Before I started the Curly Girl Method, I had no idea how to sleep with curly hair.
I also didn’t know how much damage I’d been doing to my hair while I slept!
As it turns out, a thing that determines if your hair frizz-free, defined and healthy is how you sleep on your curls.
Luckily, this is actually a really easy aspect of the Curly Girl Method to follow.
All it takes is a protective hairstyle you’re comfortable sleeping in and a
And if you’re someone who doesn’t want to wash/co-wash or wet your hair in the shower every day, taking care of your hair while you sleep can mean that you’ll wake up with defined curls that are easy to refresh.
Here are some styles and tools to help you sleep with curly hair in a way that minimizes hair breakage and
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How to sleep with curly hair when it’s dry
This protective style gets its name because of its resemblance to (you guessed it) a pineapple!
Ideally, you want to end up between the crown of your head and your forehead, but if your hair is shorter, just go as far forward as your hair will allow.
Once your hair is collected, use a cloth or satin scrunchie to keep it in place.
The looser you secure the scrunchie, the better. This will minimize breakage and hair creases in the morning.
Collecting your hair on top of your head keeps you from sleeping on top of it.
When you sleep with curly hair like this, it reduces friction as you turn at night and prevents you from crushing your curls. This, in return, reduces frizz and keeps the definition intact.
If your hair is long, a pineapple may not be enough to keep your hair on top of your head.
If you find that you still end up sleeping on your
Because your hair will be more contained than a traditional pineapple, you may lose more definition.
However, as long as you secure it loosely, you should be able to refresh it if that’s your goal.
The bun will help minimize breakage and reduce frizz-causing friction just like the Pineapple does
Another tool you can use to keep your hair on top of your head is a buff.
To use a buff, stretch the fabric out and gently guide it over your head so it ends up around your neck like a necklace.
Then tip your head upside down and tug on the top of the buff until it encases your hair.
If your hair is really long, you might want to tie the top to keep your hair from ending up under your head throughout the night. Mine is short enough to leave it open.
You would think even with my hair that I’d end up sleeping on it, but I really don’t!
The fabric guides the hair upward and once I lay down, gravity keeps it above my head.
The benefit of a buff is that it keeps your hair on top of your head without risking a scrunchie indent that may come with
The downside is your head is more covered, which may be uncomfortable for some people.
It also may slip off through the night depending on how much you move.
I’ve found that the buff is the best at keeping my curls defined and intact, so it’s good to use if I want to try to refresh the next day.
However, the fact that it doesn’t always stay in place can make it more annoying to sleep in than a pineapple.
Full disclosure, I’m not much of a braider, so this is not a style I use or can speak to.
But it’s an option I’ve come across in a lot of curly hair care resources, and it makes sense to me, so I wanted to mention it!
The benefit of a braid (or multiple braids) is that it keeps the hair secure all night.
As you may have gathered by now, the less your hair moves and rubs against your pillowcase, the better.
I would think the downside to a braid is you’d lose a fair amount of curl definition to the braid pattern, so this may be a style that’s best if you’re going to wet your hair in the morning.
But again, that’s not something I can speak to directly.
How to sleep with curly hair when it’s short: Medusa clipping
(Added on 10/17/19): I’ve gotten some comments and questions about how to sleep with curly hair if it’s shorter, so I wanted to drop this section in!
I mentioned in the comments previously that I don’t have much experience with this. This is still true. My hair was shorter when I started the Curly Girl Method, but I hadn’t started caring too much about how I slept with it yet.
However, since I’ve written this post, one of my short-haired friends started following the Curly Girl Method and told me she uses Medusa Clipping, which you can find demoed in this YouTube video.
Again, I haven’t tried this, so I can’t speak to it, but if you have short hair, this might be worth a shot!
Tools to sleep with curly hair: satin pillowcase or scarf
In addition to sleeping in a protective style, you want to pay attention to what you’re sleeping on.
Traditional pillowcases are a problem for curly girls because they pull a fair amount of moisture out of the hair.
And like we talked about in our Curly Girl Method 101 post, curls need moisture to look their best.
