Did you know that you damage your hair more during your 8 hours of beauty sleep than you do for the whole rest of the day?
And it gets worse...
During the night your hair will experience an unsettling amount of friction (unless you use a good silk pillowcase made for fine hair) which literally breaks your hair apart, leaving it scattered all over your pillowcase in the morning.
A great deal of your hair's protection at nighttime comes down to which protective sleep hairstyle you use when you're sleeping.
And if you're new to this, then you're in the right place.
In this post I'll share my top 10 protective sleep hairstyles, paired with expert nighttime hair care advice to keep your hair damage free while you sleep.
Here's what we're going to cover:
- What protective sleep hairstyles are and what makes one better than the other.
- 10 protective sleep hairstyles with step-by-step guides as well as video tutorials for some of the more advanced nighttime hairstyles.
- Frequently asked question about protective sleep hairstyles that will help you make the most of this information.
And if you have any questions at any point, please leave a comment in the comments section below. I reply to ALL comments within 24 hours.
Read Next: How To Get Natural Waves At Home
What protective sleep hairstyles are
As the name suggests, a protective sleep hairstyle is a type of nighttime hairstyle that protects your hair while you're sleeping?
A good protective sleep hairstyle will protect your hair from a variety of nighttime issues, including:
- Friction related damage.
- Hair thinning.
- Bending and stretching.
- Pulling at the roots.
- Hair loss.
In addition to this, the right protective sleep hairstyle will also help your hair by:
- Maintaining hairstyles/waves/textures that you have applied the day or night before. This in turn ensures that you don't have to apply these again in the morning, saving you time and saving your hair from additional styling.
- Avoiding dents in your hair, which often require heat styling to remove.
The protective sleep hairstyles are generally a form of plait or knot that limits the pulling/tugging and friction of your hair. Thereby limiting the damage.
What makes one protective sleep hairstyle better than another
No two protective sleep hairstyles are the same. Therefore choosing the best protective hairstyle for sleep can be tricky. One hairstyle might be good for one thing, and another is better for something else.
What hairstyles you should sleep in depends entirely on the following:
- How prone are you to frizz?
- Is your hair wet or dry? (Ideally dry)
- Do you have thick hair or thin hair?
- Is your hair long or short?
- Have you added a hair mask or oil for the night?
- What do you want your hair to look like in the morning? (Sleek or wavy, etc.)
- What's your sleep style? Back-sleeper, side-sleeper, front-sleeper, tosser-turner?
There are several factors the determine which protective sleep hairstyle you should sleep in. Review this list of factors and think about what's important for you.
In the section below I'll share our 10 protective sleep hairstyles and nighttime hair care advice, and with each nighttime hairstyle I'll share the benefits for each in line with the factors above.
This will help you choose the protective sleeping hairstyle that best suits your needs/wants, hair type and current situation.
10 Protective sleep hairstyles and nighttime hair care advice
Most traditional protective sleep hairstyles are very simple, and look simple too. But they don't usually offer much in the way of aesthetic value...
Aesthetic value can be an important factor for those nights that are not spent alone (wink).
Therefore, among our top protective hairstyles when sleeping, I have also shared a few nighttime hairstyles that are not only practical, but are also stylish and a bit sexy.
1. Loose Plait
The loose plait is an incredibly easy way to manage your hair overnight. Especially suitable for back sleepers and side sleepers, it lays flat, ensuring comfort.
For those concerned about any possible annoyance, side plaits are an excellent alternative.
This nighttime hairstyle is suitable for all hair lengths and thicknesses, and will ensure you wake up with a slightly wavy hairstyle.
This is also a very functional hairstyle for girls with frizzy hair and works well if your hair is slightly damp.
- It's very simple to do. No special techniques required..
- Perfect for all hairstyles and sleep types.
- The ideal protective sleep hairstyle for long hair.
- Adds textured waves to your hair the next day.
- The waves are adjustable in size depending on the tightness of your braid.
- Start by detangling your hair or applying overnight almond hair oil or another natural oil.
2. Be gentle:
- Use a silk scrunchie or coil hair tie that's gentle on your locks.
3. Braid it:
- Braid your hair, but remember, a looser twist works wonders.
4. Wake up:
- Wake up to wavy hair, perfect for the summer vibes.
- Adjust the tightness of your braid for desired wave intensity.
2. Front Top Knot
Straight hair enthusiasts, this protective sleep hairstyle is for you! It maintains that sleek look while preventing any excessive waves.
