How to Protect Curls While You Sleep

How to Protect Curls While You Sleep

Protecting your curls whilst sleeping is key to avoiding the dreaded bedhead. It also contributes to the health of your hair and gives you the best chance of waking up with happy, bouncy curls. Follow our guide for the top tips for sleeping with curly hair.

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How to Sleep with Curly Hair

Curly hair needs protecting at night while you sleep. There are many ways to protect your tresses, and it's all about finding the one that suits your needs. Heading to bed without tending to your curls is a definite no! 

You can use all the curly hair products you want, but to ensure your locks, no matter your curly hair type, look great in the morning is essential by protecting your hair while you sleep. 

In order to protect your curls, waves, or coils at night, you need to combine both the tools and accessories that help support your locks, with the right protective style to provide minimal manipulation or tension on your hair’s strands.

What to Use to Protect Curls at Night

The best way to sleep with curly hair is to make sure that your bedding, tools, or accessories are providing comfort and support to your gorgeous tresses. We recommend:

  1. Satin pillowcase 
  2. Bonnet or silk scarf
  3. Silk scrunchies
  4. Moisturizing products

1. Satin Pillowcase

A satin pillowcase benefits your curls by providing a smooth surface for your hair at night.  During the night, your curls can become dry and tangled because traditional cotton pillowcases absorb the moisture from your hair. This is down to a substance called cellulose that contains a negative charge, which helps to attract water, causing cotton to be an absorbent material. The rough surface creates friction between the pillowcase and hair, resulting in frizz and breakage. In order to stop hair breakage, you’ll need to swap out your regular pillowcase. 

the curlsmith pillowcase in front of a green background with labels highlighting the benefits
Using a satin pillowcase to protect your curly hair at night can prevent the aforementioned issues as satin is non-absorbent. Its silky smooth texture allows your curls to glide across the surface during the night, helping to get rid of frizz and breakage.

Bonnet or Scarf

Wearing a bonnet or silk curly hair scarf can also help to increase the slip on your locks at night, reducing any tension or pulling, leaving your tresses full of bounce and free from frizz the next day.


Another way to sleep with curly hair is to make the most of satin scrunchies. By pulling your hair loosely into a scrunchie at the top of your head, you can reduce how much tension your curls experience as you sleep. Ensure the scrunchie is tied loosely, and use the satin pillowcase to ensure the softest night’s sleep for your tresses. 

Hydrating Hair Products 

It’s important to treat your hair properly before you wind down for sleep, just like you might with your skin. The key to protecting your curly hair at night is to use hydrating hair products which help to nourish your hair strands as you sleep. 

To support your curls, coils or waves while you sleep, you need to know how to moisturize your curly hair, and what style to put your locks in while you get some rest.

4 Protective Hairstyles for Sleeping with Curly Hair

Now we know the tools to use, to protect our hair when sleeping, let's take a closer look at the range of protective styles and the results achieved to see which one would suit your needs. Whether you have wavy hair, curly, or coily hair, each can benefit from looking after your hair at night. 

The best protective styles for sleeping with curly hair include:

  1. Pineapple
  2. Twists
  3. Braids 
  4. Bantu knots

The Pineapple

You are probably familiar with the pineapple method, but what are the benefits of doing this at night? This curly hairstyle preserves your curls at night, especially on the mid-length and ends, without the risk of crushing them whilst you sleep. 

  • Place your hair in a loose ponytail at the top of your head (yes, that's right, it mirrors the appearance of an actual pineapple). Loosely secure the ponytail with a satin scrunchie to avoid dents and breakage that can be caused by a traditional hairband. 
  • If you have shorter hair, you will benefit from loosely securing your hair in three bunches to ensure that you don't overstretch the curl. Place one loose ponytail at the top of your head and one on each side. 
  • This method is great for all curl friends that want to maintain voluminous natural curls. 

a woman smiles with her hair in a pineapple style and a headscarf

When taking down your pineapple in the morning, add some gloss to your curls with our Shine Oil, a weightless oil blend that locks in moisture and adds shine.


