Why You Need a Silk Pillowcase

You've likely read on a blog, women's site, or had it screamed to you in an Instagram ad that you should sleep on a silk pillowcase because it prevents creasing of your skin and hair. That it is a must for women with frizzy or curly hair, and it can prevent wrinkles. But does it REALLY work? And come on, silk can’t be thrown in the washer and dryer with the rest of the bed linens, is such a pillowcase worth the laundry effort?

The Benefits of a Silk Pillowcase

What makes a silk pillowcase different from your cotton, linen, and jersey sheets is the reduction of friction.  Even the softest sheets, if they aren't from silk, will cause minor tugging on your skin and your hair.  Yes, it's minor, but you sleep on that pillow 365 nights a year, providing 365 chances for friction which adds up.  This friction can cause creases on your skin (have you ever woken up with pillowcase creases on your cheek?) and can also rough up your hair's cuticle causing frizz.

Another benefit to silk pillowcases is that the smooth finish doesn't absorb moisture like traditional cotton pillowcases.  This means more of your night cream remains on your face, and your hair also stays more hydrated which also prevents frizz and “bed head.”

If you google the benefits of a silk pillowcase, the first few pages of Google are full of sites that sell silk pillowcases.  They share that silk pillowcases can add moisture to your skin, they repel dust and fungus, are hypoallergenic, they repel bedbugs, regulate body temperature, wick moisture, cure cancer… okay the last one they don't promote (at least not on the first two pages of Google) but they do make you think silk pillowcases will change your life.  A lot of these claims have been debunked or shown to be true but not really beneficial when using the silk as your pillowcase.  I am focusing on the skin and hair benefits for silk pillowcases as I've actually seen a benefit.

Does a Silk Pillowcase Really Make a Major Difference?

I have noticed such a difference that I first wrote about the benefits of a silk pillowcase back in 2015 and am updating this post in 2020 to continue to rave about this unexpected beauty product. Back in 2015, I shared that I bought a silk pillowcase because I was trying to embrace my natural hair texture and was dealing with some seriously bad bedhead that couldn't be remedied with a brush. I stated, “Before the pillowcase if I went to sleep with a bit of product in my hair I woke looking a mess. Now, I have been known to do a bit of finger or wood-bristle strategic brushing and be on my way.” I also shared that, “My hair is naturally curly, but it’s fine and doesn’t hold the curl. I can have Shirley Temple ringlets at bedtime and wake looking like Kip Winger. With the pillowcase, I end up looking a bit more like Sammy Hagar AKA something that can be fixed with a spray bottle or a curling iron.” 

Since then, I gave up on having wavy hair and then in 2019 went head-first into the curly hair community and now have truly curly hair.  The nights that I sleep on my regular pillowcase, I wake with points of fluff/frizz where my head hit the pillow that are so bad that I have to completely wet my hair, apply product, and start over.  When I use my silk pillowcase, my curls are a bit matted and messy, but they can be reset with a mist of water and some finger curling.  Using a silk pillowcase saves so much styling time every morning.

As for the skin element, I do experience it but it's not as dramatic.  I don't wake with a greasy imprint of my face on my pillowcase, and I also don't wake with hard creases in the side of my face that was last on the pillow.  I can say that it doesn't hurt my skin, but whether it makes longterm major impact, I don't know.

Silk vs. Satin Pillowcases

Before I bought a silk pillowcase, I tried a satin pillowcase, reading it would help just as well as silk in protecting. I liked that satin was machine washable and also cheaper in price.  I don’t really know if the satin helped my hair because the polyester satin pillowcase was so hot, I’d get all sweaty and uncomfortable and would end up throwing the pillow on the floor. I also found the pillowcase incredibly slippery and would slide off of it if I tossed and turned at night.  I am one who sleeps hot in general; if you are not and you don't move a lot when you sleep, you may be fine with a satin pillowcase.  Like silk, it also prevents frizz, skin creasing, moisture absorption, and all that jazz.  On top of it, satin is a good choice if you are vegan or don't want to use any silk products. 

Shop Top-Rated Satin Pillowcases:

What is Mulberry Silk and Is It Better?

Many companies that sell silk pillowcases promote that their products are made with mulberry silk.  Mulberry silk is called this because the silkworms are only fed mulberry leaves, which makes the silk they produce pure white in color, made of individual long fibers, and therefore stronger and more refined than other silks.  This means a pillowcase or any item made from mulberry silk will be more durable and also will have a tighter weave, creating more of a luster.

Shop Mulberry Silk Pillowcases:

Who Makes the Best Silk Pillowcase?

