Do you ever think you're doing everything right with your nightly natural hair regimen, and still awake to a dry, brittle, and tangled mess?
You may have read this essential guide to protecting your hair while you sleep. However, if your hair still feels dry or damaged when you wake up, you've come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll detail why a nightly routine is so important, and what you can do to ensure that your hair remains hydrated and healthy throughout the night!
How does hair get damaged overnight?
When you think about it, we spend a significant portion of our lives sleeping. Depending on how you prepare your hair for bedtime, that could mean spending about 50 hours a week with your hair squashed underneath the weight of your head! A bad night routine can lead to a host of issues like breakage, as your curls snag on your pillowcase, dryness as your hair loses moisture overnight, matting/tangling from the friction between your hair strands, and unmanageable hair when you wake up in the morning.
The way that we style our hair for before bed can either increase or reduce the amount of friction that occurs as we move throughout the night. Some people enjoy the simplicity of wearing their hair in a ponytail or even completely free when it’s time for bed. This can be a risky activity for particularly curly hair as there are many ways this can go wrong.
Depending on the material of everything from your bed sheets, to your pillow cases, the fibers may actually be pulling moisture out of your hair. Sheets that are 100% cotton, or feature a jersey knit can actually absorb excess moisture as you lay on them. Although this feature is ideal for maintaining and regulating your temperature as you sleep, wicking sweat away from your body and mattress to keep the cool, these fabrics can also wick away moisture from your hair!
These types of fabrics may also have a lower thread count and can create a surface rife with small holes that your coils can become trapped in. Fabrics are often just extremely small intersections of individual threads coming together, Depending on how many threads there are, the holes between them can end up extremely small or big enough to see with your bare eyes. If you don’t prepare your bedtime style well enough, a stray hair might find itself wrapped around one of these cross section holes, and one you move, it can break off or even be ripped out of your head!
The constant motion of your hair against these surfaces can also result in tension, friction, and static buildup. If you are a particularly active sleeper and fail to protect your hair, you can wake up with an extreme bed head that is tangled and matted together, making it even harder and more time consuming to restyle and hydrate your hair in the morning.
Understanding the hair cuticle
As you learn more about taking proper care of your hair, you will notice there is a lot of emphasis on the hair cuticle, and the other various parts of your individual hair strands.
The hair cuticle is defined as the outermost part of the hair shaft which is formed from dead cells that overlap in layers to form scales that strengthen and protect the hair. Thankfully, these protective scales can be manipulated by styling and product use to end up either being jagged and uneven, or smoothed and uniform! This kind of care will help your hair be less rigid, and restore the ability for it to easily slip out of those awkward and damaging positions at night. A smoother cuticle will also help to keep moisture from evaporating or being pulled out of the hair as you sleep, making this piece incredibly important.
The porosity level of your hair can also influence how much moisture is able to get into the core, or the cortex, of your hair. The tighter cells of the cuticle are wrapped around the hair strand, the harder it is for any oils, water, or moisturizing product to get through. Low porosity hair has this characteristic, while high porosity hair has cuticles that are widely spaced apart with lots of room to let moisture in. However, high porosity hair can also have cuticles that are spaced too far apart, resulting in hair that has a harder time holding onto moisture. Understanding these aspects of your hair can also help in deciding which products and styles may work best for you! Read more about hair porosity!
Tips to protect your hair while you sleep
The following tips will help to improve hair’s moisture retention and protection throughout the night. Remember, many of the problems discussed in this blog can be avoided with a simple but consistent nightly regimen. Your specific regimen will mostly depend on the unique characteristics of your hair as well as the styles you wear on a daily basis, but if you integrate them into your routine, you should see amazing results!
1. Moisturize your hair properly
Your first step to transform your nightly routine begins with moisture. It’s a simple and very rewarding process that your hair will love. Using a spray bottle, gently mist your hair with clean water. It doesn’t need to be “wet” or dripping, but it should be slippery to the touch.
Apply a creamy and hydrating product like NaturAll’s Hydrating Leave-In Conditioner, and evenly distribute the product throughout your hair. Depending on your hair type and the style you have in mind for the next day, you may want to lightly detangle your hair at this point as well. Don’t be shy with your products!
2. Seal in the moisture
The hair cuticle must be sealed in order to create smooth and uniform hair strands. In order to close off this protective layer of your hair, we “seal” it with an oil or grease product, effectively locking moisture inside so that it cannot be lost. NaturAll’s Avocado & Kiwi Oil Blend is the perfect lightweight and non greasy oil to use which goes on easily and works wonders for your hair. Just place the product in your hands, work it around your palms and apply throughout your head, focusing more on the ends to keep them super protected!
