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10 Hair Plopping Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

The hair plopping technique has become quite popular among curly-haired people and is a great way to achieve frizz-free definition and volume.

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of hair plopping mistakes that can damage your hair or stretch out your curls.

Read on to learn more about this technique, mistakes to avoid, and how to plop your hair properly.

What Is Hair Plopping?

Hair Plopping

Hair plopping is a method of preserving your curls by drying your hair using a cotton t-shirt or a microfiber towel.

And before you ask— yes, this is different from simply wrapping your hair in a regular towel.

Using a regular towel to dry your hair is highly damaging due to the friction created when you roughly rub it all over your head. Instead, you should use a cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel to blot or wrap your hair gently.

Before we get into the plopping techniques, let’s look at mistakes to avoid while doing it.

Hair Plopping Mistakes

Hair plopping mistakes infographic
Hair plopping mistakes infographic ©HairstyleCamp

Here are the top ten hair-plopping mistakes to avoid.

1. Using The Wrong Shampoo

A good hair day starts in the shower, and that includes plopping. Using a shampoo compatible with your hair and scalp type is important.

Typically, it’s good to avoid shampoos with sulfates on curly hair as they strip away natural oils and can leave your hair dry and brittle.

Because of the coils in curly hair, natural oils already have a hard time traveling down the hair shaft, so excessive use of products that contain these drying agents can be detrimental to your hair’s health.

2. Wringing or Drying

The point of plopping your hair is to avoid damaging your curls by wringing them dry. So you should avoid touching your hair to remove excess water after washing and before plopping.

To do this, you’ll flip your head upside down and shake to remove the water without touching your curls.

3. Brushing or Combing

Another no-no before and plopping hair mistake is brushing or combing through your hair. In doing so, you disturb and break up your curl pattern, preventing your coils from holding their shape.

4. Not Using Cotton or Microfiber Towel

Not Using Cotton or Microfiber

Perhaps the biggest mistake you can make while plopping your hair is using the wrong material. Regular terry-cloth towels can cause friction when used on your hair and cause breakage and dryness.

5. Not Using a Flat Surface

This may seem pretty obvious, but you need a flat surface to work while plopping your hair. It’ll be easier to position your curls on the t-shirt or towel and fold the sides up appropriately.

You can use a countertop, bed, or, if you’re short on space, the toilet (seat down, of course!).

6. Positioning Your Hair Incorrectly

The position of your hair in the plop will make or break your results. You shouldn’t just flip your hair onto the t-shirt or microfiber towel any old way.

Instead, flip your head upside down, so your hair is at the top of your head. Slowly lower your head onto the t-shirt or microfiber towel in an accordion or folded fashion. Doing so will prevent your curls from stretching out or drying in a strange position.

7. Tying the Shirt or Towel Too Tight

Hair Plopping Mistakes - Tying the Shirt or Towel Too Tight

Just like positioning your hair correctly on the t-shirt or microfiber towel is important, ensuring that you don’t tie it too tight is as well. If the shirt or towel is too snug, you risk crushing your curls into your roots—and saying goodbye to any volume.

You’ll need to play around with the tying technique a bit to determine your perfect fit.

8. Weighing Down Roots

If your hair lacks volume after plopping, it could be because you made the mistake of crushing or weighing down your roots withthe t-shirt or towel.

This can happen for several reasons: you applied product directly to your roots or tied the t-shirt or microfiber towel incorrectly.

Applying products to your roots can leave them weighed down and your hair appearing flat. You should apply your products starting a few inches from your roots to the ends.

If you applied your products correctly but still have flat hair, it could be due to the way you tied the shirt or towel. Knotting the shirt or towel at the front of your head helps prevent it from pulling your roots down.

9. Plopping for Too Long

To reap the full benefits of plopping, you should aim to dry your hair about 90% of the way. Drying your hair completely in the plop makes it harder to style your hair afterward, and you may introduce frizz by picking at and fluffing it up.

If you dry your hair to about 90%, you can still diffuse or pick your curls afterward to add more volume without the frizz.

