An easy guide to hair plopping: The overnight drying technique that creates perfect curls

Samantha | 24 January 2018

Styling while you sleep? Yes please!

Fighting frizz can sometimes feel like a 24/7 job, especially with curly locks. If you’ve ever gone to sleep with fairytale-worthy ringlets and woken up with a tangled mess, we’ve found a technique that’s a total mane-changer. The not-so-delicately-named ‘hair plopping’ method allows your curls to dry overnight with no heat. And, most importantly, no frizz.

What is hair plopping?

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, 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…

Hair Plopping girl with curly black hair smiling
Perfect curls are definitely something to smile about.

How to plop your hair

Looking for a hair plopping tutorial? You’ve come to the right place. ATH breaks down all the steps you need to become a pro at this surprisingly easy technique.

  1. Apply your favourite curl-creating or conditioning product to damp hair. We recommend using the TONI&GUY Wave Memorising Balm to help keep your ringlets in place all day long.
  2. Take a cotton T-shirt (or a dry microfibre towel) and lay it out on a flat surface.
  3. Gently gather your hair to the top of your head and, leaning over the flat T-shirt, place all the hair in the centre.
  4. Fold the bottom and top of the T-shirt towards your head and twist the ends inwards, so the T-shirt has secured your curls against your crown.
  5. Lift your head up and secure the T-shirt tightly by tucking, pinning and tying it into a knot where needed. The goal is to have all your hair compressed at the top of your head, with the T-shirt keeping it tightly in place.
  6. Ideally, the T-shirt should be left on overnight or until your curls have completely dried. But, if you haven’t got time to spare, leave it on for 20-30 minutes before using a hairdryer. Gently drying it in this way first will help decrease the risk of frizzy or untamed curls, even when using a diffuser.
  7. That’s all there is to it! Gently remove the T-shirt in the morning and you’ll be left with voluminous, perfectly coiffed curls. Game-changer, no?

Editor’s tip: If you’re a hair plopping novice, try starting with a long-sleeved top. The extra fabric will make it easier to loop and tie the T-shirt into place, so it doesn’t loosen throughout the night.

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