When I was a tiny, itty-bitty child (OK, like 13), I stumbled upon an old-school internet forum for curly hair and casually wrote, “Hi. How do I make my curls look better?” Dozens of responses flooded in from women with perfectly defined and bouncy curls in their profile pictures, offering product recommendations, words of encouragement, and, most importantly, an introduction into the brilliant world of plopping.
WTF Is Plopping!?
See, before this moment in time, I-like every other long-haired human I knew-dried my hair by twisting it in a towel on my head. But what I didn’t realize was that by wrapping my hair (again, like virtually all people do), my curls were getting stretched out (from the twisting) and frizzy (from the nubby cloth). The result? Uh, the hair I had been used to my whole life-which, as I found out after plopping for the first time, was incredibly mediocre.
Because unlike with the ol' towel-and-twist method, plopping is technique that uses a T-shirt to dry your curls in a self-contained mound on top of your head, leaving them smooth, frizz-free, and shockingly voluminous. The method comes from the natural-hair community, where women of color have been plopping their coils for decades. And now, thanks to the interwebs, all curly girls can get really, really excellent hair, too. So, without further ado...
How to Plop Your Curls
1. Get yourself a big T-shirt. The unofficial favorite pick of the internet? An XXL long-sleeve cotton T-shirt (I have this classic Soffe Men’s Shirt for the low, low price of $8. Whattup).
2. Before you hop in the shower, lay your T-shirt upside down-i.e. with the sleeves end closest to you-on either your bathroom counter, a chair, or, in a pinch, on top of your toilet lid (hey, it’s all in the name of good hair, OK?).
3. After showering, flip your sopping-wet hair over and onto the center of the T-shirt. With your head/hair still upside down, pick up and lay the bottom of the shirt over your head (so it’s touching the nape of your neck and completely covering your hair).
4. Grasp the sleeves (near your forehead) and the back of the shirt (at the nape of your neck) and twist them together to tighten the weird hair diaper around your head.
5. Wrap the twisted sleeves around your head and tie them in place to keep the shirt from sliding or falling off. If you look like you're wearing some sort of wet helmet, then congrats-you did it correctly.
At this point, all of your curls will be perfectly nestled on top of your head-almost like a bunch of compressed Slinkies-allowing them to dry in their natural formation, untouched by gravity, humidity, or the roughness of a towel. Which means by the time you unwrap the shirt (I usually wait a good 20 minutes before taking it off), your curls will have already started to dry with better definition and volume, without any of the frizz. Magical, right?
OK, fine-it’s probably less “magical” and more WTF-DOES-ANY-OF-THIS-MEAN “confusing,” right? Luckily, plopping is truly simple to do, and I promise that it will amp up your curl game, regardless of whether you air-dry or diffuse your hair afterwards.
And to get you started with zero excuses or hesitations, check out these two tutorials, below (the first shows how to plop with a short-sleeve shirt, and the second shows how to plop with a long-sleeve shirt), and get ready to have really freaking awesome curls.