How to Get Curly Hair Overnight: 8 Methods

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curly hair
Author Name: Beth Rush
Date: Friday December 18, 2020

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It’s one of the immutable laws of nature — if you have straight hair, you long for ringlets and waves. How can you achieve the look without damaging your locks with chemical perms or heat-based rods? 

If you want to know how to get curly hair overnight, the eight methods below can help. These techniques won’t put undue stress on your tresses — only give you the bounce you desire.

What Makes Hair Curly vs. Straight?

Before you test out the following methods, it’s important to understand what makes hair straight and curly in the first place.

While scientists still have much to learn about hair follicles, they do know that genetics play a key role in the shape of your strands. They also discovered that straight hairs are round while curly ones are asymmetrical and s-shaped, meaning they have two bends.

Unfortunately, you’ll never be able to change your strands’ chemical structure, but you can alter your environment to temporarily influence their appearance. In other words, there are a number of tricks, techniques and products available to make your hair look curly — at least for a little while.

8 methods to get curly hair overnight

1. Braid It

One of the most well-known methods of creating waves overnight is to braid your still-damp hair when you emerge from the shower. When you undo your plaits, hello, beach-beautiful. 

To get the look, apply a leave-in conditioner or gentle styling pomade. Then, divide your hair into three sections. Weave the left section over the center portion, then the right, repeating until you reach the end. Secure with a tie. 

A single plait will give you large, loose waves. However, you can experiment if you have more time. The smaller and tighter you make your braids, the more bounce you’ll have. 

2. Pin It

Pin curls are a nearly effortless way to add body and style. Plus, like all of these eight methods for how to get curly hair overnight, they eliminate the need to blow-dry — and potentially damage strands. 

You’ll need a stash of bobby pins or clips. The former work best because they won’t pop open when you sleep or make it impossible to rest your head on your pillow.

Section hair into portions no bigger than a pencil’s width. Twirl each part around your finger until it starts to fold in on itself. Press the curl against your head and secure it with a pin. When you wake up and remove each bobby, you’ll love the result. 

3. Create Bantu Knots

If you have more time, consider going with Bantu knots. This method works similarly to pin curls. However, you part your hair into even sections and create a stylish cone-shaped design that you can sport to the store or office without first shaking out your ‘do. 

You can sport this style for up to two weeks at a time without damage. However, keep in mind that repeatedly pulling your hair into a tight style can cause traction alopecia, a form of hair loss that can become permanent. Plus, you leave much of your scalp exposed, meaning this look might not work if you struggle with dandruff. 

4. Use a Straw

Who said that you needed to invest in rollers to get ringlets? You can finally repurpose that stash of straws the drive-thru peeps insist on including in your bag despite your protests that you carry a reusable one. 

Prep your materials by cutting your straws into 1 ½-inch sections. Roll a small portion of hair around each one as if you were using a roller. Take a bobby pin and secure each tube in place the way you would with a standard — and far less comfortable — roller. 

5. Try TP Rolls

What if you love the idea of sustainability, but you don’t want tight “Little Orphan Annie” ringlets? Empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls work to create bigger, beach-style waves. 

However, keep in mind that cardboard doesn’t hold up well to excess moisture. Towel-dry your hair when you emerge from the shower, and let it partially air-dry before using this technique. A few spritzes of hair spray or pumps of gel produce hold without wilting your “rollers.” 

6. Repurpose Old Clothes

What if a head full of bobby pins makes it too uncomfortable for you to sleep? After all, some people are more sensitive than others. 

If you have an old T-shirt or pair of socks you intended to trash, repurpose them instead. Cut the fabric into thin strips and wrap fine hair around them like rollers. 

This method might not work with thick hair, although with a bit of practice, you can still use this method in conjunction with straws or paper towel rolls. You might need to phone a friend, as it takes an extra set of hands to hold everything in place while you tie the knot. 

7. Do a Messy Bun 

If all you want are gently tousled tresses, embrace the lazy girl mindset. Stop wearing that scrunchy around your wrist as a VSCO accessory and put it to use making waves. 

All you need to do is pull your damp hair into a ponytail after emerging from the shower. Pull it only halfway through on your final loop, making a quick bun. You’ll look chic enough to run errands even before you set your locks free. 

8. Get Flexi 

If you have money to spend, a set of Flexi-rods can become your best friend. They’re made of squishy foam instead of plastic, meaning you can sleep comfortably. Ahh. 

Use these magical devices the way you would rollers, then twist them into place to secure. You don’t need any bobby pins, which means you won’t wake up when one jabs your skull during the night. 

Tips for Whichever Method You Choose

Any of the above methods work best when you also apply the following tips: 

  • Use a firm-hold styling product: If you have flyaway hair, you might notice your curls wilting by noon. Use a firm-hold styling gel or spray designed to withstand the elements. 
  • Don’t wrap too tightly: While the above methods won’t damage your hair like heat or chemicals, pulling too hard can result in breakage and loss. 
  • Invest in a satin pillowcase: Cotton pillowcases can tug on strands when you roll over during the night. Satin cases let your locks slide without tearing. 
  • Protect with a cap: If you find that you keep bumping your bobby pins or knots and getting them caught, pull a mesh cap over your tresses. Yes, you’ll look funny, but you’ll prevent pulling your hair and mussing your style. 
  • Scrunch. Don’t rub: Prevent breakage by scrunching your hair with a towel after washing it. This approach promotes curls, minimizes frizz and reduces tangles much more effectively than the rub-dry method.
  • Be patient: Let your hair dry completely before unpleating braids, removing curlers and undoing knots. If you’re impatient and remove them too early, your curls will dry limp and lack that beautiful bounce.
  • Try again: If at first, you don’t succeed, try again. Maybe your curls will look better if you use larger or smaller sections of hair or assume a different sleeping position.
  • Trim your ends: Cutting your hair to make it longer might seem counterintuitive. However, frequent trims can reduce split ends so your strands grow long — and stay that way.

Helpful Products for Getting Curly Hair

If your hair is unruly or you have trouble locking in those vivacious curls, applying one or two curl-enhancers may help. Transform your hairstyle from flat to fab with the following products:

  • Curl definer: Your curls look amazing for an hour or two after you take out all the pins and rollers. Then, they start to lose their shape. Apply a lightweight curl definer while your hair is still damp to lock in curls without weighing them down.
  • Anti-frizz lotion: Curly hair is prone to frizz, especially in humid environments. Use anti-frizz lotion to tame your wild mane and help your curls keep their shape regardless of the weather.
  • Styling spray: Girls with thick, heavy hair may struggle to achieve tight ringlets and tiny spiral curls. Luckily, styling spray can help. Mist your whole head in the product before heading out the door so your style stays in place throughout the day.

Keeping Your Hair Healthy

For a bunch of dead cells, hair sure does use require a lot of work, especially if you want to keep yours healthy. As you try various curling methods, opt for soft hair ties rather than rubber elastics. The former are gentle on your ends while the latter can easily cause breakage.

You should also take extra care to condition your ends every time you wash your hair. Short on time? Apply a leave-in conditioner to minimize split ends and protect your fragile follicles from clips, pins and rollers.

Because your hair is most vulnerable when wet, you should refrain from attacking it with a brush. Instead, use a wide-tooth comb to loose tangles and create a clean slate for your curls. Use a natural bristle brush after your hair is dry to boost volume, create bombshell waves and tame fly-aways.

Learn How to Get Curly Hair Overnight With These 8 Tips 

If you ever wanted to learn how to get curly hair overnight, you now have eight tips at your disposal. Go out and rock your fabulous look, Miss Curly Sue! 

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