I have owned silk pillowcases from cheap Amazon retailers, from Etsy sellers, and from fancy brands that sponsor podcasts… and I have found them all to work equally as well in preventing frizz and facial creasing. If you can't afford a $250 pillowcase or even a $50 pillowcase, don't let it stop you from purchasing one.  It may not look as nice or hold up as well, but it will still provide the beauty benefits you desire. 

However, if you are looking for durability, you need to research the momme of a silk pillowcase.  Momme is the method of measuring the weight of silk fabric.  The higher the momme, the softer as well as the more durable the fabric. I've found that pillowcases with a higher momme are usually more expensive.  

I started with a cheap silk pillowcase and it helped my skin and hair, but after a few washings the fabric began to fray and the seams were falling apart.  I bought an expensive silk pillowcase and it was thicker, stronger, and had a more beautiful lustre.  I also bought a pillowcase from Etsy that was half the price… and it was just as nice and durable. No matter the pricepoint you're considering, do your research to be sure the price equals the value you will get from your silk pillowcase. 

One thing I have found no matter the brand of silk pillowcase… a zipper closure is best.  Not only does it keep out dust and allergens from your actual pillow, but silk pillowcases can also be slippery and I've found my pillow slip out of the case when it has the traditional envelope closure. 

Shop Top-Rated Silk Pillowcases:

How to Launder a Silk Pillowcase

If you're like me, you may be hesitant to buy a silk pillowcase purely for the laundering aspect.  Silk clothing is already high-maintenance, the idea of having a high-maintenance pillowcase that you need to wash regularly sounds dreadful. I don't know if this is the best method, but I take my silk pillowcase, turn it inside out, and wash it in a lingerie bag on the gentle cycle of the machine on cold with my other delicates.  I then hang it to dry.  This does leave it a bit wrinkles and without its visible sheen, but it still works for preventing frizz, protecting curls, and protecting skin. 

I've read that you want a silk pillowcase with at least a momme of 20 to survive even a gentle cycle of your washing machine.  You can iron silk on the reverse side using the iron's silk setting to remove wrinkles; a garment steamer is also a great way to quickly get the wrinkles out of a freshly-washed silk pillowcase.

Some retailers have created machine-washable silk pillowcases that are designed to survive the rigors of a traditional tumble in the washer; I have not tried any so not sure how they do.  if you have tried one, please share your experience in the comments!

 

31 Comments

  1. db
    August 7, 2020 / 6:09 pm

    I have used silk pillowcases for a while, and throw them in the regular (warm or cold, usually) wash cycle with the (cotton sateen) sheets – no laundry bags, no special detergent, no delicate cycle. Pull the silk pillowcases out to air dry, while tumbling the sheets in the electric dryer. The cases do lose some luster with this treatment, but the absence of hassle is worth it, for me.
    The oldest (Fishers Finery 19m mulberry) has been enduring this for over three years. In December 2019, I got on the zippered case bandwagon with Celestial Silk 25m mulberry, Ravmix 21m mulberry, and J JIMOO 22m – they’re also doing fine against my abuses. This is not product placement, I just got whatever was cheapest at the time, but the higher momme products are definitely doing better – though your mileage may vary!

  2. Sonia
    July 29, 2020 / 6:16 pm

    I’ve used satin pillow cases for years. When I wore a natural Afro back in the day, my hair broke off so bad in the back, I vowed never to let it happen again. So, I either wear a silk sleep cap or use a silk pillowcase. I always take one with me when we travel as hotels always have regular pillowcases that do my hair no good. I’ve never used a silk one, but I’m open to try one.

  3. Mary Beth
    July 29, 2020 / 9:27 am

    Based on your advice, I bought a silk pillowcase a few years ago and satin one not long after. I love waking up without creases in my skin or unmanageable bedhead. I’ve got straight fine hair with bangs and I used to have to wash my hair every morning to combat the cowlicks. Now I can get away with washing every other day and even showering at night. I alternate weekly between silk and satin and slightly prefer the silk for its coolness and non-slipperiness. Both get thrown in the regular wash and are then line dried and have held up really well.

  4. Ruth Slavid
    July 29, 2020 / 8:18 am

    ‘It doesn’t absorb moisture’ – I think I would drown. I have always always – since well before menopause – got really sweaty at night. particularly my head. I often wake up in the night with a soaking wet pillow and have to turn it over. Oh and, really attractive, I dribble when I sleep as well. I hate to think what my silk pillowcase would look like.

