8 Ways To Protect Your Hair While You're Sleeping To Avoid Unnecessary Breakage

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by Sienna Fantozzi
Originally Published: 
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If you have color-treated, dry, or damaged hair, you probably already take special caution to make sure you don't cause any breakage. Using moisturizing masks, heat protectants, avoiding heat in general, and using scrunchies instead of elastic are all great, but there's even more you could be doing. There are plenty of ways to protect your hair while you're sleeping, because all that tossing and turning and whatever else goes on when you're in your deep slumber can totally cause more damage without you even realizing it.

“It is super important to protect your hair while you sleep,” Samantha Denis, a licensed stylist, former bumble and bumble product development manager, and founder of the Allyoos hair care line, tells Bustle. “Our hair is rubbing against our pillowcase. This means friction, knotting, breakage — all of it.” So if you take good care of your hair in your day-to-day life, you'll want to make sure it's protected while you're asleep, too.

From sleeping on a silk pillowcase to using a hydrating hair oil before bed, there are easy ways to protect your hair while you’re sleeping — even for those times when you go to bed with wet strands. Ahead, Denis and Ghanima Abdullah, a stylist and cosmetologist for The Right Hairstyles, share some of their favorite tips for keeping hair smooth and soft while you snooze.

1. Dry Your Hair Before Going To Bed

Your hair is at its weakest when it's wet, so it’s usually a good idea to dry it before bed to prevent breakage. Microfiber hair towels are a great way to speed up drying time without heat. This set of three is a great value that lets you share with your housemates or just have an extra for travel and laundry day. With a 4.6-star rating on Amazon, fans are writing things like: "These work great to dry hair faster and they stay in place! I’ve noticed my hair hasn’t been as frizzy as when I used regular towels to wrap up my hair after getting out of the shower."

2. If You Go To Bed With Wet Hair, Use A Detangler

If you do go to sleep with wet hair, you can still take steps to protect your strands. “You can use a primer or detangler to comb out your wet hair [...] This can help smooth down cuticles and add a bit of protection,” says Denis, adding that you should sleep with your hair in a braid or bun. This lightweight detangler from The Honest Company contains argan oil, shea butter, jojoba, and other nourishing ingredients to soften and separate strands. It’s free from synthetic fragrances, dyes, parabens, and other potential irritants, and it’s backed by over 24,000 five-star reviews. The detangler has a sweet orange vanilla scent and is good for all hair types.

3. Use A Scrunchie Instead Of Elastics

To pull your hair back at bedtime, a soft silk scrunchie can be gentler than an elastic hair tie. “These are the perfect accessory for keeping your hair tied and out of your face while sleeping,” Abdullah explains. “Silk scrunchies also keep your hair from tangling and they are ideal as the elastic inside is covered with a soft fabric that keeps your hair from breaking. Just don't wrap them too tight.” This set of three scrunchies is made from 100% mulberry silk and comes in two sizes and 27 color combinations.

4. Sleep On Silk Pillowcases

“This is the tried-and-true way to ease friction between your hair and pillowcase since it creates a slippery surface that is gentler on hair strands,” explains Denis. “If your hair is already good at holding a style, a silk pillowcase can also help preserve your blowout or shape since its surface is way easier on your strands through the night.” This 100% natural mulberry silk pillowcase is a cult favorite with more than 18,000 reviews and a 4.6-star overall rating. With a hidden zipper and multiple sizes to choose from, it'll fit most pillows securely but not snag your hair while you sleep. There are 18 color options, too.

5. Relax

Being stressed can damage your health in a lot of ways, and according to the American Academy of Dermatology, stress can be harmful to skin and hair, too. Essential oils are a tried and true way to decompress at the end of the day, and Marlynn Wei M.D., J.D. says in a Psychology Today story that lavender essential oil has some of the most research into its relaxing benefits and has even been shown to help with mild insomnia. Dr. Wei says oils can be "diluted by water and diffused into the air or a few drops can be gently rubbed into acupressure points on the body."

6. Brush Before Bed

“Before you go to sleep, make sure you're brushing your hair,” says Denis. “Hair will be nice and knot-free, and then secure it up in your bun or braid.” Suitable for both wet and dry hair, this best-selling brush is designed with extra-soft bristles that undo tangles without being harsh, dramatically reducing hair breakage. "I got the two pack so I have one in my bathroom at home, and I keep one in my purse for when I'm on the go,” one reviewer wrote. “It easily brushes the tangles out of my hair without ripping/breaking the hair whether the hair is wet or dry. I highly, highly recommend it.”

7. Use A Satin Or Silk Scarf

Another great and less damaging method of keeping your hair off your face is to wrap it in a satin or silk scarf. It's like sleeping on a silk pillowcase, but it will keep your hair back without having to tie it up in an elastic. These large square satin scarves are less than $10 and come in more than 40 prints. "Perfect for my natural hair! It’s huge, so it allows me to loosely pineapple at night and it falls nicely the next day with little manipulation,” one reviewer wrote. “I also find that as the week goes on, my curls become more coiled and I’ve gotten tons of compliments since using the scarf to pineapple.”

8. Apply A Hair Oil

As you’re getting ready for bed, Denis recommends applying a “tiny bit” of Captain Blankenship Mermaid Hair Oil to dry hair. “Avoid your root area,” Denis explains. “Then use a natural bristle brush to spread oil evenly throughout and get rid of any knots from the day. Secure your hair in a bun or braid before bed, off you go!” The formula contains camellia seed, argan, jojoba, and fir needle oils to hydrate and smooth strands. It’s certified organic and good for all hair types.

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Samantha Denis, licensed stylist, former bumble and bumble product development manager, and founder of Allyoos

Ghanima Abdullah, stylist and cosmetologist for The Right Hairstyles

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