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busy mom hair styling prep

Showering at Night, Bedhead in the Morning

By Amalah

Hi pretty lady!

You have helped me before with some complicated and some not so complicated problems. So since I trust your advice, I am here again, with probably the least complicated question ever to hit your inbox. Amy, help me have pretty hair!

My whole life I have been a shower-in-the-morning person. It helps me wake up, it’s nice to feel clean and it’s easy to style wet hair. Right? If I actually woke up in time, 15 minutes with a blowdryer and either a round brush or a flat iron and I was good to go.

Well then I went and had babies. Yeah, two of them. And mornings have gotten very very complicated, not to mention that my one son cries when I run the blowdryer. So, for the first time in my life I am a shower-at-night person.

Amy how the heck do I avoid looking like I slept in my hair? It seems regardless of how carefully I compose my style before bed, I still wake up with one side smashed down, one side sticking up and the whole thing just generally looking ratty. I don’t have any time to myself to attack it with styling tools in the morning, so I have been heading in to work looking a bit of a frazzled mess (a bit MORE of a frazzled mess) ever since I started showering at night.

Do you, or any of your readers, have any ideas, tips or advice on styles or shortcuts that can help my bedhead look professional? For what it’s worth, I have straight to wavy hair that extends about two inches past my collarbones. If that helps. I hope it helps.

Thank you!

I have done long stretches of showering at night, then switched back to showering in the morning. Then back to night. I’ve gone months without touching the blowdryer, then gone back to that, too. I’ve sworn that hot rollers were the only way to go for months, then downgraded back to a curling iron. Currently I’m reaching the end of a months-long diffuser-and-scrunch kick and opting for the round brush again.

In other words, I have pretty much tried it all and YES I HAVE SOME IDEAS FOR YOU. Here are my recommendations, in no particular order:

1) Let your hair dry completely before sleeping on it. You don’t mention whether or not you bust out the blowdryer at night, or if your son is still up and around and available for traumatizing if you were to use it. But a lot of bedhead-related weirdness can be eliminated if you make sure your hair is 100% dry before sleeping on it. If your hair air-dries relatively quickly, that’s another option, depending on if it frizzes up or not and/or if you can use styling products without overnight oil issues.

2) Divide your hair in two parts, and put each side up in a soft, loose bun. (Think Princess Leia.) If you sleep on your side most of the time, simply pull all the hair up to the very top of your head and put the bun there. Some people can get away with using hair elastics around the base of the bun, but if your hair is fine like mine, this will result in those bandy-line-dents (and breakage). So I do the bun using bobby pins and those snap barrettes. This is the best night-style option I’ve tried (as opposed to braids or wrapping my head in a scarf or whatever), since it usually results in soft, messy waves that you can actually style quite easily in the morning with a little smoothing cream or scrunching product or hair spray.

3) If your hair isn’t long enough for top-knot buns or you’re still unhappy with the results, try this: Blow dry your hair most of the way. Divide the hair on the top of your head into three or four sections (going in lines from back to front/bangs). Add smoothing cream, if you use it. (I do not.) Pull each section up and blast the roots with a little hairspray, then roll it backwards into a circle like you’re wrapping in around an invisible roller. Secure the little hair-roll with bobby pins or one of those long metal hairstylist clips. Do three or four of these rolls, spray with hairspray, go to bed. In the morning you should have some really nice volume on the top of your head and the pinned hair should be able to camouflage any smushed/bent loose hair that you slept directly on. (Unless your hair is super layered, alas.) Unclip, lightly brush down over the sides and back. (You can also backcomb the roots of the pinned sections as you releash them if you want mega-volume for going out.)

4) DO NOT CONDITION YOUR ROOTS. Ends only! This applies to morning showers too, but it’s even more important if you need your roots to bounce back from being slept on all night.

5) Wash those pillowcases! I have read that satin or silk pillowcases are extra-forgiving for washed-at-night hair, but I have not tried that. I will say that sleeping on a dirty, due-to-be-washed cotton pillowcase, though, is never going to result in fresh, non-stanky hair in the morning.

6) If all else fails, embrace the low side bun. Brush your hair out, maybe hit it with some appropriate-for-dry-hair styling product of your choice (I’ll have a list of suggestions in a bit) while flipped upside down to keep it from looking too flat. Then pull your hair back and over behind one ear like you’re going to put it in a side ponytail. Instead, wrap it into a loose, purposely messy-type bun. I basically wrap and mash my hair into a crazy blob-bun the size of my fist, then wrap a hair elastic around it a couple times. Then I tuck ends in and pull other bits out and secure it fully with a booby pin or two. (Note that for us fine-haired types this look works best when paired with the invisible roller trick described in three and backcombing, so your crown still has some oomph to it.) If your hair is short enough that you have pieces that don’t reach all the way around your head, try curling a couple of them into loose face-framing ringlets, or buy some super cute decorative clips or bobby pins (HELLOOOOOO ETSY) and pin the crap out of it, the more random the better.

PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS: Note that I do not use ALL of these products ALL the time, but it more depends on the look I’m going for (smooth/wavy, volume/controlled) or the problem I’m attempting to solve. And note that  my hair is baby-fine and oil-prone, which yours may absolutely not be. But these are my favorites to have in my general-use arsenal of Dealing With Mah Hairs, particularly in the fluff-it-back-up-without-adding-oil-or-weight department:

Lush The Big Tease styling gel (discontinued)
Lush No Drought dry shampoo
Lush Veganese conditioner
Lush Jumping Juniper solid shampoo
Pureology Volume shampoo
Bumble & Bumble Salt Spray
BedHead Superstar volumizing leave-in conditioner
Fekkai Gloss smoothing cream
BigSexyHair Spray & Play hair spray
Paul Mitchell Extra Body Finishing Spray

Photo source: Ablestock/Thinkstock

Published December 31, 2012. Last updated March 12, 2018.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Kristen

    December 31, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    I too, have become a night time showerer, because of work and kids, etc. I have very fine, prone to oiliness hair and the best thing I have found to use in the morning is dry shampoo. It gives volume, gets rid of any grease that might have appeared over night, is all around awesome. And I love the tresemme dry shampoo, under $6 at Target, WIN!

  • Suzy Q

    December 31, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    I am a night-shower person with no kids. Also lazy. I productize and blowdry with a round brush, rather haphazardly, as I am no Vidal Sassoon. My savior in the morning is hot rollers. Love them!

  • pumpkinpie

    December 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    My best method for avoiding bedhead (I too am a post-baby night showerer) is to sleep in my nursing chair all night with a baby who won’t sleep in a crib. Now that my second is nine months, though, I don’t get that opportunity often. (Good, of course, for many reasons except the bedhead.)

  • sue

    December 31, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Well……..back in the 70’s when we were going for the Farrah Fawcett hair – we would wrap our damp hair on top of our head around a sock, (using the sock like a roller) then tie the ends of the sock like a knot and go to bed. In the morning there were some curls and a lot of volume. Easier than bobby pins and clips and worked like a charm!

    • Daisy

      January 12, 2016 at 1:24 am

      I am trying this tonight!

  • Sarah

    December 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I have had good luck with got2B’s Rockin’ It dry shampoo more so than the Tresemme, plus it’s available at Walgreens. I shampoo every other day and this stuff keeps the oil slick manageable. I usually add some defrizzer on the ends to help with the dryness.

  • Kacie

    December 31, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I am not alone!! Except, I have all but given up on my hair (though I would like to change). I just wear it in a pony or bun every day (and I hate that. But I also hate the feeling of my hair loose, so I don’t know what else to do).

    I too shower at night because of convenience, though I wonder if I did a morning shower and tried some of those tricks if I’d feel better about my hair and overall appearance.

    My hair is long, brastrap length and so fine and limp and prone to flying all over the place. I think that’s part of why I don’t like wearing it down, because it’s a hot mess. I should just go to a salon where someone will show me what in the world to do with my hair, so I can do it on a daily basis without getting frustrated.

    Because as it goes now, I shower at night, put it in a bun and wake up with a rat’s nest of tangles. Meep!

    • Claire

      January 1, 2013 at 5:06 am

      So me! All this, so me. My hair is longer though – waist, but super fine. It gets washed, plaited before bed then scruffy bun during the day. That’s it! Too lazy for anything else. Positives though, my ends are awesome because I use no heat whatsoever.

  • Gillian

    December 31, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    After your hair is completely dry, continue drying it with the ‘cool’ setting on your dryer until it’s completely cool. When I go to bed with ‘hot’ hair, my hair just forms to the shape it cools down in (not a good look). I do it after flat ironing my hair & it works like a charm.

  • Heather K

    December 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I have short hair, so maybe this won’t work for long haired ladies, but I like to use a squirt bottle and squirt the hair all over till damp (or sometimes sopping wet) enough to re-style. In my case I don’t have to blow it dry, just some product and go. But there is NO way to sleep on it without complete bed head, no matter how dry my hair was to begin with, and I do NOT have the time to shower in the morning, so this works for me.

