What do Reese Witherspoon and Victoria Beckham have in common? They both reportedly sleep on silk pillowcases. And before you dismiss this as purely diva behavior, we’re here to tell you that they’re on to something. If a silk pillowcase were a prescription drug, women would be lining up to pay good money for it. Why? Because a silk pillowcase really is a game-changer when it comes to beautiful skin and hair. And while silk pillowcases can be a little pricey, satin pillowcases can offer similar benefits at a very attractive price. Read on to learn what a simple pillowcase swap can do for you.
Silk pillowcase vs cotton pillowcase
“Silk absorbs less moisture than cotton, so the fabric cn help skin stay hydrated and can also help maintain hair’s moisture, which could mean it is less likely to split or break,” explains New York City dermatologist, Jodi LoGerfo, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, DCNP, who treats celebrities like Amy Schumer. “And its silky smooth quality glides over skin and hair producing less friction, which means it won’t tug at skin and strands like cotton does.”
The material derived from the cocoons of silkworms also produces a “cooling” feeling, great for thwarting hot flashes and means you’ll likely sweat less in your sleep, keeping pores open and clear.
Plus, silk is naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites, mold and fungus. “This can be beneficial for people with allergies or asthma, as it reduces the exposure to potential allergens,” states Garden City, NY dermatologist Navin S. Arora, DO, FAAD.
Also: a silk pillowcase might be a worthwhile investment, especially if you’re a side or face sleeper, tend to be a rough sleeper or toss and turn a lot. No matter how you sleep, you spend an average of 8 hours with your face and hair pressed against your pillow — which is inevitably doing some unwanted damage.
But wait, there’s more benefits of silk pillowcase usage:
3 ways a silk pillowcase benefits skin
1. It can reduce the occurrence of wrinkles
Silk is smoother than cotton, which means less friction between your skin and the pillowcase. “This reduced friction can minimize sleep lines and wrinkles, preventing premature skin aging,” says Dr. Arora.
“As we age, we rapidly begin losing collagen and elastin, and it can be more difficult for our skin to hold hydration,” explains Erica Marie Gatt, an esthetician who has worked with Paula Abdul and Lea Thompson. And we know a lot of that much-needed moisture can escape while we sleep. A silk pillowcase can be a quick fix to trap that essential hydration in skin preventing dryness that can enhance the look of wrinkles — especially in the winter months.
Plus: According to the Sleep Foundation, silk pillowcases can also help your hair masks and night creams be much more effective since the material won’t absorb the products like other pillowcases can.
2. It can soothe sensitive rash-prone skin
Silk is a natural protein fiber containing amino acids that benefit the skin. “Sleeping on silk can be gentle and soothing, especially for individuals with sensitive or delicate skin conditions like eczema,” explains Dr. Arora.
3. It’s sweat-proof for skin
Silk has natural temperature-regulating properties. It can keep you cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather, ensuring that your skin remains comfortable throughout the night. It also reduces the likelihood of sweating in your sleep, which can prevent acne breakouts and clogged pores.
5 ways a silk pillowcase benefits hair
Board certified hair restoration surgeon, Alan J. Bauman, MD, ABHRS, IAHRS, FISHRS, pinpoints several reasons you should sleep on silk:
1. Silk can put a stop to breakage and split ends
Just like with the skin, silk reduces the amount of friction between the hair and the pillowcase, meaning reduced hair breakage and split ends. “When hair rubs against rougher fabrics, the fibers can catch and tug on individual hair strands, leading to damage over time. With silk, hair can glide more easily, preserving its integrity,” says Dr. Bauman.
2. Silk keeps hair shiny and hydrated
While cotton can wick moisture away from strands, silk tends to maintain the natural oils of the hair. “By preserving the hair’s natural oils, silk pillowcases can help keep hair moisturized and hydrated. This particularly benefits individuals with curly or coarse hair types, which can become dry and brittle more easily,” attests Dr. Bauman.
3. Silk is sweat-proof for the scalp
Silk is a natural fiber with temperature-regulating properties. “Regulating temperature can prevent excessive sweating on the scalp, which might lead to potential hair issues like dandruff or fungal growth,” says Dr. Bauman.
4. Silk eliminates tangles and bedhead
Again, thanks to the smooth surface of silk, hair is less prone to get tangled up or knotted as you sleep. “Less tangling means you might spend less time detangling in the morning, reducing the risk of causing hair breakage or damage. Additionally, waking up with fewer tangles or bedhead can mean less need for heat styling, further protecting the hair’s health,” explains Dr. Bauman.
5. Silk is natural
High-quality silk pillowcases are made without harmful chemicals or dyes. Cotton, on the other hand, might be treated with various chemicals during the growing and production processes. “Reducing exposure to chemicals can benefit scalp health and overall hair condition. Especially for individuals with sensitive skin or scalps, silk pillowcases can minimize potential irritants,” explains Dr. Bauman.
Are there downsides to using a silk pillowcase?
The major downside of switching to a silk pillowcase can be the cost. They’re generally more expensive and require more care in washing than other pillowcases that can just be tossed into the washer and dryer. For more on caring for a silk pillowcase:
Also, using a silk pillowcase isn’t always a reason to forego your usual anti-aging skincare and hydrating haircare routine. “A silk pillowcase just doesn’t have the power of these treatments for true anti-aging results,” cautions Phoenix dermatologist Richard Bottiglione, MD, founder of the Dermatologist’s Choice skincare line. Therefore, hold on to your night creams — together with the silk you get double the benefits.
What to look for in a silk pillowcase
If you decide to upgrade to silk, experts suggest looking for the Mulberry variety. The fibers are longer and more uniform, which means they’ll be smoother on hair and skin and last longer, too. And just like with cotton sheets, thread count matters. Silk has its version of thread count, which ranges from 19-25 momme. The higher, the better — more threads means more durability. One to try: Mulberry Silk Pillowcase (Buy from Brooklinen, $50.15)
Are the benefits of satin pillowcases the same?
Experts say satin works for many of the same reasons as silk. Both have smooth surfaces that reduce friction, which minimizes hair breakage and skin irritation. This smoothness helps prevent tangles, split ends and sleep lines on the face. And you can get a pack of two for under $15, like Morning Glamour Signature 2 Pack Standard/Queen Satin Pillowcases (Buy from Amazon, $14.77)!
“While the benefits of both materials overlap, it’s essential to note that the specific advantages might vary based on the composition of the satin, as ‘satin’ refers to the weave and can be made from various materials, including silk itself or synthetics like polyester. I would still suggest satin over cotton, and it is a great budget alternative,” says Dr. Bauman.
Not ready to toss your cotton pillowcase just yet? In that case, you can grab a silk or satin eye mask, like Slip Mayfair Contour Sleep Mask (Buy from Slip, $55) to combat crow’s feet and protect the sensitive skin around the eyes (especially if you tend to rub your eyes a lot in your sleep or sleep directly on your face) and it can even help prevent eyelashes from falling out. For hair, you can opt for a silk bonnet and a silk scrunchie to help preserve your hairstyle, keep it from creasing, and keep moisture in sensitive strands.
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