You know the feeling—you go to bed with perfectly smooth and defined curls and wake up with, well, nothing of the sort. If a head full of frizz and knots is a normal greeting on any given morning, good news: You won’t have to endure it much longer, because with the right know-how, it’s entirely possible to sleep on curly hair and wake up with coils or waves that feel just as fresh and bouncy as they did the day before.
Discover how to keep your curls in place from the second you turn off the lights to the moment you hit snooze. We’ll also give you our secrets on how to restore curly hair after sleeping. In addition to streamlining your morning routine, following these tips and tricks can ensure you wake up with healthier-looking hair as well.
So, are you ready to embrace a whole new kind of bedhead? Learn how to sleep with curls.
How To Sleep with Curly Hair
Whether you want to protect your style, prevent frizz or damage, or wake up with wonderful waves, these techniques and curly hair products will help you achieve your goal.
1. Sleep on Silk
You might’ve already encountered silk (and satin) pillowcases, which have been trending for a few years. And while it makes for a great gift, this is one indulgence you should definitely splurge on for yourself.
Silk pillowcases have a host of benefits for your hair and skin health, so kiss the cotton pillowcase goodbye. While cotton can be rough and absorbent, silk and satin are soft and repellent, so they won’t tug at your hair when you toss and turn or absorb your hair’s natural oils, which lend it natural moisture.
If you’re committed to your pillowcases, you can still reap some of the benefits of a silk pillowcase by wearing a satin bonnet or silk bonnet instead, which leads us to our next tip…
2. Wrap It Up
If you have curly hair, a nighttime headscarf or hair bonnet is a must-have in your bathroom or on your nightstand. Look for a silk or satin scarf or bonnet, which—as we mentioned earlier—will be the most gentle and cause the least friction.
A hair wrap like these can offer a ton of benefits: Not only is it a great way to protect your curls from damage and tangles, but it can also protect your bedding and skin from any product you’ve applied to your hair. Since applying rich, sometimes oil-infused products before bedtime can be extremely beneficial for curly-haired girls (more on that in a bit), a protective bonnet can save you a lot of laundry time.
A hair bonnet is also ideal for those with short hair, who aren’t able to use some of the usual styles that others with long hair can implement to protect their curls overnight.
3. Treat It Overnight
Sleep is one of the most powerful tools for our overall health, and while it may not seem ideal for curls, it’s actually crucial to hair restoration and recovery—not to mention essential to keep the rest of your body functioning smoothly.
The hours you log on the mattress can be even more beneficial when you prep your hair with products that can sink in and work their magic all night long. In fact, before bed is the best time to apply rich and moisturizing ingredients that your hair can soak up while you sleep—after all, you’re looking at 7-8 hours of uninterrupted treatment time.
We have a few favorite products to use overnight, depending on the circumstances:
- On any regular night, whether your hair is wet or dry, styled or not, opt for nourishing hair oil. This moisturizing shine oil will supply shine and moisture so you wake up with smooth and soft curls.
- If you’re fresh from the shower and want to prioritize curl definition, opt for a styling cream such as our Curl Definer, which will provide hold as well as moisture.
- If your hair needs a bit more love and you have time to wash curly hair in the morning, reach for a deep conditioning treatment. Our Night Cap Overnight Perfector is formulated specifically for overnight use, can be used on damp hair or dry hair, and doesn’t need to be rinsed out in the morning, should you want to wake up and go.
Encourage your natural hair to absorb all the moisture of the product you apply by putting on a bonnet, cap, or scarf. That will help lock in the heat from your head, which will enable the product to penetrate the hair shaft and work its magic, and protect your pillowcase to boot.
4. Try The Pineapple Method
No, we’re not talking about the fruit. The pineapple method is a way of styling your hair before you go to bed to ensure your curls don’t get fussed while you sleep and to encourage maximum volume come morning.
To accomplish “the pineapple”, use a satin hair tie or scrunchie to tie your hair up in a loose ponytail on the very top of your head. Can you picture the pineapple?
If you have short curly hair, you can do your own version of the pineapple by tying your hair up in multiple smaller ponytails on top of your head. Sure, it’s a unique nighttime look, but if it makes for better hair by day, who cares?
5. Twist It
One of the best hairstyles to sleep in for naturally curly hair is twists. Tighter curls in particular work especially well when you twist them before bed.
Simply follow these steps:
- Section your hair
- Twist the sections from root to tip into a knot
- Secure each knot with a bobby pin
For looser curls, simply use fewer sections with more hair.
You can also simply twist your hair into a loose bun on top of your head with a scrunchie, which is a great style for any hair texture be it wavy or curly. This is a great go-to if you have wet curly hair come bedtime, since it’ll protect hair from tangles and frizz.
6. Braid It
Braids are another great way to contain your curls overnight—and happen to be a great option if you’re wondering how to sleep with wet curly hair. However, they will impact your natural curl pattern, making it either wavier or kinkier.
- For kinkier curls, braid your hair in multiple tight french braids or mini braids.
- For looser waves, opt for a single loose braid, or a couple of loose french braids.
The look you wake up with will vary depending on your curl type and braid type. Experiment to uncover the look you love. Whichever method you choose, consider applying a bit of styling product before you braid to encourage softness, shine, and hold, which will keep your braids (and resulting style) in place. By using a styler from our Curl Collection, your curls will not only be more defined come morning, but also look and feel more healthy over time.
How To Style Your Curls When You Wake
If you’ve wrapped or styled your hair, or both, the first order of business is to undo the style and/or wrap, shake it out, and let your hair fall naturally for a few minutes. Then, you can gently detangle any knots with your fingers.
With our tips in hand, your style should feel fresh and your curls defined—but if they need a little help to feel totally polished or put together, a few styling products will come in handy. Deliver a boost of freshness with Dry Shampoo and add shine and softness, nixing any unwanted frizz with Moisturizing Shine Oil. If you need to touch up a few curls with a curling iron, spritz your strands with a heat styling spray first.
Now, you’re good to go!
Embrace Your New Routine
Whether you have beachy waves or kinky ringlets, sleeping with curly hair doesn’t have to be a drag. When you do it right, you can experience a relationship with your curls that’s more love than hate.
While it may require an extra step or two, incorporating these tips and tricks into your nighttime curly hair care routine can not only be a life-saver come morning, but also majorly prevent damage to your hair long-term. Another bonus? You won’t have to spend an endless amount of time figuring out how to detangle curly hair when you wake up.