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What Is Hair Plopping, and How Can I Plop My Hair Correctly?

6 mins

Himani Bose

Plopping is not rocket science – it’s the quickest and safest way to get defined curls and waves without damaging your hair. Here’s all you need to know about hair plopping.

If you are born with natural curls or waves, consider yourself lucky. Natural curls and waves are considered more attractive and sexier than straight hair. But at the end of the day, you know that maintaining your lovely locks is not an easy task. Plus, there are several disadvantages that you have to deal with that people with straight hair don’t have to worry about. For instance, your hair takes longer to dry, is more prone to frizz, and tends to look weighed down after a wash.

Thanks to plopping, you can maintain your curly or wavy hair easily. Plopping is not rocket science: it’s easy and quick, and you’re just minutes away from learning everything there is to know about plopping hair.

Table of Contents:

  • What is Hair Plopping?
  • The Advantages of Plopping Hair
  • Heat-free Treatment
  • Simple and Speeds Up Drying Time
  • Prevent Split Ends
  • Less Frizz
  • Adds Volume
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Plopping
  • Isn’t Plopping the Same as Twisting Your Hair in a Towel After a Wash?
  • Is It Possible to Plop Straight Hair?
  • How Often Should I Plop My Hair?
  • For How Long Should I Plop My Hair?
  • Tools for Plopping Hair
  • Step-by-step Method to Plop Hair
  • An Alternative Plopping Method

What is Hair Plopping?

Curly hair is naturally more delicate than straight hair. It takes longer to dry, is challenging to maintain, is prone to frizz, and can look terribly unruly if not properly looked after.

how to plop hair, plopping wavy hair

Curly hair loses its natural curly pattern after a wash because the weight of the water and moisture in the hair pulls down the curls. That leaves your curls loose and stretched even before they have dried. Plopping is a hair-drying technique for curly and/or wavy hair to create picture-perfect curls/waves without damaging, drying out, or frizzing. The process of plopping involves tying up damp hair above the head with a microfiber cloth or soft, cotton T-shirt.

The Advantages of Plopping Hair

The main aim of plopped hair might seem to give your curls a defined, rich, and voluminous look. True. But plopping does all that and more. Here’s a look at all the benefits of plopping hair.

  • Heat-free Treatment

Curlers and hairdryers give you well-defined curls, but the heat from these tools can severely damage your hair and cause split ends. Plus, curling tools must be used with sprays or other products that add texture and volume. But styling products cause roughness, dryness, and product build-up in the long run.

Plopping is a heat-free treatment, and when done right, it can safely give you those perfect curls. You can use a product on your hair before plopping, and the difference here is that any extra product is absorbed quickly by the material you used to plop your hair.

how to avoid heat treatments, drying curly hair
  • Simple and Speeds Up Drying Time

Getting perfectly spiraled curls and keeping them looking fresh and revived is no mean feat, and curling tools are complicated to use. Plus, curls must be refreshed frequently, and curly hair maintenance is time-consuming, unlike straight hair.

Plopping is quick and straightforward. It takes a few minutes to tie your hair up to eliminate excess moisture and product. The hair is then dried naturally or can be gently blow-dried.

  • Prevent Split Ends

The heat from hair dryers and curling tools causes water under the outermost layer of the hair to form bubbles. These bubbles stress and make the hair brittle. The result is split ends. Split ends weaken your hair’s structure and cause it to lose elasticity, which increases the chances of breakage.

Plopping is safe and gentle on your curls. With heating tools out of the equation, there is no chance of hair damage or split ends.

split ends repair, split ends treatment
  • Less Frizz

Regular towels are rough and create friction which may cause frizz. If you tend to touch your hair often as it dries, you might be ruffling up your hair cuticles in the process and causing frizz.

Hair is plopped with a softer material like a cotton T-shirt or microfiber cloth, which is gentle on the hair and helps it lie flat during drying. Plopping prevents you from touching your hair too often, so there are fewer chances of frizz.

  • Adds Volume

When you blow-dry your hair or use heating tools, you dry it downward, weighing it down as it dries.

When you plop your hair, you will secure it on top of the head, creating a lift at the roots, which naturally lifts each strand, giving it natural volume.

Frequently Asked Questions About Plopping

If you have never plopped, you probably wonder if plopping is suitable for your curls and how often you should do it. Here are some FAQs on plopping.

  • Isn’t Plopping the Same as Twisting Your Hair in a Towel After a Wash?

No. When you plop your hair, you will use a soft, absorbent material like a cotton T-shirt or microfiber cloth. Those materials are safe and gentle against the hair strands and quickly absorb moisture and any extra styling product that you might have used.

drying hair, woman with towel
  • Is It Possible to Plop Straight Hair?

Yes. If you have straight poker hair but want to add some natural waves to your mane, plopping will help add volume and give your straight locks a natural bend. Plus, plopping will make your mane bouncy and shiny, so it looks like you had your hair done at a salon.

  • How Often Should I Plop My Hair?

If you have curly hair, you might need to plop after every wash to ensure you have those gorgeously-defined curls every time you step out.

  • For How Long Should I Plop My Hair?

According to senior hairstylist Mia Emilio, hair can be plopped for anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes. You might even want to leave your hair plopped overnight. The length of time depends on your hair type. You might have to experiment with different plopping durations to find what suits you best.