If you have type 4 hair you may be familiar with twists as a preferred protective style technique. Twisting your hair is a great method to preserve definition and prevent shrinkage, especially for those with tighter curls and coils. Follow these steps to protect your hair at night:

a woman with her type 4 hair in twists smiles with her eyes closed holding a bottle of hair oil

To twist your curls or coils, follow the first steps of this tutorial:



Braids are a great protective style to apply at night on all hair types (even those with straight hair). If you want to rock some waves or loose curls (depending on your natural hair type), then braids will be a great option to protect your hair while you sleep and create gorgeous waves in the morning. 

  • Apply a light leave-in conditioner such as our Weightless Air Dry Cream to freshly washed hair (if you are refreshing, use our Moisture Memory Reactivator). 
  • Follow with an optional styler if you require a medium hold such as our Shape Up Aqua Gel, or for the stronger hold, opt for our Shine Gel which provides long-lasting definition and shine for all curl types.
  • Once you’ve applied your wavy hair products, create your braid by sectioning your hair, then splitting each section into three. Create the braid by folding one side section over the middle section over and over again, alternating between the left and right side each time. 

Bantu Knots

Although you may have seen this style showcased throughout the day, Bantu knots are also a great overnight heatless method to create curls. In order to protect your curly hair or coily hair at night with bantu knots, apply your coily hair products, following these steps:

  • Apply a leave-in such as our Multi-Tasking Conditioner and follow with a styler like our medium hold Hydro Style Flexi Jelly designed for all curl types. 
  • Section your hair, twirl or twist your hair in small sections, hold the knot’s base and wrap your twists around themselves. Tuck or pin your knot in place overnight.
  • When taking this style down in the morning, break the cast with our Intense Treatment Serum, suitable for dry, coarse hair, which benefits from a Shea Butter-based formula for ultimate moisture.
a woman wearing her type 4 hair in bantu knots faces away from the camera showing where her hair is parted

Whichever styling method you choose, the best way to sleep with curly hair is to combine your protective style with the satin pillowcase, bonnet, or scarf for the best results. 

If you are unsure of what your hair type is, and which products would suit your needs best type, take our curl quiz to provide you product recommendations:

What to Avoid

You have now been provided with all the top tips to ensure you rise and shine with bouncy curls. If you ever consider skipping your bedtime routine remember the implications; you will wake up with dry unwanted frizz, and your curls will be in disarray, even worse you will experience breakage!

Other common causes of damage to your curls should be avoided in order to care for your hair when sleeping:

  1. Don’t go to bed with wet hair - Failing to diffuse your hair before going to sleep can lead to various issues, including dull hair and breakage. The hair is at its weakest when wet due to the swelling of the hair shaft, leaving the hair much more vulnerable than if it was dry. It can also lead to scalp conditions such as itchy scalp, as the warmth from your scalp along with the dampness in your hair is the perfect recipe for bacteria. Use our hair dryer for curly hair for best results. 
  2. Don’t ignore the signs that your hair needs extra moisture - If your hair feels dry and in need of moisture, take the opportunity to apply an overnight hair treatment such as our Intense Treatment Serum designed to intensely nourish your strands; suitable for all curl types.
  3. Don’t use traditional hair ties - The tension from the elastic used for traditional hair ties can cut into the hair and lead to breakage. Switching to a satin scrunchie is much kinder as the material is silky and soft against your curls. Also, when securing your hair at night with a satin scrunchie only pull your curls through once as pulling the hair too tight can cause breakage and discomfort.

Ultimately, there is a lot to consider when working out how to protect your curls whilst sleeping, we all love beautiful curls and the bottom line is in order to achieve this you need a good curly haircare routine.

Trust Your Curls to Curlsmith 

At Curlsmith, we formulated our ranges with trichologists to create curl-friendly vegan hair products for every hair occasion or problem. From shampoos and co-washes to hairsprays for curly hair, you’ll find what you need. All our formulas are cruelty-free, vegan, and free from parabens, silicones, and sulfates. 

Sharley Viola
Curlsmith’s Lead Educator

Textured Hair Specialist with a vast amount of experience delivering education both nationally and internationally. A self-confessed product junkie committed to spreading her wealth of knowledge amongst the curly hair community and beyond.

Sharley Viola
Curlsmith’s Lead Educator

Textured Hair Specialist with a vast amount of experience delivering education both nationally and internationally. A self-confessed product junkie committed to spreading her wealth of knowledge amongst the curly hair community and beyond.