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Don’t let hair damage stop you from getting the most out of your beauty sleep. Here are 17 ways to protect your hair before you doze off.

17 Ways To Protect Your Hair While Sleeping

Don’t let hair damage stop you from getting the most out of your beauty sleep. Here are 17 ways to protect your hair before you doze off.
17 Ways To Protect Your Hair While Sleeping

It’s easy to slip into your sheets after a long day without giving your hair a second thought. After all, you use the right shampoo, have a go-to heat protectant, and get regular trims—isn’t your hard work done here? The truth is, there are a few sneaky ways that hair damage can occur during those vital hours of beauty sleep. Knowing how to protect your hair while you sleep can help your mane thrive well after sun-down.

Here, we’ve rounded up 17 things you can do to protect your mane while you snooze, from applying overnight treatments to reassessing your choice of bedding. So grab your eye mask, pick a soothing playlist, and get ready to absorb these facts before catching some zzz’s.

17 of the Best Ways To Protect Your Hair While Sleeping

From strand-saving products to loose protective styles, there is no shortage of solutions to help safeguard your locks while you get some shut-eye. You can try the below ideas one at a time or team them up until you find the most suitable tricks for your hair type. Keep scrolling to discover our favorite editor-approved nighttime remedies.

Apply an overnight serum or mask

Unlike our skin, our hair doesn’t work to repair itself overnight. However, you can still take advantage of those eight hours of downtime with an overnight hair serum or mask. These potent products (usually in gel, cream, or oil forms) are meant to be slathered onto your hair or scalp at night to address specific concerns over the course of a few hours. Here are a few of our favorite overnight serums and masks from the L’Oréal portfolio of professional brands to consider.

Shu Uemura Art of Hair Ultimate Reset Overnight Hair Serum

Shu Uemura Art of Hair Ultimate Reset Overnight Hair Serum is a multi-benefit overnight hair treatment that deeply repairs damaged hair, restoring its strength, smoothness, and shine. The cream-gel formula, which contains Japanese-sourced rice extract and peptides, helps reverse damage caused by bleach, color, chemical services, and heat. Massage it from the mid-lengths through the ends of your hair at night to reap all its benefits.

Kérastase Nutritive 8H Magic Night Hair Serum for Dry Hair

Dry hair doesn’t stand a chance against Kérastase Nutritive 8H Magic Night Hair Serum for Dry Hair. This luxurious cream helps hair retain its moisture, protects it from pillow friction, reduces frizz by up to 84%, and improves hair’s strength by up to 98% strength**.

*vs. unwashed hair

**vs. non-conditioning shampoo

Kérastase Symbiose Antidandruff Night Serum

Those prone to dandruff may want to pick up a scalp serum. You can’t go wrong with Kérastase Symbiose Anti-Dandruff Night Serum. This highly concentrated night serum with salicylic acid helps minimize the symptoms of dandruff on the scalp. It also offers soothing and hydrating properties to ease itching and reduce flakes. Learn more about the dandruff-busting range in our full Kérastase Symbiose Review.

Kérastase Sérum Cicanuit Hair Serum for Blonde Hair

Bleaching your hair to achieve blonde bombshell status can be damaging—but that doesn’t have to stop you from going for the gold. Kérastase Sérum Cicanuit Hair Serum for Blonde Hair is an intense overnight recovery hair serum made to recover all types of sensitized and bleached hair throughout the night. The light serum visibly reduces the appearance of surface damage on hair for a luminous and healthier-looking blonde.

Mizani Strength Fusion Intense Night-Time Treatment

Anyone with parched curls or coils may want to opt for a rich overnight mask instead of a serum. We’re partial to the shea butter and vitamin-infused Mizani Strength Fusion Intense Night-Time Treatment. This intense conditioning formula helps fortify and nourish dry, stressed hair, leaving it smooth and strong by morning. Be sure to wrap your hair or slip on a plastic shower cap to prevent the creamy mask from staining your pillow.

Rethink your pillowcase

Silk and satin sleep accessories have been trending and with good reason: These materials tend to be less stressful on the hair than traditional flannel and cotton pillowcases are. The slippery-smooth fabrics help minimize friction between your hair and pillow, causing fewer snags. Satin is available at relatively inexpensive price points, while silk is often a bit pricier.

Don’t let hair damage stop you from getting the most out of your beauty sleep. Here are 17 ways to protect your hair before you doze off.

Good hair day by @ash_hairbarbie

Try a hair wrap

If you’re not ready to switch up your bedding just yet, wrapping your hair in silk or satin can give you similar strand-protecting benefits. Hair wraps are a go-to sleeping method for those in the curly and natural hair community, but any hair type (especially those prone to frizz) can benefit from them.

