The Secret to Smooth, Frizz-Free Curls Is in Your Closet
The old T-shirts you've been hoarding actually have a purpose.
Thanks to TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, there are endless hacks for styling curly hair.
However, if you're not down for wasting your time on tricks that simply don't work (or worse, result in breakage), plopping is a tried-and-true method of drying your hair that results in smooth, bouncy curls.
Plopping might sound like some dance craze, but the technique involves zero coordination. Seriously, if you can twist your hair into a towel after you get out of the shower, you'll 100% be able to plop your curls.
Read on to find out more about the technique.
So, What Exactly Is Plopping Your Hair?
Speaking of towels, it's common practice to dry your hair by twisting it up into one. What you might not know is that wrapping your hair with a towel can stretch out curls and create friction, which can result in frizz.
Instead of the towel-and-twist method, plopping is where you wrap your wet hair into an old T-shirt. Yes, exactly like the old college ones you wear to bed or the gym, but a spare cotton or silk pillowcase also works, too.
"Plopping or as I like to call it 'wrapunzeling' helps to enhance longer-lasting curl waves," says Lorraine Massey, curl expert and owner of Spiral (x,y,z) Salon in New York City. "The functionality of this drying method is like a suspended hair setting position. For example, in the ’50s and ’60s, women would set their hair in rollers to allow for a more natural look."
The fabric absorbs the excess water from the hair, plus it helps to hold it in place until it's ready to be unfurled.
In addition, plopping can also reduce frizz during the humid months because the wrapped fabric acts like a roof for the hair, sealing the cuticles so they can't rise and get frizzy.
Which Curl Types Does Plopping Work Best For?
Massey says that plopping is most popular among longer s’wavy or wavy hair types, with varying degrees of thickness.
"Plopping can encourage lethargic wave patterns, making them appear curlier because the gathered hair is released of its own weight during the beginning of the drying process," she explains. "The hair becomes like an impacted slinky harnessed within a light fabric hair wrap, T-shirt, cheesecloth towel, cotton, or silk pillowcase."
While tighter spirals, fractal curls, and corkscrew curls can plop, the method may distort these curl patterns and unevenly shrink the hair because the fabric absorbs too much moisture from it.
"Many curls types love and rely on the elongation and gravity of water/gel weighted curls," Massey says.
How Do You Plop Hair?
For s’wavy, wavy, and lose Botticelli hair types:
1. Bend over to allow hair to cascade forward. Tilt your head so that the tip of your head just touches the middle of your T-shirt or pillowcase.
2. Slowly squish your hair downwards into the fabric towards the crown. Massey says to think of it like you're closing up a spring or the motion of playing an accordion.
3. Gather the four corners of the fabric to make two. Then, simultaneously twist both sides until you've created a small parachute shape.
4. Slowly bring your head upright and tie the two twists in front of the wrap to hold it in place.
For corkscrew, spiral, Botticelli, fractal, coils, and robust curls hair types:
1. Open up your T-shirt or pillowcase on both sides. "Tilt hair into the pillowcase, allowing hair to flow off the head as naturally as possible," instructs Massey.
2. Gather the fabric and twist it together, slowly swinging your head to bring it upright. Then, twist it at the front until it's secure.
3. Set the wrap in place with bobby pins.
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What Should You Do After You Unfurl Your Hair?
Once your feel like your hair is dry enough, tilt your head forward and unwrap the fabric to release it.
"Splay hands around the scalp and gently shuffle the hair to soften and open up the cast and let it settle," Massey suggests. "Or if you prefer to release it halfway dry, diffuse or hood dry the rest of the way."
If you want to style your curls up a bit, Massey recommends spritzing your hair with a lightweight, water-soluble cleansing spray. "Make sure these products are void of sulfates, parabens, and synthetic fragrances," she says.
She also notes that it's important to experiment within the plopping method to figure out what works best for your curls. "When we are working with the true nature of curls there are no certainties, but if you stay consistent in the process it is more likely to be consistent back."
This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we're celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.