How To

How to Plop Hair for the Most Beautifully Defined Curls

Woman with towel wrapped around her head.

How to plop hair for beautiful curls? If you’re the type to prefer low-effort beauty hacks, then this one’s for you. With this guide, you’ll be able to create defined curls without the use of heat and by simply enhancing the natural hair shape. For this technique, all you need to do is wrap your hair using a microfiber towel or a cotton t-shirt. No need to worry about heat or using too many hair products! Sounds silly? Not at all. Read on to learn how you can use these simple items to make hair styling much easier.


Natural Curly Girl Method: What is Plopping?

Before you learn how to plop hair, it’s best you understood what it actually is first. Hair plopping is a method of maintaining the texture of curly or wavy hair using a cotton shirt or a microfiber towel. By wrapping your wet curls using one of these items, not only will you be able to boost curl definition, you’ll also reduce the amount of frizz. It’s no different from wrapping a towel around your head to dry hair, but with a few other steps involved.

How does plopping work? Unlike simply twisting your hair in a towel to dry it off, which can damage it, plopping curly hair requires a touch of care. For example, your wet curls are kept compact and then scrunched down on top of your head. By doing this, you maintain volume at the roots, your hair cuticle will stay smooth, and your curls will stay clumped. This is thanks to using cotton fabric, so don’t just use any old shirt or towel!

There are other techniques for heatless curls similar to this, including the sock bun, hair braiding, using a headband, and using spoolies. Compared to using hot styling tools, these will cause zero damage and keep the natural texture of your hair. Like hair plopping, these also work great for different hair types. If you feel up to it, you can also maintain its natural shape better by learning how to cut your own hair.


How to Plop Hair: Tools and Products

Woman holding hair product.
Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels

Ready to give this method a try? Before you get started with the curly hair routine steps, you’ll need to prepare a few items and hair care products to ensure the best results. Here are some of the things that you’ll need:

  • Curl Cream
  • Leave-in Shampoo Conditioner
  • Defining Hair Gel
  • A Cotton Shirt or Microfiber Towel
  • Hair Tie (optional)
  • A Blow Dryer with a Diffuser (optional)

Cotton Shirt and Microfiber Towel vs. Regular Hair Towel – Which One is Best for Plopping Curly Hair?

How to plop curly hair? Wavy curly hair can be quite delicate and requires a bit of extra care, especially when it comes to drying. Regular hair towels, such as those made of terry cloth, create too much friction and may damage the cuticles in the process. As such, it can leave curly hair looking frayed and brittle. 

To avoid this, switch to using old cotton shirts or specially made microfiber towels that do not contain the same harsh fibers. These will not damage the hair cuticle and actually help with lessening the amount of frizz. Not only that, if you do it the right way, you can maintain the definition and bounciness of your curls during the drying process as well.

Because both cotton shirts and microfiber towels will dry your hair by absorbing any excess moisture, while also removing excess product, you won’t end up with lifeless or crunchy curls. With this method, you can create the kind of texture you like, such as cute ringlets or flowy waves that are perfect for the soft girl aesthetic!


How to Plop Hair with a Cotton Shirt

A folded cotton t-shirt for hair plopping.
Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata on Pexels

There are many different methods for hair plopping. However, using a shirt is the easiest of them all. Our tip is to use a long-sleeved one to make wrapping a lot easier to do. With that in mind, here’s how to wrap your hair in a shirt:

  1. Get a big shirt, preferably an XXL, and one that has long sleeves. This will provide you with enough fabric to work with, so you don’t end up squishing your hair curls just to fit it inside the shirt.
  2. Now, to plop. Before getting into the shower, lay your shirt upside down on a clean flat surface. The neck and sleeves should be close to you. This is best done before you get into the shower so you don’t have to rush when your hair is still sopping wet. 
  3. Once you’re done with the shower, apply your usual hair care products and styles. This includes your hair oil, your curl defining cream, anti-frizz products, and so on. 
  4. Next, flip your wet hair over and onto the center of your cotton shirt. Carefully, press your head down on the curls like you would an accordion. 
  5. While your head is still upside down, grab the bottom of your shirt and wrap it around your head. It should touch your nape and completely cover your damp hair. Remember, cover it but don’t twist it around your hair.
  6. To secure it, twist the sleeves near your forehead to tighten the wrap. Once done, you should look like you’re wearing a helmet on your head. It shouldn’t tug on your hair curly as well. If it is, you might want to repeat the steps and make sure no hair pieces were accidentally twisted in with the fabric.
  7. The next step is to air dry your hair. Some people also choose to do overnight curls. Air drying allows your curls to dry in their natural hair formation and also lessens the roughness created by rubbing a towel on them.
  8. You can choose to use a blow dryer if you don’t have enough time to wait for it to dry naturally. Do make sure you use a protective product to lessen possible heat damage to your hair.


How to Plop Hair with a Microfiber Towel?

A set of microfiber towels.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

There are specially made microfiber towels meant to be used as a hair wrap. These come with Velcro strips or elastic edges to help you secure them in place. Here are the curly girl method steps when using a towel:

  1. Once you’ve washed your hair and applied all your hair products, lay your rectangular towel on a flat surface. Next, flip your curls as close to the middle as possible. 
  2. After this, take either side with your hands and start twisting them. To give yourself more fabric to work with, make sure you choose a large towel.
  3. When you feel that the wrap is tight enough and secured in place, slowly bring the twisted ends toward the front of your head. You can also choose to tie it in the back, but it’s easier to do it in the front so you can check using a mirror. Secure the knot with a hair tie so it doesn’t come loose while you dry curly hair.
  4. After, allow your hair to air dry or use a blowdryer to hasten the process. 


How to Plop Short Hair

You might think that plopping hair only works for longer lengths, but this isn’t the case. Even those with longer pixie cuts can benefit from this technique. You only need to follow the same steps as above, but with a few minor adjustments. Here’s how to dry curly hair properly:

  1. Instead of flipping all of your damp hair forward, bend your head backward instead. This is to make sure that even the shorter hair at the back of your head gets wrapped up as well.
  2. Bring the curls close to your scalp and gently press with a shirt. Tie the sleeves at the front of your head to secure the wrap. This is similar to what you’d do if you’re wrapping your head with a silk scarf.
  3. You also have the option of micro plopping. This is basically scrunching your hair carefully with a microfiber towel or a cotton shirt to remove any excess water. 

While you’re at it, check out more cool ideas on how you can style short hair easily.


How to Plop Hair – How Long Should You Leave It On? 

As for how long you should keep the wrap on, there’s no right or wrong answer. Whether you have curly wavy hair, mostly depends on the length and thickness of your hair. Some people get great results after just five to ten minutes of hair plopping. Others tend to leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes, while there are those who like overnight curls best. We suggest experimenting on the length of time to find the right one for your specific hair type.


Once You Learn How to Plop Hair, You’ll Find it Hard to Stop!

By learning how to plop hair, you would be able to save precious minutes when it comes to styling your hair. This is great for women who barely have enough time during the mornings to get prepped before starting their day. Not only that, you’ll be able to maintain the natural curl pattern of your hair and even prevent possible damage from using heated styling tools. So whether you have wavy, curly, or even straight hair, don’t be afraid to experiment and give the curly hair method your personal touch!