I did a quick poll recently on my IG stories surveying women whether or not they implemented a nighttime natural hair regimen. The results are shown below:
So roughly 60% of women have some sort of system in place to help maintain their natural hair overnight. But what does this look like?
- Simply placing a bonnet or scarf over the hair?
- Restyling or stretching the hair to upkeep a style?
- Moisturizing and sealing?
- Scalp massages?
It can be any one of these things based on what your hair care needs are on a particular day. I will breakdown the main components of a nighttime natural hair regimen in this article.
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1. Hair Protection
Ok, this is pretty vague because there are many ways to protect the hair. But what this simply means is to not leave your hair out if possible while sleeping at night.
Wearing natural hair out overnight can cause several potential issues and possibly more work to face the next day:
- Matting and tangles: Particularly when wearing loose styles such as wash n gos, afros, puffs, twist outs, braid outs, and etc. The hair is uncontrolled and can produce knotting at each twist and turn you make throughout the night.
- Dryness and breakage: Along with matting and tangles, hair uncovered at night is proned to experience more dryness especially if sleeping on cotton pillowcases. Cotton is known to suck moisture and oils from the hair. And less moisture = more chance of breakage. The ends of our natural hair can also snag against the fibers of pillowcases and bed linen material. Once again, more chances of breakage and split ends.
- Shorten lifespan of hairstyles: Yep, all that hard work and time spent on styling can go straight down the drain real quick if the hair is left wild and free overnight.
So at bare minimum, one of the best things for your natural hair is to cover it at night. Many affordable and very stylish options exist range from satin bonnets and wraps to scarves. And for a backup measure, it is not a bad idea to invest in a satin pillowcase just in case your head covering slips off during the night.
2. Style Maintenance
Hair left to its own means overnight could mean more work for you to do the next morning. Not necessarily a bad thing but if you want to cut down on manipulation and your styling time in the mornings, there are some measures you can take before bed.
Wash n gos
Wash n gos are notorious for shrinking overtime especially at the roots. To keep this style stretched for several days to come, you can try banding at night as shown in this post on Instagram (SWIPE):
You can also pineapple your wash n go (for longer hair) or do mini puffs/pineapples (for shorter to medium length hair) to keep the roots stretched while preserving definition of the style. I show how to easily make your own bands for cheap in this quick tutorial.
Braid outs and Twist outs
Styling the hair for a braid out or twist out can take some time depending on how many sections were used and the length/density of the hair. To preserve these stretched hair styles and minimize frizz, you don’t need to repeat the same tedious process every night.
Simply create chunkier versions of the style. For example, instead of reinstalling 20+ twists at night, try 6-10 instead. This process substantially cuts down on maintenance time and leaves the hair with much of its original definition.
Pineappling (or mini pineappling) is great for extending curl set styles. Give the hair a good shake in the morning and you are good to go. Pin curling is another option to try as well to maintain those curly styles.
Braids and Twists
These are very easy to maintain at night. Twists are one of my favorite low maintenance hairstyles as a part of my natural hair growth regimen. You can simply slap a bonnet or scarf over them and be done for the night. For longer hair, I recommend these long pocket bonnets to avoid bunched or kinked up looking braids or twists.
Natural hair needs moisture. There is no secret about that! Throughout the day, different external factors such as friction, sun, weather, wind, and etc. can draw moisture from our hair. Eventually, thirsty hair can lead to breakage and damage if not adequately addressed.
Having a solid regimen on wash day is important. This includes cleansing, deep conditioning, moisturizing, and sealing the hair. But if wash day is a week or two away, what’s going to help fill in the moisture gap in between?
Moisturizing the hair regularly during the week.
Moisturizing does not have to be a drawn out ordeal each time. Depending on your hair needs, re-moisturizing can be as simple as using:
- Water: This is great for reactivating product already present on the hair and may be just enough to perk up curls an give a need moisture boost.
- Aloe vera juice: A favorite product for my high porosity hair, the low pH of aloe vera juice helps close hair cuticles to enhance smoothness and lock in moisture.
- Herbal teas: Teas contain many wonderful benefits that can help strengthen hair and boost luster and shine. Spritzing the scalp with teas can increase hair growth and help control itchiness/dryness. Always do your research before adding tea to your regimen.
- Leave-in conditioners: An effective wash day routine should leave your hair feeling moisturized for several days before requiring additional leave-in product. When using leave-ins between wash days, make sure to not over apply product to your hair. This can lead to faster build-up and weighed down hair. Alternatively, opt for lighter products, go light handed, or try diluting thicker products with water or aloe vera juice. If you choose to use oil to seal, the same concept goes: don’t over do it with the heavy oils and thick butters.
4. Scalp Care
For many women, a dry, irritating, and itchy scalp can be a huge inconvenience between wash days. However, there are ways to help combat this issue without having to move up wash day sooner than planned.
One effective way to address a dry scalp is to apply oil to keep it lubricated. Two popular oils I love to use to spot treat itchy areas while protective styling are from the Mielle Organics brand: 1) Rosemary Mint Scalp and Hair Oil and 2) Mint Almond Oil.
Oiling is also beneficial for nourishing the scalp with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help stimulate healthy new growth especially when combined with light massages. A growth oil that I have been using since March is from an up and coming brand named LulaMi Hair Essentials. Here are my most recent results from consistently oiling and massaging my edges as a part of my nighttime regimen:
It may seem like a daunting task to oil and massage at night but it rarely takes me longer than 5 minutes to do. It is really that simple and potentially offers a much greater return on your investment by including this practice several times per week to maintain a healthy scalp environment. Just be mindful to listen to your scalp and not oil more than necessary to reduce risk of oil build-up. This can attract extra lint and dirt to the scalp. If using heavier oils like castor oil, a little goes a very long way.
Lastly as mentioned briefly in the previous section, hydrating your scalp with water, aloe vera juice, and/or herbal tea can offer great relief to an itchy, dry scalp.
5. The Wrap-up
Having a consistent nighttime regimen is a great practice to help maintain, nourish, and stimulate health for both the scalp and hair. It doesn’t have to be burdensome or take hours every night. However, several minutes every day can mark great improvements in your natural hair state over time.
Question: Which of these hair care practices do you use to help maintain your natural hair overnight?
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This guide is packed with the following features:
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- A product list worksheet.
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- A sample month schedule.
- A 4 week hair reflection worksheet to jot down any important notes about your hair and regimen each week.
That’s a great nighttime routine.