Whether you’re just getting into CG or a veteran CG-er, you’ve probably heard of plopping. So what exactly is plopping, and what is the purpose of plopping curly hair?
Plopping is the first step in drying your hair after you’ve added all your styling products. The idea behind plopping is to give your hair a controlled environment to begin drying, and to reduce the factors that cause flat roots, limp/undefined curls, and frizz.
The first benefit of plopping is that it eliminates the effects of gravity on your hair while it's drying. When your hair is wet it is weighed down by the water it has absorbed, which smooshes down your roots and stretches the curl itself, which causes your curls to dry flat and limp. When properly plopped, your hair can begin drying without being weighed down, giving you more defined curls and more volume at the roots.
The second great thing about plopping is that it dries your curls gently. Plopping can be done either with a microfiber towel or, more commonly, with just a plain old cotton t-shirt. The type of fabric is key to a successful plop – these fabrics gently and slowly absorb excess water and product from your hair. As opposed to terrycloth towels, which absorb moisture much more quickly and thoroughly, a cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel is less absorbent. This allows your hair to retain more moisture inside the hair shaft as it dries, thereby avoiding frizz and dryness.
Finally, by avoiding terrycloth towels, you spare your hair the damage caused by the roughness of the terrycloth fabric. The bristly nature of the fabric roughs up and raises the cuticle of each strand, causing the cuticle to remain open when your hair is dry. This diminishes your hair’s ability to retain moisture and causes frizz.
Now that we've understood the benefits of plopping, when should you plop? As mentioned above, plopping is intended for when your hair is wet and ready to be styled. Start with your hair wet after a shower and add in your styling products. You should keep your hair plopped for at least 15-20 minutes. Some curlies plop for longer, or even opt to sleep in a plop, so experiment to see what gives you the best results! After plopping you can continue with your preferred drying method of either air drying or diffusing.
You can now continue with your morning routine, watch TV, take a nap... whatever. Just make sure to let the plop work its magic for at least 15-20 minutes. After removing the plop, take a minute to give your hair a few good scrunches using the dry parts of the t-shirt or towel to remove any excess moisture left behind. Pay special attention to the middle of your hair, as it generally gets less direct contact with the fabric and can retain excess water. Once your hair stops releasing excess moisture from scrunching, you’re good to go.
If you style your hair with a diffuser you can now begin diffusing, or allow your hair to air dry. This is where you’ll probably notice another perk of plopping – it cuts drying time significantly! Whichever drying method you choose, you’ll have a shorter drying time as a bonus to your new defined frizz-less curls!