It's suitable for all hair thicknesses, however it's ideal for girls with long hair.
Also works for any sleep style. (I welcome you to try to toss-and-turn your way out of this hairstyle).
- Suitable for all hair thicknesses.
- Wake up with straight hair, no texture or dents.
- One of the best protective sleep hairstyles for long hair.
1. Twist it up in a top bun:
- Twist your hair to form a top bun.
2. Secure it:
- Secure using a zero-bend clip or claw clip.
- Ensure it’s positioned at the front for a comfortable sleep.
This style doesn't just protect; it adds a level of volume that's hard to resist!
3. Switch to a silk pillowcase
I've added this tip in here because if you're going to go to the lengths of using protective sleep hairstyles then you may also be interested in learning about other hair care methods that will protect your hair while you sleep.
Also this may be among the best protective sleep hairstyles for short hair.
Making the switch from your ordinary pillowcase to a silk variant (specifically our Silk Pillowcase) can do wonders for your hair.
Turn each sleep into an 8 hour hair care routine.
The thing is, unlike cotton, silk is naturally smooth texture which reduces friction against your hair. It acts as a barrier against breakage and helps you get softer hair. Naturally.
It's one of the many affordable luxuries that you really can't afford to live without.
- Noticeably less frizz, instantly.
- Smoothens your hair.
- Reduced friction, breakage and damage to your hair.
- No tugging and pulling or excessive hair loss (like you get from cotton pillowcases).
1. Out with the Old:
- Start by removing your current pillowcase.
- This is your opportunity to revive dead hair that has been subjected to rougher materials night after night.
2. In with the New:
- Slip your pillow into the Silk Pillowcase, ensuring it fits snugly and is free from wrinkles.
- Feel the smooth surface and imagine how your hair will glide over it effortlessly as you change positions in your sleep.
3. Sleep On It:
- Experience your first night of seamless sleep, knowing that your hair is protected by one of the easy protective hairstyles for sleeping.
- You might notice the difference as soon as the next morning – less frizz, more shine, and an overall softer texture.
4. Care and Maintenance:
- Just as you care for your hair, it's crucial to take care of your Silk Pillowcase.
- Familiarise yourself with how to wash a silk pillowcase to ensure its longevity.
- Most experts recommend hand washing using gentle detergents. Always check the care label first.
5. Feel the Difference:
- After consistent use, you'll realise that not only does your hair benefit, but silk also provides a cooling sensation, which can make your sleep more restful.
I recommend that you complement your silk pillowcase with a protective sleep hairstyle for maximum benefit.
4. Oil Your Hair - The Secret Ingredient
Nourishing your hair with natural oils is like feeding your body with vitamins – essential for vitality and health. The right oil can work wonders, from healing an unhealthy scalp to imparting a silky sheen to your tresses.
Treating your hair with oils can be crucial in winning the nightly battle of protecting your hair.
- Hydrates and nourishes your hair while you sleep.
- Protects your hair from friction
- Creates a silky sheen.
1. Choose the Best Oil for Hair: Your choice of oil can make a world of difference.
- Jojoba oil closely resembles the natural sebum produced by the scalp, making it excellent for balancing oil production.
- Castor oil can stimulate hair growth and is great for thickening hair.
- Almond hair oil, rich in vitamin E, moisturises and strengthens hair.
2. Detangle Your Hair:
- Before applying the oil, ensure your hair is free of knots.
- Using a wide-tooth comb, gently detangle from the tips upwards.
3. Section and Apply:
- Divide your hair into manageable sections.
- Take a small amount of oil on your palms, rub them together to warm it up, then apply evenly from the mid-lengths to the ends.
- If your scalp is dry, you can massage a small amount into the roots as well. But remember, a little goes a long way!
4. Massage Your Scalp:
- This step is both therapeutic and beneficial for circulation.
- Using the pads of your fingers, gently massage the oil into your scalp in a circular motion for about 5 minutes.
5. Comb Through:
- To ensure even distribution, run a comb through your hair one more time.
6. Protective Style & Sleep:
- Post-oiling, you might want to opt for a protective sleep hairstyle.
- For those with straight hair, consider a loose bun or braid to keep the oil from transferring onto your pillowcase.
7. Morning After:
- You can choose to shampoo the oil out the next morning or let your hair absorb its benefits for another day, especially if you used a lightweight oil like jojoba. Your hair will thank you for this revitalising treat!
