At the end of a long day, it’s all too easy to take a hot shower, throw on some pajamas, brush your teeth, and then jump into bed. But have you ever stopped to think about the risks of sleeping with wet hair? As it turns out, going to bed with wet hair isn’t as safe as we like to assume.
The first negative result of sleeping with wet hair is purely cosmetic: you can’t predict how your wet hair is going to look in the morning. “If you try to style your hair in the morning after sleeping on it wet, you’re likely to have trouble styling the resulting frizziness, funny waves, flat sides, and crinkles,” says hairstylist Olga Gilbert of J. Russell Salon in Southern California.
“When you wake up to unruly bedhead, you’re probably going to have to re-wet it again to properly dry it and regain control. This unnecessarily adds time to your morning routine,” she says.
Gilbert says that sleeping with wet hair does not immediately damage your hair follicles or shaft, but it can certainly lead to hair breakage, because wet hair is weakest when wet, making it more pliable and easy to break. “If you pull your wet hair up into a tight ponytail or bun, you have a much greater chance of breaking it during the night,” Gilbert says.
If you absolutely must sleep with wet hair for scheduling reasons (i.e., you get up crazy-early for work), there are a few easy ways to minimize the damage caused by going to bed with dripping strands. First, you can swap your cotton pillowcases for silk or satin ones. Silk has a much smoother surface that’s less abrasive on your wet hair, so you won’t experience as much unfortunate breakage. Skipping a silk pillowcase is just one of a few nighttime habits that can ruin your hair.
Next, you can make sure to sleep with your hair down or in a loose braid, instead of up in a tight bun or ponytail. In addition, you should replace your tight, elastic bands with a soft scrunchy that isn’t going to roughly pull at night. If you’re willing, it’s also very helpful (but less comfortable) to wrap your hair in a silk scarf.
Finally, if you’re going to bed with wet hair, the most important rule is to never ever skip out on applying product! Leave-in conditioners, protective serums, dry oils, and texturizing mousses are some of the best ways to ensure you don’t wake up looking like an alpaca, as well as protect your precious locks from tearing.