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by: Better Not Younger
January 31, 2022
Hair plopping is an incredibly effective technique with a weird name. If you have dry, curly hair and deal with frizz, plopping is about to rock your hair-care world.
So, what is hair plopping?
Plopping gets its name from the literal action of plopping wet hair directly onto a wrap designed to protect and gently absorb water after a wash while scrunching strands into voluminous, defined curls. While it’s not always easy to style curly hair, this heat-free technique is a virtually effortless way to get soft, bouncy, frizz-free curls.
Ask any girl with curls and she’ll tell you that, sure, she loves her curls…when they look shiny, bouncy and defined. But the reality is, gravity causes our curls to droop, and this is especially true for mature curls that have weakened with age and from heat styling.
When we plop our hair, our curls dry atop our head. In this position, our curls are encouraged to dry in their natural pattern because they aren’t being weighed down by water and gravity. Drying our curls in this manner also creates more lift at the roots!
If you have natural curls, then you know how hard it can be to keep your hair looking bouncy and healthy. First and foremost, hair plopping takes your blow-dryer out of the equation, so your delicate strands aren’t subjected to damaging heat, which can lead to breakage and split ends.
But the benefits go beyond the healthy perks of air-drying. Hair plopping overnight, or even just hair plopping for an hour or two, helps tame frizz and static, so your curls look and feel smoother. When styling curly hair, a hands-off approach is always best. The more you touch or play with your strands, the frizzier they become. That’s why we love the hair plopping method—it allows curls to dry undisturbed.
Even though hair plopping has grown in popularity for women with curly hair, wavy and straight hair can also benefit from this technique. As long as your strands take to the effects of scrunching, hair plopping can help add body and a soft bend to even straight strands.
But what about hair thickness? Does it affect how you plop? Generally speaking, thicker curls will benefit from hair plopping overnight as they simply take longer to dry, while thinner curls see positive results with shorter amounts of plopping time (we get more into that below!). It’s simply a matter of making small adjustments to the way you plop and the length of time you plop—so factor in some trial and error when you first try out this technique.
The hair plopping method can still add volume and bounce to even fine, thin curls. In fact, this heat-free approach to styling curly hair is ideal for the delicate disposition of thinning tresses—with one caveat. Fine, thin curls typically shouldn’t be plopped overnight. Why?
Hair plopping overnight may actually flatten out fine, thin curls. This is why we recommend plopping for just an hour or two after applying your product or even “micro-plopping” for 10 to 15 minutes. With your head upright, you don’t risk flattening your curls against your pillow. In place of a towel or T-shirt, we also suggest you try using a shower cap as it won’t flatten hair as much. If your tresses are still wet once you remove your cap, you can gently diffuse tresses on a low-heat setting.
You will need a soft cotton T-shirt, a large microfiber towel or a hair plopping cap. A regular bath towel or a disposable plastic shower cap won't work here. Plastic will inhibit drying and absorption of your styling products, and regular towels are too abrasive on the hair cuticle.
Getting great results from hair plopping starts in the shower! Wash your hair—roots and scalp only, as over-washing strands can lead to dryness and frizz!—with lukewarm water to prevent stripping your scalp of its natural oils. Gentleness is key here. Massage shampoo gently into your scalp, but don't rub aggressively because this can harm your scalp and hair follicles. And be sure to use a shampoo and conditioner designed for curly locks. Our Bounce Back Super Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner duo strengthens porous curls and hydrates up to 24 hours!
Even though you might deal with some water on the bathroom floor, resist the temptation to physically dry your hair when you first step out of the shower. Instead, lightly dab wet tresses with your towel or T-shirt and gently squeeze out any excess water with your hands. Now you’re ready to apply your styling products—gels, leave-in conditioners or hydrating creams.
When hair plopping, it's important to help porous, dry curly hair hang onto as much moisture as possible. So don't be shy—apply these products liberally! If you have thinner hair concentrate your product on the midshaft and ends. And for an extra shot of hydration, try our Hair Redemption Restorative Butter Masque as treatment on ends for parched curls!
Pro tip: For extra curl definition, try the finger coil method. After scrunching all of your products into your hair, take individual ringlets and wrap them around a finger to help guide and define curls (the round handle of a hairbrush or the barrel of an unplugged curling iron will also work!) This helps further shape your curls prior to plopping.
Next, bend forward so that your hair falls into the center of the shirt. You want the crown of your head to rest on the middle of the shirt. Then bring the bottom of the shirt (the side opposite the neck) to the base of your head. At this point the shirt should be folded in half surrounding your hair.
When you plop your hair with a T-shirt, you want to tie the shirt sleeves in a loose but secure knot at the nape of your neck. Be sure that this knot pulls the ends of the T-shirt together. The sleeves serve as an anchor to hold the T-shirt securely in place around your hair.
It's really important to choose a large towel for plopping. Because we aren't knotting sleeves to anchor our wrap in place, the towel must be big enough that there is extra fabric at the end for it to be positioned securely. (If you're really ready to invest in plopping, there are microfiber towels with a drawstring built in, specifically designed for securing plopped locks!) Otherwise, towel plopping and T-shirt plopping follow the same process.
To plop with a cap, you will follow the same first step as the towel and T-shirt method. Start by leaning forward and scooping hair into the cap just like you would to use a regular shower cap.
Be sure to choose a high-quality plopping cap made of breathable, absorbent materials. (Don't use a standard plastic shower cap here, or your drying time will be much longer!) Find a cap made of bamboo, satin or microfiber to cut drying time and leave your curls bouncy and frizz-free!
Hair plopping overnight will provide the deepest hydration and frizz-fighting results. But you can see benefits even if you only have an hour or so to plop. (And as we mentioned above, if you have fine hair, you only need to plop your hair for a few hours to see excellent results!)
When hair plopping overnight, it’s also a good idea to protect your pillowcase from moisture, so simply place a towel over your pillowcase before you go to sleep. And the earlier you are able to wash your hair in the evening, the better, as this cuts down on the amount of time you’ll be sleeping with a wet head.
Come morning, for an extra frizz-fighting layer to round out your hair plopping products, try finger-combing a taming spray through dry curly hair. (Don't add a spray earlier with your wet hair products—timing is everything!) For weightless smoothing, we love our No Remorse Heat Protection & Taming Spray.
Tell Us: Have you tried the hair plopping method? Share your favorite plopping tips and tricks in the comments below!
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