3. Set it and forget it
For easy styling in the morning, there are an array of low manipulation styles to keep your hair out of harm's way. If your length allows, 2 buns is a great way to keep the ends of your hair tucked away, and maintain the way your hair is parted. If you use style just after sealing your hair, this will help decrease frizz and create a smoother finish for any styles you may want to try when you wake up. You can also try a few chunky twists or braids just as long as your ends are nice and secure.
4. Mind your surroundings
As we enter the cooler months, it may become necessary to keep the inside of your home warm. Use caution when using portable heaters and other sources of dry heat throughout the night. These can actually evaporate the water in the air very quickly, causing moisture moisture to evaporate out of your hair instead!
Running a heater while you sleep may be necessary to keep warm, but consider using a humidifier overnight to help replace that dry air with moisture. This can result in more moisturized hair, but also improve the texture and health of your skin as well.
5. Anticipate the needs of your hair
If you know your hair is often extremely dry, feel free to double up on the hydration by adding on any other butters, creams, or custards to style with. NaturAll produces incredible styling products that are also great for your hair, and use fortifying ingredients that actually nourish your hair as you style. Try this Hydrating Avocado & Kiwi Custard to help define your curls or set your style, all while adding on even more hair conditioning ingredients to help you wake up to your best hair yet!
6. Sleep on a satin or silk pillowcase
Silk is a natural fiber used to make cloth, while satin is a weave that can be made from a variety of fiber materials. You can usually tell the difference because silk has a shimmery appearance, while satin is glossy on one side and dull on the back. Always check the label as a satin fabric will usually be cheaper than silk, but it is not quite as effective for protecting your hair and skin at night.
Silk pillowcases are slick and create very little friction compared to cotton and jersey fabrics. While other fabrics are prone to snag and tug on your hair, silk/satin allows your hair to move and glide around freely resulting in less breakage, tangling, and frizz in the morning!
Silk also absorbs far less moisture from your hair than other fabrics. Sleeping on a satin/silk pillowcase will prevent your product from being sucked out of your hair by your pillowcase overnight.
7. Use a satin/silk scarf or bonnet.
This is the key to maintaining your curly hair! Although a silk/satin pillowcase can help to keep your hair from snagging, covering it with a bonnet will keep your hair from moving too wildly at night. The covering creates a barrier between your hair and the fabric you sleep on to prevent moisture wicking, and also any staining from your products.
If you plan to wear a wash n’ go, try using the “pineapple method” to protect your curls for the next day. Gather all your hair to the top of your head and secure it with a loose hair tie. Wrap your scarf or bonnet around your edges to decrease frizz and enhance volume for the next day. This leaves your curls loose on top of your head so they won’t get crushed under your head overnight, while also protecting the loose ends from snagging and tangling up together.
Putting It All Together
In conclusion, we’ve been able to discover just how much our habits at bedtime can affect our mornings as well! Discussing just how much time we spend in bed really put into perspective just how many things can go wrong with our hair during that time. Anticipating the needs of your hair remains an important part of managing your natural hair, and that mindfulness will make integrating these protective measures even easier. Hopefully, they’ll become a habit you may even enjoy!
Uncovering the anatomy of the hair strand, and how understanding it can help in moisture management was also eye opening. Our hair cuticle works hard to protect hair, but we can give it a little help by using products that strengthen and seal in moisture. The fact that NaturAll makes these powerfully fortifying formulas that are also free of toxic and junk ingredients makes them even more amazing for your hair!
These great products, when layered in the right way can make dry and brittle hair a thing of the past by being sure to seal in moisture so it doesn’t evaporate. Maintaining low manipulation and protective styles at night will also help you see great results in the morning.
We even saw that every detail, down to what your sheets and pillowcases are made of, can have an impact on your hair’s health. Making that important switch will not only result in less breakage for your hair, but a silk pillowcase is also helpful for your skin as well. Say goodbye to sheets that suck the moisture right of your hair!
Finally, we learned that rocking a bonnet or silk scarf at night is a cute way to continue the protection all night long. There’s a reason why those before us swore by them! Creating a barrier between where you lay your head and the curls under your scarf offers fabulous results every time with less tangling, friction, frizz, and moisture loss!
We hope these tips have been helpful to you, and that you’re able to easily integrate them into your regimen! Have any tips we didn’t mention? Leave them in the comment section below!