10. Improper Product Layering

Hair Plopping Mistakes - Improper Product Layering

Most curly styling products are water activated, so ideally, you’d apply your products before you plop. That is one of the biggest mistakes you can make while plopping your hair. Because plopping can also remove the products from your hair if they get soaked into the t-shirt or microfiber towel.

It’ll take some experimenting to decide how and when you’ll need to layer your products, but leaving your hair 75–90% allows you the ability to add more product to your hair and diffuse as needed.

How To Plop Hair The Right Way

Now that we’ve covered some of the most common hair-plopping mistakes, let’s discuss how to plop hair the right way.

Rid Your Hair of Excess Water

Tips To Plop Hair Properly - Rid Hair of Excess Water

Removing excess water from your hair before plopping will prevent weighing down your hair. You should do this after washing and again after applying your styling products.

To remove the excess water, flip your head upside down and shake your head back and forth. Try not to touch your hair with your hands as that can add frizz to your final do.

Use a Flat Surface

Lay your cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel on a flat surface so you can position your hair properly. Failing to set your curls on top of your head when you plop can result in uneven or stretched-out curls.

Gently Set Your Curls

Tips To Plop Hair Properly - Set Your Curls

Positioning your curls correctly while plopping is extremely important to ensure you get as much volume and definition as possible.

Flip your head over to push your hair to the top and gently lower your hair in an accordion or folding fashion a little above halfway up the towel. Ensure you’ve bunched your hair up at the top of your head.

Secure Your Hair Properly

Avoid weighing down your hair or crushing your roots by gently folding the ends of the t-shirt or microfiber towel around your head and fastening it loosely at the front of your head.

Remove the Towel Gently

After your hair is dry, flip your head upside down and gently remove the t-shirt or towel, careful not to yank it off or disturb your curls.

Diffuse or Fluff for Added Volume

Tips To Plop Hair Properly - Diffuse for Added Volume

This tip is optional, but if you leave your hair slightly damp, you can add more product as needed or diffuse your hair for more volume.


If you still have questions about hair plopping, we’ve answered some of the most commonly asked below.

What should I do after plopping hair?

After you’ve let your hair sit in the plop, gently remove the towel and use your fingers to fluff out your roots and hair. If your hair isn’t fully dry, you can add more product or diffuse it to your liking.

Does plopping cause hair breakage?

No. If you use a cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel and gently remove it when you finish plopping, you shouldn’t have any damage to your hair.

Will plopping work on straight hair?

You can use the plopping method to gently dry straight hair, but it won’t make your hair curly.

Does plopping make your hair frizzy?

No. So long as you use the correct material and follow the steps to position and tie your hair correctly, plopping is a great method to prevent frizz.

Should I diffuse hair after plopping?

You can! After you plop, you can diffuse your hair if it’s not completely dry. Doing so can result in more volume.

Why should I plop hair with a microfiber towel?

The microfiber material is gentle on your hair and will prevent damage and frizz. You can also use a cotton t-shirt.

Should I comb hair before plopping?

No. Combing or brushing your hair before plopping can disturb your curl pattern or stretch out your hair.

Can I use a bonnet for hair plopping?

Yes. You can use a bonnet to plop your hair if you don’t want to tie a t-shirt or microfiber towel around your head using the same method. Keep in mind that if you use a loose bonnet, though, your curls may not hold their shape as well.

How long should I plop my hair?

The time to plop your hair will depend on several factors like your type of hair, how much excess water is in your hair, your level of dryness preference, etc.

You should plan on experimenting the first few times you plop to discover your desired amount of time.

Is plopping hair good for all hair types?

Yes. Plopping your hair is a gentle way to dry and prevent breakage and frizz. Keep in mind that plopping straight hair will not make it curly.

Plopping your hair is a gentle way to dry your curls and achieve the most volume possible. It’s a simple technique that’s beneficial for all hair types as it prevents the breakage and frizz that occurs from using normal terry-cloth towels.

Now that you know which hair plopping mistakes to avoid, you’re well on your way to tight curls patterns with beautiful definition and zero frizz!

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