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Have you ever woken up from a good night’s rest with hair that feels dry, stiff, tangled, and frizzier than it did eight hours before? The truth is, your bedding and sleep habits could be taking a toll on your precious tresses.
While your sheets and duvet might be comfortable and even cute, cotton pillowcases and fabrics are known for drying out hair overnight, especially if you’re not covering or protecting your strands properly. “The overnight goal for hair wellness is to retain as much moisture in the hair as possible,” says Ohio-based dermatologist Hope Mitchell, M.D., F.A.A.D. “Cotton-containing pillowcases or head wraps will absorb moisture from the hair,” drying out strands and making them more prone to breakage. Not to mention, as you toss and turn at night, the friction between your pillowcase and hair weakens the hair follicles, which can also result in further breakage, knots, and extremely frizzy locks.
Dr. Mitchell points out that African American tresses tend to have an especially fragile hair shaft, and constant friction of textured hair rubbing against cotton bedding each night can break the shaft, expose the cuticle, and lead to damage. “The hair cuticle is the outer layer of the hair shaft that protects the hair,” explains Dr. Mitchell. When friction and moisture loss damage the cuticle to the point it’s eliminated, the hair will break because it’s lost its protection, she adds. (Related: The 6 Most Common Hair Problems and How to Fix Them, According to Pros)
This is why hair wraps, head scarves, and sleep bonnets play just as much of an important role in protecting curls, braids, and twists as the products in your hair-care routine. Beyond just preserving hairstyles, head wraps and silk bonnets keep much-needed moisture in the hair, explains Dr. Mitchell. “And moisture retention is of utmost importance in preventing breakage and length retention.” It’s also key for keeping frizz at bay, your straight hair silky smooth, and your curls and spirals intact.
When it comes to wrapping your hair up at night, be sure to reach for head wraps and sleep bonnets made of silk and satin. Unlike cotton, these types of soft, smooth fabrics provide a barrier between your hair and bedding (and allow for your head to seamlessly slide against your pillow when tossing at night) to help limit friction and prevent breakage, dryness, and knots. Silk also doesn’t absorb moisture from the hair, thereby helping you score a smooth hair shaft and, in turn, less frizz. (Related: The 7 Best Silk Pillowcases for Your Skin and Hair)
And here’s a pro tip: Head scarves and sleep bonnets can also act as conditioning caps at night. Next time you’re trying out a new hair mask or leave-in conditioner, pin up your hair and pull on your silk head wrap to lock in that ever-important moisture and get the most out of your hair masks and treatments.
After splurging on the best products to take care of your hair and scalp, it would be remiss of you to let your hard work and money go to waste by leaving your hair unprotected at night. So, consult the guide below for the best head wraps, scarves, and sleep bonnets to protect your strands while you snooze.
This silk bonnet is perfect for braids, curly tresses, and long hair since it comes in two sizes or lengths: 19 inches for shoulder-length hair and 27 inches for long strands. It has an elastic edge to keep it in place, and the inside is made of a silky smooth fabric to combat frizz. And if you like to tie your hair up in a ponytail or bun while you do your nighttime skin-care regimen, this sleep bonnet also comes with a matching hair scrunchie.
One fan wrote: “I rarely give five-star reviews, but wow. I am a super rough sleeper, I toss and turn all night, and have literally never found a scarf that will stay on. I have a drawer full of scarf types I’ve tried over the years. I have zero idea how this one is staying on, not moving an inch, and is so comfortable… but I’m already buying a second one for the future.”
Designed with a wide headband to ensure edge control, this hair covering is roomy and comfortable enough to fit over the biggest curls, protective styles, and roller sets. Also worth noting: Reviewers say it won’t leave annoying lines on your forehead or pinch so tightly that it gives you headaches. “Finally a bonnet that isn’t too tight! I love the thick band, it’s very comfortable… no more headaches,” wrote a shopper. The budget-friend buy comes in classic black, but if you prefer something bolder, check out the brand’s orange or patterned bonnet.