Do Silk Pillowcases Really Work?
There’s been a lot of buzz recently about silk pillowcases. Many owners never leave home without them!
Celebrities such as Drew Barrymore insta’d a post when she was in Oz with her white silk pillowslip, while Kim Kardashian was snapped by paparazzi travelling with her black silk pillowslip (Kim is quoted as taking her silk pillowcase wherever she goes, and claims sleeping on silk does wonders for her sleep, hair and skin).
But is the hype around silk pillowcases a myth? Or is silk now a must-have in our lives? Here’s what the experts say:
Can A Silk Pillowcase Improve Sleep?
According to Dr Rebecca Van Amber, Textiles Senior Lecturer at RMIT University in Melbourne, silk can help regulate the temperature and moisture levels around you while you’re sleeping. It does not absorb sweat the same way cotton does, so you don’t wake up with damp, cold bedding. And because it is woven into a smooth, satin-like structure, it feels cool and calming to the touch - an ideal environment for attaining sleep.
Associate Professor Rangram Rajkhowa of Victorian-based Deakin University agrees, saying that the smoothness of silk is one of its best features. Cotton fibres are usually less than 60 mm long, but Rajkhowa says that a single thread of fine silk can be as long as 1.5km! “Because of that [silk] is smooth. It’s also very lustrous and shiny.”
This smoothness is what makes silk so kind and gentle against our bodies.
Can A Silk Pillowcase Improve Skin?
Rajkhowa says it’s well established that silk is less irritating on our skin than some other fabrics, in part because the fibre is made from natural proteins. These proteins bind the tiny fibres in silk and have excellent moisture preservation characteristics.
He adds, “It doesn’t have anything that irritates or excites the immune response… It’s comfortable and so skin-friendly.”
This is great news for sufferers of common skin conditions such as acne, rosacea and psoriasis - in fact anyone with sensitive skin.
Can Silk Reduce Wrinkles?
According to Oxford Academic Aesthetic Surgery Journal, it says that compression and shear [against rough fabrics] during sleep forces the face to distort and thereby causing wrinkles. These wrinkles can deepend and become permanent with time and repetition.
So it makes sense then that the surface that your facial skin spends hours sleeping on is super important. Leading dermatologist Dr Adam Sheridan, says: “If it’s a smoother surface - creating less drag - our skin is less likely to get an imprint of that pillowcase,” adding that it’s possible silk could help reduce wrinkles long-term around the mouth and eyes.
Can Silk Improve Hair Condition?
The internet is packed with claims about how silk’s gliding effect is great for hair. Just ask any curly-haired friends with a silk pillowcase or silk sleep cap and they’ll tell you how silk has transformed their locks.
And hair experts validate this. They say that all hair-types - and especially those with fine, thin, delicate or dry hair - can benefit from sleeping on silk.
“The coarse texture of cotton fibres cause friction and can snag and rub delicate hair follicles, causing knots, frizz and flyaways,” says Jennifer Horsley, haircare and make-up education manager at MECCA.
Tips For Buying A Silk Pillowcase
Dr Rebecca Van Amber's buyer tips
- There are companies selling “silk pillowcases” that aren’t actually silk, for example made of polyester instead. Contact the business if you’re not sure.
- Silk products are more expensive to make, so expect that to be reflected in the cost. If the price seems too good to be true, beware.
- To test if a product is made of silk, snip off a small section on the inside of your pillowcase and put it in bleach. Wait about 30 minutes. If it dissolves, it’s silk. (And as always, take care when using bleach.)
- Silk can snag more easily than cotton, so keep in mind what jewellery you wear to bed.
- It’s a myth that silk must be dry-cleaned. Use a washing machine on a cycle of no more than 30 degrees.
- Darker-coloured silk is less likely to show residual make-up smudges, so may be a better option
In summary, it seems Kim, Drew and other celebrities are on to a good thing. And the academics agree.
A little silk. A lot of good.