    • Olivia

      January 3, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      My hair is short, too. I just stick my head under the faucet, get it nice and wet and then style as usual.

  • The Tutugirl

    December 31, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Flat iron.  As long as you’re not wearing your hair curly, that sucker can fix just about anything, and it doesn’t involve a ton of noise.  I use a heat protectant before blow drying, and then I can straighten it perfect in the mornings.

  • danielle

    December 31, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I am a night showerer with a baby as well. I use some curlers I made and roll my wet hair with those. I pluck the curlers out in the morning and go. The bun sounds easy, but I don’t blow dry my hair. Takes about 5 minutes to roll my hair. If you Google life with monkey the fabric curlers tutorial is there. They are super comfy!

  • Amuse

    December 31, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Satin pillow cases are The Bomb. They really do keep the hair smooth, since the hair just glides and slides across it. They reduce split ends and nape-tangles! Back in the 1960s, they were essential to keep Mom’s Bouf poufed between salon visits. Walmart sells them for under 10 bucks. A bonus is they keep your pillow feeling cool.

    I’m a huge fan of the bun method. I use the top of the head bun with my bra-length hair. One elastic and 8 bobby pins. It lifts the roots and the hair has incredible bounce and body. My hair is very dry, so I don’t shampoo daily, just bun it up dry, then heat it very briefly with a hairdryer in the AM, let it cool, take it down and run a pick thru it. Voila! The combo works quite well on wavy to frizzy hair like mine.

  • Stef

    December 31, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Does any helpful person know how to tame curly hair if forced to shower at night? My hair is fine but super curly (think Shirley Temple). It is shoulder length but takes a long time to dry after a shower (an hour plus). As for a blow dryer? Child please, you can’t straighten this hair so don’t even try. Even my hairdresser can’t get it straight, so lets move on.

    My little guy is 16 months and I’ve had 0 success with the whole shower at night thing. Sadly my husband has been diagnosed with cancer and I have lost the luxury of a morning shower (it’s all about me dammit).

    Anyone know how to tame curls in the morning after they have been flattened overnight? Ponytails are getting pretty boring.

    • Tiffany

      January 2, 2013 at 10:15 am

      Stef – Try a dry shampoo formatted for curly hair. I promise, they work! Then add a little smoothing cream and you’re good to go.

    • Marnie

      January 2, 2013 at 11:46 am

      Fellow curly girl hair with short hair! I spritz my hair with a water bottle in the morning then scrunch to freshen up the curls. Not so much water that it’s drenched by any means, but enough that it will dry on it’s own. If I put too much on, I’ll use the diffuser for about 5 mins or so. The type of product you use makes a difference too! I use DevaCurl gel products. Expensive but worth it!! Especially on 2nd day hair!

      • Mnt Mama

        January 3, 2013 at 10:51 am

        I second the DevaCurl products. I think they are worth the money. I do exactly as Marnie does and have had some good success. I spritz with water bottle then use the DevaCurl Set It Free spray…just need a little. if i use the spray at night after a shower, I sometimes just need the water spritz in the morning and it resets the DevaCurl spray for the next day.

    • Christine

      January 12, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      No one has mentioned a little spiffy device called a Q-Redew that is PERFECT for curly hair.  (It works great on my slightly wavy hair too, but really it is ideal for curls)  It is basically a mini humidifier that provides just the right amount of warm mist to reset your hair.  I use it instead of dry shampoo, it’s great for next day hair!

  • Jessica

    January 1, 2013 at 9:22 am

    I have this combo hairdryer with attachment thingy from Phillips that is fabulous for a morning smooth out and style.  It has a round brush and a flat iron attachment so you’re basically doing a fully dry and straighten with one go.  

    If it’s particularly bad I’ll wet it a little and then redry the top bits.

    Also, a bun can be funned up any number of ways that basically amount to a fun barrette or hairband that take zero effort or time.  

  • Hillary

    January 2, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I think I should be paid on commission for how much I’ve recommended this book:

    If you have any curl at all, check it out. It has totally transformed my hair routine. I also shower at night and have 2 babies. The mornings are hard to make myself look presentable and I found just letting my hair do what it needs to do (i.e., curl) has made a huge improvement in my appearance. I “wash” and condition/gel at night, let it air dry, and in the morning I lean way over, run my fingers around my scalp to loosen things up, and spritz with water to revive the curl. Voila. Super easy, no tools or implements required. Satin pillow cases are a must. So is a good haircut.

    • Melissa

      July 17, 2015 at 5:09 pm

      I love that book too.  I’ve never been able to sleep on my curls and have them work the next morning though.

