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The right deep conditioner, mask, and co-wash are important for maintaining natural hair, but just like wrapping your curls in a silk or satin turban or putting on a bonnet before bed, switching to a pillowcase made out of one of these fabrics can also help protect your hair texture.
Both silk and satin pillowcases look high-end and feel like you're sleeping on a luxurious cloud, but which one is better for your hair?
Ahead, hair experts breakdown the difference between silk and satin pillowcases, along with how to figure out which one you should sleep on for your curls.
What Is Silk?
Silk is a natural fiber produced by insects to create their cocoons and nests. It was first developed in ancient China, and the silk trade started over 3,000 years ago. The fiber is woven into textiles and used to create a wide range of products, from dresses to pillowcases.
It's known for being luxurious and soft, and is hypoallergenic and less absorbent than other fabrics. These attributes are what make silk great for your hair. "We are used sleeping on cotton pillow cases but cotton is known for its great absorbing power. Since we sleep on it on average eight hours a day it means that in those eight hours it has all the time to absorb all the moisture and oils out of both your hair and your skin," says Angela Onuoha, certified trichologist and Rhyme & Reason Ambassador. "Silk doesn't do that. So all the moisture and oils maintain on your skin and hair."
Silk also produces less friction on the hair. "Your hair won't snag and break because the material allows your hair to glide along softly while moving on the pillow," says Erinn Courtney, StyleSeat Hairstylist and Natural Haircare Professional.
What Is Satin?
While satin might look like silk, they're not exactly one in the same. While satin used to be made from silk, today, it's often created with a blend of cotton and synthetic fibers like polyester and rayon.
Satin offers similar haircare benefits to silk, but it won't retain moisture as well as silk. "Satin absorbs a little bit more than silk since it's a mixture of numerous materials including cotton, but it's still way less than 100% cotton pillow cases," Onuoha says. "It gives a little bit more friction than silk but again: way less than cotton."
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What Type of Pillowcase Should You Use?
Both types of pillowcases will be gentle on curls, helping to prevent breakage and dryness. Which one you choose comes down to a few factors, like price and preference.
"I like satin more because it's less expensive than silk, but it's also smoother than silk, reducing the friction between the hair strands and the pillowcase," says Dr. Isfahan Chambers-Harris, Trichologist, Ph.D. Scientist, and Founder of Alodia Hair Care.
Quality is another factor to consider. "The difference may come in the quality of the pillowcases and how long they're able to last you through washes and everyday wear and tear," Courtney says. Silk will typically last longer because it's higher quality.
If you with satin because it better aligns with your budget, it's still a huge upgrade from a cotton pillowcase. And if you're really concerned about the slight loss of moisture, Onuoha suggests giving your curls a quick oil treatment. "Apply a couple of drops of a serum (Rhyme & Reason Smooth Finishing Serum with Argan Oil or the Rhyme & Reason Damage Repair Serum with Plant Protein) to the ends, then work what is left on hands through the rest of your strands to compensate that loss overnight," she says.
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