Sleeping with Curly Hair: How to Protect Curls Overnight

By Hannah Cook


Do you often wake up with curls that resemble a bird’s nest? Sleeping with curly hair can be a nightmare that leaves your morning hair riddled with tangles, wonky curls and frizz. Luckily, there are ways to protect your tresses overnight so you can sleep easy and wake up with healthy, bouncy curls.


Why it’s Important to Protect Curly Hair Overnight

If you jump into bed at the end of the day without thinking about your hair, yet wonder why your curls don’t play ball the next day, perhaps they could do with a little overnight TLC. While there will always be days when you don’t have the energy to think about your hair before bed, protecting your curls while you sleep is important for a few reasons:

-       Keeps Hair Healthy

Hair is prone to breakage when we sleep; this can be caused by things like tossing and turning, sleeping on bed sheets made of drying materials or not protecting hair.

-       Keeps Curls in Tact

If you can’t get your curls to last longer than a day, no matter how hard you try, protecting your hair while you sleep will make a difference. Following the steps in this article should help to keep your curls intact, so they only need minimal styling each day.


How to Protect Curly Hair at Night

There are several steps you can take to protect your curly hair while you sleep. Not all of these steps will be relevant for every hair type or person, but it's about finding out what works for your hair, so you can get the best out of your curls each day. Here are some tips to protect and maintain your curls overnight:

1.   Hydrate your Hair

Hair can dry out overnight, so doing a pre-bedtime ‘refresh’ with a moisturising cream or conditioner can keep curls hydrated while you sleep. Try adding a small amount of curl cream, emulsified with water in your hands, and glazing it over the parts of your hair that are prone to dryness - usually the ends. Don’t add too much water, as you don’t want to go to bed with wet hair. For fine hair types, avoid using an excessive amount of cream as this can weigh curls down.


2.   Pineapple your Hair

The best way to keep long curly hair intact overnight is to tie it up in a pineapple. The trick is to ensure hair is tied loosely with a non-snagging hair tie or scrunchie - this way your curls won’t stretch out while you sleep. If you have a fringe or shorter face-framing pieces, keep these out of your pineapple and use a small butterfly clip to secure them.


3.   Sleep on a Silk Pillowcase

For maximum protection, while sleeping with curly hair, opt for a silk pillowcase as opposed to a cotton one. A silk pillowcase will help keep your hair hydrated, prevent breakage and minimise frizz. Cotton pillowcases, on the other hand, are very drying on curly hair and cause friction while we sleep, which can lead to breakage, dehydrated hair and frizz. Vegan-friendly alternatives to silk pillowcases include materials like satin and bamboo.


4.   Wear a Hair Bonnet

If you have a silk pillowcase, this step is optional, but many curlies swear by wearing a hair bonnet to bed. Hair bonnets come in lots of styles and are usually made of silk or satin. Some people prefer to pineapple their hair and then pop it in the bonnet. But others, usually with shorter hair, can get away with putting their hair directly into the bonnet. The great thing about bonnets is that they keep hair in one place and prevent friction.


How to Style Curly Hair (Quickly) in the Morning

We don’t all have a lot of time to style our hair in the morning, and in an ideal world, we’d all wake up with perfectly curly hair that requires zero maintenance. Follow these quick steps in the morning to achieve great curls with minimal effort.

1.   Release Your Curls

Remove your hair bonnet and take your hair out of its pineapple so you can get an idea of how your curls have held up overnight. Remember, your hair is likely to be very big when you first take it out.

2.   Fluff Hair at the Roots

After sleeping on your curls, some of them may have grouped together or become flat in places - it’s normal! To help each curl find its place, give your hair a fluff and shake by putting your fingers at your roots and gently shaking. Flip head upside down and repeat.

3.   Allow Hair to Settle

At this point, your hair will probably resemble a lion’s mane. You may have some wonky curls or curls that still don’t seem to have found their place. However, it’s important to remember that your hair has been up in a pineapple for approximately eight hours, so it can take a little while to settle. Leave your hair down while you do your makeup, eat your breakfast or make your coffee, then go back to it after 15-30 mins, and reassess the situation. You may be pleasantly surprised!


4.   Refresh

If you take your hair out of its pineapple and instantly know it’s not going to be a great hair day, or if after leaving your curls to settle, they could still do with a little attention, there are some quick and simple ways to refresh your hair in the morning.

-       Steam Refresh in Shower

This is an effortless refresh that can be done straight after you’ve taken your hair out of its pineapple. At the end of your shower, take your hair out, flip your head upside down (or keep it upright) and allow the steam of the shower to help reform your curls. Lightly glaze over your hair with wet hands to smooth down any frizz (don’t apply too much water or it’ll take a long time to dry). For quickness, before you leave the house, diffuse hair on a low speed and medium heat.

-       Spot Refresh

This refresh is best done after leaving your hair to settle, so you can see which curls need refreshing. Take individual curls and smooth over a small amount of gel and water. You can either mix the gel and water together in your hands or spray individual curls with water and smooth the gel over separately. Scrunch curls to encourage definition and allow to air dry. This method can also be used to smooth down frizz in the morning - simply take a small amount of gel and water and glaze over. Boucleme’s Super Hold Styler and Curl Defining Gel both work great for this.


The best way to make curly hair last for days is to protect it at night. While this may seem like a lot of effort, to begin with, once you make hair protection part of your night-time routine, your curls will thank you, and you’ll find yourself spending much less time on your hair in the morning.


By Hannah Cook (@hanzcurls)

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