shower cap on hook

What Are Shower Caps?

Once a person starts following a legitimate haircare regime — thereby casting aside the 3-in-1 soaps and beginning to do actual product and ingredient research — one of the first tools to be acquired is a shower cap.

At its’ simplest definition, shower caps are a large plastic or fabric coating to put over one’s hair while showering. Despite the painfully obvious definition, shower caps provide a host of benefits outside of the shower: helping with conditioning, using while sleeping, and reducing breakage of hair follicles to name a few.

We have done a deep dive into various industry resources to provide an ultimate guide to shower caps. Read on to have your most pertinent questions answered.

Types Of Shower Caps

On the market today, shower caps can be separated into two distinct groups: disposable and longer-lasting varieties.

Disposable Shower Caps

Disposable shower caps are usually made from plastic and can be found in large packs of 10, 20, or even 100. Found in most hotels across the country, these are ideal for anyone needing a shower cap while traveling, or those that prefer single-use caps.

The main downside of disposable shower caps is that they have a tendency to be very flimsy, and may not provide adequate support for longer or thicker hairstyles.

Long-Lasting Shower Caps

On the other hand, longer-lasting shower caps are intended to be kept for an extended period of time. These are made from different fabrics such as nylon and even silk, and are often printed with various designs to fit anyone’s visual taste. These can be top-of-the-line, costing anywhere from five to even 40 dollars and above. 

Buying a longer-lasting shower cap requires periodic washing to make sure the cap stays clean. Haircare products can easily rub off and transfer to a cap, and can result in unpleasant odors and even harmful bacteria growth that can pass on to the hair and scalp.

Washing A Shower Cap

There are two main ways of washing a shower cap, and your preferred method should be dependent on the material of the cap as well as the cleaning materials that you have on hand.

The first method, and the easiest, is machine washing.

It is important to check the label to make sure the cap is machine washable, but if it is, running it on a gentle wash with non-toxic or other less-harsh chemicals  — perhaps with some towels to prevent ripping or tearing — is adequate for cleaning.

The second method is to wash by hand.

Filling a bucket with white vinegar, allowing the fully-submerged shower cap to soak for 15-20 minutes, and then scrubbing with dish soap will do the trick for cleaning.

Whichever method you choose, make sure to hang dry the shower cap. Nearly every cap on the market today is not able to go in the dryer, so hanging it up in a well-ventilated area is the safest option. Learn more in our guide for how to wash shower caps.

Different Uses Of Shower Caps

While most people think that the purpose of a shower cap is only to keep hair dry in the shower, there are actually a host of benefits to assist in a healthy haircare routine.

Turbie Twist highlights a few of the lesser-known — yet still very beneficial — uses for a shower cap:

1. Protecting A Hairstyle

If you wash and style your hair in the morning, but have an event in the afternoon or evening in which you wish to look your best, maintaining your hairstyle throughout the day is important — and can prove to be perilous.

There are plenty of opportunities for hair to get messed up or dirty during the course of the day, not to mention, living in a humid climate could cause hair to become frizzy or otherwise unkempt.

Wearing a shower cap throughout the day will keep hair in place, protect it against getting dirty or frizzy, and make sure your morning hairstyle looks just as good hours later.

2. For Deep Conditioning Routines

Deep conditioning is a routine — which everyone should be doing — that combats the effects of heat exposure, chemical treatments, and even certain medications. 

Following one of these routines makes hair healthier, softer, repairs some damage, and even prevents damage and breakage in the future. Most experts recommend applying deep conditioner once a week or every other week, and applications are intended to stay in the hair for around 30 minutes.

Donning a shower cap after deep conditioner application is a great way to keep your hair together, letting the conditioner work its’ magic.

3. Protecting Hair From Breakage

During a night of sleep, constant tossing and turning can leave hair tangled and messy in the morning. Combing through knots and tangles often needs to be forceful, and this can easily lead to hair damage and breakage.

Wearing a shower cap to bed avoids this situation by keeping hair in place while sleeping, no matter how restless a person is.

Another frequent, yet lesser-known potential for hair breakage is putting hair in a bun or ponytail. Doing this too forcefully can stretch and break hair, and wearing a shower cap instead — when appropriate, such as applying makeup in the bathroom — is a great way to protect hair. 

4. Save Water, Scalp, and Hair Treatment

Not every day should be a “wash day” for your hair, yet most people opt for showering every day.

Using a shower cap ensures that hair stays dry, and avoids a person from using extra water or product to wash out their hair on a day they shouldn’t.

In addition, not washing hair every time a person takes a shower protects their current hair treatment, whether it be a recent blowout or dye.

Looking for a shower cap? Check out our article on the best shower caps.

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