If you were blessed with curls, then you have probably discovered by now that when your hair is wet, your curls are smooth and defined, but when it's dry, it's a different story. Not only do you lose the curl definition, but you're susceptible to frizz. What you do to your hair in-between its wet and dry states is crucial to having a good hair day, which brings us to the curly-hair method of plopping.
Plopping is a technique that was born here on NaturallyCurly's forums, and one that is an indispensable step in our routine. You plop your wet hair after you’ve applied your styler and before you start to dry your hair. It will accordion your curls, helping them keep their defined, spiral shape, even after they dry.
T-shirt vs towel
Traditional terry cloth towels “absorb too much moisture, which curly hair needs," explains Lorraine Massey, author of Curly Girl: The Handbook. "The harsh fiber will ruffle the hair’s cuticle, causing frizz.” So the first step is to stop using terry cloth and opt for a t-shirt or microfiber towel instead. Both methods work, and we're not here to sell you an extra tool that you don't need so if you decide to use a t-shirt then follow the steps above for plopping with a t-shirt, and if you have a microfiber towel then we have a tutorial for you down below.
After you get out of the shower, scrunch out excess water and apply your leave-in conditioner (we like Kinky-Curly Knot Today) and stylers. For many curlies, the order is leave-in, oil, then curl cream — which is also known as the LOC method. Now, it's time to plop.
Lay a T-shirt (long-sleeved works best) or a microfiber towel out on a chair or bathroom counter with the sleeves at the end closest to you.
Flip your head forward, bending at the waist, so that all of your hair is in the center of the towel and on top of your head.
Take the flap of fabric that is behind your head and flip it up over your neck, then tie the long sleeves of the shirt (or extra fabric of your microfiber towel) behind your head in a knot. If you have extra material or used a long-sleeved shirt, wrap the extra length of the sleeves around to the front and tie the ends in a knot. This will make your turban more secure.
The T-shirt will soak up moisture without creating frizz while your hair dries, significantly cutting down your drying time. Curlies rejoice, you know drying can take forever!
The T-shirt or towel will also help absorb any excess product, so you don’t end up with hard, crunchy curls.
If you have fine hair or looser waves, plopping can create lift at the roots, since your hair is drying on top of your head rather than being weighed down. And if on some days your waves or curls tend to disappear or look limp, this will enhance your curl pattern by scrunching up the curls while they dry.
How to plop with a microfiber towel
Because you don't have the sleeves to tie in a knot (like you do with a T-shirt) the technique is slightly different. Many curlies have made their own tweak on plopping and this is not the only way, so if yours is different, add it to the comments.
These days there are plenty of microfiber towels made specifically for curlies on the market, and we used the Curly Tee Towel because it's easy to use and even comes with a draw string.
If you use a chair or counter to place your hair in the towel, this will create an "accordion" effect encouraging your curls to form. If you do not use the chair (as we did in the second set of photos) this will stretch your curls out as they dry.
Many women plop for 10-20 minutes before they diffuse or air-dry their hair, and some even keep their hair like this overnight. Experiment with the duration and find what works best for you! For a live demonstration, watch Waterlily716 share her routine.