Incorporating this routine into your nighttime hair care not only preps it for the next day but also deeply conditions and revitalises, ensuring you wake up to soft, manageable, and glowing locks.
5. Avoid going to sleep with wet hair
Let's face it: after a late-night shower, the temptation to hit the sheets with damp hair is strong. But remember, wet hair is far more fragile and prone to breakage.
Hence, if you aim to maintain those luscious locks, drying your hair before bedtime is crucial.
Especially for those with curly or fine hair types, you need to follow protective measures as these types are more susceptible to damage.
But don't worry; you don't need a blow dryer to achieve this. Let’s delve into the simple steps for efficient hair drying, naturally.
- No need for damaging heat.
- Perfect for curly and fine hair types.
1. Towel Dry Gently:
- Start by using a microfibre towel or an old t-shirt to blot your hair.
- Avoid rubbing as it can lead to hair breakage, especially with protective sleep hairstyles for curly hair.
2. Detangle with the Right Brush:
- Select a type of hair brush designed for wet hair – usually, wide-tooth combs are the go-to.
- They help detangle without causing unnecessary strain on your wet strands.
3. The Inversion Method (BONUS):
- The inversion method not only helps in drying your hair but also promotes hair growth.
4. Air Dry:
- Once you've towel-dried and detangled, let your hair air dry.
- If you have protective sleep hairstyles for fine hair, this is particularly beneficial as it prevents unnecessary damage from heat tools.
5. Stay Hydrated:
- While external care is vital, internal hydration plays a significant role in hair health.
- Drink water regularly to keep your hair and scalp hydrated from within.
6. Protective sleep hairstyle for wet hair
What if you have wet hair and you don't want to dry it?
Well, you're in luck because I have a good protective sleep hairstyle for wet hair too.
Enter, Heatless Overnight Curls.
Not only is this nighttime hairstyle perfect for wet/damp hair, it's also an excellent way of adding curls to your hair without heat styling.
- Zero heat damage: Preserve the integrity of your hair by avoiding direct heat.
- Save time: Wake up with ready-to-go curls.
- Versatility: Works as a hair protective style for sleep and a trendy daytime look.
- Great protective sleep hairstyle for medium hair as well as long hair.
- Begin with clean, slightly damp hair. If your hair is too wet, it may not dry completely overnight.
- A light spritz of water can do the trick if your hair is entirely dry.
- Divide your hair into multiple sections. The more sections you have, the tighter the curls.
- For looser waves, opt for larger sections.
3. Twist and wrap:
- Take one section and twist it from root to tip.
- Once twisted, wrap this around itself to form a bun.
- Repeat this process for all sections.
- Use silk hair ties or bobby pins to secure these buns in place.
- Ensure they're not too tight to avoid any tension on your scalp.
- If you're wondering, "how do I protect my hair when I sleep?", a satin or silk scarf wrapped around your head can keep your buns intact and reduce friction.
6. Morning reveal:
- Gently unwrap each bun in the morning.
- Use your fingers to separate and fluff out your curls. Avoid brushing them out as this can cause frizz.
- You can add some hair serum for added shine or use a light-hold hairspray to keep those curls in place throughout the day.
Tip: For added definition, you can apply a curl-enhancing cream or mousse to your damp hair before twisting.
7. Dutch Festival Braids
While festival hair trends like glitter roots and space buns are fun, there's one style that stands out because of its practical value: the Dutch braid.
Not only does it flaunt a unique aesthetic, but it's also one of the best protective sleep hairstyles for curly hair.
It's like having the best of both worlds: fashion and function.
Even if you have a diamond face shape, these braids can beautifully frame and complement your features. Let's get ready to master this protective sleep hairstyle for curly hair.
- The perfect protective sleep hairstyle for curly hair.
- Looks great, even in the morning when it gets a bit messier.
- Versatile: Works as a hair protective style for sleep and a trendy daytime look.
- Begin with detangled, dry hair.
- If your hair tends to be frizzy, try the hand hair hack: gently run your hands through your hair with a touch of jojoba oil to smoothen and prep it for braiding.
- Part your hair down the middle to create two even sections.
- This will allow you to create a braid on each side.
3. Starting the Braid:
- Take a small section of hair from the top front of one side.
- Divide it into three equal parts.
4. Dutch Braiding Technique:
- Unlike a French braid where you'd cross sections over the middle, for a Dutch braid, you'll cross them underneath.
