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How to Plop Hair | Step-by-Step Guide & Things to Consider

Hair plopping is a technique that helps you keep your curls defined and spiraled long after they dry. It’s a simple process that’s really easy to do. Read on to learn how to plop hair and see things to consider when doing it.

How to Plop Hair: A Summary

Woman holding a microfiber towel up to her head to plop her hair smile smiling in the bathroom mirror

Maryna Pleshkun/Shutterstock

When you plop your hair, you will let it dry with the help of a T-shirt or microfiber towel so that your curls hold their shape. You should follow the steps below when you finish your shower, and your curls will remain spiraled and well-defined. To accomplish this, you’ll:

  1. Shampoo and Condition Your Hair
  2. Wring Out Excess Water
  3. Use Your Styling Products
  4. Lay Your T-Shirt or Microfiber Towel on the Counter
  5. Place Your Hair on the T-Shirt or Microfiber Towel
  6. Tie the T-Shirt or Towel Behind Your Head
  7. Wait Five to Fifteen Minutes
  8. Style Your Hair

When you follow these steps, you will find that your curls look fantastic. 

How to Plop Hair in 8 Easy Steps

This step-by-step guide will show you how to plop your hair. You need your hair care products and a cotton T-shirt or a microfiber towel to get started. 

Step 1. Shampoo and Condition Your Hair

Before you plop your hair, you need to shampoo and condition it. Use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that is made for your hair type. Make sure that your hair is thoroughly cleaned first. 

Step 2. Wring out Excess Water

After your shower, wring out the excess water with your hands. You don’t want to use a towel to dry your hair. Your hair should be wet but not dripping.

Step 3. Use Your Styling Products

Add your leave-in conditioner when your hair has been squeezed free of excess water. Make sure that you use a leave-in conditioner without chemicals added; it should be free of silicones, parabens, or sulfates.

Part of keeping your hair healthy is using healthy products that are free of toxins or chemicals. If you have curly hair, you might also use oil and curl cream, and the three together are known as the LOC method (leave-in conditioner, oil, curl cream).

Step 4. Lay Your T-Shirt or Microfiber Towel on the Counter

You don’t want to use a standard cotton towel for plopping because it will absorb too much water and is rough on your hair. You should choose either a T-shirt or a microfiber towel.

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For this step, lay the T-shirt or towel out on the counter or on another flat surface, and make sure the end with the sleeves is closer to you. You should use an oversized soft cotton T-shirt.

Step 5. Place Your Hair on the T-Shirt or Microfiber Towel

Once you lay out your shirt, you will flip your hair over and place it on the center of the T-shirt. As you keep your hair on the center of the T-shirt (or microfiber towel), pull the bottom of the shirt over your head.

It should be covering your hair completely and touching the nape of your neck. Plopping is designed to keep the moisture in your hair, so it must be completely covered. 

Step 6. Tie the T-Shirt or Towel Behind Your Head

Flip your head up, and take the sleeves and tie them in a knot behind your head. If you use a microfiber towel, make sure that it is large enough to have extra fabric that can be tied in a knot on the back of your head. If you have extra material leftover, you should bring it around to your forehead and tie another knot. 

Step 7. Wait Five to Fifteen Minutes 

While you are waiting, the T-shirt will absorb any extra product in your hair, so it will come out smooth and soft. The amount of time you should plop depends on your hair.

Some people plop for five minutes, while others do it for fifteen. You have the option of leaving it in for 20 minutes if you need to. Once you try it a few times, you will know your ideal time for this step. 

Step 8. Style Your Hair

Once you remove the T-shirt, you will have well-defined curls. You will want to use your fingers to move your curls around to where you want them to hang. You should stay away from using a brush, as it could cause your hair to frizz.

Some people use a curling iron to touch up any strands of hair that need it, but make sure you use a heat protectant spray before you put heat on your hair.

More About Plopping

Image for a post on how to plop hair showing a naturally curly woman with a striped yellow sweater smiling and looking right


How Plopping Creates Curls

As people try out plopping for the first time, they are amazed by the appearance of well-defined curls. It works because you lower your hair onto the T-shirt before wrapping it up, and the curls coil up naturally.

Then, when you pull the T-shirt tight, it holds the curls in place while your hair dries. The process scrunches up your hair and helps give the curls a defined, spiraled shape. 

Your hair dries faster when you plop, and you will avoid frizz by applying a leave-in conditioner or using the LOC method before you wrap your curls up. This method is great for people with curly hair because curly hair is always at risk of frizzing. 

Benefits of Plopping Your Hair

The first benefit is that you end up with spiraled curls that have as little frizz as possible. The process doesn’t create any friction on your hair because a T-shirt is soft and absorbent. As your hair dries, you don’t disturb the pattern of the curls.

In addition, gravity isn’t weighing the curls down to pull them from their spiraled shape. You end up with defined curls that are better than anything you will produce with other styling tools.

When you use a leave-in conditioner, you can allow it to penetrate your hairs and help them retain moisture and nutrients. Plopping is great for people with loose waves or fine hair because it helps to lift the roots.

