What Sleeping In Braids To Create Overnight Waves Did To 12 Different People's Hair

In the world of beauty, there are few things universally agreed upon. That being said, I've never heard anyone wish their hair care routine was longer and more complicated than what they're already doing. Sleeping in braids to wake up with wavy hair is arguably the most common hack for an ~effortless~ 'do: Pinterest is littered with highly convincing before photos of bloggers in pigtails, followed by an after of big, bouncy waves; tutorials rave about this heat-free way to get tousled curls while you peacefully get your beauty sleep.

This is, in fact, a hack I use fairly regularly, to help give some definition to my own strands — and it works great. But my natural hair texture is very similar to the hair I see in all the aforementioned before and after photos — fine, medium density, with just a little bit of a wave — so I began to wonder if this supposedly universal trick really was something that every person with medium-to-long hair could also add to their weekly routine. With the help of some fellow Bustle staffers, we put the experiment to the test.

Each woman was first photographed after they'd let their hair air dry with minimal product and no heat styling, to show off their hair's natural texture. Then, their hair was braided and they wore the plaits until the next morning, when they were photographed again with the results of their wavy adventures. Here's how the whole experiment went down.

Danielle C.

Before:

Danielle's hair is naturally super straight. "I've tried to curl it and it just falls in 30 seconds," she tells me. Danielle has tried this braid hack before, but it was "a disaster." Her hair ended up with weird, limp bends, rather than the big, bouncy waves she was looking for.

In Braids:

After:

"Oh my," Danielle says when we take her braids out. "It looks like I permed it and then jumped in the pool. I'm definitely putting my hair up after this."

Danielle CT.

Before:

Our second Danielle has slightly more natural wave, but she still started off skeptical that the experiment would work well with her texture.

Braids:

After:

"Oh, this is actually a lot better than I thought it was gonna look!" Danielle exclaims when we remove her braids. "It's kinda flat on top, but I think that works."

Allison

Before:

Allison notes that her sister and father have super curly hair, but hers is pretty much stick straight. She doesn't know how to French braid, so was excited to try this hack for the first time.

Braids:

After:

Allison was elated with the results. "I've never had curly hair like this before!" she says, adding that she wishes she'd known about this hack when she was getting ready for prom back in high school. "And I finally look like my dad!" she exclaims.

Rosanne

Before:

Rosanne's hair is super straight, plus she has a lot of it — which can weigh any curls down. "I've done this before and it came out looking super crunchy," she tells me.

Braids:

After:

Overall, Rosanne is mostly pleased with her final style. "It looks good except the ends," she says — a common complaint about this particular hack.  

MJ

Before:

MJ's hair is already pretty curly, so she was just hoping the braids would add some definition to her natural texture.

Braids:

After:

The braids ended up flattening MJ's hair a bit, though the curls were smoother. "I look like I'm wearing a wig," she tells me. "It's good, but definitely looks like I'm wearing a wig."

Kelsey

Before:

Kelsey's hair is super straight and shiny, so it tends to slip out of any curlier styles.

Braids:

After:

Kelsey notes that the braids started to make her head hurt later in the night, but she powered through for the good of the experiment. Similar to Allison, she'd never seen her hair with so much curl. "Oh my god, my hair has neeeeever looked like this," she says. "It's always so straight!"

Caroline

Before:

Caroline's hair naturally looks a lot like the "after" photos for this hack, so she was genuinely curious to see what sleeping on braids would do for her.

Braids:

After:

Caroline's favorite part of this hack? "It was so nice to wake up and not have to do my hair," she says. "And it's way less crazy than I thought it would be!"

Hannah

Before:

Hannah loves her natural curls, so was a bit wary of messing with their pattern too much. "In my experience, my natural curls look best on me," she says.

Braids:

After:

"EWWW!!! I hate it!" Hannah yelled, the moment we took out her hair. Even though the braids didn't change her texture too dramatically, they did manage to give her haircut more of a triangular shape. "My whole youth was triangle hair!" she exclaims, laughing. "I'm gonna put it in a bun. We're done with this."

Sarah

Before:

Out of all the straight-haired women who participated, Sarah's hair was the straightest. She's tried this hack before, but says it doesn't usually work.

Braids:

After:

Sarah's waves looked the least like everyone else's: They were more uneven, but gave off a cool, beachy vibe. After the shoot, she happily took a selfie!

Katie

Before:

Out of all the people in the experiment, Katie was the most experienced with this hack: She used to do it all the time as a kid to prevent what her mom would call a rat's nest.

Braids:

After:

"It... doesn't look any different," Katie says, shrugging. This truly didn't do a thing to her texture.

Liana

Before:

Liana's hair is half straight, half wavy, so she had high hopes for the final texture.

Braids:

After:

Liana was probably the biggest fan of the final result: "It's not that fair off from my natural texture," she muses. "It just sort of defined my curls. I should do this all the time!"

Does this hack create bouncy, silky, even waves for everyone? Of course not, but it seems to be a universally viable way to add a little more defined curl to your natural texture. Plus, you won't have to do your hair in the morning, which is always a win.