Tools for Plopping Hair

Plopping begins when you are still in the shower. So, the tools you will require are:

  • Shampoo for curly hair
  • Conditioner for curly hair
  • A wide-tooth comb
woman taking a shower
  • A long-sleeve cotton t-shirt, a large cotton handkerchief, a microfiber towel, or a jersey pillowcase. Make sure whatever you use is soft (not rough) and large enough to cover all your hair.
  • Your favorite curl-friendly hair product (leave-in conditioner or curl cream)

Step-by-step Method to Plop Hair

Here’s how to plop your hair properly to get perfect curls and protect them from damage.

  • Step 1: Wash

Plopping starts when you are ready to wash your hair. Wash your hair with a gentle and hydrating cleansing shampoo.

If your hair and scalp have a lot of product build-up, try using a shampoo like WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo. This clarifying shampoo is made of raw Himalayan apple cider vinegar, and its gentle formula removes product build-up and excess oil without drying out your hair. 

While the apple cider vinegar clarifies and balances your hair’s pH levels, sweet almond oil nourishes each strand and gives your hair a glossy shine. Antioxidant-rich nettle leaf extract soothes the scalp.

apple cider vinegar shampoo

If you have naturally dry hair, a shampoo like WOW Skin Science Coconut Milk Shampoo can help. The shampoo is made up of hair-loving botanicals that will soothe, rejuvenate, hydrate, and smooth each strand to give you bouncy, frizz-free, nourished hair. 

Coconut milk extract nourishes your scalp and fights hair damage, while argan oil and aloe vera extract keep your hair soft, manageable, and hydrated. 

  • Step 2: Condition

Rinse your hair thoroughly and condition it with a light conditioner that does not leave it heavy and weighed down.

WOW Skin Science Coconut Milk Conditioner is packed with the goodness of hydrolyzed keratin that helps your curly hair retain moisture and keep dryness and frizz at bay. Coconut milk extract nourishes and moisturizes each strand, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein replaces lost keratin and helps build the hair’s protective layer. Castor oil repairs damaged hair and encourages healthy hair growth.

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  • Step 3: Comb

Before rinsing the conditioner, gently comb your hair with a wide-toothed comb. Alternatively, run your fingers gently through your hair to eliminate any tangles. Try the WOW Skin Science Gentle Flex Detangling Brush for Wet & Dry Hair.

  • Step 4: Rinse

Gently rinse the conditioner out of your hair. Use cool water to rinse – this helps lock in the moisturizing and nourishing ingredients from the conditioner. Do not squeeze out any excess water from your hair. Instead, move your head from side to side to get rid of excess water without damaging your curls.

  • Step 5: Use a Styling Product

Use your regular styling product on damp (not wet) hair. A small amount of product will do – you don’t want to use too much as it would only weigh your curls down. Run the product gently through the length of your hair to the tips, and then scrunch up the ends, squeezing out the excess water simultaneously. You will now see your curls getting well-defined.

WOW Skin Science Hair Revitalizer Spray contains ten active botanicals, including extra virgin olive oil, vitamin E, safflower oil, and bhringraj extract. Rosemary and tea tree essential oils and Moroccan argan and jojoba oils promote stronger roots and smooth, shiny hair. 

10 in 1 hair oil, hair revitalizer for curly hair
  • Step 6: Plop

Place your microfiber cloth or T-shirt (sleeve-end closest to you) on a flat surface. Flip your head over so your curls touch the middle of the T-shirt. Gently move your head straight down, letting your curls pile up in a bunch in the center of the T-shirt.

Once your head almost touches the t-shirt, reach out and grab the bottom edges (the two edges away from you) of the T-shirt and pull them over to the nape of your neck. Take the long sleeves of the T-shirt and tie them over the part of the T-shirt you just got over your head.

Straighten up and tuck in any loose strands under the material. Tuck in any extra material. Let your hair stay wrapped for at least 15 minutes. The longer it stays wrapped, the better. However, the duration of plopping will depend on your hair type and length, and it might take a couple of tries to perfect the right time for your hair.

Gently remove the material and allow your hair to dry naturally. If you are in a hurry, you can blow-dry your hair with a hairdryer + diffuser attachment.

An Alternative Plopping Method

Place the material at the nape of your neck so it hangs over the length of your hair. Gather the fabric around your hair and crisscross it towards the front of your head. Flip it up over your head. Leave it on for a minimum of 15 minutes, then remove the material and allow your hair to dry naturally.

hairstyles for curly hair, curly hair care, best looking curly hair

Curly hair is harder to maintain and more prone to frizz, dryness, and split ends than straight hair. Heating tools give you great curls but damage hair over time. Plopping, on the other hand, is a quick, safe, and easy way to get perfect curls or gentle waves. If you have straight hair, you can still benefit from plopping. Whether you have straight, wavy, or curly hair, the right shampoo, conditioner, styling products, and plopping material can ensure you get those well-defined, tight curls or waves. Click here for more WOW Skin Science hair care products.

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Himani Bose

Himani is a beauty blogger and self-professed skincare connoisseur with over four years of experience in writing in the beauty industry. She has worked closely with beauty experts, dermatologists, hairstylists, and makeup artists for bringing all things best in beauty to her readers.

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