You spend hours on your pillow every night, which gives traditional pillowcases plenty of time to suck the moisture out of your hair.
So instead of using the pillowcases that come with your sheet, consider using a satin pillowcase instead.
They take in far less moisture, which makes them a better match for curly hair.
Alternatively, you can wrap a satin scarf around your head if that’s more your thing.
How to sleep with curly hair when it’s wet
I’m not one to diffuse my hair, mostly because I don’t really have the patience.
I work from home in the morning, so I can usually take my shower, style my hair and let it air dry before I have to be anywhere.
However, there are days where I have to be somewhere early.
Since I’m not big on defusing and I’ve yet to find a refresh routine that works for me, in a
My most successful overnight curl routine starts with a shower a 2-3 hours before I go to bed.
I follow my normal wash and style routine with one bonus step.
After I’ve applied my Biotera gel, I add a coat of Tresemme Mega Sculpting Gel to the surface of my hair.
This will increase the length of time it takes my hair to dry, but it will create a stronger gel cast that the Biotera gel does on its own.
In this case, I sleep with my curls in a buff to help keep them intact all night long.
When I go to sleep, my hair is about 50% dry. The hard hold gel helps to protect my curls overnight and gives me a gel cast that holds until morning, so I wake up in the crunch.
I just break up the gel cast and I’m good to go! It’s usually a little frizzier than when it dries fully before I go to bed, but not noticeably so.
For more products, check out these posts: 25 Curly Girl Approved Drugstore Products, 25 Curly Girl Approved Conditioners, 25 Curly Girl Approved Gels, Curly Girl Beginner Products.
To check for yourself if a product is curly girl approved, you use isitcg.com.
Looking for more guidance on your curly hair journey?
If you’re new to curly hair care and looking for some help, you should check out the No-Stress Guide to Curly Hair Care!
After spending two years learning and caring for my curly hair, I wanted to create my own, in-depth guide to help fellow curlies create incredible curls in the easiest way possible.
It took me a while, but I eventually found an approach that helped me create a curly hair routine that fits into my life in the simplest way possible. And now I want to help you do the same!
For more intermediate/advanced guidance
If you’ve been on your curly hair journey for a while but still have some struggles, check out Curly Hair Problems!
After spending hours scouring the internet looking for solutions to my own curly hair problems, I found myself wishing for an easier, more comprehensive guide to the most common problems.
So that’s what I created!
Curly Hair Problems offers you 78 total solutions to the five most common curly hair care problems, including frizz, curl clumps, limp curls, product issues, and scalp issues.
Sound off: What’s your favorite protective style to sleep with curly hair? Tell us about it in the comments!
Thanks for sharing your tips! I’m new to the curly girl method so I need all the help I can get. 😊
I’m so glad I could help! Good luck with your curly girl journey!! <3
I’m a curly girl and I too am new to the curly girl method, I am going to invest in a satin pillowcase at the moment I sleep on my Bouclème towel.
I enjoyed reading your advise.🙂
Hi Tracy! Welcome to the Curly Girl Method! I’m glad I could help! 🙂
Where do you find a buff? I’d like to try that for nighttime!
I got them on Amazon! Here’s the link: https://amzn.to/2HOIjAt.
Hey – I know I’m a little late to the comments; hopefully you will still see this! I’m a bit confused by the headwraps you linked to on Amazon and wondering if perhaps the product changed from what you originally linked to? As it seems from what you wrote that one of the main reasons we don’t want to sleep with our hair directly on a traditional pillowcase is because they remove too much moisture from our hair – and, for that matter, in the comment following these, you suggest the commenter might want to try a satin scarf (and the link you gave her does go to a satin scarf) because the microfiber wrap she is using might also remove too much moisture – but here is the description of the fabric the headwraps you linked to in the post and the comments is made from:
“100% Premium Polyester Microfiber with high UV protection–a breathable material that wicks away moisture faster than the leading alternatives.”
Is this the correct product? If it is, I think Regan below and her hubalou are probably ok!
Hey! These are the correct buffs! I own them and they’re significantly thinner and less absorptive than a microfiber towel which is what a hubalou seems to be.
