How Sleeping on Silk Offers Easy, Actual Benefits for Your Hair and Skin
We've all seen the ads for the "magic" results that sleeping on silk is sure to deliver. But it turns out—there's nothing magic about it—just good, old-fashioned science.
"Our skin is our largest organ, and I believe that any product that can help maintain our skin texture is worth it," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Orit Markowitz.
Keep reading for the 4 most significant ways that silk pillowcases are proven to upgrade all facets of your beauty sleep.
1. Preventing fine lines & wrinkles
If you own a cotton pillowcase and sleep on your side or stomach, I guarantee that you've woken up with lines. Why?
Sleeping on a rough cotton surface can compress your face for long hours at a time, resulting in wrinkles. These sleep wrinkles develop when your face is pressed against something coarse (pillows, sheets, masks, etc.) while you sleep. According to the article, Sleep Wrinkles: Facial Aging and Facial Distortion During Sleep, from the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, although it's true that most wrinkles are caused by the expressions you make while you're awake, often, wrinkles on your face and chest are a result of sleeping on your stomach or side.
Why? Because "compression, shear, and stress forces result[s] in facial distortion" for side and stomach sleepers, as opposed to "facial animation wrinkles" which are "due to muscle contractions."
If this sounds all too familiar, don't descend into complete despair. There's still hope—in the form of silk pillowcases.
Why don't silk pillowcases cause the same problems as cotton?
Studies show that friction from tossing and turning causes creases in the skin but that a silky smooth surface can reduce that effect in the long run. "We spend six to eight hours in bed a night. Over a lifetime, that is an extraordinary amount of time that is causing friction on the skin. Silk has the lowest coefficient of friction, thus providing the least amount of damage [to skin]," Dr. Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD a board-certified, award-winning, New York City dermatologist and Mohs surgeon. She advocates that the best skin intervention is effective prevention.
Sleeping on silk pillowcases won't be your cure-all, but "[they] can absolutely reduce wrinkles," in conjunction with other proactive measures.
Another positive way that sleeping on silk preemptively benefits your skin? Skin can retain more moisture instead of it getting absorbed into your sheets and pillows. How? Traditional cotton pillowcases are notoriously absorbent. What does that mean for your skin? When you sleep on cotton pillowcases, you're saying goodbye to your:
These products need to stay on your face—not your pillowcase. Whereas with a silk pillowcase, your pricey nighttime products stay put! "The [silk] fabric absorbs less moisture than cotton, so your skin will stay more hydrated overnight, and your nighttime moisturizer will also stay on your face versus being absorbed by the fabric," Dr. Orit Markowitz, board-certified dermatologist with SUNY Downstate University in New York City.
2. Fights acne and irritation
You may have heard the claim that silk pillowcases prevent acne. While that's not 100% accurate, there are definite benefits to sleeping on silk that correlate to healthier, happier skin.
Silk pillowcases provide a much gentler and clean sleeping surface, especially when compared to cotton.
We now know that silk has the lowest coefficient of friction—that's why it's effective at preventing crease wrinkles for side and stomach sleepers.
There's a similar reason why silk pillowcases are believed to fight acne-causing agents. Cotton pillowcases also absorb more than just your favorite nightly serums. Dr. Yoram Harth, board-certified dermatologist and medical director of MDacne, states that "[s]ilk pillowcases absorb less of the moisture and dirt [than cotton pillowcases] and thus may be a better choice for people with acne."
In addition, thanks to your hair, your cotton pillowcase also contains a buildup of dirt, oils, and more (depending on how long you go between washes!). Certified sleep coach, Chris Branter, told Insider that, in addition to hair leaving dirt and grime on pillowcases, "we are rubbing our faces all over our pillowcases as well, leaving behind sweat, oils, dead skin cells…you name it."
So while a silk pillowcase won't cure all your skin problems, it's a great place to start. Dr. Harth continued, saying, "[silk] pillowcases can be a beneficial addition to other acne treatments." And not only does cotton monopolize your anti-aging and anti-acne products, but it also causes increased irritation and dryness for sensitive or at-risk skin. What puts your skin at risk?
If you wake up with tight, dry skin (but, like, not in a good way), the climate you live in could be exacerbating your issues.
According to Everyday Health, at least 81 million Americans experience dry, itchy, or scaly skin during the winter months. However, additional bad news is, depending on where you live, environmental factors year-round, such as extreme:
Can cause your skin to lose moisture and feel (and look!) extremely dry.
It can't be stressed enough—skin is our largest organ. Where we live and how we cope with adverse conditions puts a lot of daily wear and tear on our skin.
Dermatologist Dr. Engelman continued, "our skincare isn't doing much good on our pillowcase…so limiting that absorption and friction allows our skincare products to work harder for us."
