It's gonna get sappy up in here.
Plop, lock, and drop it: A hair styling method for those with really wavy but not quite curly hair.
About seven years ago, my hair started to change. (Did you know that was a thing? I did not know that was a thing.) It stayed the same volume but it went from fairly straight to moderately wavy. It chilled out there for a few years, and then it was like “NOPE, MOAR!” and became progressively more wavy over the next few years.
At this point, my hair is just about as wavy as it can be without crossing into the domain of curly.
Now, I‘ve always been a pretty wash’n’wear type of girl. I was not so good with the whole add a special product, use a special brush, employ a special heat styling tool sort of hair management. Thusly, as my hair got more and more wavy, I became more and more befuddled by its new interactions with humidity as well as its affinity for turning into a tangled nest of bird-of-prey proportions.
I dealt with this follicular puzzle the best way I knew how: I tossed it up into a messy bun fastened by a very sparkly hairpin I bought in Chinatown. This method served me well in terms of being presentable for work (and it was nice to know I had an eye gouging tool to use against lurkers, and also SPARKLY THINGS), but I began to miss wearing my hair down without it behaving like a gremlin fed after midnight.
I tried some methods I found on the Internet and from well-meaning friends, but none of the methods seemed to work very well for me. Despite my new wave/curl pattern, my hair’s texture had remained normal bordering on fine, and a lot of the products and methods out there can really weigh down hair that is in that category.
But then. THEN. On a rainy afternoon, I was chatting with one of my friends who has glorious glorious shiny curls. No frizz, no nothing. I commented upon her springy locks and she was like “PLOPPING. No, really, it’s actually called that. YouTube it. It will change your life. For serious.”
And she was totes right. I started plopping (aka. plunking), and I’ve never looked back. After much trial and error and many many blog posts read and YouTube video viewings later, here is the method I’ve perfected:
You will need:
-A large T-shirt or microfiber towel or microfiber hair turban
-sectioning clips or some other clip to fasten the T-shirt/towel (optional)
-styling product of your choice (optional)
1. Post-shower, blot your hair gently with a bath towel. Don’t rub or whatnot -– it defeats the purpose.
2. Put a T-shirt/towel down on a flat surface -- I use my bed or the countertop in my bathroom. If you’re using a T-shirt, make sure the sleeves are towards you.
3. Lean over the t-shirt/towel with your head hanging down and bend over at the waist.
4. Position your wet hair onto the t-shirt/towel so all the curls are concentrated on top of your head.
5. Pull the material such that it is taut against your forehead and the back of your head. Then, grab the two sides (above each ear) and twist them into long rolls.
6. Take the rolls and pull them to the nape of your neck. Secure them by tying them together or by clipping them, if you prefer.
7. Allow your hair to dry/set for 15-30 min, depending on your preference, and then remove the t-shirt/towel.
8. BAM! Well-defined waves/curls should cascade down, because apparently this is a shampoo commercial now.
If you are having difficulty visualizing the process, there’s a great step-by-step diagram and video here. I was going to try to make my own pictorial, but why bother when this awesome one already exists?
The concept is that by using a thin material to wrap your hair atop your head, it dries faster than with a regular towel, and it dries in a way that maintains the integrity of the wave/curl pattern since gravity is not pulling down on the waves/curl.
I tweak my method depending on the effect I want. If I’m feeling lazy, I leave it up for about 20 minutes and then I take it down and put it into a bun. If I’m applying product, I usually put my hair up for about 10 minutes, gently take it down and apply the product, and then I put it back up for another 20 minutes.
I apply my various body emollients and unguents while it is setting, which is nice because then I feel all efficient and such! Some people even sleep with their hair plopped, but I can just barely sleep with my hair in a ponytail (let alone swathed in a towel), so I can’t attest to how well that would work. (If this works for you, tell us in the comments section, please? I’m so curious!)
I vary the products I use as well, but recently, I am super into It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product for everyday use -– it’s way easy to use plus it smells purty. If it’s humid out, I usually blend a pea-sized drop of a silicone-based serum (I’m currently using Biosilk or Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum) with a dime-sized dollop of texturizing paste (I adore Kenra’s Platinum Texturizing Taffy 13 because it werrrrrrrks and it smells like yum).
If you’re putting product in your hair with your hands, don’t forget to emulsify the product by rubbing it between your palms for about 30 seconds or so and then lightly apply it to your tresses as evenly as possible. I’ve found that taking those few seconds to emulsify the product really makes a difference in terms of product distribution and efficacy.
Also, these days, I use a microfiber hair turban instead of a T-shirt or microfiber towel. It stays in place waaay better, so it was worth the $10 investment for me. Tips for using the above method with a hair turban are: Aim for the wider portion of the turban when you’re positioning your hair. Then, twist the tail end of the turban (which should contain no hair, as it should all be piled on top of your head) and fasten at the nape of your neck.
And there you have it! Relatively simple heat-free styling for shiny awesome locks of awesomeness, and no unicorns or narwhals had to die for the cause!
The time I save by plopping gives me time to enjoy the finer things in life: strawberry margaritas.
Does plopping work for you? Are there any other magical mystical hair techniques you’d like to share with the xoJane community? Drop some knowledge up in the comments, please, so folks like me can learn from folks like you!
You can find Tasneem musing about social justice and shiny things at the newly launched site Social Work and Glitter.