven easy steps .

I’ve scoured the web for the latest info on the process, from listicles to forums.

There is, however, a caveat to this style of drying. Based on my research, plopping works best on people with wavy to loose curly hair. In hairstylist speak, these are hair types 2A to 2B. These textures benefit the most from the frizz-banishing method.

For the uninitiated, plopping is a hair drying technique using a cotton t-shirt, instead of a towel. Since it doesn’t use heat or a rough towel, it reduces frizz and speeds up hair drying. A lot of women who practice the curly hair method are fans.

In this artice, I’ll explain its benefits and detail the steps required to help you get the curl definition you’ve always dreamed of.

Let’s get started.

What is Hair Plopping?

Experts have preached the benefits of air drying wet hair sans heat but using a terry cloth towels to mop up damp strands actually has a drawback. Towel wrapping is too rough on curly hair and stretches your curls. A terry cloth towel increases frizz because of its coarse texture.

Enter: hair plopping. If you have scrolled through hairstyling hacks on TikTok and Youtube, you may have come across a few videos that demonstrate how to plop. The curly hair-friendly hair drying method is simple. After drenching your hair in product, you flip your head and arrange your curls accordion-style into a mound on top of your head. Then, you tie the ends of a shirt (or a microfiber towel or pillowcase) behind your head to keep your strands in place.

The term comes from the act of bending down to lay your mane on top of the tee. The method preserves the look of your curls while it’s wet so that it dries beautifully.

The shirt absorbs water and excess leave-in conditioner or curl cream without altering the texture of the hair or causing crunchiness. You can, of course, blowdry your locks with a diffuser afterward.

How to Plop Hair

Step 1. Cleanse

This technique works best on freshly washed strands. After shampooing and conditioning, squeeze out excess water. You may use a separate secondary t-shirt or microfiber towel to pre-dry the strands so it’s not dripping wet.

Step 2. Apply Product

Distribute product through wet hair. Divide your hair in sections to make application even.

Not sure which products to use? Try the LOC Method, which is short for leave-in conditioner, oil, and cream. Apply the products in that order to help the hair hold on to as much moisture as possible. The hair needs moisture for defined curls.

Step 3. Place a T-Shirt or Towel on a Flat Surface

Lay your cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel on a flat surface. This can be your bed, the bathroom counter, a table or a chair—whatever works best. Make sure the collar or sleeves of the shirt of is the end closest to you.

Some people swear by using an old oversized tee. A shirt with long sleeves is helpful because you can tie the sleeves easily to secure the hair.

Step 4. Flip the Hair Forward into the Center of the T-Shirt or Towel

Now, it’s time for the bend and flip. Stand in front of the t-shirt or towel and turn your head upside down, bending from the waist, so that the hair plops into the center of the fabric.

Your locks should be accordioned on top of your head. Lower your hair, allowing your curls to pile up naturally and stopping once your crown reaches the surface.

Step 5. Wrap the T-Shirt or Towel Around Your Head

Keeping the head flipped, reach for the end of the shirt or towel behind the nape of your neck and lift it up to cover your hair. Take the sleeves or the left and right ends of the towel and twist them behind your head in a knot to keep the strands in place.

If you’re using a long-sleeved tee or a towel, fabric may be hanging loose by the side of your ears. You can twist and tie them on top of your crown. Fold in any loose sections into the turban so they don’t come undone.

Step 6. Leave It On

Wait for the hair to completely dry, which can take around 20 minutes to 6 hours, depending on your hair texture. You may also leave it on overnight.

Curly, coarse, and long hair will take longer to dry than short and fine locks. If you’re on a time crunch, it’s perfectly fine to plop for 15 to 20 minutes then air dry the hair as you go about your day.

It’ll take some trial and error to find the duration that works best for your hair and the climate you live in.

Step 7. Dry or Diffuse

When your hair has completely or partially dried, untie the knots and release the curls from their shackles. This is the perfect time to add other hair products and finger comb the hair. Fluff it up or shake it out. Let it air dry or use a diffuser to finish.

Using a T-Shirt Vs Towel

This method works so well for curly hair because it’s less abrasive than using a terrycloth towel. This means you avoid roughing up the hair cuticle, which leads to a frizzy appearance.

These fabrics are also absorbent so they help the hair dry quicker without disrupting your curl pattern. Thankfully, there are towels created for plopping as more people are discovering this technique.

The Benefits of Plopping

  1. Defines curls
    Plopping works the way scrunching does. Just as cupping curly hair upwards preserves their shape, plopping retains the body of waves and tendrils, which helps them set in shape as they dry.
  2. Does not weigh down the hair
    When you’re drying your hair the old-fashioned way, the strands are pulled downwards because of the weight of water and styling products. This stretches out your curls and make them look limp. Drying your hair with a shirt prevents this by, in a sense, defying gravity so your curls look as bodacious as they were fresh out of the shower.
  3. Reduces drying time
    A shirt or microfiber towel are made of lightweight fabrics that absorb moisture while letting the strands breathe. This significantly decreases drying time.
  4. Gives your roots a lift
    T-shirt drying helps give your crown a voluminous look, thanks to the accordion effect. Curls sit on the head, instead of being dragged down by gravity, which helps your roots appear fuller.
  5. Prevents frizz
    The smoother texture of a t-shirt keeps your curls looking shiny and healthy. This does wonders for defining curls, as well.

Summing Up

Hopefully, the information in this piece shed some light on the virtues of hair plopping and how to integrate it in your hair routine. It’s really not as hard as it looks and with these simple steps, you’ll be a seasoned plopper in no time.

Leah Williams

Leah Williams is the founder of Lucky Curl and has been in the hair care and styling industry for the last 15 years. Since then, she has developed incredible expertise and a deep understanding of how to treat and style the most difficult hair types and is passionate about sharing her knowledge with the readers of Lucky Curl.

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