You don’t need to shell out for the accessory, either; repurposing a scarf is an easy (and money-saving) way to test out the technique. Check out our guide, How To Do a Hair Wrap, for a step-by-step breakdown.

Brush out knots

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has officially put the 100-strokes-a-day myth to rest. (Spoiler alert: This habit can actually cause unintentional damage to your hair.) Still, it’s a good idea to brush out any kinks in your hair before hitting the hay. Tossing and turning—even on a silk pillowcase—can worsen knots and make them harder to remove in the morning without breakage. And, depending on the type of brush you use, the bristles against your scalp can make for a relaxing self-care moment—just what you need to drift off into dreamland.

Editor Tip: If you need to detangle a section of dry hair that’s particularly rough, spritz a leave-in conditioner, like Biolage Professional All-In-One Coconut Infusion Multi-Benefit Treatment Spray, onto the affected area to give it some slip. Then, gently run your tool of choice through your strands, taking care not to yank it too harshly through the knot. Add more spray, if needed, until your brush passes freely through your hair.

Good hair day by @madamecharlie

Opt for cool showers

Many stylists recommend washing your hair at a temperature far below steamy to help minimize the chances of frizz and boost the appearance of shine. This is true whether you’re scrubbing your scalp in the morning or just doing a quick rinse at night. Cool water can help smooth your hair's cuticle (or its outermost layer), trapping in moisture so your mane wakes up on the right side of the bed. That brings us to our next point…

Give your hair plenty of time to dry

It’s tempting to tuck yourself in for the night after a rejuvenating everything shower, but sleeping with wet hair may be doing you more harm than good. For one, wet hair is more fragile than dry hair, meaning it can more easily break off when smushed up against your pillow. That isn’t the only caution, though: A wet scalp combined with body heat creates an optimal environment for certain bacteria or fungi to thrive, per the Cleveland Clinic. These microorganisms then have the chance to grow on your pillows and sheets, leading to potential issues for your scalp and skin.

Try to wash hair with adequate drying time whenever possible and gently wring out excess moisture with a microfiber towel. If you suspect that your eyelids will close before your hair fully dries, grab a heat protectant like Redken High Hold Thermal Spray: Heat Protectant Hairspray and use a blow dryer to rough-dry the moisture away.

Good hair day by @darycetolliver

Sleep in a loose style

It’s typically better to sleep with your hair up to minimize friction against your pillow—as long as the style is loose, of course. According to the AAD, extended periods of wearing tight hairstyles can result in a patchy form of hair loss known as traction alopecia. While taut styles are fine in moderation and for a few hours, leaving them in your hair overnight is not ideal. Sleep with your loosely tied up to minimize harsh tugging, frizz, and knots while counting sheep. Here are a few popular slumber party-approved hairstyles to try:

The pineapple

The pineapple is one of the best protective styles for sleeping with curly hair since it helps preserve curl volume and definition. Gathering your curls at the top of your head keeps them from pressing up against your pillow and going flat.

Flip your head forward and gather all your hair at the top of your head as if you were making a high ponytail. Secure it with a scrunchie, but only pull your hair halfway through on the last loop. Flip the ends of your hair around so they’re facing forward—your ringlets should hang loosely over your forehead.

Loose braids

Braids are easy to execute and double as heatless waves come morning. Try a traditional three-strand plait, pigtails, or a two-strand twist until you find the style that works best for your hair type and length.

High messy bun

A loose messy bun piled up high keeps your hair from getting caught between your head and your pillow. Plus, propping all your hair up can give you some added lift when you shake your tresses free the next day.

Good hair day by @silviahgmez

Swap in no-pull accessories

Your loose style is only as good as the accessories used to secure it. That’s where large scrunchies (again, silk and satin are best!) and spiral elastics come in. These hairline-friendly ties can better distribute the weight of your hair than thinner elastics, minimizing the chances of breaking or snapping your strands. It doesn’t hurt that scrunchies are making a major comeback, so you might as well stock up on this 1990s accessory while it’s still hot.

Good hair day by @alisittingpretty

Invest in a humidifier

A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Trichology confirms that proper scalp care plays a pivotal role in your hair’s overall health and condition. Having a dry, itchy scalp, whether from cold weather or using the wrong haircare products can set you back on your hair goals. Fortunately, it’s easy to help rejuvenate your scalp while you sleep: The Cleveland Clinic recommends using a humidifier in your room to add more moisture to the air. Restoring moisture to the space you sleep in can make a big difference in getting your dry scalp back on track. So dream on—you deserve it.

Next Up: What Is Overnight Serum, Exactly? An Expert Breaks It Down

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Header photo credits (left to right): @ash_hairbarbie and @shuuemura_artofhair

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