This past week, I tried something entirely outside the box. It was wash day and I did not have time for an involved shower with loads of styling products, a deep heat conditioning treatment or 40 minutes to diffuse my long curly hair. I decided I would get back to the basics.

To me, a minimal wash day routine looks like this: shampoo and conditioner for curly hair + a leave-in conditioner + a curl hair cream + a strong hold gel. I normally apply all my styling products in the shower, plop and then diffuse. Today, I only applied my detangler in the shower, plopped while I worked for an hour, scrunched in my two styling products and diffused. Simple. Right? Below is my routine on how to damp style wavy curly hair.

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1. wash

My low porosity curls love the heat. If your natural hair is like mine, it will love a scalp massage and wash with Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo.

  • Turn water to warm heat.
  • Completely wet hair.
  • Rub quarter-size amount of shampoo into scalp and massage with scalp scrubber for 5 minutes.
  • Add water to hair as needed.
  • Rinse out.

2. Condition

Rather than deep conditioning with a heat cap for 20 minutes, I opted for a 5 minute condition using Surface Bassu Hydrating Conditioner.

  • Apply conditioner from roots to ends using praying hands and scrunching.
  • Wait 5 minutes.
  • Rinse out completely.


4. plop

  • Plop curls in 100% cotton t shirt for 30 to 60 minutes. The longer you plop, the shorter your diffusing time should be.

5. Curly hair products

This is where, if you are damp styling, your routine will change. Normally, the curly girl routine has you place your products in your hair before plopping. To damp style curly hair, you add the styling products after plopping or air drying.

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Tip: When damp styling wavy, curly hair DO NOT mix your hair cream and gel together before scrunching into hair. I made this mistake and had little white gel balls all through my hair. With low porosity curls, if your hair is not wet enough, the product may sit on top of the hair follicle. If this happens to you, my suggestion is to use less leave in conditioner and apply a little water to your styling products before distributing through hair.

6. Diffuse

  • Diffuse curly hair switching between medium and low heat. You should notice a noticeable reduction in drying time. My favorite hair dryer is by BaByLiss. I included a link at the bottom of this post.


While my low porosity, 2c 3a curls do best when styled with heat, too much makes my hair feel brittle. Damp styling my wavy, curly hair gave me clumped curls with low to no frizz. The extra plopping time allowed my roots to dry more naturally. This meant less time under the hair dryer! I also liked the fact that I didn’t lose most of my curly hair styling products to the t-shirt. Here are my results.

What do you think about damp styling curly hair? Have you had positive or negative styling results? Please share below!



Diagnosed with Celiac Disease eleven years ago, I've been on a journey discovering what it means to be truly healthy. Join me as I share my personal fitness goals, gluten free recipes I've tried, travel tips, curly hair product reviews and all things creative.


  1. What does it mean to “plop” hair? It to use “praying hands”? Thank you for articles and recommendations!

    • Jennifer Leigh Reply

      To “plop” your hair is to wrap it in a 100% cotton t-shirt. You start by placing the shirt on a chair or bathroom counter with sleeves closest to you. Flip your head forward “plopping” your hair onto the shirt. Place the bottom of the t-shirt at the base of your neck. Then tie the shirt sleeves in a knot behind your head. How long you plop all depends on your own personal results. Hope this helps!

  2. Yes, love this. Going to dry damp styling on my next wash day 🙌🙌 Love those clumps! Haha

    • Jennifer Leigh Reply

      Jessica, it’s a total game changer! Good luck with your styling. Let me know how it works for you.

  3. How do you get the hair out of your face? Do you ever clip or just pull back (rake) with hands? Hair on my forehead is strait.

    • Jennifer Leigh Reply

      Hi Susanne,

      That’s a great question! I can’t stand when my curls are constantly in my face. I’ve tried the following with positive results.

      One, part the front and use a Denman Styling Brush to brush up and toward the back of your head (with styling products). This creates volume at the roots and styles your curls the way you want them.

      Two, after diffusing, I’ll separate the front and pull back loosely with these claw clips. When I’m ready to SOTC, my curls have volume and stay off my face naturally.

      These two styling techniques have worked for me and my 2c 3a curls. For reference, I have tighter, spiral curls around my forehead.

      Good luck and let me know how it’s going!

      Shine with Jennifer Leigh

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