Hair Plopping 101: How to Get Your Best Natural Curls

Curly hair is trending, but not in the soft, beachy wave incarnation we’ve come to love in recent years, but in the “let your naturally curls shine” kind of way. Today’s curly look has less to do with curling irons and wavers and relies on hair’s ability to coil naturally. One important part of the curly hair equation is getting the drying process right after washing. Enter “hair plopping,” an old-school technique that helps curls form beautifully ringlets as hair dries. So, how do you do it and what do you need to get your best curls? We asked the pros. 

What Is Hair Plopping?

“Hair Plopping is a method used to help speed up the hair-drying process without losing definition and volume,” explains Dominique LyVar, senior stylist at Devachan Salon. “All you need is a microfiber towel or an old T-shirt large enough to cover all of your curls.”

“Plopping is great for anyone with wavy to curly hair who wishes to shorten drying time while achieving more curl and volume,” adds hairstylist Evan Joseph. “A lot of ‘ploppers’ use this technique to remove water from the hair without losing curl definition.”

Which Tools Do You Need? 

While easy to do, getting the best results come down to using the right products. “Plopping itself doesn’t require a lot of tools so anyone can do it,” says Joseph. “All you need is a soft hair towel or turban and your favorite hair products.”

What Products are Best?

“I love to start with a leave-in conditioner or a hair primer,” explains Lyvar. “My favorites are DevaCurl’s Leave In Decadence  ($26) and Plumping Primer ($20). Then for hold, I love Devacurl’s Ultra Defining Gel ($24) and SuperMousse ($28).”

Products with light to medium hold are best, adds Joseph: “A few greats are Authentic Beauty Concept Amplify Mousse ($25) or the Beachy Texture Spray. If you need a little extra hydration the Authentic Beauty Concept Hydrate Lotion ($28) is a must.”

How Do You “Plop?”

Joseph says cleansing and conditioning the hair are steps one and two. “Leave your hair soaking wet, do not squeeze any water out,” he says. “Gently flip your head upside down and apply styling products in a downward motion, gently raking fingers through allowing your curls or waves to form clumps that hang freely from your head.”

What comes next is considered the plopping part. “Take your microfiber towel or T-shirt and wrap hair so the curls are on top of the head,” says Lyvar. “It should look like a pineapple. Let your hair dry untouched for up to 15 minutes. Once you take your hair out, scrunch your curls with your desired styling product and either use a diffuser or let them air dry.”

Pro Plopping Tips

So, now that you know how to plop, experts say to take your time to get the prettiest curls. To ensure good curl formation, Joseph says to make sure your hair is hanging straight down in a column when gathering up curls in your towel.  

However, depending on your hair moisture levels, you’ll want to get the timing right. “The longer you leave your hair plopped, the more water is being absorbed,” says Lyvar. “If your hair tends to be on the drier side, I wouldn’t recommend plopping for a long time as your hair will need the moisture.”

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