Although braiding your hair at night might be an easy fix for wavy hair the next day, there are a lot of truths to know before sleeping in braids. While the idea of waking up to beautiful, bouncy curls may seem effortless, there's actually a lot of thought and preparation that needs to go into it the night before.
If the health of your strands is a top priority, sleeping in braids or twists is also a great way to reform your texture or define your curls while avoiding heat damage. Since heatless hairstyles give your hair a much-needed break from hot tools, you even might notice your locks feel stronger and more hydrated — but again, getting the best results is all about the prep work.
There’s a lot to learn about how to sleep in braids: what products your particular hair texture needs, how many braids you should do, and how to secure your plaits while you’re snoozing so that your efforts stay protected throughout the night. “It's like baking,” says celebrity hairstylist and owner of Loft 647 Cory Aaron Scott. “You’re going to need all the right ingredients to get the desired result.” Some of those ingredients include a leave-in conditioner for your hair type (plus an oil if you have a coarser hair texture), a satin pillowcase, and more.
Just be careful not to braid your hair too tightly, especially if you have fine hair. Experts warn that too much tension cause eventually lead to breakage.
Ready to get your dream waves? Read on for everything you need to keep in mind before you sleep in braids.
Leave-In Conditioner Is A Must
All hair types need to start with a leave-in conditioner, but the ideal formula will depend on your hair type. The right leave-in will not only keep the braid intact overnight, it will also keep your strands smooth, silky, and hydrated (particularly if your hair tends to be on the drier side).
For those with finer hair, Scott suggests using “less product, as it will weigh the hair down and make it look greasy.” If you’re worried about leave-in conditioner being too heavy for your hair, try a lightweight anti-frizz spray. Not only will this keep your hair from being frizzy when you let your braids loose, it'll also protect your hair from friction while giving it the proper moisture it needs all night long.
A rich leave-in conditioner is a must in order for thick hair to form waves overnight. “If you have coarse hair, you should use an oil and a leave-in conditioner/treatment,” says Scott.
Is your hair’s thickness somewhere in the middle? He notes that “you can use an oil or a leave-in conditioner or treatment.”
A Silk Pillowcase Or Bonnet Will Be Helpful
Sleeping on a silk pillowcase can do wonders for your beauty routine, especially when you sleep in braids. Since the texture of the silk helps immensely when it comes to keeping your hair smooth and texturized, it'll make your braids appear that much nicer in the morning. “I always recommend using a silk scarf, bonnet, or silk pillowcase,” Scott says. “Using something that doesn’t create friction in the hair is so important because friction equals frizz.”
Sometimes, your braids can come undone in the middle of the night, so putting on a night cap or silk bonnet will ensure your locks stay all in one place. You won't have to worry about having that one section of uncurled hair in the morning.
Braid Gently To Avoid Damage
Although braiding alone shouldn’t cause damage to your strands, you can take extra precaution by braiding your hair gently as possible. Try not to rush through the braiding process by pulling and ripping your strands, but instead apply leave-in conditioner first, gently detangle, and then braid. This way, your hair won't be difficult to work with and you won't have to risk ruining your luscious locks.
Wet hair is more fragile, so it might be best to sleep with your style completely dry. Plus, some people find that when sleep with wet hair braids, it doesn't curl as much as they’d like it too. It's basically a win-win to sleep with dry hair. You won't damage your hair as much, and it'll look curlier.
Remember To Braid All The Way To Your Ends
This is extremely important to remember. Unlike curling with hot tools, it’s a little more difficult to get each section of hair to look identical. When you tie your hair at the bottom, make sure you've braided as much as you can. This way your hair doesn't have a weird non-curly section of hair at the bottom of your strands.
Pick The Best Braid For You
Making sure you pick the best braid for your hair type and desired curl pattern may take some time and practice, but it’s everything when you sleep in braids. If you want beach waves, Scott suggests “smaller sections and tighter braids.” If you want a looser curl, he says you should braid your hair in “larger sections and not very tight.” A looser braid may not be effective on coarser hair, while a tighter braid may be harder to maintain for those with straighter hair.
Cornrows are a great option if you have type 4 hair and want to minimize shrinkage. In the morning, you’ll be able to fluff your roots to create more volume.
No matter what hair type or curl pattern you want, experimentation is key when it comes to sleeping in braids. You’ll need to try different types of braids and products to find the best braid for you.
Choose The Right Hair Bands
Throw out those cheap hair ties you’ve used for years and choose a hair tie that won’t damage your hair. Try using hair bands or scrunchies like these silk ones that don't cause as much friction as straight-up rubber bands do. Stick with hair ties that have a gentle fabric texture and are comfortable to sleep on.
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