If you haven't heard, "Never hit the bed with soaking wet hair," you've probably not lived long enough. Hair experts—and our beloved grandmothers—swear that committing this sin could cost us *big* in the long run. From dreaded dandruff to catching a cold, sleeping with wet hair seems to offer nothing but a slew of disadvantages. But, this needn't be the case every single time.
Hitting the bed with wet tresses can offer fluffy, soft curls as you wake up—a desirable upside that makes this debatable practice worth the shot. "Washing your hair and tightly binding it before going to bed, in the hope of waking up with salon-ready curls, is all fun and good until it causes damage to your hair shafts and cuticles," explains Dr Geetika Goel, Clinic Dermatech.
"Since there isn't any scientifically-backed benefit of sleeping with wet hair, assume that it does more damage than good. To begin with, overnight dampness can make your scalp the breeding ground for bacterial and fungal proliferation, spurring skin irritation, itchiness, and flakiness. Plus, the dampness can cause the sheath of the outer root of the hair to expand, making it brittle and more prone to damage," she adds.
On the other hand, Dr Navnit Haror, Founder, Derma Miracle Clinic, argues that sleeping with wet hair can lend a fair share of benefits, provided it is practised the right way. But, while making a strong case for this controversial beauty practice, he does put forth that doing so can put your hair at risk for fungal infections. "Sleeping with wet hair can increase your risk of developing fungal infections, dandruff, and an itchy scalp. Malassezia fungi—that thrive in moisture—are responsible for conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, and alopecia (hair loss)."
So, what is the right way to sleep with wet hair?
When your hair is wet, it is in its most vulnerable state, and sleeping on it can cause frizz and damage. "Begin by using a wide-tooth comb to get rid of knots and tangles. Apply a styling cream, serum, or oil to the hair to help protect it. Next, twist your hair into a bun and secure it with a hair tie. Place a towel over your head and leave it in place for at least 15 minutes to absorb excess water. Remove the towel and undo the bun before hitting the bed," suggests Dr Navnit.
The days you’re too tired to blowdry before bed, chances are you’ll wake up with weird kinks, half curls, and one side mushed with the other side straight. "The best way to avoid this is to towel-dry your hair before bed. If you don't have time to do that, use a leave-in conditioner or just spray some water. Finger comb your hair into a loose, twisted bun at the crown and tie it with a soft elastic band before you sleep," he adds. According to Dr Geetika, a light blowdry on the scalp or applying an overnight hair mask may also help. Trade your cotton pillowcase for a silk one to avoid entanglement, friction, and breakage.