When it comes to my hair, I consider myself pretty low-maintenance. I will do anything to go an extra day between blowouts (and workouts), and so I’ve come to rely on a heavy-handed spritz of dry shampoo before I call it a night. After recently revealing this to my stylist, he was appalled. Simply going to bed with clean hair allows for healthier growth—and here’s the best part—less oily strands over time, he explained. While lying awake, I began to think about this more: Most of us take our nightly skin care rituals very seriously—cleanse, slather, treat, repeat—but are we neglecting our hair?
After asking around a bit more, I was somewhat surprised to learn that the new think from many hair loss experts and stylists is that our nighttime hair care routine is just as critical as our skin care routine. That’s because our bodies enter a repair and rejuvenate mode while we sleep, and since hair is produced by the skin, namely the scalp, you want it to be in the best shape possible to support this process. “Just like we prep the skin for overnight repair, treating the hair with the same care can only strengthen and beautify those strands,” says Dennis Gross, MD, a dermatologist in New York City and founder of the eponymous skin care line.
“Remember hair is an appendage of the scalp, and the health of the scalp can greatly affect healthy hair growth,” adds Michelle Blaisure, a certified trichologist and product and technical specialist for Bosley Professional Strength. “Researchers are beginning to focus on how disruption in the balance of the mirco flora of the scalp leads to problems which can compromise the quality of hair or cause hair loss, especially if inflammation is present.”
Want gorgeous, more manageable hair? Our experts put together the best nighttime routine—equipped with dreamy product recommendations—so even when you are old and wrinkled, you’ll still be considered #hairgoals.
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Shampoo at night, seriously
Not only will this help you speed through your morning routine (who can argue a few extra minutes of shut-eye?), but washing your hair at night is key for healthy strands. The chemicals from your products can be drying and damaging if left in the hair overnight. Blaisure explains, “Build-up can become an issue if the scalp is not cleansed on a regular basis. Shampooing more frequently can keep bacteria from developing, which can impede growth.” Look for a clarifying shampoo, like R + Co Oblivion Clarifying Shampoo ($24; bloomingdales.com), to remove residue on the daily.
Take time to treat strands
“Masks fortify and hydrate all segments of hair, but many women find them to be too heavy to apply during the day,” says Dr. Gross. In the evening, when you aren’t as rushed, take the extra shower time to treat your hair to a conditioning mask. Kiehl’s Olive Fruit Oil Deeply Repairative Hair Pak ($25; sephora.com) uses avocado and olive oils, which are rich in fatty acids and amino acids, to restore the hair’s natural moisture.
Bring out your blow-dryer before bed
Don’t even think about going to bed without drying your hair. “I hear of a lot of girls who sleep with wet hair,” says Christian Wood, a celebrity stylist ambassador for Wella. “But the follicle is in its most sensitive state when wet.” Going to bed with wet hair will can cause knots and breakage, and you may even notice more stray strands on your pillow come morning.
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Brush through tangles
“Our grandmothers had the right idea when they counted out 100 strokes before bed,” says Wood. “Brushing the hair releases tension-causing tangles and distributes the little balls of natural oil in your hair that otherwise have a slim chance of reaching the ends where they are needed.” But avoid over-brushing, warns Dr. Gross, explaining that this can actually weaken the hair and cause it to loosen at the root.
Apply a nourishing oil at night
Okay, hear us out. We know the thought of applying oil—to your hair (gasp!)—sounds absurd, but doing so will help smooth the cuticle, which is the outer layer of hair that acts as a protective coat. “When the cuticle is lifted, it can create a very fragile state for sleeping,” says Wood, who assures us that a thin layer of oil will make hair more manageable, not greasy, in the morning. He recommends Wella Light Luminous Reflective Oil ($40; ulta.com).
Choose a braid over a bun
One of biggest mistakes women make is pulling their hair up into a tight bun or ponytail before bed. “These styles put a lot of stress on the hair, and if you toss and turn at night, it may increase hair thinning, especially around the hairline, over time,” says Blaisure. A tight elastic will also cause tension on the roots, adds Wood. He recommends creating a loose braid and securing it with creaseless elastic. If your hair is short, simply tuck it behind your ears.
Upgrade your pillowcases
Our experts all agree that sleeping on a satin or silk pillowcase is not only luxurious but key. Rubbing against cotton roughs up the cuticle, causing friction and static. A good option is the Slip Silk Pillowcase ($79; bloomingdales.com). If you aren’t willing to splurge on new bedding, no biggie. Blaisure suggests wrapping your hair in a silk scarf while snoozing.