Your hair is drying on top of your head, so it isn’t weighed down. It is easy for most people to find a soft T-shirt, but there are also many choices for microfiber towels made just for people with curly hair.

Read Next: How to Get Rid of Frizzy Hair

Do You Need Products for Plopping?

Picture of a white tshirt on a bed alongside other things for a piece on how to plop hair


The only product you need is a T-shirt. That said, you should use a leave-in conditioner because it will help get the moisture inside of your curls. One of the main causes of frizz is a need for hydration, so you should use this opportunity to give your hair extra TLC. 

People with curly hair often use the LOC method, including leave-in conditioner, oil, and curl cream. This hydrating combination helps treat your hair and make it look healthy and frizz-free when you are finished plopping. 

The best thing about plopping is that it isn’t dependent on any products. If you want to use products, that is okay, but you will succeed with or without them. 

You should consider using other products, including smoothing serum, styling gel, or mousse. You should apply any products to the ends rather than the roots because you already have oils coming from your scalp. 

What Do People Do After They Plop?

No matter how long you plop, you might want to know what to do once you let your hair down. Your curls might look squashed and flattened, especially if you kept your plop in overnight. Once you remove the T-shirt, you should begin by gently lifting any hair near your scalp. 

Some people move clumps of curls around with their fingers. The best way to do this is to lean over and gently scrunch the underside of your curls. You should avoid touching them too much as it will create frizz and flyaways if you do too much styling. The goal of plopping is to have natural, spiraled curls that look fantastic.

Suggestions for the Best Success

Although you have options for how long you plop and what products you want to use, certain techniques will enhance your plopping experience. 

First, you should use a T-shirt with a very thin fabric. Thinner fabrics will help the water to wick away more quickly. Remember that the T-shirt isn’t acting like a towel; it is there to hold your curls in place. Using a thinner T-shirt is ideal unless you plan to leave the plop in overnight.

If you are plopping overnight and your hair is still wet in the morning, you might consider scrunching it damp and then wrapping it up in the T-shirt. If you notice that the T-shirt is coming off, you should try one with long sleeves. It will hold better when you are plopping. 

It is also important to place your hair in the T-shirt correctly for the best effect. Lay the T-shirt out, and then lean over and let the curls pile onto the T-shirt. Your hair should be on the top of your head under the T-shirt when you finish. Take your time so that the curls are stacked and don’t tangle. 

It is important to remember that plopping doesn’t work with standard cotton or terry towels. They are too rough, and the threads in these towels will rough up your hair and cause it to frizz. You should use a microfiber towel, which will work just as a T-shirt will. 

If you remove the T-shirt and find flat spots, you should carefully use the curling iron to touch them up. Try to keep your hands off of your curls, as touching them will lead to frizz and definition loss. Remember that plopping will not make straight hair curly; it is designed to define your natural curls or waves. 

The Pros and Cons of Plopping

Woman showing us how to plop hair with lots of curly wet hair hanging off her right side

Beauty Stock/Shutterstock

Pros (What We Like)

  • Reduces drying time
  • Reduces need for heat tools
  • Hair has more definition
  • Hair has more clumps
  • Reduces frizz
  • Prevents split ends
  • Lifts the roots

Cons (What We Don’t Like)

  • You’ll use more leave-in conditioner
  • If products get on your roots, they will make it greasy more quickly

Does Plopping Work on Straight Hair?

You won’t be able to create spiraled curls in straight hair by plopping. However, you will lift your hair at the roots and help it become a lot more hydrated and healthy. Plopping helps to reduce split ends, and it reduces the need for heated tools. Unfortunately, if you want curls, you will have to roll your hair or use the curling iron. 

If you have wavy hair, plopping will help to define your waves. However, if you want tight, spiraled curls, you will need to have natural curly hair. 

Plopping works best for people who have medium to long hair. When the hair is shorter than the shoulders, the curls pull the hair up toward the top of the head. It is also more difficult to touch up shorter hair after you plop. That said, some people have success plopping short hair.

Read Next: How to Curly Really Short Hair

Mistakes to Avoid When Plopping

There are a few common mistakes that you should be aware of. First, minimize any use of a brush. Not only does a brush create frizz, but it also makes the curls lose their shape. You should detangle your hair as needed, but try not to brush your hair as part of your routine. 

Things to Consider

Gal plopping hair with a white linen towel and smiling while holding her hand to her cheek

New Africa/Shutterstock

Plopping is a great way to give your curls the definition and bounce they need. Once you know how to do it, it will become a part of your routine. 

Things to Do

  • Use leave-in conditioner
  • Use a soft cotton T-shirt with long sleeves
  • Try a microfiber towel
  • Treat your hair with oil

Things Not to Do

  • Don’t touch your curls
  • Avoid shampooing every day
  • Minimize use of heat styling tools

So, How Do You Plop Hair?

Plopping hair involves taking your wet hair and tying it up in a soft cotton T-shirt. This process coils your curls and gives them a chance to rehydrate. When you remove the T-shirt, your curls will be spiraled and defined.

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