Whoever coined the term "beauty sleep" has clearly never woken up with a pesky pimple. Anyone who's struggled with acne knows that dealing with blemishes is the worst. But, what you don't know? While acne can be caused and perpetuated by a number of factors—stress, hormones, and clogged pores, to name a few—your pillowcase might play a major role in your skin's overall look.
"Oil, sweat, and bacteria accumulating on unwashed pillowcases are frequent causes for more acne breakouts," explains board-certified dermatologist and medical director of MDacne, Dr. Yoram Harth. "Rubbing on the skin damages the outer layer of the skin and makes acne worse."
Don't worry, just because you use a pillowcase like everyone else doesn't mean you're condemned to pimple perpetuity. As luck would have it, choosing the right pillowcase and caring for it properly can really help clear up your acne. (Or, at the very least, it won't make your situation worse.) If choosing a pillowcase based on your unique skin-uation feels a little foreign, we tapped a handful of the top dermatologists to share pro-approved picks and to answer your biggest questions about the pillow shopping process. Scroll on to check out the best pillowcases for acne and finally find a purchase that's right for you and your skin.
What to Look for in Pillowcases for Acne
It all boils down to the material. "Exfoliating fabrics most likely will result in irritation and interference with treatment," explains dermatologist Dr. Mariano Busso, who is a big proponent of softer textiles like silk. That said, most pillowcase materials have pros and cons. "Cotton pillowcases have more moisture absorption but increase skin dryness and wrinkling," he adds. "Microfiber pillowcases have a tendency to irritate sensitive skin."
Though silk is often regarded as the go-to for acne-prone sleepers, Dr. Erum Ilyas notes that they don't always live up to the hype. "When silk is wet, there is a tendency that certain silk constructions may adhere to the skin and contribute to more friction and may actually not give the effect you are seeking," continues Ilyas noting that silk can sometimes be high-maintenance. Overall, finding the right material for your skin may require some trial and error, but once you do find the perfect match, you can whittle your search down to the color, budget, and sizes available.
How to Care for a Pillowcase for Acne
While buying a pillowcase is a great start to minimizing your acne, it's only as good as how well you care for it. According to Dr. Harth, those who struggle with acne should be washing sheets once a week and pillowcases every other day. Speaking of which, you'll want to wash your bedding in hot water and with gentle soap. "Look for fragrance-free detergents that will not irritate your skin, washing detergents for baby clothes are the best," Harth shares. "Second, thoroughly wash away the soap. Using too much detergent can make your skin itchier and redder than before."
How We Selected Pillowcases
At House Beautiful, we take skincare and sleep very seriously, so we made sure to ask several dermatologists for expert opinions and insight. However, we also did our diligence by scanning each product's reviews, factoring in material, ease of washability, and breathability to the mix.