Moldy Hair?!?

Have you ever worried about moldy hair? 
Have you ever experienced it??

Today's post was researched because of a comment that was posted to the blog on an old post (I have comment moderation on anything older than a week so I make sure to notice when people write!)

I didn't end up publishing the comment on that post because I felt it should get "spotlight" attention
Here's what "M" had to say:
"As a curly haired girl myself, I just want to say that you actually shouldn’t style hair while it’s wet. Apparently, it can actually grow mold (I know, gross!). I used to sleep with it wet in a pony sometimes until I read that and now I am anal about making sure it’s fully dry before pulling it up. Just wanted to let you know in case you hadn’t heard that one before. :)"
I want to say a big Thank You to this lovely lady for her input and opening my eyes to some new research. However..... I have been doing some reading and I haven't found much to make me worry.
First, from my own experience, I've gone to bed uncountable times with my hair wet. As a child I had very very long thick hair that was always braided into one big braid at night - and I never had mold. Now, granted, I have straight hair, but I'm not really sure what difference that would make? Maybe curls (texture) would hold the water better??
So I "googled" it. I got a whole lot of nothin'!  (well not quite nothing...)
There were a lot of sites talking about hair molds - as in ways to set and style your hair. There were also sites that dealt with mold in the environment and how that affects hair growth, etc. But I found very few about moldy hair. Most of what I did find showed that it's possible, but they were forum posts with few helpful answers.

Which led me to try's forums! and The Long Hair Forums! (There wasn't much as far as quantity, but the quality was worth it on these two sites!)
From what I can tell, mold in hair is possible. But it isn't very common. "Mildew hair" is more common, however, or a musty smell. 
(some say that MOLD actually can't grow if the hair is kept clean because mold is a bacteria - hence if you have clean hair, or rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar - that will kill the bacteria. Other sources, however, say that isn't true and that fungus and mold can grow anywhere! lol)

 The conclusion seems to be that if you keep wet hair up tight for more than 24 hours, not letting it have any air to breathe - that mold or mildew could start to form. Or give you a musty smell. If you smell something or have doubts you can try rinsing with ACV and water in a 50/50 mix. (I do this anyway instead of conditioner!)
This could happen with curly or straight hair, thick or thin - but people with more hair (long or thick) will be more prone to it because it's harder for the hair to breathe when it's up tight like that.

Things to know about Musty/Mildew/Moldy Hair!
*Do not leave your hair in a tight wet bun for longer than 24-48 hours.
*If you need to have your hair up like that while wet, it's best to re-style the bun a few times throughout the day. (Shake your hair out and let the air get to it before you put it back up.)
*Having your hair styled in such a way that still lets the hairs dry is fine. So feel free to put in a ponytail, or do some braids and styles with wet hair - Just make sure that the hair has the ability to dry on it's own. If after 24 hours the hair isn't dry inside the style, it might be a good idea to undo the hair and let it get some air.
*Pay attention to your hair. A funky smell could mean mold, it could mean you need a new hair care routine, etc.
* Essential oils can be a preventative measure as well - see quote below from the naturally curly forums

"Mildew is a fungus so "technically" it's mold... Well, that's another great reason to use products with essential oils in them, especially tea tree, peppermint, geranium, lavender, lemon, bergamot & cinnamon. I did a search and found all of these cited in real scientific studies as having both antibacterial and fungicidal properties. I think it's much healthier for different reasons to at least partly diffuse before going to bed." 
- courtesy of a forum post on

Final thoughts from me?? Well, it's good to know that this is a concern, however, I'm not really concerned! I will continue to style Q's and my own hair while it's wet. I will continue to make sure that our hair is dry within a reasonable time after styling. and I will probably invest in some EO's!

What are your thoughts?? 
Have you ever worried about moldy hair? 
Have you ever experienced it??

Tell me in the comments or find us on Facebook!

Update 2019 - This post was researched and written in 2010. 
Please do your own research as information may be different now.


  1. i heard that you shouldnt style curly hair when its wet because when curly hair drys it expands not sure how much truth to fiction that saying is and as for mould hair will only smell musty after about 36 hours if your hair is still wet.

  2. I have long super thick curly hair. Since I was a child my mom pulled and styled it while wet. As an adult I've continued to style my hair while wet and often take a shower, towel dry my hair, and put it into a braid before going to bed. I've never once had a problem with moldy or moldy smelling hair even when I left my braid in for more then 24 hours. As a mom I style my daughters' hair while wet and never had an issue. Its really hard to get a non frizzy tight braid in my oldest daughter's curly hair if I wait till its completely dry to style. I think moldy hair happens in a very small percent of people so really there's nothing to worry about. Good tips though!

  3. You have a nice article. I have one for you, have a great day.

  4. To anonymous: I style my hair when it wet because if I don't then it seems to expand into a big puffy and frizzy mess. Styling while my hair is wet is the only way I can get my curls in control. Mind you I ring my hair out really good then towel dry my hair where its damp.

  5. Please visit me back. nice to be here.

  6. I have very thick, corse hair and have always braided it or put it in a bun overnight or for a full 24 hours. We swim all summer so all of have wet hair pretty much all day every day and I've never experienced mold--maybe a musty smell here and there.
    I agree to keep doing what you're doing!

  7. Wooo! Comments! I should write about mold more often! LOL :D Thanks for the responses - and sharing your own stories. The curly hair expanding does sound logical, but I still question what difference that would make for mold.

    It seems a few of us have had the same experiences - that we've styled our hair wet, yet taken care of it and fixed it if anything looked or smelled amiss. :)

  8. It kinda sounds like maybe some people just need to make sure they wash their pillow case... it's a much more likely cause of mold or mildew than freshly washed hair! ;) Or maybe that's the problem... these people who have found mold in their hair didn't wash it, they just got it wet.

    Okay, I'm just throwing out wild conjecture, but I also have incredibly thick, wavy/curly, very long hair. It takes ages for my hair to dry and yet I have never had even a musty smell in my hair. Based on my personal experience and the comments from others, I'd have to say that wet hair is not the cause, but perhaps a contributing factor to moldy hair.

    Alright, I've said my piece. ;)


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