- Start with the rightmost section and cross it under the middle one.
- Then, cross the leftmost section under the middle.
5. Adding More Hair:
- As you move down the side of your head, incorporate more hair into your braid.
- Always remember to cross the sections under, not over. This method gives the braid its distinctive, raised appearance.
6. Securing the End:
- Once you reach the nape of your neck and have incorporated all the hair from that side, continue with a regular three-strand braid until you reach the end.
- Secure with a silk scrunchie or a gentle hair tie.
7. Repeat on the Other Side:
- Now, mirror the process on the other half of your hair.
8. Finishing Touches:
- For a more relaxed and boho look, gently tug on the edges of your braids to loosen them a bit.
- This gives volume and a carefree aesthetic, fitting the festival hair trends even if you're just heading to bed.
Voilà! With the Dutch festival braids, not only are you embracing one of the hottest festival hair trends, but you're also ensuring that your locks, whether curly or straight, are protected through the night.
Note: The video was made for creating dutch festival braids with Halo Hair Extensions, however you can also create this style as a protective sleep hairstyle sans halo hair extensions and other decorations.
8. Princess Jasmine Ponytail
The Princess Jasmine Ponytail, inspired by the enchanting world of Agrabah, isn’t just a visual treat; it's a functional marvel.
This low ponytail style isn't just easy to achieve, but it also offers a touch of royal flair. Especially ideal as a protective sleep hairstyle for curly hair, it can be a lifesaver for those struggling with an oily hair day or simply wanting a change.
Best of all? It’s one of the easy protective hairstyles for sleeping that doesn't sacrifice style for comfort.
- Keeps curly hair tangle-free overnight.
- Suitable hairstyle for oily hair days.
- Perfect protective sleep hairstyle for natural hair.
- Can be enhanced with hair extensions for added volume and length.
- Ensure your hair is detangled. Use a wide-tooth comb for curly hair to avoid breakage.
- If your hair is straight and you wish to add some texture, you can do some loose braids during the day or apply some light curling product.
- Tilt your head back slightly. This ensures the hair at the nape remains smooth and prevents breakage.
- Gather your hair at the nape of your neck. Remember, this is a low ponytail inspired by Princess Jasmine.
3. Securing the Ponytail:
- Using a silk scrunchie or a soft elastic band, tie your hair. Ensure it's not too tight; a gentle hold will do. This ensures it serves as a protective sleep hairstyle for straight hair and curly hair alike.
4. Finishing Touches:
- For those with an oily hair day, a light sprinkling of dry shampoo at the roots can add volume and freshness.
- A light hair mist or setting spray can provide some added shine and hold, but it's optional.
5. Sleep Time:
- As you lay down, ensure the ponytail flows over your shoulder or rests above your head to avoid any unnecessary pressure or friction.
Incorporating this elegant yet straightforward protective sleep hairstyle into your nighttime routine not only ensures you wake up with manageable locks but also that you drift off feeling like royalty.
9. Boho Braids
For those yearning for a touch of indie flair, boho braids are your go-to. These aren’t just chic; they're amongst the best protective sleep hairstyles for wavy hair, ensuring you wake up with perfectly tousled waves without the fuss.
This is the perfect protective sleep hairstyle for side and front sleepers. And it works for fine and thick hair types.
However, it's not as ideal for short hair types since they generally don't have enough hair to plait in this style.
- Looks good AND protects your hair while you sleep.
- Perfect for straight and wavy hair types.
- Wake up with tousled waves.
1. Prep Your Hair
Before diving into the braiding process, it's essential to have clean, detangled hair. If your waves need a bit of a pick-me-up, spritz some curl refresher to revive and define them. This will also make the braiding process smoother.
2. Section Your Hair
Part your hair down the middle, creating two equal sections. If you have a preferred side for parting, that works too. Remember, boho is all about effortless style!
3. Start Braiding
Begin a loose three-strand braid on one side of your part. The key to the boho look is not to pull too tight; we want it looking laid-back and relaxed. Once you reach the end, secure with a gentle hair tie. Repeat on the other side.
4. Personalise Your Braids
To enhance the boho feel, gently pull out a few strands around your face. This will give you that effortless, beachy vibe in the morning.
5. Overnight Care
For those with wavy hair, maintaining the texture is crucial. Consider applying one of the best hair masks before starting the braiding process. This not only protects but nourishes your hair, making it even more radiant when you let those braids loose in the morning.
