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what is natural hair plopping

How to Plop Your Natural Hair

This hair drying method for curly hair is love at first try.
23 Oct 2023
One quick social media scan and you’ll likely find a feed full of wash-and-go techniques and protective styling trends that promise perfect curls. Well, add hair plopping to that list. If you’re anything like most people with curls, you're probably in constant pursuit of frizz-free, defined, and bouncy curls that last for more than a day or two.

Plopping is the method that could get you there. And if you need proof, check the more than eleven thousand people on Instagram who have used the technique to discover another level of curl greatness. When partnered with the right natural hair care products, it might just help to create your dream curls. Here’s everything that you need to know about how to plop hair.

What Is Plopping?

The struggle to get and keep curls voluminous and bouncy is real. But a hair plop could be the missing detail in your perfect curl routine. You can fast forward through hours of watching twist-out tutorials in favor of this quick heatless styling method. It’s a drying technique that is somewhat similar to the hair hack of pulling curls into a pineapple at night. The difference with plopping is it starts with damp hair instead of already dried and styled curls.

Although this method focuses on how your hair is dried, it’s done after you apply your styling products. Essentially, you’re combining your curl cocktail with a wrapping method for hair drying that gives curls body and definition (without any heat).

What Does It Mean to Plop Hair?

The name may sound silly, but plopping hair is pretty much what it sounds like. You literally plop your hair upside down into a T-shirt or towel before wrapping it into a rolled masterpiece. Here’s exactly how to do it.

1. Cleanse and condition

After shampooing with a repairing sulfate-free shampoo, apply the repairing conditioner, and thoroughly detangle your curls. You can also use a repairing hair mask to assist with this step. Wring any excess water out of your hair. It should be damp, not soaking wet before you move on to the next step.

Set up your plop props. It’s best to set up your station before you even begin styling. This way, you can go straight into it after your products are applied. You’ll want to spread a T-shirt or hair towel onto a flat surface that’s preferably not too low to the ground since you’ll have to bend over to plop. A bed or chair is ideal.

2. Apply your stylers

Whether you LOC your curls or use the LCO method, now is the time to work your leave-in conditioner, curl cream, and oil through your strands. For more wavy textures, start with the Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Leave-In Conditioner, followed by the Hair Milk Curl Defining Butter and Born to Repair Reviving Hair Oil.

If your hair is more thick and coarse, plop hair using the Monoi (Repair + Moisture) Star Strength Leave-In Cream, Hair Milk Nourishing & Conditioning Styling Pudding, and the Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend Scalp & Hair Oil with Castor Oil. With either cocktail, be sure to work each product through your hair in sections with your fingers all the way from root to tip. You should be able to see some separation and definition with your curls before you plop. Unless needed, avoid combing your hair before plopping. Using your fingers alone will help to keep your natural curl pattern intact.

3. Plop

Once your products are set, flip your head forward and hover your crown down over the center of your T-shirt or towel. Grab the bottom corners of the cloth and fold them in toward the nape of your neck. Then, grab the upper corners and fold to meet the bottom half. The top layer should cover the bottom half. You can either stand up and tie the top flaps around the front of your forehead or stay bent over and tie the top corners in the back of your head. Once tied, tuck in any loose ends.

4. Let it dry

Keep your hair wrapped up until your hair is dry. Once you unwrap it, swipe a light coating of the Born to Repair Reviving Hair Oil across the top and further fluff.

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How Long Should You Plop Your hair?

The amount of time that you plop really depends on how long it takes your hair to dry. This also greatly depends on your hair porosity. High-to-medium porosity hair may take longer to dry than low-porosity hair. Gauge this timing based on your hair history and how long your hair usually takes to set when you do a protective style. The T-shirt will help absorb moisture a lot faster than air drying, so it may not take as long as it typically does. You don’t want hair to be too dry, so consider taking it out after a few hours — or if you sleep on it the next morning.

Can You Do Hair Plopping Overnight?

Hair can definitely be plopped overnight. Just take note of how your hair handles being slept on when damp. If you find that your hair dries pretty fast, you may not want to keep it plopped for the length of time that you’re asleep. If your hair does take a while to dry, sleeping on it may be a solution to waiting out the dry time.

Is Plopping Good for Your Hair?

Plopping is great for your hair, especially if you have naturally wavy, curly or coily hair. Since drying hair with a traditional bath towel can cause breakage and frizz on naturally curly hair, plopping is a way to get curls dried quickly without manipulating your natural curl pattern. Not to mention, it helps boost curl definition, too. If you’re a curly beauty that hasn’t tried plopping, you’re missing out. It’s basically the secret to perfectly spiraling ringlets every single time.

Can You Only Plop Curly Hair?

Sure, straight strands can benefit from the volume-boosting benefits of plopping, but this technique was pretty much made for curly hair. It’s tricky to get the level of volume that plopping hair gives with other styling methods. It would require diffusing with your head upside down until your hair was completely dry, and even then, you run the risk of drying out and potential heat damage. This is a heat-free alternative with similar results.

And if you’re plopping curly hair properly, you should never end up with flat curls. Just be sure to keep the plopped curls on the top of your head instead of smushed down. In fact, properly done hair plopping should result in an increase of volume and definition, instead of working against it.

How to Plop Short Hair

As long as you can flip your hair upside down, you can plop your hair. The steps for how to plop hair are the same, no matter your hair length. The key is to corral the hair into the fabric right at the crown of your head. With shorter hair, this may mean tilting forward even further before you wrap.

Next Up: How to Dry Natural Hair Without Damage

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