Skip to main content

Beauty sleep is real—no matter which way you cut it, in order to look and feel our best, we simply need to catch those ZZZs. It is essential that we give our bodies enough time to reset, especially since we know cell turnover primarily happens at night! Although there are a number of fancy creams and potions you can slather on your visage to help maximize skin regeneration while you sleep, there’s another product on the market that has taken the beauty world by storm: silk pillowcases. 

For those who don’t know, silk pillowcases are just that—pillowcases made entirely of silk which are said to help prevent wrinkles and even breakouts, help skin stay hydrated, and regulate body heat. While lesser quality silk abounds, a proper silk case should be 100 percent Mulberry silk. The momme, or weight of the silk weave, should range from 19 to 22. Prices will range from $30 to $90 per piece, which leads us to wonder: Are they worth it? 

We chatted with two skin care experts to find out.

So, What’s the Deal?

First off, we're going to give it to you straight: as much as we'd love to say silk pillowcases are the end all be all, it's not quite that simple. There's no definitive scientific evidence that silk pillowcases can stop your acne breakouts or prevent wrinkles for good, according to Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, Founder & Director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center.

But that doesn't mean you should dismiss silk pillowcases entirely. Silk can be a great option for someone with sensitive skin, and it can be much easier on the skin that cotton pillow cases, Dr. Tanzi explains.

In fact, as an alternative to traditional cotton, silk is pretty superior. According to Laura Dyer, PA-C at Dr. Amy Wechsler Dermatology in New York City, cotton pillowcases can actually draw in moisture from your hair and face (think of all the products you apply right before bed!), potentially drying out your skin and irritating it.

"The moisture pulled into the pillow can also draw in allergens and bacteria, causing damage and reactions to your hair and skin," she explains. "Sleeping on a silk surface means less moisture will be taken from your skin and hair." A silk surface also reduces the friction between your skin and hair against the pillow, which can result in less breakage when it comes to your hair and potentially less opportunity to cause skin irritation or reactions while sleeping.

Can They Help Stop Breakouts?

Maybe. "First of all, any product you put into your hair during the day, will likely end up on your pillow," Dyer says. And, whatever is on your pillow will thus likely end up on your face, she adds. "Hair products can contain harsh ingredients and can be oil or silicone based, all of which can cause inflammation and breakouts," she says. And if that moisture is getting pulled into your pillowcase and you're sleeping on your face, inflammation and breakouts might occur.

Makeup and sweating at night are also possible causes of breakouts, says Dr. Tanzi. "Make sure you wash your face well before bed and keep your room cool when sleeping to reduce sweating and the resulting clogged pores," she explains. Bottom line: Whatever is on your pillow has the potential to get on your face—especially if you're a side or stomach sleeper—regardless of your pillowcase of choice. But, your pillowcase fabric might still play a role for some!

What About Wrinkles?

Fighting wrinkles happen to be the silk pillowcase's main claim to fame. Many on the market claim that the silky slip will help decrease skin creasing, tugging, and pulling and thus help keep wrinkles at bay. Heck, there’s surely something to that $80 price tag, right?

Sadly, there is no hard and fast evidence that silk prevents wrinkles. According to Dr. Tanzi, it's actually your sleep pattern that is far more important than the material you’re sleeping on when it comes to wrinkle talk. "If you are sleeping on your left side, you will have more wrinkles on the left side of your face," she says. "With skin aging and sun damage, skin doesn’t have the same elastic properties, so when it’s squished into one position, over time it starts to wrinkle and they will stay." If you're really concerned with preventing wrinkles while you snooze, Dr. Tanzi says it’s best to sleep on your back and not put too much pressure on either side of your face.

Should You Get One?

Think of silk pillowcases as skin care supplements—not the ultimate solution but able to provide some benefit. Silk pillowcases can be more comfortable and easier on the hair (waking up tangle-free is kind of amazing!). When it comes to your skin, silk could definitely help with hydration (a bigger factor for some than others). There is no one-size-fits-all answer, though.

To really aid your skin, stick to a dermatologist-approved skin care routine, make sure you're removing all makeup before bed, and use safe, non-irritating products. Silk pillowcases are just the cherry on top for an already established skin care routine!

Photo Credit: Alex Mazurov