How to Preserve Curls Overnight

by Michelle Powell-Smith ; Updated February 27, 2017

Keep your curls looking their best, even on second-day hair.

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Crush your hairstyle, not your curls! Whether you have natural curls or created them with a wet set, a curling iron or hot rollers, smart sleep strategies will help you to maintain your curls overnight. Going to bed with your hair down and without taking any precautions can leave you with mangled curls. And some nighttime techniques – like rollers or pin curls – just plain hurt. Use this simple technique to keep both you and your curls fresh for the next day.

For the Naturally Endowed

Step 1

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

Step 2

Bend over from the waist and use your fingers to loosely gather your hair into a high ponytail.

Step 3

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 around twice. Use the second wrap to catch the ends of your hair, essentially folding your ponytail in half. In either case, the hair should be gathered and secured as loosely as possible, while still holding your hair in place.

Step 4

Spread your hair out over 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

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Photo Credits

  • John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images

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.