Like I said to Regan, it’s probably better to wear the hubalou than sleep on a traditional pillowcase, but if you’re asking my advice for what’s best, you’re probably better off with the satin scarf if you’re completely covering your hair at night. (You’ll notice in the pic in the post, buffs don’t completely cover the hair, so if you’re using one, I’d suggest pairing it with a satin pillowcase.)
Overall when it comes to fabrics, it seems that satin pillowcases/scarfs/bonnets are better than microfiber, which is better than just sleeping on your pillowcase.
I’d recommend the buffs for someone who finds their curls end up squashed with a full head covering and/or indented or misshapen when they sleep in a pineapple or bun. Do the buffs take more moisture out than a satin bonnet, scarf, or pillowcase? Yes. But they take out less than sleeping on a regular pillowcase or a towel of any kind (microfiber or otherwise). Buffs also don’t cover all of your hair, they just keep it on the top of your head so you don’t sleep on it, so it’s really only the area around the scalp and the underside of your hair that has that exposure.
So if keep your curls in shape enough overnight to refresh the next day, that may be worth the trade off of the slight additional moisture loss. You may need to spend a little extra time (and conditioner) refreshing, but it’s still possible if your curls are in shape, which is half the point of sleeping in a protective style.
In Regan’s case, she seems to sleep with her completely hair covered, so I’m guessing that means she doesn’t have a problem keeping her hair intact for the next day. So if you’re asking for my opinion, in that case, I’d say someone covering their hair completely is better off sleeping in satin than a microfiber towel. But like I said to her, you got to weigh comfort and results and do what works best for you overall.
Everyone’s hair’s different and different things work for different people. On top of that, different products have different functions and their own sets of pros and cons. I hope this helps and clears things up some!
Hi I have been washing my hair, putting shea moisture curl enhance cream in it and then using a hubalou to sleep in it. I don’t tend to like to pull my hair in a bun or pony tail to sleep so the hubalou lets me keep it down but in the wrap. My hair is naturally thick and wavy. Is this okay?
Hey Regan! Sleeping with your hair in a wrap is fine! I had never heard of a hubalou before I read your comment, but I looked it up and it looks like it’s a type microfiber towel hair wrap. If that’s the case, you may want to try wrapping your hair in satin scarf like this one (https://amzn.to/2Z4AFYy) instead, since the hubalou might be acting a little too much like a towel pulling moisture out of your hair throughout the night.
But with that said, the hubalou is likely better than just sleeping on just your pillowcase, the curl cream may help balance out any moisture loss, and wrapping your hair can help battle the friction. The most important thing is that you’re comfortable enough to sleep and happy with how your hair looks, so if you try the satin scarf and don’t love it, I’d say to go back to what you’re comfortable with and keep an eye on your hair’s hydration and add more cream/conditioner if you need it. 🙂
I find most suggestions given for any curly girl assumes they have long hair. Most of your suggestions are for longer hair too. What if you have short hair? Sleeping on a satin pillowcase doesn’t work because your head tends to slide off. The only thing that works to keep curls fresh on short hair is sleeping in a satin cap. Amazon has them for $18. I can go four days before refreshing my curls.
I think it’s less that people giving suggestions assume curly girls have long hair and more that most people giving suggestions have long hair themselves, so that’s what they have experience with and can speak to. I did have short hair when I first started the curly girl method, but at that point I was still figuring things out, so all I did was sleep with my hair down and on a satin pillowcase. I’ve seen that some people with short hair gather their hair into a bunch of smaller pineapples, but that’s not something I’ve tried or can speak to, so that’s why it’s not on the list. I would think the buff in this post might be a good option though. And thanks for sharing about the satin cap!
If you want more tips specific to short hair, I know Curly Susie on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCudK7ri5zYvllt7lWGaz_KA) just cut her hair and Alyson from real life+curly girl (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOcnRlXmV9SMbeVQSZhqmSQ) is a short-haired wavy. Maybe they’ll have some good tips! 😀
I have a 3 year old who magically was born with curly hair (imagine Shirley Temple) and as none of us have curly hair in the family, we don’t know how to take care of it. We have been using regular shampoo and conditioner and brushing it then letting it dry. Is this okay?
