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Here’s How Hair Plopping — the Viral Curl-Drying Technique — Adds Definition, Bounce + Shine: No Heat Needed

Hair pros reveal the effortless steps

If you have wavy or curly hair and are looking for an easy way to bring about the definition in your locks, allow us to introduce you to the heatless method plopping up all over social media: hair plopping. It’s a fool-proof hair technique that’s perfect for curls and will leave them looking bouncy and lasting for days on end.

So we tapped into curly hair expert and Schwarkopf Professional Ambassador Brendnetta Ashley, and she gave us some truly incredible insights for nailing the perfect hair plopping techniques. “It’s a great way to add curl definition and volume to any curl pattern,” she says. This heatless method is one of our favorite ways to bring back definition without the use of our hot tools, and with a little bit of practice, you’ll be a pro in next to no time. Interested in finding out more? Just keep scrolling for everything you need to know about hair plopping.

What is hair plopping?

illustration of woman with curl hair doing hair plopping into a tee shirt
Ana Tivikova/Getty

It’s by no means a “new” technique, however, with the rise of good-for-you and heatless hair methods on everyone’s radars, we’re definitely seeing a resurgence in hair plopping. “Plopping has been a curly hair routine for years now,” says Ashley. “I think we are seeing it become more popular because we are seeing more tutorials for different curl types. Also, heatless styling is the way to go!” Rather than twisting your hair into a towel to dry your curly strands, this method calls for literally plopping your hair into a microfiber towel or even cotton tee.

The benefits of hair plopping

One of the most common ways people style their curly hair is with a diffuser. But, since that’s a method that uses heat, we don’t suggest using it each and every time you get out of the shower. That’s why we think hair plopping is so great — because zero heat is required! After all, your hair deserves all the TLC and a break from heat every now and again, right?

This is especially true for women over 40, as hair thinning is a major concern many of us deal with. Ashley tells us: “Plopping gives that thinning hair more volume while still maintaining curl definition.”

How to plop your hair the right way

Now that you know about the popularity and benefits of hair plopping, it’s onto the fun part — how to plop hair! And if you’re not sure if you’re a candidate for hair plopping, Ashley shares, “All curl patterns can plop, however it is best for waves to loose curls.”

1. Wash hair and apply product

The first thing you’ll want to do is shampoo and condition your hair as you normally would, brushing through your locks with a comb while the conditioner is still in. And after stepping out of the shower once it’s all been rinsed out, you’ll want to go in with a curl product of some sort, like the Schwarzkopf Osis+ Bounty Balm (Buy from Amazon, $26). “It controls frizz, nourishes the hair and improves the overall health,” Ashley says of the product. “It’s lightweight so your curls won’t feel hard.” Just make sure to scrunch the product into your hair in sections, as opposed to sliding your fingers through in a brushing manner.

Woman scrunching product in curls to prepare it for hair plopping.

2. Plop!

Most of us wrap our hair in a turban style using a towel, but that isn’t the case with hair plopping. Instead, you’ll want to get your hands on a microfiber towel or even a cotton T-shirt you have at your disposal. Lay out the towel onto a flat surface (like a countertop or your bed), and “flip your head upside down and plop your curls in the center of the towel,” Ashley says. Think of your hair as an accordion with this step, simply dipping your hair onto the top of the towel. Once you’re happy with the placement of your hair, wrap the tail of the towel into a secure position. Ashley says to wait anywhere between 15-45 minutes — however long it takes for your hair to be mostly dried! “Depending on your curl pattern and hair type (fine, medium or coarse) will determine the exact time for you,” she tells us. “It will take a few tries before you discover the best time for you!”

The TikTok below from @sophiemariegraf shows the simple technique:


Replying to @mcort43 here’s how to plop your hair! This helps cut down on dry time and also increases definition. This towel is from @Coco & Eve but you could also use a T-Shirt! Same idea, but lay it out with the neck closest to you, flip the body up over your head, and tie the arms to secure. #wavyhairtips #wavyhairtutorial #howtoplop #ploppingtutorial #ploppstudio #2ahair #2bhair #bowlmethodwaves

♬ In the Bosom – Sweet After Tears

3. Let it dry

hair plopping using a diffuser

After you remove your hair from the towel, it will likely still be a bit damp. You can let it finish air drying if you want to go the heatless route, or, if you’re in a time crunch, you can finish off the process with a few minutes of diffusing. It’s completely up to you! That’s all it takes. We think it’s a relatively easy process to follow — just remember that you should follow these tips step by step. “Skipping or rushing through a step will not lead to the best results,” Ashley warns.

Related: Pro Stylists’ Tricks for Curls That Last and Last So Hair Stays Lush + Voluminous All Day

If you opt for the cotton tee method, the process will be exactly the same. We love Sabrina’s take on the technique in this TikTok video, which is super easy to follow!


How to plop your hair with a cotton shirt! If you dont have a microfibre towel, this is a great alternative for it! Plopping helps with curl formation, and volume while decreasing the frizz. #curltok#curlyhairrepair#curlyhairroutine#curlyhairtips#curlyhairturorial#curlyhairforbeginners#curlyhairplopping#curlplopping

♬ Sakura Trees – saib

Our favorite products for hair plopping

PATTERN by Tracee Ellis Ross Shower Detangling Brush

PATTERN by Tracee Ellis Ross Shower Detangling Brush (Buy from Sephora, $17)

Made specifically for the shower, this detangling brush is great to keep on hand for wash days. After putting in conditioner, gently brush through your hair until you get out all of your tangles.

Schwarzkopf Osis+ Bounty Balm

Schwarzkopf Osis+ Bounty Balm (Buy from Amazon, $26)

For the product you put on your hair before you plop it on top of a towel, this balm is a great choice. In addition to taming frizz and and giving hair a silky texture, it’s proven to nourish hair.

Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream

Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream (Buy from Sephora, $36)

Another amazing product to use in your hair plopping journey is this cream, which defines curls and is formulated with argan oil, known for its ability to smooth the hair.

Aquis Microfiber Towel

Aquis Microfiber Towel (Buy from Amazon, $24.99)

We’ve been big-time fans of this specific microfiber towel for years — it’s simply the best! Not only does it dry hair faster than a traditional towel, but it’s also lightweight and feels great on the head.

PATTERN by Tracee Ellis Ross Microfiber Hair Towel

PATTERN by Tracee Ellis Ross Microfiber Hair Towel (Buy from Sephora, $19)

We also love this microfiber hair towel, which was made with curly-haired people specifically in mind. It’s soft to the touch and even machine-washable.

Curlsmith Bonding Hair Oil

Curlsmith Bonding Hair Oil (Buy from Sephora, $30)

Once your hair has been plopped and dried, we love going in with a hair oil to bring back luminosity, like this one! It’s seemingly weightless and crafted with good-for-your hair ingredients like vegan keratin, castor oil and sea buckthorn oil.

Bread Beauty Supply Hair Oil Everyday Gloss
Bread Beauty Supply

Bread Beauty Supply Hair Oil Everyday Gloss (Buy from Sephora, $24)

This is another great oil that we’re obsessed with, thanks to its clean ingredients that’s made without the inclusion of silicones. It will increase your hair’s shine and even aid damaged hair.

For more hair styling tips and tricks, click through these stories:

Heatless Curls For Short Hair — 4 Ways To Get The Bounce Without The Burn

Tired of Limp Hair? Make It Look Fuller Overnight With These 3 Heatless Curling Tricks

How to Achieve Kate Middleton’s Gorgeous Hairstyles + the $13 Product Her Hairstylist Uses

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