Damp Hair: Dos and Don’ts

Updated on December 26th, 2020
Damp Hair

Have you ever gone to sleep with partial damp or dry hair after a late-night shower? Well, we all have been remorseful of doing this at some point in our life. But if you are continuing this routine, you need to stop immediately! Wondering why?

Damp hair is too fragile and can make your strands knotty and matted. It can also cause excessive hair breakage and make your scalp smelly, itchy, and susceptible to infections. This write-up covers everything you need to know about damp hair and how to protect your scalp and hair from further damage. 

What Is Damp Hair?

Damp hair is hair that is neither dripping with water nor completely dry. Water opens up the hair cuticles moderately, making them porous and elastic. This makes the hair breakage-prone and extraordinarily fragile. Hence, you have to be careful with damp hair.

Do be confused with damp hair as wet hair. If you are thinking about how they are different, read more.

How To Differentiate Between Wet And Damp Hair

The moisture content of wet hair is different from that of damp hair. Wet hair is dripping with water and completely soaked. However, damp hair is seventy to eighty percent dry. It doesn’t drip water, but you can feel the moisture in the hair when you touch it [2].

Sleeping with damp hair or leaving the hair damp for a long time can expose the scalp to infections.

What Happens To The Scalp Health When You Have Damp Hair?

Damp hair makes the scalp susceptible to fungal infections as the moisture creates a favorable environment for microbes’ growth. Keeping damp hair tied in braids or pinned up, ponytails, buns, and dreadlocks can cause irritation, itching, and a smelly and dry scalp.

When we sleep with damp hair, the hair’s moisture and the warmth in the scalp, along with the damp pillow, create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold. This can cause scalp conditions, such as mildew, mold, folliculitis, dandruff, eczema, Malassezia globosa (a type of fungal growth) seborrheic dermatitis [4].

We should never do some things if we prize our scalp and hair and want to keep them strong.

[Read: Home Remedies for Dry Scalp]

Things We Should Never Do To Our Damp Hair

1. Exposure To Excessive Heat: 

Ever heard that sizzle or popping sound while straightening or curling the damp hair? That’s the sound of water evaporating too rapidly through the hair, leading to structural damage. Hence, be careful while using curling irons and hair straighteners on damp hair.

Exposing damp hair to 175°C -215°C (high temperatures) even for 5 minutes can cause hair damage. Using hot irons and excessive blow-drying can change the hair texture and cause breakage, making the hair frizzy and unmanageable.

To reduce heat damage, dry the hair completely in a cool setting and use a heat protectant, serum, or thermal styling gel on your damp hair.

[Read: Steps to Treat Heat Damaged Hair]

2. Brushing Damp Hair

Don’t use a brush on damp or wet hair as it stretches the hair and causes breakage. To avert damage, apply a detangling product once the hair is ninety percent dry and use a wide-toothed comb to remove tangles and knots.

3. Tying Up Damp Hair

Allow the hair to dry thoroughly before tying it into a messy bun, a ponytail, or any other hairdo. Tying damp hair reduces the airflow, making a moist environment for microbial growth.

4. Applying A Hair Mask

Hair masks are developed to work on dry hair when the cuticles are flattened. They cannot pass through damp hair. Instead, they may increase hair breakage or damage. There’s one more thing that you should avoid doing – sleeping with damp hair. What happens when you do it? Find here.

[Read: Protein-Rich Hair Mask Recipes]

What Happens When We Sleep With Damp Hair?

Sleeping with damp hair will make it tousled, matted, and tangled. This damages the hair, causing breakage and split ends.

It is a popular misconception that sleeping with damp hair can lead to a cold. However, the fact is, we catch a cold when our body cools down, causing upper respiratory tract infection.

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Moreover, as explained above, sleeping with damp hair increases scalp acne and microbial infections risk. However, if you cannot escape sleeping with damp hair, here are a few suggestions.

How Do You Sleep With Damp Hair?

1. Dry Your Hair:

  1. Use a microfiber towel to wring out excess water from the hair gently.
  2. Allow it to air dry.
  3. Avoid rubbing the hair vigorously with the towel.
  4. If feasible, use a blow dryer on a cool setting to rapidly dry it as much as possible.

2. Switch To Silk Pillowcases

Silk pillowcases help maintain the moisture balance and are non-absorbent. They are gentle on damp hair and lessen friction to prevent breakage. They also have antibacterial properties. However, make sure to wash the pillow cases frequently.

3. Use Coconut Oil

Coconut oil prevents breakage and helps moisturize the hair. Apply it along the length of the hair to keep it healthy. Don’t oil the scalp.

4. Use A Conditioner

Hair conditioners have conditioning agents that coat the hair strands to flatten the cuticles and prevent frizz, friction, hair breakage, and knots. If you have chemically processed hair (dyed or bleached hair), use a conditioner frequently.

If you plan to dye or bleach the hair, you have to be extra cautious as the hair is weak when it is damp.

Can We Apply Bleach On Our Damp Hair?

Yes, you can try bleach on damp hair, especially if you want to do a balayage. When our hair is damp, the cuticles open up, making it simple to bleach. However, bleaching damages our hair, so we have to be careful when applying bleaching agents. The same is relevant for hair dyes.

Can We Dye Damp Hair?

You may dye damp hair as partially open cuticles help in further hair dye penetration. However, the excess moisture can result in uneven application and dilute the hair dye, affecting the color payoff. Hence, opt for semi- and semi-permanent hair dyes if you want to dye the hair while it is damp.

Bottom Line

Damp hair is vulnerable to hair breakage and scalp infections. It’s because the hair bonds weaken when wet. Hence, we should dry the hair properly before sleeping. If you cannot avoid sleeping with damp hair, follow this article’s tips to minimize hair damage.

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