      Do you have corkscrew curls or something?

      jealous! 🙂

  • Kate

    January 2, 2013 at 11:59 am

    I was a morning showerer/blow-dry/straighten devotee for years until I, you know…grew up, got a real job and had a bunch of kids. Who has time for that crap, honestly? 

    I have crazy, CRAZY thick and also very frizz prone straight to wavy hair that stops right below my shoulder blades. The best hair I’ve ever had in my life comes from my new routine:

    Wash at night (now I only wash my hair twice a week or so, the benefit of having the dry, dry hair) let it air dry or even sleep on it wet. In the morning, spread some of the Fx Silk Drops (use sparingly) and flat iron (takes me less than 10 minutes). Between washes I just flat iron again for a minute or two in the morning. 

    And in the realm of product recommendations – can I say that I’ve tried like damn near every salon and store product for shampoo and conditioner that is SLS free, and spent up to like $60 a bottle, and the best stuff EVAR is the SimplyU moisturizing shampoo and conditioner at walmart for like $7 for the big pump bottles? That stuff is amazeballs, honestly. 

  • Kat

    January 2, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Dry shampoo and a good hair cut (maintained every six or eight weeks) works wonders for me. I swear my hair looks best when I shower at night and skip a wash every other day. Dry shampoo at night (seriously – AT NIGHT before you go to bed. If you wait until your hair is already greasy you are fighting an uphill battle!) creates natural looking volume and texture, I just run a flat or curling iron around the parts that are wonky, smoothing cream on the ends only and off we go! I use Suave Professionals dry shampoo (works awesome, and it’s like $4 at Target. It beats out the one I was paying $23 for ANY DAY) and a Bumble and Bumble “smoothing” cream (name escapes me, comes in a bronze tube) Side note: I was really afraid to skip a wash (my hair is pretty oily after one day) but after a few weeks of this routine my hair looks so much shinier and healthier and the dry shampoo totally takes care of the oil as long as I do it at night.

  • MR

    January 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I have fine, straight hair and could never get it to do anything. After years of pulling it up in a pony or bun all the time, I cut it to a chin length bob. After years of that, I was bored and told my stylisti wanted something different and asked if I should grow it out or what. Knowing my complete inability to do anything with my hair, she gave me a totally cute pixie cut (I had had short before and disliked it, but this is soooo cute) and she told me not to wash it more than once a week. It took some getting used to, but not washing it makes a HUGE difference. Now, my least favorite hair days are the days I was it. I started working out recently and have thus started washing my hair more and it sucks. I am going to look into the dry shampoo. My hair really needs to be kind of dirty to look good. The days I get the most compliments on my hair are the days where I am seriously thinking my hair feels gross and I want to wash it. Lol. So weird.

    • tasterspoon

      January 5, 2013 at 12:29 am

      All my life I’ve had greasy, greasy hair. Then I read this article where Brooke Shields said her hair looks its best on the 4th day after washing, and I was all, Wuuuut?? But I was pregnant with #2 and foresaw how convenient washing my hair only twice a week would be… so I started washing every other day…now every third day. I’ve gone 4 days out of necessity but feel gross. Just to say, washing less frequently might actually be an option even for those for whom the idea seems unfathomable. You just have to get over the mental ickies. I need to get back into an exercise routine, though, so I’m not sure how to work that out.

      Oh, and those who’ve recommended the satin pillowcase – GREAT idea I’m going to try with my 2 year old who wakes up with a rats’ nest every day.

  • Karen

    January 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    This is the most useful post and set of comments. Ever. Thank you.

  • Sarah

    January 2, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I have the flatside morning look, too. Wetting the hair at the roots and blowdrying it again (against the grain, especially) can fluff and reshape. It only takes a minute.

    Dreadfully jealous of those people who can go to bed with wet hair, wake up, comb it out, and go.

  • Stephanie

    January 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    This sounds totally crazy, but it really works, and it’s free.  I have fairly thick, slightly wavy hair that’s prone to frizziness and is a bit hard to manage.  I read this tip in a magazine years ago, and it works wonders, except on super short hair (my current style, alas).  Get a washcloth wet with really hot water, ring it out, and put it on your head, making sure to cover the wonkiest parts of your hair.  Leave it on while you brush your teeth.  Remove the washcloth and fluff.  You may need to use a curling or flatiron on a few spots.  It’s like magic.  The weight of the washcloth helps flatten crazy spots and the steam calms it all down while at the same time sort of rejuvenating the style.
    Seriously, try it.  