  5. April 14, 2015 / 9:42 am

    Glad to see your review, since I’ve been looking for a good one! Might be a good present for my mother in law!

  6. PassThePopcorn
    March 15, 2015 / 12:59 am

    And yet again you have won my adoration with a Kip Winger reference 🙂

  7. Kate
    March 13, 2015 / 11:29 pm

    Can you or one of your readers comment at all about acne with a silk pillowcase? I keep having to revert to using a benzyl peroxide face wash, and I wonder if a different pillowcase fabric might help combat whatever is causing the acne. Obviously I use a pillowcase I don’t really care about when I am using the peroxide so that I do not stain my nice cotton set…but maybe the fabric makes a difference. I’m willing to give anything a shot.

    • March 14, 2015 / 1:18 pm

      Curious what others have to say. And don’t know if you know but I’ve seen benzyl peroxide-resistant linens at Target; not sure the fabric for them but I was excited to see it because I know how it stains pillows! 🙂

      • Krista
        July 29, 2020 / 9:30 am

        Those fabrics are a polyester microfiber. They wash well and actually look decent (my son has them on his bed). I’d imagine the benzoyl peroxide would not be kind to the silk.

  8. Darlene B.
    March 13, 2015 / 6:38 pm

    If you ever want to try another 100% pure polyester satin pillowcase; I now have 2 Savvy Sleepers http://www.savvysleepers.com/ pillowcases and LOVE them. NO special laundry detail, I throw them in with the rest of the sheets/pillowcases and into the dryer they go and when they come out… it is pure awesome!

  9. Sadie von Scrumptious
    March 13, 2015 / 5:40 pm

    For those of us on the Craft side of the force, this is also an easy sewing project, using these instructions.
    http://www.howdoesshe.com/silk-pillowcase-homemade-beauty-sleep/
    Now that I know it’s worthwhile, I’ll get sewing! After my own silk sewing projects, I add: use a Microtex machine needle and French seams.

  10. JenniLathrop
    March 13, 2015 / 5:35 pm

    I recently got my long, curly hair cut and have been trying to do the second day hair. Every day I wake up with a halo of frizzies that I can’t seem to tame. Just this week I figured I’d bite the bullet and get a satin pillow case. This came at the perfect time! Thanks for the review!

    • Krista
      July 29, 2020 / 9:33 am

      Also, try the “pineapple” at night. Basically you put your hair in top of your head (kind of looks like the top of a pineapple). I use some flat hair barrettes to keep the short back pieces up. That made a world of difference for my curls.

      • Katarina
        July 29, 2020 / 5:53 pm

        Yes, this method does help!

  11. Carolyn Kerr Varick
    March 13, 2015 / 4:46 pm

    Thanks for the recommendation and the link! I’m looking forward to trying them!

  12. Lindsay
    March 13, 2015 / 1:57 pm

    I think my favorite part of this is how your hubby spoons the pillow and that it reminds him of you…that is so cute and so sweet! I’ve been wanting to buy a silk pillowcase for awhile, this post might be the motivation I needed. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Ginger
    March 13, 2015 / 11:11 am

    Good to know! I won’t waste my money on anything less than the real thing.

  14. Sonia
    March 13, 2015 / 8:55 am

    I have curly ethnic hair that always splits and breaks easily. I’ve been sleeping on a poly silk pillow case for years and my ends still splitand my hair is often misshapened when I wake up. I’d give this product a shot.

    • March 13, 2015 / 3:07 pm

      They’re only $25, I’ve spent so much more on random gadgets that haven’t helped. Hope it works for you!

  15. Kasmira Kit
    March 13, 2015 / 8:54 am

    I use a poly satin case. I don’t tend to overheat at night, so the polyester isn’t a dealbreaker for for me. Like silk, I wake up with fabulous hair and a wrinkle free face.

  16. Nancydrew
    March 13, 2015 / 6:55 am

    Now I know what to ask DH for for my birthday! Though an amazing pillowcase over my awesome memory foam pillow will make it REALLY hard to get out of bed…

  17. Beth W
    March 13, 2015 / 6:16 am

    Interesting! This might be something I have to look into. I have naturally curly hair, but I am graying quickly and where the gray hair is really almost white (or, let’s face it, where it would be white if not for my fabulous stylist), my hair just doesn’t like to curl anymore. This was one of my stylist’s suggestions, as well. I wonder if it would help my new-to-me 38 y.o. lady acne that has just cropped up, too?

    • March 13, 2015 / 8:40 am

      I wouldn’t be surprised if it did help. And for $25 it’s likely cheaper than trying a new skincare product!

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