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Why Curly Hair Types Need to Try This Game-Changing Technique ASAP

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Keeping curls hydrated, bouncy, and frizz-free is no easy feat. Between identifying your unique curl type and finding the right combination of curly hair products, it often feels like you need a Ph.D. in curly hair to fully understand the ins and outs of this finicky (yet absolutely stunning) hair type.

In addition to using the right products though, becoming a curly hair expert involves mastering certain techniques like diffusing or hair plopping. While "plopping" may sound like a sort of funny term, this curly hair practice is a technique beloved by millions in the curl community for its ability to eliminate frizz and make ringlets extra bouncy.

Ready to incorporate hair plopping into your curly hair routine? Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to plop your hair like a pro.


About the Expert:

Stephanie Garay is a professional stylist and curl expert at Headchop, a hair studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. See her work on her Instagram @Stephanie_garay_hair.

What is hair plopping?

"Hair plopping is a technique that uses a cotton t-shirt, microfiber towel, or even a silk wrap to dry your wet curls in a contained mound on top of your head, like a top bun," says hairstylist and curl expert Stephanie Garay.

Using a t-shirt or microfiber towel to dry the hair helps to remove less moisture from those hydration-loving curls. Ultra-absorbent terry cloth towels (like the kind you typically use to dry the body) can remove too much moisture from delicate curls, disrupting the natural curl pattern and causing frizz.

This curly girl method-approved drying technique can work for all curl types, whether you have wavy hair or type 4 natural hair. "Tight curls and coils will dry soft and frizz-free and for those with looser curls or more wavy texture it can ensure more volume and lift at the crown," Garay says. "Even those with straight hair can do this to give the hair strands an effortless beachy wave, which is my go-to."

What are the benefits of hair plopping?

With this gentle, non-disruptive drying technique, Garay says, "The biggest benefits will be an increase in curl definition and less frizz."

Because curly hair super sensitive to heat, hair plopping is great for cutting down on drying time, helping to keep your curls healthier and more hydrated in the long run. Better yet, skip the blow dryer and diffuser and try allowing your freshly plopped curls to air dry. You can also let your hair plop overnight to create perfectly defined, totally heat-free curls.

Here’s how to plop your curls to perfection:

Now that you have an understanding of what hair plopping is, let's give it a try. Below is a quick tutorial on how to plop your hair like a pro. To get started, you'll need a long sleeve t-shirt or a microfiber towel. Garay also says your go-to styling product like a leave-in conditioner or a curl definer is essential.

1. Scrunch out excess moisture

After you get out of the shower with freshly washed or wet hair, be sure not to use a terry cloth towel on your hair. Instead, squeeze out as much excess water as you can by gently scrunching the hair with your hands.

2. Apply your favorite styling product

Next, work in your hydration and styling product of choice. Whether that's a leave-in conditioner, curl cream, or hair oil will depend on your curl type (we've dropped a few of our favorite products below). Once your curl-protecting product is all worked in, you're ready to plop.

3. Lay out your t-shirt or microfiber towel

Lay a long sleeve t-shirt or a microfiber towel out on a flat surface. This could be a table, bathroom counter, or even your bed. Arrange the shirt so that the neck of the shirt is closest to you and the sleeves are out wide. If you're using a microfiber towel, lay it out lengthwise.

4. Lay your curls in the t-shirt or microfiber towel

Bend over slightly and gently flip your head and damp hair upside down. Position your dangling hair so that it's on the top of your head. Continue to lower your hair into the center of your t-shirt or towel, until the crown of your head makes contact and all your hair is piled on top of the head.

5. Secure your hair plop

Here's where the process varies a bit between using a t-shirt or towel: If you're using a long sleeve t-shirt, grab the waist end of the t-shirt (the part that's behind your head) and bring it up and over your head so that the end now falls on the nape of your neck. With your head still flipped over, roll up the top of the t-shirt (the neck part) until it gets to your forehead. Then, gather both ends of the t-shirt with each hand, and twist each side. The twisted sleeves should create two pigtail-like ends by the ears. Take these two twisted ends and tie them together, either up on the crown of your head or around the nape of the neck so that the t-shirt turban you've just created is taut and secure.

If you're using a microfiber towel, you'll want to bring the long side of the towel that's behind your head up and over the head so that it wraps around the nape of the neck. Roll up the other long end so that it stops around your forehead. Then, similar to the t-shirt method, hold both the front and back sides of the towel together in each hand, twisting the towel until it creates two pigtail-like ends by the ears. Take those twisted ends and tie them together either around the crown of the head or the nape of the neck so that it feels secure.

6. Allow your curls to set

Now for the easy part: let your curl pattern set and dry. Garay suggests plopping the hair for at least 20 minutes before diffusing or air drying for the best results. "If you have that extra time, there's no harm in giving your curls extra love and more time to dry," she says. "Or leave on your towel or t-shirt overnight. You'll wake up with gorgeous body and shape without risking frizzy hair."

The Best Curly Hair Products for Plopping the Hair:

1. Best Microfiber Towel for Hair Plopping: KITSCH Microfiber Hair Towel

KITSCH Microfiber Hair Towel
Courtesy of KITSCH

Want to make hair plopping extra easy? Invest in this microfiber towel that's made specifically for hair plopping. If you usually do your makeup or other things around the house while you plop your curls, this towel turban is extra secure thanks to a handy button and loop fastening mechanism.

2. Best Curl Cream for Wavy and Curly Hair: MOROCCANOIL Curl Defining Cream

MOROCCANOIL Curl Defining Cream
Courtesy of MOROCCANOIL

This leave-in conditioner and curl-defining cream is the perfect daily product for wavy and curl hair types (curl types 2 to 3A). Like all products from MOROCCANOIL, argan oil is the hero ingredient here. This multitasking, non-greasy oil helps to protect against heat damage, fight frizz, hydrate, and boost shine.

3. Best Curl Cream for Coily and Kinky Hair: BRIOGEO Curl Charisma Chia + Flax Seed coil Custard

BRIOGEO Curl Charisma™ Chia + Flax Seed Coil Custard
Courtesy of BRIOGEO

Tighter, kinkier curl patterns will need a heavier curl cream with even more hydration. This rich "custard" cream from the clean haircare brand BRIOGEO is great for keeping curl types 3B to 4C frizz-free and super hydrated. The formula blends the conditioning benefits of flaxseed oil and shea butter with the nourishing power of chia seed and rice amino acids. It's the perfect pre-plopping product for both hydration and flexible styling control.

Want to discover more game-changing products? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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Article Last Updated March 7, 2021 12:00 AM