You probably want to use a sulfate-free shampoo and silicone free conditioner. I don’t have a ton of experience following the curly girl method with kids, but I know the Curly Girl Handbook (which you can find here: https://amzn.to/2WEKURJ) has a whole chapter on caring for kids with curly hair. And this post breaks down the basic dos and don’ts for curly hair: https://createyourownreality.co/the-curly-girl-method-101/. I would think for kids you can stick with washing, co-washing, and conditioning for now and skip the styling products until they’re older. I hope this helps some!
A. B Jones says
Dealing with the shrinkage after naturally drying my hair is a challenge for me. I like the looser smoother curls look, but have very little time/success in using a curling iron. Suggestions?
I’ve found I have less shrinkage when I use a heavier cream (or add extra leave in conditioner) and when I use a medium or medium/hard hold gel (as opposed to a hard hold one). The weight of the cream/condition seems to pull my curls down and the weaker gel locks in enough moisture to cut frizz but lets enough go so it doesn’t force a tight curl. My favorite gel has been Biotera’s Styling gel. (You can check out my review here.) And I don’t know if you’ve tried Aunt Jackie’s Don’t Shrink gel, but if not it might be worth a shot. I haven’t tried it myself, but according to the reviews, some people seem to have success with this.
I hope one of these ideas helps! If you find something that works, you’ll have to come back and let us know! 🙂
What is a Buff and where can I get one?
Hey Curly Girls – Google search ‘Home made flaxseed gel’ – really cheap and simple to make and after thirty years of struggling to find the right products to suit my 3c curls I found it in my own saucepan!
All natural, no sulphates or chemicals, I can’t recommend it highly enough! There are lots of YouTube videos on how to make it, where you can see some results for yourself. Looks like it works on most if not all curl types too.
(Not advertising or being paid – just a formerly frizzy girl wanting to share my excitement at a fantastic discovery! ) 🤗
Janet Larch says
I love, love, love all the Aveda Be Curly products. Plus I add a few drops of Argan oil to the Be Curly Curl enhancer followed by a nickel size amount of Aveda light elements defining whip
I’m 63 years old and have struggled with my curls for a long time. Picture growing up with curly hair in the 70s when beautiful was defined by the model Twiggy’s long straight hair. And there were almost no products to help curly girls make their curls more beautiful…only products to rid us of our curls! Go curly girls! I love this movement!
Any suggestions for something to control frizz on next day curls without having to wet hair all over again? I’ve yet to find a frizz serum that works on my hair.
I’ve had the hardest time finding a refresh routine that works for me, but I finally found one! I’m going to a post on it, which should go live next month, but here’s the basic break down:
I separate my hair into two sections, top and bottom. I work with the bottom first. I use a spray bottle to dampen my hair. Then I use about a nickel to a quarter size amount of conditioner and smooth it over my hair. Then I add a pea size amount of Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Curl Cream, then I add about a nickel to quarter size amount of Biotera gel. (These are the same products I use to style my hair, just in smaller amounts. If you use other products that work for you, try those first.) I scrunch after each step. Then I repeat on the top section.
It typically takes 15-20 minutes to dry and it looks frizzy while it’s drying, but once it dries, it looks good! There’s still *some* frizz compared to wash day, but it’s minimal, and I’ve been happy with the results. I don’t know if this will work for you and your hair, but I hope it does if you try it!
I have been using Biotera Gel for years on my curly hair. It is the only gel I have found that seems to actually tame my hair down. So glad to know someone else with curly hair uses it too.
Yes! It’s the best!❤️❤️
Fizz ease Secret Weapon is a good serum and inexpensive. But now I make my own using aloe, vegetable glycerin, and a combination of oils and for me this really works. I make my own shampoo and conditioner as well. I am still suffering breakage so I’m trying different methods for sleep. I’ll try the pineapple method tonight!
Very cool! Thanks for sharing!
