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How to Perfect Your Overnight Curls

July 28, 2022

1 Min read

Achieving overnight curls while you sleep is possible and, according to a hairstyling expert, is a lot easier than you think. Plus, there’s virtually no room for hair damage—that is, unless you sleep with dripping wet hair. (But more on that later.) For a play by play on how to get the best overnight curls of your life, we spoke with Nicolette Rauchut, senior stylist at Lrn Beauty, who shared her do’s and don’ts, product picks for nighttime styling, and more. Instagram-level hair, here you come.

The Best Overnight Curl Techniques

Finding your overnight curl technique starts with choosing your desired look. For those who fancy laidback, beachy waves, Rauchet recommends a classic French braid, aka a three-strand braid. Start the process on damp hair to create a textured look that sticks. Rauchet adds: “If you are someone who has a thicker hair texture or hair that just never seems to dry, the braiding technique with some mousse or serum may be best for you.”

If soft, bouncy curls are more your speed, opt for sponge rollers. Rauchet breaks down the steps for us: First, dampen your hair using a spray bottle. Then, take small to medium sections. Start by wrapping your ends down to the root, all over the head. Lastly, wrap your head in a silk scarf to protect the rollers from shifting and coming loose.

Not super into the plaited, textured look but live for dramatic curls? Make a statement with Farrah Fawcett-style hair when you slip on a silk scarf before bed. Here’s what to do: Twist a long silk scarf and drape it over the top of your head so both ends are even on each side. You can use a claw clip to secure the top so it holds while you sleep. Part your hair down the middle or on the side, depending on personal preference. Then, take a small section from the back of your part line and gently begin to wrap it around the scarf. Continue this down the hairline as you would a French braid. Once you reach the bottom, secure it with a silk hair tie. 

The Products You Need For Overnight Curls

There are three things you’ll want to keep in your hairstyling arsenal for enviable overnight curls: light mousse, leave-in conditioner, and hair serum.

For fine hair: Opt for a light mousse to hold the shape of your hair. “It’s great for fine textures that need help creating fullness and grit,” says Rauchet. “It also provides great style memory.”

For frizzy hair: Reach for a leave-in conditioner to smooth out any pesky flyaways without adding too much weight.

For textured hair: Say yes to hair serum and its magical ability to “manipulate the hair easily without damaging it.” 

Should You Style Wet Hair?

While damp hair is preferred when it comes to styling and achieving picture-perfect overnight curls, one should never sleep with overly wet hair. The reason: Hair is at its most vulnerable state when wet, instantly becoming susceptible to damage by way of tension and friction. This is due to the hair reaching its highest stretch point when freshly washed, meaning that expected sleep behavior—like tossing and turning—can lead to matting or knotting.

“Another concern of sleeping with wet hair is scalp heath. Those with thicker hair textures, which tend to hold water retention more than others, may suffer from itchy scalp or dermatitis,” explains Rauchet. “Between product usage and body heat, over-saturation at the scalp can also cause irritation and discomfort.”

Do Heatless Curls Damage Hair?

In short, heatless curls are better for your hair health than heat-styled curls. But, there is something to look out for when taking the heatless route: acknowledging and embracing the type of sleeper you are. Rauchet recommends active sleepers use a silk pillowcase or maybe a silk scarf wrap over braided hair or rollers. “This can be helpful to deter away from tension and friction,” she says.


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