Everyone has their own opinion about which protective headwear is the best at protected afro-textured hair while you snooze, but we all agree on one thing: Wrapping your hair at night is essential. A bit annoying, sure, but protection is key no matter how aesthetically unappealing it can be. Since I couldn't go on wondering anymore, I decided to compare seven of the most popular methods to determine which protective headwear is best for sleeping.
Pillowcases and sheets can pull essential oils from our hair. Those of us with tight curls are likely familiar with the unsightly snagging that can take place throughout the night. Using satin and silk wraps reduce the friction between your hair and those otherwise comfy sheets. Utilizing one of these fibers will keep hair from becoming frizzy, eliminate unnecessary breakage, and retain moisture so you can distance yourself from those lengthy conditioning sessions.
Silk is a natural fiber made from silkworms, it's strong and super shiny. Satin is a type of weave that is often made from silk, nylon, or polyester fibers (or a combo of these). When you're perusing for your next protective wrap, getting a high ratio of silk is ideal, but for my vegan-til-death homies, fret not: You'll still be getting a better hair future by purchasing satin over cotton.
So, is a satin bonnet best? Or will the classic do-rag turn out to be as good as its reputation? I tested these seven options with my hair in a protective style, then compared the frizziness, moisture retention, cost, and comfort that came with each.
1. The Classic Do-Rag
Usually, the do-rag comes out the night after I've deep conditioned and set my hair. I know that it'll be a several days before I do anything else to my hair again, so I try to keep my twists moist for as long as possible. The best part about the do-rag is that the thin ties tend to stay tied all night, even on my most restless nights.
The downsides to this technique are mostly aesthetic. For one thing, I personally find them hideous, especially when I've slipped into lingerie to feel pretty while I sleep. Second, the combination of tying the do-rag tightly and wearing my glasses before bedtime can often give me a headache. It's also pretty hard to put a do-rag on over a big bun, so this classic might not work if for you if that's your nighttime style of choice.
I've been wearing protective sleepwear for my hair longer than I've been wearing bras, and I never strayed from my trusty drugstore versions... until this beauty cap came into my life. Since it doubles as a shower cap, I was definitely up for testing it out. I had my hair in large twists to wear my hair big and poofy for the next day, so I definitely wanted protection.
The cap felt snug on my hairline, but no headaches which was as surprising as waking up with my cap completely in place, bow and all. While the price is a pretty big leap from the $2 do-rags and bonnets I'm used to, it's well worth the protection!
3. Silk/Satin Blend Scarf
I'd never thought to sleep in the big head wrap that I usually wear for cover-up throughout the day until I saw how cute Zazie Beetz's character on Atlanta looked when she woke up. I was excited to have another use for my collection of daytime scarves... until I woke up with the scarf on my pillow and a whole lot of frizz that definitely wasn't there the night before. I'd only recommend this in a situation where you end up sleeping without your trusted cap.
4. Satin Pillowcases
Satin bedding sounds a lot sexier than it is in reality. It may look like the equivalent to laying on a bed of roses in a selfie, but the reality is that while I'm asleep, that top satin sheet will wrap around my neck like a noose or become a stifling prison of body heat, my feet sticking to the sheets. However, satin pillowcases can be a lazy girl with an afro's best friend. Although wrapping is ideal, having satin on your pillows makes it less necessary to do so every night.
Of course, when my alarm goes off brutally early, I hit snooze and pull my curl-hating comforter over my head, but you better believe I stay loyal to satin pillowcases because of the many times I can't even be bothered to throw on any coverage. it definitely feels like a bonus when I want to wake up with somewhat decent hair when I've got a new overnight guest basking in the satin with.
The classic bonnet rates high in terms of cost and ease of use; for less than five bucks you can slip right into "ready-for-bed" headwear in a matter of seconds. The laziness I experience after a full day has me wishing the classic, drug-store bonnet was as effective as it was affordable and easy.
Unfortunately, most often than not my bonnet slips off into the night, often faster than I fall asleep. The elastic band isn't super snug, which means you can easily leave your curls exposed unknowingly. I have found that when I'm wearing my hair in an afro for a few days, putting my curls on top of my head allows the bonnet to stay on because of the volume of my hair. If it's in any other protective style? Not a chance.
When I started testing protective apparel for sleeping, this hood was in the back of my mind and definitely at the bottom of my basket of scarves and wraps. I had worn it for sleep several times in the past, but it always seemed to slip off into the night. After a few disappointing mornings of frizzy hair, I re-purposed it as a headband to wear over a do-rag underneath a hat during the day.
I had to add it to the list however, because it provides amazing protection when sleeping in rollers. Most do-rags and caps aren't large enough to cover my rollers and hairline completely, and the wraps that do fall off or give me a headache. This hood is stretchy and large enough to cover hair in rollers and the opening is a huge bonus to let your scalp breath while you sleep.
While there wasn't a clear winner in my experiment, it definitely pays to have a few options on hand that serve the best purpose for the hairstyle you're sleeping in, where you're sleeping, and whom you're sleeping with to wake up with those tresses still in style.
Image: Kristin Collins Jackson (8)