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15th Sep 2023

Expert explains why you shouldn’t go to bed with wet hair

BRB, off to burn my pillowcase.

If you’ve seen the day just get away from you, you’ve likely ended it with a nighttime shower.

No judgement; we’ve all dry shampooed the life out of our hair until we finally get a chance to give it a good wash; sometimes we don’t get to it until just before our head hits the pillow.

However, you may want to avoid hitting the snooze button next time you plan to get up early and wash your locks, as going to sleep with wet hair can have a host of unwanted impacts on your scalp, face, and other body parts.

First of all, do not worry if you fall into the cohort of people who wash their hair before hitting the hay. To be honest, I think more of us do than we let on.

I’m pretty sure it’s an unspoken busy-lazy girl routine that just doesn’t make the top list of TikTok trends.

Anyhow, here’s why you shouldn’t, and it’s not just the risk of breakage for your locks.

Speaking to Allure, Marc Anthony hair care’s artistic director, Marilisa Sears, says she was told not to do this as it could result in fungal and bacterial infections, which, in turn, could lead to an itchy scalp and dandruff.

Following this warning, a range of dermatologists weighed in and confirmed that when we add sopping or damp, wet hair to a pillowcase laced with dead skin cells, makeup, and natural oils, the concoction is the stuff of nightmares.

“Certain bacteria and fungi thrive in warm, moist environments and so will proliferate on scalp skin if it stays damp for hours,” Noëlle Sherber, a Washington, D.C.-based board-certified dermatologist, told the publication.

It is most common for a yeast called Malassezia (even the name is awful) to fester on the scalp, which will lead to flakiness that can be misidentified as dandruff. If you’re unsure, she recommends seeing a dermatologist.

Another reason to often put your wet tresses on your pillow is that it could result in small acne bumps or pustules (just trust me, you don’t want them), which can become itchy or painful to live with and are more commonly known as bacterial or fungal folliculitis.

Dr. Sherber, however, tells the outlet that this is relatively common and happens when our hair follicles have become inflamed. As it is tricky to self-diagnose, seeing a dermatologist is recommended if you find yourself experiencing symptoms.

Now, before you think that’s all, unfortunately, it’s not. What can occur on your scalp from having a wet bedhead can also pop up on the face as fungal acne, as well as the upper body, especially if you have longer hair that may shuffle against your shoulders, neck, back, or beyond.

“I’ve diagnosed patients with this and traced the cause to their sleeping with their face on a damp pillow caused by going to bed with wet hair,” Dr. Sherber explains.

This presents as small red bumps, which may look like acne if caused by Malassezia. Similar to the scalp, it is a form of follictus.

Next time I hit snooze and think, ‘I’ll just shower later,’ I’ll be swiftly reminded of the word ‘Malassezia.’ Or else force myself to put a hairdryer on my hair before drifting off.

Consider me warned.