6. Morning Unveiling
Come morning, gently unravel your braids. Use your fingers to separate the waves for a more natural look. If needed, a dash more of the curl refresher can help shape and hold your waves for the day ahead.
Embrace your inner free spirit with boho braids, and relish in the fact that these aren’t just stylish – they’re a protective sleep hairstyle for wavy hair that guarantees beauty sleep in its truest sense!
10. Twisted Rope Braid
Long hair can sometimes have a mind of its own. But for all my long-haired friends out there, the twisted rope braid is your saving grace.
Not only is it one of the best protective hairstyles to sleep in, but it also ensures your hair remains tangle-free throughout the night, so you can wake up feeling more Rapunzel and less witch from the woods.
- Helps reduce friction on long hair, which can lead to breakage.
- Keeps long hair organised and tangle-free.
- The perfect protective sleep hairstyle for long hair.
- Gives a soft, wavy texture upon unraveling, making it an ideal hair protective style for sleep and day wear.
1. Prep Your Hair:
Start with clean, detangled hair. If you've recently washed your hair, ensure it's completely dry to avoid unnecessary breakage. For an added boost, consider applying a hair loss serum enriched with niacinamide for hair. It's a great way to nourish your locks and promote strength.
2. Separate Your Hair:
Divide your hair into two even sections. The key is to ensure both sections are as equal in size as possible to get a symmetrical braid.
3. Twist It Up:
Take one section and start twisting it. Remember, the direction you twist one section should be the opposite of the other to ensure they combine seamlessly in the next step. This method ensures a more intricate and tight appearance.
4. Combine Your Twists:
Once both sections are twisted, cross them over one another to form a rope-like appearance. As you wrap them together, ensure you're maintaining tension to keep the style intact.
5. Secure Your Braid:
Using a gentle hair tie, preferably one without metal parts, secure the end of your braid. You can also add a touch of hair serum at the ends for added protection and shine.
6. Sleep and Shine:
Now, all you've got to do is hit the hay! As you rest, your twisted rope braid works its magic, protecting your long hair from the usual nighttime wear and tear.
Remember, the twisted rope braid isn't just one of the many hair protective styles for sleep; it's arguably one of the best protective hairstyles to sleep in for those with longer locks. So give it a try and enjoy your beauty sleep with a side of hair protection!
FAQs - All About Nighttime Hair Protection
Q: What are protective sleep hairstyles?
A: Protective sleep hairstyles are specific styles designed to minimise hair damage and frizz while sleeping.
Q: Are protective hairstyles necessary?
A: Most hair care related hacks will give you a small incremental gain in terms of hair health. And some will give you a big gain. Protective sleep hairstyles are one of those things that give you BIG gains.
Q: What is the most protective hairstyle for sleeping?
A: It varies based on hair type, but generally, styles that reduce friction, such as the loose plait or boho braids, can be incredibly effective.
Q: What can I use to protect my hair at night?
A: Aside from the right protective sleep hairstyle for your hair type and sleep style, i would also suggest that it makes sense to invest in a good silk pillowcase to protect your hair. You will be surprised at how effective they are.
Q: How do I protect my hair when I sleep?
A: Apart from adopting protective sleep hairstyles, using products like almond hair oil, investing in a silk pillowcase, and ensuring your hair is dry can make a big difference.
Q: Does sleeping in braids protect hair?
A: Absolutely! Braids, especially styles like the Dutch festival braids or twisted rope braid, can help reduce friction and tangling.
Q: What to wear at night to protect hair?
A: Along with the protective sleep hairstyles, wearing a silk or satin headscarf can also provide an added layer of protection.
Q: How much hair loss is normal while sleeping?
A: The amount of hair that someone may lose during sleep varies from person to person. However, in general the average person is said to lose 100 strands of hair per day. And depending on what you do with your hair during the day, a lot of that hair may come out at night, while you're tossing and turning.
A good protective hair sleep style is meant to minimise the amount of hair fall you experience at night, whilst also minimising other factors like friction, tugging/pulling, and more.
Having beautiful hair isn’t just about the right products or the perfect cut; it’s also about how you treat it overnight.
Whether you have straight, wavy, curly, fine, or long hair, there's a protective sleep hairstyle out there for you.
And remember, a little oil and that luxurious silk pillowcase can make all the difference. Sweet dreams and even sweeter hair days ahead!