our everyday life

How to Preserve Curls Overnight

by Michelle Powell-Smith, studioD

Crush not your curls! Whether you have natural curls, or you've done a wet set or curled your hair with a curling iron or hot rollers, smart sleep strategies will help you to maintain your curls overnight. Just going to bed with your hair down can leave you with mangled curls, while braids will straighten out your ringlets. Even worse, some nighttime styles -- like rollers or pin curls -- just plain hurt. Use this simple and sweet technique to keep both you and your curls fresh the next day.

For the Naturally Endowed

Spritz your dry hair lightly with a moisturizing leave-in conditioner.

Bend over from the waist and loosely gather your hair into a ponytail on top of your head using your fingers.

Wrap a soft scrunchie or loose-fitting hair elastic around your ponytail. If your hair is short enough to fit on top of your head, stop there. For longer curly hair, wrap a large scrunchie twice, catching the ends of your hair in the second wrap. In either case, the hair should be gathered and secured as loosely as possible, while still holding your hair in place.

Spread your hair out over the top of your head, rather than leaving it in a large pile on the top of your head. Cover your head with a sleep bonnet or cap, and go to bed.

For Curling Iron or Roller Set Curls

Skip the spray and loosely gather your curls on top of your head in a ponytail. Secure with a hair elastic, but avoid pulling it too tight.

Grab the ends of your hair and thread a rolled-up sock with the toe cut out -- or a doughnut-style commercial bun maker -- over the ends of your hair. Spread the hair evenly around the bun maker and begin to roll down, toward your scalp. Continue rolling until the bun is sitting against your scalp.

Unroll your bun and remove the hair elastic in the morning. Fluff and separate your curls with your fingers.

Items you will need
  •  Leave-in conditioner or other moisturizing treatment
  •  Loose hair elastic or scrunchie
  •  Satin sleep cap or bonnet
  •  Hair elastic
  •  Bun maker or rolled up sock with the toe cut out.


  • The bun trick will create curls as well as preserve them, so try it on barely damp hair as a no-heat curl technique.
  • If you’d rather not wear a cap, sleep on a satin pillowcase to keep your curls intact.


  • Avoid pulling your elastics too tightly. Tight hair elastics can cause damage and may leave a visible ridge or bump in your curls the next day.

About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.

Photo Credits

  • John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images