If you think that the only way to cause hair damage is through bleaching or excessive heat styling, think again. The way you care for your hair while you sleep can have an effect on the appearance and health of your hair too, so it’s important to consider what to do (and what not to do) while sleeping on your strands. Consider it an extension of your hair care routine.
Whether you’re braiding your hair to get waves, nourishing damaged hair, or trying to preserve the look of a sleek blowout, there are many steps you can take to ensure that your hair stays in place throughout the night. Read on as we share our favorite pre-sleep hair care tips, along with protective hairstyles for sleeping and product recommendations so that you can learn how to protect your hair while sleeping — no sitting up on propped pillows here.
Is It Better to Sleep With Your Hair Up or Down?
Many will debate whether it’s best to go to bed with an updo or if you should put your tresses down, but as with most things in beauty, it really depends. If you’re putting your hair in a ponytail but you’re creating too much tension at the crown of your head, it’s not good for the health of your hair. Similarly, if you’re wearing your hair down at night but you fail to sleep on the type of pillow or pillowcase that will prevent friction, it can be just as damaging. Oftentimes it just depends on the length of your hair.
If you have short hair, sleep with it down since tying it up would cause too much friction and pressure on your scalp. If you have long hair, you’re going to want to tie it up to protect your strands, especially the ends, from getting snagged or pulled as you sleep.
How to Protect Your Hair While Sleeping
Whether you wear it up or down is your choice as long as you take other measures to ensure that your hair is protected while you rest. Check out some of our best pre-sleep hair care tips, below, that put a positive spin on the term “bed head”.
1. Detangle Your Hair Before Bed
One of the simplest ways to protect your hair at night is by brushing or combing through your strands thoroughly. This will help detangle your hair and evenly distribute its natural oils from the roots to the ends. Use a wide-tooth comb to remove knots and tangles on damp hair, which will help prevent breakage.
2. Apply a Nourishing Hair Treatment
Hair treatments are often praised for their moisturizing benefits, and using one as a leave-in product at night is an effective way to give your hair some love while you sleep. Try the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free 21-in-1 Color Caring Spray, Leave In. The sulfate-free formula uses ingredients like almond milk and rose extract to moisturize hair, add silkiness to your strands and reduce breakage. Mist the spray through clean, damp hair and comb through to make sure it touches all of your strands.
3. Use a Lightweight Hair Serum
Managing frizz and flyaways can be frustrating, and these annoyances can occur as you sleep due to friction from rubbing against your pillowcase. To help minimize the amount of frizz you wake up with, try applying a hair serum before heading to bed.
The L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Frizz Killer Serum Leave-In is formulated with castor seed oil, which supports the keratin in your hair and makes each strand stronger and smoother. The L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Simply Clean Midnight Color Care Serum is made to be used overnight as the blend of natural essential oils adds shine and softness to hair while you sleep.
4. Sleep on a Satin or Silk Pillowcase
As we mentioned above, the wrong type of pillowcase can be a detriment to your style overnight as well as the health of your hair over time. It’s true that pillowcases made from cotton tend to be rougher on the hair and can cause breakage. Switching to a satin or silk pillowcase can help to keep your hairstyle from getting tangled while you toss and turn since they’re smoother than other fabrics. Plus, sleeping on silk adds a luxurious element to your nighttime routine so who’d say no to that?
5. Try Protective Hairstyles for Sleeping
Some of the best ways to wear your hair to bed to prevent breakage include styles that you also may want to wear out and about, so they save you time getting ready in the morning. Whichever style you choose, the key here is to make sure that it’s loose and not too tight, because tension can pull on your roots and cause damage. Good hairstyles for sleeping with long hair include:
Try a pineapple if you have curls or a messy bun for any hair type. The trick is to keep your hair tucked up and away from your face but also loose enough on the scalp to prevent pulling and breakage.
Overnight braids can create loose waves on type 2 and 3 hair and can stretch type 4 hair: All wearable styles that both protect the hair and look chic enough to sport out the next day.
For natural hair beauties who love to sport a twist out, it’s a no-brainer that this style adds flair to the hair but is also one of the best ways to wear your hair for sleeping.
Even if you have shorter strands, opt for a loose low bun or ponytail to keep your hair — your ends especially — tucked out of harm’s way as you catch some much-needed beauty rest.
Doobie WrapIf you’ve ever gotten a fresh silk press, relaxer or blowout then you understand the disappointment of having all that hard work get erased with one night’s sleep. Make your style last and keep your hair hydrated and shiny by wrapping it in a sleek doobie. Grab your bobby pins and your hair wrap for sleeping to create a protective hairstyle that will last through the night. All you have to do is brush your hair around your head (almost like you’re creating a beehive or cone) and secure each section with as many bobby pins as you need. Then tie your scarf around it and you’re good to go to bed.
6. Wrap Your Hair and Tuck Away Your Ends
As we just mentioned, certain hairstyles need to be wrapped to be preserved at night. While this is important to keep from ruining your style, it’s also important so that you can keep moisture locked in your hair and prevent your ends from being wrecked. Learning how to sleep with long hair is especially important when you’re trying to grow your hair out so you need to wrap your hair like a pro.
Once you've secured your bobby pins throughout your hair, you’re good to go, but we’d advise that you take an extra step and put on a hair bonnet for sleeping or a hair cap. These will better help keep your strands in place should any of your pins fall out while you snooze.
7. Choose Braids Over Heat Tools
As we also mentioned previously, braids are a great protective hairstyle for sleeping. They’re also a good choice because you can create heatless waves by braiding your hair before bed and letting it set overnight.
Apply a curl cream like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Non-Stop Dreamy Curls Leave-in Conditioner throughout your hair before braiding and cover your head with a silk scarf to keep the braids in place. Undo your braids in the morning to reveal gorgeous curls.
If you do decide to use a heat styling tool, always use a heat protectant like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Weightless Blow Dry Primer to prevent any damage or breakage.
8. Give Yourself a Scalp Massage
There’s no denying that one of the best parts of going to the salon is when your hairstylist massages your scalp, and you can recreate that relaxing feeling before bedtime with a quick scalp massage. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, doing so stimulates blood flow to your hair follicles — which keeps the scalp healthy and aids in producing thicker strands. A quick scalp massage can also be relaxing and can help lull you into a deep sleep.
9. Use a Humidifier at Night
The same way adding moisture to the air at night can have a healthy effect on your skin, it can help protect your hair from thirst. Additionally, sleeping with a humidifier on can help your overnight hair treatments further penetrate your strands. You can never go wrong with hair that feels properly hydrated.
10. Sleep in a Bonnet or Scarf
Using a hair cap, bonnet, or wrapping your hair with a silk or satin scarf at night will shield your hair from rubbing against your pillowcase. This will also help you protect your ends at night and make your hairstyle last longer, and you don’t have to worry about any friction or loss of moisture as you rest.
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