How to Use a T-Shirt to Curl Your Hair

woman plopping curly hair

Sometimes your waves need a little extra help after a wash day.

If your loose curls lose their bounce after you’re done cleansing and conditioning, you’re not alone! But for every curl problem, there’s a curl solution, and this one’s as simple as an old t-shirt.

No, we don’t mean DIYing something cute out of your “vintage” shirts to distract from your deflated hair (although, that’s not the worst idea…). We’re talking plopping. Basically, it’s wrapping your freshly cleansed hair in a t-shirt before bed in order to wake up with a head full of clearly defined curls with locked in moisture. It doesn’t have to just be a bedtime routine either. Depending on your texture, you might be able to make this work for drying and defining your hair in just a few hours! This is how you do it.

How to plop curly hair

1. Get the excess out

You want to plop freshly washed and detangled hair. However, you don’t want to plop with sopping wet hair or hair that’s already mostly dry, so find the middle ground. Use a different t-shirt to squeeze out extra water to get the right level of dampness—no dripping, but still wet to the touch. Alternatively, try a product like the Aquis Microfiber Towel to stop those droplets extra fast.

2. Style

This is where you put yourself to work!

T-shirts do a lot, but they’re not going to style your hair for you. Grab your styler and get to it. While you don’t want to get your hair wet again, or overload it with product, you do want to make sure that you’re giving your hair a good amount of hold. If you need to re-wet your hair during this process, grab a good spray bottle, and fill it with a mixture of water, and a creamy leave-in to get the same ingredient combo you like without the weight!

3. Wrap it up

Take an old cotton t-shirt and lay it flat on the bed or any flat surface with the sleeves at the top. Many curlies have found that long-sleeve shirts work best because you have more material to tie your knot with. Hang your head upside down and gently lower your curls onto the center of the t-shirt. Once all your hair is on the center of the shirt, begin rolling the bottom of it up towards your forehead while bringing the back to the nape of your neck. Tie the two ends at the nape of your neck into a knot to secure the shirt.

If your t-shirt isn’t long enough to secure the ends at the nape of your neck, you can also tuck them in during the next step.

Bring the top of the t-shirt towards your head while making sure your curls are all still at the center. Bring the arms down around the nape of your neck, covering the bottom of the t-shirt with the top of the t-shirt. Stand upright and bring the arms together to tie a knot that will secure the shirt in place, then tuck in any loose corners. From there, it’s just a matter of waiting until your hair is dry to see the high-def results!

So what makes plopping different from other drying methods?

Think of it kind of like making a pot roast on your head—the whole secret is letting your hair cook/dry slooooooooowly. Your hair’s not free to frizz as it pleases when you air dry it, and you’re not using any potentially curl disruptive heat! Bonus: cotton t-shirts are that happy medium between regular terrycloth and silk—absorbent enough to actually get your hair dry, while smooth enough to not cause breakage to damp hair.

Will this tip have you raiding your closet, curlies? Let us see your results!

This article has been updated.

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