Bottom line? Your cotton pillowcase is undermining your skin's fight for moisture.
3. Preventing frizz, dull hair, and bedhead
Goodbye rat's nest, hello hair as silky as well, silk! Silk pillowcases are another win in the fight against friction.
According to Preeti Gopinath, director of the MFA textiles program and Assoc Prof. of textiles at the New School's Parsons School of Design, "[silk] has no joints and is perfectly smooth, which gives it that shiny appearance and soft texture." Thanks to silk's super smooth texture, hair glides over its surface without any friction; as opposed to cotton, which is a rougher surface and causes the outer layers of your hair strands to fray.
Annagjid "Kee" Taylor, celebrity stylist and salon owner, says, "you can really tell the difference in hair between who sleeps on or uses cotton versus silk because cotton dries out hair so much."
While other factors affect hair health (hair type, heat treatments, chemical treatments, rough handling, etc.), using a silk pillowcase is a proactive measure you can take to help your hair shine (from the inside out!).
Another sad (but true) fact? Just like cotton pillowcases strip your face of its natural oils and any products/serums applied, the same is true for your hair.
Dr. Neal Schultz, a New York City-based dermatologist, states that silk pillowcases "help keep hair hydrated" and "can help with brittle hair" because less friction leads to less breakage—which is crucial for dry strands.
Thousands of hairstylists across the globe (like Kee) swear by silk pillowcases—and who knows hair better than the professionals? They attest to the fact that sleeping on cotton pillowcases strips your hair of its natural oils and results in some ugly truths.
Jen Atkin is another celebrity hair guru and dubbed "the most influential hair stylist in the world" by the New York Times. She told Southern Living that "cotton absorbs moisture, while silk retains it, so when you lie on a silk or satin pillowcase, the oils from your strands are maintained rather than soaked up, leaving your hair nourished rather than dry." Trusted by stars such as:
In addition to helping hair stay moisturized, Atkin toted the benefits of less friction on hair that silk pillowcases provide and warned against the formula for inevitable hair disaster: Frizz + Lack of Moisture = Tangles!
And as if tangles aren't bad enough on their own—when hair tangles, light doesn't reflect evenly off the strands, leading to dull, lackluster locks.
Nobody needs that!
Switch to silk pillowcases for hair with less frizz, tangles, and dullness.
4. Get your most comfortable night sleep ever
Silk might be the key to unlocking your most comfortable night's sleep (ever!).
How? In addition to the peace of mind you'll get from all of the above, silk actually helps to regulate your body temperature.
According to the Sleep Foundation, silk "may be a good option for people concerned about overheating during the night," because it "tends to adjust to body temperatures."
Silk certainly does regulate temperature. According to Lexie Sachs, the Associate Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab, "silk fibers are inherently temperature-regulating. Unlike cotton, which absorbs moisture, silk wicks moisture away to keep you dry and cool all night long."
The good news for you? You'll be "warm in winter and cool in summer," and your pillow will always feel "cool-to-the-touch."
Silk is also luxuriously soft yet surprisingly strong.
Cotton and linen come from short plant fibers spun together to make longer threads. On the other hand, silk is the only naturally occurring filament fiber, which means its threads are continuous and don't need to be stitched together. Fibers spun together to form cords, such as cotton or linen, have rougher textures because they contain more "corners." Mulberry silk is different.
This silk is cultivated from mulberry silkworms' cocoons and then extracted into long, continuous threads—you can't pull a strand of silk into its component fibers like you can with cotton.
What does this really mean for you? Get ready for cozy.
Because of its tight weave, every strand of silk gets woven very closely to the adjacent one—the closer the weave, the "warmer" the fabric. So in the case of silk, strength actually equals softness.
You're familiar with Egyptian cotton, right? Lexie Sachs continues, saying, "mulberry silk [is] silk's equivalent of Egyptian cotton." Momme count is silk's version of thread count, and higher is definitely better. The more compact the weave, the more silk is used, which means the weight and the momme count are higher.
In other words—the better the silk, the better the sleep.
Are You Ready to Upgrade Your Beauty Sleep?
Curious about silk (or now scared of cotton)?
Where should you start? How are you supposed to choose with so many companies purporting to be the best?
You could read the thousands of verified site reviews for yourself—or you can trust the New York Times, "Fishers Finery is the best-reviewed silk pillowcase we've found. In the end, if you're curious about silk pillowcases, there are good reasons to try them."
Fishers Finery uses only pure, long strand, Grade 6A, mulberry silk. We make our Luxury Pillowcase from 30mm pure mulberry charmeuse silk—58% more silk than typical silk pillowcases (19mm).
Shop our award-winning pillowcases when you're ready to prevent wrinkles, fight acne, defeat frizz, and sleep better than ever.