Why I Won’t Spend a Night Without My Silk Pillowcase
A sleep standby of mine for more than 15 years, I even pack them when I stay at hotels.
This is part of our weekly series Test Drive, where our team of beauty experts demystify products and tools, and explore new techniques IRL.
My bedroom is essentially a curated relaxation installation. My elaborate surroundings include blackout curtains, a weighted blanket, and an amethyst geode by my bed. It's a whole thing because I am a transformed insomniac. But, I am a transformed insomniac who no longer has to use heat tools every morning to fix my bedhead because I sleep on a silk pillowcase. This simple, luxe upgrade will take your beauty sleep to the next level, and it's just as fantastic for your skin as it is for your hair. Here's why it's become an integral part of my sleep setup.
Silk Pillowcases Help Prevent Wrinkles
"Don't underestimate the effect of rough sheets on your face," dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D., says. She prefers using "something smooth to reduce strain and sleep creasing on the skin." Plastic surgeon Jennifer Levine, M.D., agrees and adds that one cause of wrinkles is your sleep position. "The mechanical action of sleeping on your face causes wrinkles that are not in the location of the average wrinkle," Dr. Levine says. She recommends that her patients use silk pillowcases to combat this, as they are "smoother and do not cause as much stress on the skin."
Silk Pillowcases Are Good For Your Hair
Hairstylist Scott Fabian of Sally Hershberger NOMAD says that silk pillowcases eliminate friction. Why is that great for hair? "It's a softer, silky surface for your hair while you sleep," he says. Other pillowcase materials tend to be a little rougher on hair. Silk pillowcases are especially "great for blondes and really great for double processed hair (like platinum hair) because it provides a soft, smooth surface," he adds. This kind of surface gives you glideability as you toss and turn throughout the night, providing far less opportunity for breakage.
Silk Pillowcases Can Help Hot Sleepers
"Silk is a cooler fabric, so it's good for those who tend to get warm as they sleep," Fabian says. I can report that when I wear my hair in its au natural state of curly when I'm on a tropical vacation, I don't overheat while I sleep and can get a second or third day out of my style if I remember to pack a silk pillowcase. They're great to stash even in a carry-on, as they take up little precious real estate.
It's Good to Have a Spare
Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., says "it's important to change your pillowcase regularly to prevent a buildup of oil, dirt, sweat, and makeup that can negatively impact your skin." If your face rubs up against a dirty pillow, it can cause skin irritation, inflammation, and even block your pores, he adds. Dr. Zeichner advises changing your pillowcase at least once weekly. "If you sweat a lot at night, don't wash your face regularly before bed, or forget to take off your makeup, you should change your pillowcase more regularly," he advises. He says to change your pillowcase right away if you see any visible soiling on it.
Here, I've tested several silk pillowcases to find the best ones on the market. These are my favorites.
Best Array of Colors
One issue with my silk pillowcase lifestyle is that it can clash with my sheets. This wallet-friendly silk iteration not only reduces friction by 43% on average, but it also comes in 14 solid shades that go with any hue you can imagine. This silk pillowcase has natural proteins and helps minimize split ends, frizz, and dryness.
The most luxe option when it comes to silk pillowcases is the durable Slip Silk Queen Zippered Pillowcase. Available in a range of hues and prints, the zipper closure provides a closer fit on my pillowcase, which leads to less creasing on the pillow—and less creasing on my face. I’m at an age where if I wake up with pillow creases, I still have creases on my morning Zoom call. This pillowcase is made with the highest quality (6A) long fiber mulberry silk and boasts non-toxic dyes. The one I bought five years ago is still in perfect condition, making it worth the investment.
Best Satin Set
Satin is an inexpensive alternative to silk, yet provides the same “slip” to keep your hair and skin looking its best. The difference between satin and silk pillowcases? Satin has a glossier surface and it’s a type of weave as opposed to a kind of fabric. Satin is also a bit more flexible and supple than silk, allowing your hair and skin to skim easily along your pillow’s surface. This Black-owned brand offers a budget-friendly set of two pillowcases (the eye mask is available for purchase separately).
Best Budget Buy
Satin was traditionally made from silk—but now, you can find satins made from a range of fibers, like cotton, polyester, or rayon. Another satin option, Kitsch offers a few shade options and a modern leopard print colorway. This iteration helps you wake up frizz-free, while helping your skin stay hydrated as you sleep.
Best for Extensions
Designed to “protect your investment” when it comes to your hair extensions, this 100% silk pillowcase protects and hydrates your skin while helping to ensure longer-lasting extensions by reducing tangles and matting. This pillowcase is also naturally hypoallergenic.