Sleeping with Your Hair in a Plop – What You Should Know


Much like the daily struggle of unpredictable curly hair, some curly techniques may make you question whether they’re worth all the effort. One of these techniques, plopping, has made the rounds as a go-to styling option if you want to wake up with effortless-looking curls.

But with all of the mixed reviews from plopping, you might be wondering if you should try it or if it will even work for you. Let’s first have a look at how to plop. Then, we’ll discuss how to fix some of the top concerns for plopping.

How to Put Your Hair in a Plop Overnight

Plopping your hair is (fortunately) fairly simple to achieve. I personally use a microfiber towelCurly Hair Towel (link to Amazon) and a leave-in conditionerGarnier Fructis Leave-In Conditioner for Curly Hair (link to Amazon) for the best results, but a large t-shirt can work as well.

  • Step 1: Place your Towel or T-shirt flat on your bed or a low surface. Bend over and gather all of your hair at the top of your head.
  • Step 2: Use the towel to scrunch, cover, and hold your curls together, ensuring that your entire head is covered from your forehead to the nape of your neck.
  • Step 3: Take the outer edges of the towel in each hand and begin twisting as you stand up.
  • Step 4: Twist the remaining material to help keep it tight and prevent curls from escaping.
  • Step 5: Tuck the ends into the back to secure in place. If using a thicker towel, you can also use a hairband to secure the ends at the back of your head, like a ponytail.

Now let’s look at some common thoughts people have when plopping.

Plop Thought 1: It Doesn’t Always Work

If you have been following the Curly Girl method for any length of time, you know that not only can your curls change from day to day (depending on where you are in your wash cycle), but no matter how strictly you follow someone else’s routine, your curls do not always look like the Instagram influencers.

As a curly girl, I wish I could explain this bizarre phenomenon. That being said, if you are considering sleeping with your hair in a plop – by all means, try it! Be prepared to wake up on some mornings to a great hair day, some mornings with a decent hair day, and some mornings with a hair-in-a-bun day.

How to fix it: Plopping truly is a trial and error technique. There are various ways that you can tweak the method to find out what works best for you, such as plopping when partially dry or when completely dry before bed, rather than doing it when hair is saturated. Once you find a process that works for your individual hair – stick with it.

Plop Thought 2: How You Sleep Matters

It seems that those who have the most success with sleeping with a plop tend to not move around too much in their sleep. If you know that your sleep habits can get pretty wild throughout the night, you might find that you wake up with the shirt or towel anywhere but on your head.

On the other hand, for those who don’t move at all, you may find that you wake with one side of flat curls due to constant pressure throughout the night.

How to fix it: One option is to skip tying your hair at all while you sleep. Instead, place the shirt over your pillow and plop your head on the pillow with wrapping the strands. For this version, you may need to use slightly more gel to help keep your hair from frizzing as you sleep freely. By not tying, you can eliminate the bulk of the tied shirt while you’re trying to sleep, and it lets your curls move more naturally.

Plop Thought 3: You Will Still Need to Do Some Work in the Morning

Despite the glamorous videos that you’ll find on the internet, your curls won’t always be as defined and perfect as we hope for them to be. Flattened and oddly bent curls are often the norm for sleeping with a plop.

How to fix it: Again, your morning routine will be trial and error when it comes to plopping. It could merely be a matter of adjusting your hair care products, or the level of dryness when you head to bed. In the morning, you will need to scrunch and re-apply products that will help bring back the formation and definition of your curls.

Plop Thought 4: You Might Still Wake Up with Wet Hair

Depending on the porosity of your curls, if you go to bed with soaking wet hair and cover it with a shirt, the chances of having damp hair in the morning is very likely. It’s important not to assume that plopping your hair while you sleep will be a one-stop solution for drying and styling your curls.

How to fix it: The best way to solve the morning damp factor is to plop your hair when it is already partially dry. If you wash your hair at night, plan to wash it at least two hours before bed, apply your hair care products, then finish all of your pre-bed routines or activities before plopping and jumping into bed.

If you don’t have the time to let it air dry before bed, try using a diffuser either before you plop or when you wake up in the morning for styling.

Plop Thought 5: There is a Concern for Sleeping with Wet Hair

While not overly common or threatening, sleeping with damp hair always has the potential to cause issues with the fungus or bacteria on the scalp. Because of the presence of Malassezia (a genus of fungi) in our skin, sleeping with your hair in a plop can create a breeding ground for infection. Any time you leave your hair wet and cover it, there is a risk. (Source)

How to fix it: As mentioned before, you should allow your hair to partially dry before plopping it if you are concerned about the possibility of infection. Additionally, you can limit plopping to an occasional technique for your curls, rather than a nightly or weekly method.

The Plop Wrap-Up

Whether you are just starting your curly journey or you have been curly for years, sleeping with your hair in a plop is an excellent technique to test out to see if it works for you. Keeping in mind that it works for some and not so well for others, you may find it a useful way to style your curls when you’re short on styling time or if you are looking for an easy go-to way to get frizz-free curls.

Tiara Croft

Tiara is an avid sleeper and fully dedicated to her work and research. Most often this includes, but is not limited to, napping, testing how many hours in one night that she can sleep, trying new sleep methods and constantly changing sleep positions. Tiara's main focuses are on dreams and how we can achieve the best natural sleep possible. As a sufferer of insomnia and other sleep-related disturbances, Tiara loves to dig deep into the subconscious to ask all the questions that can help us better understand what happens when we sleep.

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