    • Sal

      April 29, 2015 at 6:12 am

      Thanks Stephanie…..I’m gonna try this!

  • Corie

    January 2, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    I’ve been a night time showerer for years because I am so NOT a morning person. I go to bed with wet hair and let it dry on its own overnight. In the morning I either use the curling/straightening iron on it (depending on which I’m using at the time) if I’m wearing it straight or stick my head under the faucet to get it wet again if I’m wearing it curly (since I let it air dry then, too). If I’m doing the curly thing I get my hair wet as soon as I get up, wrap it in a towel and let it dry a bit while I brush my teeth and put in my contacts, and then I style it. Once I’m don’t with my hair I do my makeup and get dressed.

    One of the things I started doing after I had my son was getting up early enough that I could get myself completely ready to go and the car loaded with my work stuff and his day care stuff before I woke him up to get ready. It didn’t always work out as planned – sometimes he would wake up early and I’d have to juggle things around – but most of the time it worked. I’ll do the same thing when I go back to work in a few weeks after having my daughter (although I’m REALLY not looking forward to getting up at 4:45 again!).

  • Kristin

    January 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    I’m so excited about this post and the comments too! I really want to try the tip about using dry shampoo at night because my hair is so fine/thin and gets greasy so fast, dry shampoo barely helps. (If my hair is not squeaky clean, it kind of sticks together and leaves spots in the top/back where you can see the scalp. Ugh)

    Also, this morning I tried Amy’s suggestion of a messy side bun, and since I don’t normally do anything to my hair except let it hang down, I’ve gotten more compliments today than I have in a long time! Thanks Amy! 🙂

  • Jasmine

    January 3, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    I have fine, straight dark hair. To have lovely voluminous falling waves in the morning I do the hair donut trick. 

    Here’s an excellent tutorial –

  • autumn

    January 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Otherwise there the old pomade and nice ponytail trick.  Really defined part and smooth everything down with a hair paste product of your choice.  I try to only do it once a week to make it look like  a “style” choice rather than I didn’t have time to do my hair how I would prefer to.  

  • […] accomplish this without having a giant frizzball for hair the next morning, try doing some of your hairstyling at night, if you can. Ladies with short hair, straight locks, or some manageable waves might find it easier […]

  • Eileen

    October 31, 2014 at 1:35 am

    what I have found it doesn’t really make much difference when you wash your hair because if you wash it today tomorrow you sit with the same problem because you can’t wash your hair everyday because it will become damaged what I suggest you do is to place a stocking over your hair to keep it in place so that it won’t become all mattered and miss placed you can style it before you do that I have tried it and it does work

  • Jen

    January 21, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    This is great! I shower at night often and can definitely use these tips!

  • Kerry

    February 21, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    I have always been a shower at night person, for just about as long as I can remember. I have long, wavy hair and usually when I get out of the shower I’ll put some mousse and anti frizz cream in it then pull my hair in a bun sitting on the top of my head. I wake up in the morning, take my hair down, and it’s still ever so slightly damp, but it quickly air dries. The result is beautifully wavy and no frizz what so ever. The bun on the top of the head really helps keep the hair out of my face and so I can roll around in bed without having a big bump to deal with making it uncomfortable to lie down. Sometimes if I’m feeling it I’ll do a quick french braid (being careful not to pull or break my hair), which gives a tighter wave/curl effect.

  • Sal

    April 29, 2015 at 6:09 am

    I have wavy hair and always wash in the morning. I find the first day my waves are pretty and bouncy but the second day is disastrous! my hair looks terrible, scruffy and kind of frizzy. Products make it look even worse and oily! HELP

  • Jersie

    October 19, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    I was wondering if you took a shower at night and the blow dry it and flat iron it would make it super nice in the morning? But of course I will flat iron it in the morning to.Or,take a shower in the morning then blow dry it and flat iron it.All in the morning. What one of these would be better to do ?

  • Lola

    January 17, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    I have long hair that reaches about half way down my back, and I always have this problem.
    I blow dry my hair in the evenings using a heat protecting spray, and it’s silky smooth. I wake up in the mornings and it’s got all sorts of unwanted crimps and curls!
    I split my hair into 2 sections, and feed each section through a sweat band (the kind that you put around your arms when you do excercise – never used of course, for hair purposes only). My hair is thick but the sweatband still slides off, so I take 2 hair bands and wrap them around twice over the sweatbands to hold them in place. Your hair should be in 2 low pigtails, with the sweatbands about an inch under your ears.
    It keeps the hair controlled during the night, and in the morning there is no crimp that hair bands usually leave behind.