An Easy Guide to Hair Plopping: The Technique That Creates Perfect Curls

Styling while you sleep? Yes please!

It’s time to get real for a moment: frizzy hair sucks. It ruins your styles, it feels less than fabulous and just does zero to boost your confidence. And if you’ve got curly to afro hair, you know that fighting frizz is a constant battle! But that’s where hair plopping comes in to save the day.

You know the scene all too well: you’ve gone to sleep with superstar ringlets and woken up with a tangled mess, meaning you have to spend your whole morning taming it all over again. To resolve this nightmare, the not-so-delicately-named ‘hair plopping’ method allows your curls to dry overnight with no heat – and, most importantly, no frizz!

Hair plopping involves wrapping wet hair tightly in a cotton T-shirt while you get your beauty sleep. Compressing the curls in this way not only helps them form but it also reduces texture-causing friction, leaving you with smooth, defined spirals.

Francesca Rapolla from the Research and Development team at Unilever suggests that sleeping on loose, wet curls is not ideal. “Friction between the hair fibre and the movement of the pillow can cause damage,” she notes.

Plopping, however, keeps the hair condensed and tied up on top of the head. “As this technique ties the hair tightly, it would not move as much and therefore be less susceptible to damaging the hair fibre.”

Sold? We thought so. Learn more about why plopping hair is the key to perfect, voluminous curls and how you can master this no-heat method at home…


Wash your hair.

Start by washing your hair with a hydrating shampoo and conditioner – be generous with the amount of conditioner you use.

For this we particularly love the TRESemmé Botanique Nourish & Replenish Shampoo and Conditioner with it’s botanical blend of coconut milk, coconut oil and aloe vera.

Work in the conditioner thoroughly, making sure to fully coat your strands. Leave in for a few minutes then rinse well.


Apply a smoothing cream.

Once rinsed, apply a smoothing cream – again, don’t be afraid to use a generous amount.

Try out the VO5 Frizz Free Cream to give your locks a smooth and glossy finish!


T-shirt time!

Layout a t-shirt (preferably one with long sleeves) with the collar closest to you and place you hair in the middle.


Wrap it up.

Grab the ends of the t-shirt and wrap it over your head. Cross the sleeves over the back of your head and tie together – tuck in the ends if you need to.


Leave to dry.

Leave to dry overnight, or, if you’re short on time or have very thick hair, blowdry with a diffuser.


Final look.

And there you have it, curls that are frizz-free and looking fabulous!

Stylist’s tip: Don’t touch your hair too much after this technique as you’ll create frizz.

Hair plopping girl with t-shirt on her head taking a selfie
Who knew a cotton T-shirt was such a lifesaver? Credit:

Hair plopping with a T-shirt vs a towel

Believe it or not, the secret to creating frizz-free curls lies in a humble cotton T-shirt. One of the main reasons your locks can look less defined is because the surface of the hair has been disturbed. This creates texture and gives hair a frizzy appearance.

To minimise the risk of disturbing the hair cuticles, use a soft cotton T-shirt (or microfibre towel) to wrap your curls in. As cotton is woven tightly and doesn’t have a rough surface texture, it won’t disturb the coil, leaving your hair looking sleek.

In contrast, the uneven texture of a terrycloth or looped-fibre towel can disturb the hair cuticle and unravel your coils, especially if you are using it to rough dry the hair. Credit: @brittany_rose_hair

Hair plopping brunette girl smiling with voluminous curly hair
Less static = more defined curls. Credit:

Should you try hair plopping for volume?

Thin or limp-haired ladies, listen up: not only could plopping your hair leave the curls more manageable, it also helps create volume. Air drying loose hair can create static (remember, static = frizz) as the curls move against each other. It can also leave your overall style looking flat as the weight of wet hair can pull the roots down against your head.

Hair plopping, however, can add lasting volume to your tresses as it keeps the curls compact. By securing your hair on top of your head, your curls will dry tight and lifted at the root, helping them look fuller.

Plus, this method will help enhance and define your curl pattern. So, you can always scrunch your coils throughout the day to give them a boost. Credit: @theglambelle