The Best Way to Sleep with Curly Hair + How to Make it on the Cheap

Curly hair is beautiful. It is unique and curvy and big and fabulous!

Yet, those with naturally curly hair know that taking care of curls can be a struggle. Everything from understanding what cut to choose to which products will give the most bounce or hydration makes the curly journey one shrouded in uncertainty.

One of the biggest mysteries is the best way to sleep with curls every night while preserving the curls. With the time and effort it takes to style our hair its no wonder why we don’t want to go through it every day! Protective styles, pineapples, satin scarves/pillowcases, buns and braids lead the way for curlies nightly rituals, yet I found that each came with a problem that I loathed to face.

Popular Curly Hair Overnight Methods

-Protective styles are not the lazy girls best friend! To keep your hair protected on a nightly basis you must stick to your routine: bantu knots, twist-outs, twist-ups. Unfortunately for me, some nights I just didn’t feel like wetting and twisting, rolling or plaiting and alas, there are consequences for not caring for the curly head every night. I also wasn’t particularly partial to protective styles because I felt that it wasn’t my natural curl pattern.

-A curly bun was never a way for me to sleep because in the morning– no matter how loose the bun– there were dreaded dents!

-Braids are easy and I didn’t always have to wet my hair every night when using this method. However, just like with other protective styles, braiding disrupted my normal curl pattern and when a girl is just trying to let her curls shine, she doesn’t want to undo her pattern every night

-A satin or silk pillowcase seems like a splendid way for a lazy girl to protect her curls every night without much hassle. However, in trying this simple method I found that my hair was not fully protected and regardless of how gentle the fibers were on my head, it wasn’t enough for my curls to be satisfied. 

-The pineapple was by far my favorite of all the methods. I was never too lazy to throw my hair atop my head and this method served me for years. Yet I was always looking for a better (low-maintenance) nightly curly hair routine.

The Truth Behind Satin Scarves

For two years I tried different methods with the pineapple being the all-time favorite. There were problems with it, though.

You see, when I used to straighten my hair I learned of the power of satin scarves and how they truly protected and revitalized my hair while I slept, making my hair silkier, shinier and softer as the week championed on.

Nowadays I like to think of it in this way: take a look at your favorite conditioner, or any of your favorite liquid beauty products. When you keep the cap twisted on or snapped shut, the precious liquid remains creamy and workable.

Leave the cap off for an extended amount of time and the air gets to it, making it clumpy, less liquid-like and overall not so useful anymore. The cap and container protects the precious product inside.

Our hair needs protection too! Especially curly hair, because the winding strands make it less likely to be lubricated by our natural oils and more likely for the hair to dry out. In addition to our regular moisturizing routine and styling of our hair, we need to offer our hair protection in those hours while we sleep.

The Saving Grace

…And there is where my dilemma lived. The pineapple was great for not interrupting my curl pattern, but each night I only wore my satin scarf around the base of my head, protecting the top only. The remainder of my hair just draped over my forehead and though I slept on my satin pillow it didn’t feel like it was enough.

My hair was still out in the air every night! I went and bought one of those long satin scarfs but really it wasn’t long enough. I awoke with dreaded dents! And the satin bonnets left the same results. More annoying still was the fact that my scarf always fell off every night! But it was better than nothing so for the good part of my 2-year natural hair journey I just pineappled it every night dealing with the exposure to air, and my scarf ending up under Mick’s back as I peacefully thrashed about.

Then, as it always happens when you are open to the bounty of the universe, I stumbled across a video on NaturallyCurly where an absolute legend of a woman told of her curly hair sleeping remedy. She used a satin bonnet, cut it open at the end and sewed on her satin pillowcase so that her hair could remain down, protected and not scrunched in the least. Wow, thought I, now that is totes outside the box.

I hurriedly grabbed my extra satin pillowcase that I had for nearly two years and decided I would make my own version to sleep with every night.

Materials You’ll Need

  • Satin Pillowcase
  • Elastic
  • Safety Pin
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Scissors

How to Make

  1. Use an extra satin pillowcase or get a new one here
  2. Get a piece of elastic
  3. Measure it around the base of your head
  4. If one side is more silky than the other, make sure you make the silky side the side that will touch your hair
  5. Use the opening of the pillowcase
  6. Cut a slit in the hem of your pillow case on both sides of the sidestitch *the hem is the part that is folded over and sewn. You want to make a slit without disturbing the threads. The elastic will run through the folded part of the pillowcase so it needs the integrity of that fold to stay in tact*
  7. Safety pin one end of your elastic
  8. Begin to pull the safety pin with elastic all the way through the hem.
  9. When both ends of the elastic meet, hand sew them together

How to Wear

Watch my video here to see how I put it on… it’s pretty straightforward

Can I Buy a Ready-Made One?

The good news is that you can. They run for about $15-20 USD and you can get them on Amazon, I couldn’t find any on eBay. However, one thing to bear in mind is that many ready-made ones taper towards the end, enclosing your hair more, where as a pillowcase is wide and square at the bottom giving your hair less constriction.

The Happy CurlGirl

I’ve been a happy pillowcase head for a while now and I honestly couldn’t be more content. This is exactly the type of sleeping method I’d been looking for since the start of my curly hair journey. The length of the pillowcase ensures that my hair isn’t squashed or scrunched. It is so easy to put on and extremely comfortable. I absolutely adore the fact that not one single night yet has this fallen off my head, and I feel like my hair is in a protective bubble every night, getting the royal treatment that every precious fiber deserves to have. 

  • What’s your favorite way to sleep with your curly hair? Would you prefer to buy one or make your own? Let us know by commenting below!
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  • Remember, the health of your hair is a reflection of your love and care, so love it always x

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