Hair Plopping: Try This Drying Method For Soft, Frizz-Free Curls

mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Young Woman With Long Curly Hair Outdoors
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Mess with your hair too much while it's wet, and it has the potential to frizz faster than you can say air-dry. Especially those with curlier, coarser hair textures, as the hair is already prone to frizz as soon as it becomes exposed to air (i.e. as soon as you step foot outside the shower). So what's the curl community to do? Consider this popular drying method: hair plopping.

Ahead, we dive into the benefits of hair plopping, plus exactly how to do it for perfect, frizz-free curls. 

What is hair plopping?

Let's chat a bit about the traditional towel twist, shall we? You might want to think twice before wrapping your wet hair up in a terry cloth towel: Those traditional fabrics typically have raised fibers that can actually rough up the hair cuticle and cause frizz. Take it from texture specialist and artistic director at Matrix, Michelle O'Connor: "Traditional towels take too much moisture out of the hair," she says. And if there's one thing curls need to look soft and frizz-free, it's moisture. Not to mention, you can experience some physical breakage if you're constantly stretching your strands inside a towel twist; as you may know, your hair is most vulnerable when wet—a rough towel wrap can quite literally become the definition of wear and tear. 

Enter, hair plopping: A technique using none other than a T-shirt to gently absorb any excess water. Essentially, it's all in the name—you simply plop your hair on the top of your head for it to dry inside the tee. It also simultaneously scrunches your strands, so you can achieve voluminous, defined curls, sans frizz. A dream, no? 


Who should do it?

While hair plopping is great for tighter curls prone to frizz (by setting the curls on top of your head, you also avoid constantly raking your hands through your strands—another unfortunate habit that causes frizz), hairstylist and founder of Hair Rules Anthony Dickey mentions it's generally applicable to any hair type that fares well with a little scrunching. That said, loose curls, waves, and even straight textures can also benefit from the plopping method, especially for someone looking to create a tousled look without the use of hot tools.

According to O'Connor, the plopping method is especially great for those who struggle with limp curls: "It can add volume in the crown by creating lift at the roots," she says. 

How to do it.

Time for the fun part; here are the hairstylist-approved tips to plop your hair: 

  1. To prep your curls and lock in moisture, apply your styling products on wet, freshly washed (or co-washed), hair, detangling through.
  2. Now, the plop: Grab a T-shirt (choose a size depending on how much hair you have, Dickey notes), and lay it down on a flat surface. Flip your hair upside down over the center, cradling it inside the T-shirt as you wrap the fabric completely over your hair. 
  3. Tie the sleeves of the T-shirt around the nape of your neck, securing comfortably. Then keep the wrap on for as long as you like: "While it may be ideal for some to dry completely in the wrap, others may choose to wrap for as little as 20 minutes," says Nick Stenson, celebrity hairstylist and artistic director at Matrix. Experiment with what works best for your curl structure (it may take some trial and error before you discover the perfect dry time).  

When you do unwrap your hair, you should be left with bouncy, accentuated curls. And because your hair remains nestled on the top of your head for the better part of the air-drying process, it's kept away from humidity and gravity—two of the main culprits for frizzy, limp locks. 

The takeaway. 

Hair plopping can benefit many hair textures, as long as your hair type works well with scrunching. Because that's exactly what it is: You're essentially scrunching and setting your curls on the top of your head for a no-fuss air-dry. For tight curls and coils, the plopping method can help them dry soft and frizz-free. For those with loose curls or waves, plopping can ensure volume and a lift at the crown. And those with straight hair can join in on the fun, too—plopping can give those strands a natural bend, no curling iron or rollers necessary. 

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