A celeb hairstylist explains how to sleep on damp hair in a way that won't damage your strands.

By Stacey Leasca
October 11, 2019
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After a long day of work, the last thing you likely want to do is give yourself a blowout. So, against every piece of hair advice you’ve ever heard, you take a shower, shampoo and conditioner, and go to bed with wet hair. It may feel shameful—you've probably heard that sleeping with damp hair is one of the worst hair mistakes you can make—but it might not need to be.

In fact, celebrity hairstylist Kristen Shaw is here to explain why sleeping with wet hair could actually be good for some hair types (as long as you do it right). Here’s what you really need to know about this common beauty "rule"—and how to maximize your wet hair overnight.

RELATED: 5 Major Hair Care Mistakes Your Stylist Wishes You'd Stop Making

Is sleeping with wet hair really bad, or is this just a beauty myth?

Call the MythBusters because Shaw says this is a beauty myth. "Depending on your hair type, sleeping on wet hair can actually boost your texture and help with your wave,” she says. 

But how did this rumor get started in the first place? It likely didn’t start out as a beauty myth, but rather as a health one with your mom saying you’ll catch a cold with wet hair. But sorry, moms, you’re wrong about this one.

“This idea seems to fit into the old bit of folklore that getting yourself chilled and wet will cause you to come down with a cold,” William Schaffner, MD, a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told TIME. As he astutely noted, “You cannot catch a cold from being cold.” 

Any hair types that shouldn’t be slept on when wet? 

Though you won’t get sick, Shaw does note that sleeping on wet hair isn’t for everyone. “For coarse-haired girls, I find that sleeping on your hair can rough up the cuticle and make it look unruly,” she says. “Something I love is a hair towel like Aquis ($25; amazon.com) or a silk hair wrap ($14; amazon.com) you can put around your damp head. This will help the hair (coarse, fine, curly, straight) stay softer and a nicer texture upon waking.”

How well does that towel work? According to Shaw, it’s pure magic. “Imagine falling asleep with your hair in rollers from wet to dry overnight — you wake up, take them out and your hair is curly, This is the mindset behind using a hair wrap or a hair towel. How you set it under the towel is how it will shape upon waking.” 

Go ahead: Braid, twist, put hair in a bun (or two) to create a style for the morning.

Make sure hair is damp—not soaking wet—before going to bed.

If you can spare a few moments before bed, Shaw says it’s a good idea to towel dry—though not for the reason you may think.

“Damp hair is definitely better. Wet hair can make your pillow wet and breed mold under the pillowcase,” she says. “Use a towel after you shower to scrunch hair from the ends up to root to get rid of excess water and amplify your natural texture.”  

What are the best products for wet hair sleepers?

It’s not called beauty sleep for nothing. Shaw explains if you’re going to sleep with wet hair you might as well add in a few beloved products as well. That way they can soak in and do their magic as you catch your Zs. 

“I love leave-ins,” she says. “Davines OI All in One Milk ($35; amazon.com) or Su Hair Milk ($29; birchbox.com) are amazing for nurturing your hair strand as overnight therapy.”  

And one more thing you should add to your cart for an excellent night’s sleep with wet hair is a silk pillowcase. Not only will this help to stave off hair damage, but it could also help stop facial wrinkles in their tracks too. No doubt it’s an investment, but one that will pay dividends night after night.

RELATED: 11 Habits to Adopt Right Now for Seriously Healthy Hair

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