What if you have shorter hair and you can only get it into a pony tail or half pony tail? I’ve started using a silk pillow case but I just sleep with it down since I can’t really pull it up
I don’t have enough experience with sleeping in short hair to say for sure, but a friend of mine recently told me that she uses a technique called medusa clipping, which you can find demoed here on youtube!
Do not, DO NOT pineapple! I’ve been doing it for over a decade and I have massive hair breakage! No matter how loose, and despite using a soft scrunchie, I have the worst breakage. I’d take frizz over breakage any day…
Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Not every technique works for everyone. For what it’s worth, my hair was too short to pineapple when I started the curly girl method nearly two years ago, but it grew out enough about a year ago and I’ve slept in a pineapple regularly since then. Personally, I’ve noticed significantly *less* breakage since I started. It’s always good to have the reminder that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to curly hair. 🙂
I’m sorry but what is Co washing?
It’s basically washing your scalp with conditioner instead of shampoo. You can read all about it here!
lace front wigs says
Hey, this is a great article for curly hair people. I think we have never thought that our sleeping can really damage our curls and thanks for bringing this topic in to light. Love the tips you have shared to help damaging hair while sleeping.
Thanks so much for reading and commenting! ❤️
I love all this info. I prefer to sleep with my hair in a bun on top of my head. That’s the most comfortable.
Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing!
My hair is VERY THIN AND FINE so the only way my hair will only be wavy unless I hold it up somehow until it dries… or go to bed with wet hair. I’ve been looking for a hairnet or something to hold it up while it dries but I realized a hair net would be too loose and weak. Just come across sleeping caps and I’m thinking of trying one of those or a snood. The snood I can wear out and and about without looking awful. Can you suggest a hair net, hair sleeping cap, or snood? Brand? Thank you
Unfortunately, it would seem we have very different hair types. I don’t use any of the items you mentioned, so I’m not the best person to make that kind of recommendation. Best of luck with your search!
I’ve been following the curly girl method for almost a year because there isn’t a curly guy method. My hair has grown almost 2 inches during our stay at home time. The curls touch my shoulders now and there has not been any decrease in the quality of my curls. I love how it looks.
Currently I dampen my hair in the morning and then add a little gel or cream for a refresh. I use only curly girl approved products for my hair. I hope society is ready for a curly guy when we come out.
Thanks for the advice.
It’s awesome your hair is in such good shape! I’m glad I could help. And there’s totally a section for curly guys in the curly girl handbook, so I bet there’s more of you out there than you realize.
Hi! Your blog has been really helpful but does the pillow case have to be satin or silk? I’ve heard that polyester is just as good but I’m not sure. Thanks!
I believe it depends on the pillowcase, but often times polyester is used with satin, so you’d likely be okay if that’s the case. I’m no expert, but here’s a link I’ve found that discusses the differences between the three: https://www.naturallycurly.com/curlreading/curlykids/curlysuzy-qa-silk-satin-polyester-help
I hope this helps!
hair salon Columbus OH says
Your article is quite helpful! I have so many questions, and you have answered many. Thank you! Such a nice and superb article, we have been looking for this information about how to sleep in curly hair. Indeed a great post about it!!
Hello new here and all of this is so true . I have a satin cap that I wear at night that I got off of Amazon that really helps to keep my curls good . And I also put it in a very loose bun cause my hair is extremely long and I kinda look like a cone head sometimes cause it’s that much hair but you gotta do what you gotta do for the curls!
Hey, welcome! Thanks so much for sharing your technique and experience!
Thank you for sharing this, I have been at a lost as to what I should be doing with my daughters hair for a few years now. She has very ringlety hair, like you would get on a doll, but the longer it gets the further away from the base the ringlets are getting and the frizzier it is becoming all over, it looks amazing after showering and leaving it to dry, but then she goes to bed and in the morning it is flat and frizzy again with ringlets just on the bottom. I have always had frizzy wavy hair, but it makes me wonder if I should have been doing something different with my hair all of these years as well! I have ordered some silk pillow cases and we are going to try to get into the curly routine now. Thanks again.
That’s wonderful! I’m so glad this post could help! Thanks for reading. 🙂