Are there benefits of sleeping on silk pillowcases for skin and hair? | Ask Doctor Anne

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If you read about  the first haul I did this year, you might remember that I treated myself to a few silk pieces (if not, you can find it here). I had heard great things about the benefits of silk pillowcases for the skin and the hair and wanted to see for myself if the hype was real – after all good quality silk products are expensive and the data in the form of peer reviewed studies is sparse.

In fact I only found some work on the effect of silk clothing for eczema prevention in children – a very interesting read, but nothing that can be transferred to sleeping on a silk pillowcase to reduce wrinkles and hair breakage.


The benefits of silk pillowcases for skin and hair
Is beauty sleep real?


So if I say there is no data, does that mean there is no effect? Of course not. It just means that no one invested money to see if your hair is more shiny or your skin better hydrated – as important as it is for us, in the grand (medical) scheme of things it is not a very pressing concern.
What I can offer you though is my personal experience and some theoretical background why there might be indeed benefits if you decide to switch to silk.



The benefits of silk on skin

The first thing you notice when you compare your silk pillowcase to a regular one is how smooth it feels. That is due to the microtexture and the way it is woven – silk has very little friction, meaning it doesn’t tug on the skin when you gilde your hand over it.
I have heard other people mention that this is the reason why you get less wrinkles when sleeping on a silk pillowcase – to be honest I am not too sure about that. Wrinkles on the face are usually expression lines rather than friction based, so I don’t see that having a huge impact.


Close up of pillow impressions on face
See these lines on my cheek and next to my eye? That are pillow impressions.


What I did notice though when I made the switch is the reduction in these pillow impressions that you can see on this incredibly flattering picture.
I sleep on my side or stomach and keep smushing my face in the pillow, and the silk is just more forgiving there.

If you are someone that has professional treatments done on the face, like intense peels, microneedling or even surgery, the cooling effect and the reduced friction might be even more important. I mean, anyone that has ever had a sunburn on their back and then the sheets suddenly felt like sandpaper, you know that silk will be much more comfortable then and may even reduce the downtime due to irritation.

The most important thing though is that silk is less absorbent, meaning both that it doesn’t dry out your skin and that it lets your skincare actually stay on your face and not get absorbed in the pillow – important for two reasons: First, your actives stay where you want them to be and second, the products you use on your face and especially on your hair don´t accumulate in the pillowcase and get rubbed back in your skin every night, which especially if you use richer conditioners or even oils on your hair could trigger breakouts.


Silk scrunchies for hair
The silk scrunchie looks way more grown-up than the versions I used to wear back in the day.


The benefits of silk for hair

Speaking of rich conditioners, it is no secret that my hair is fine and, no thanks to me bleaching it, has a tendency to break off. It is also very prone to frizz, especially at the damaged ends, and here is where I see huge improvements from sleeping on silk.

Again, the reason for that is mainly the reduced friction, to which hair is much more sensitive than skin. Especially when you have longer hair that gets caught under your shoulders and neck when you turn, the improved slip will reduce the damage done every night. Less rubbing, less tugging, all that equals less breakage and for me at least the effect is clearly visible.
My hair is smooth, much easier to comb though and, probably due to silk being less absorbent, feels more hydrated. I also found that when wearing my hair in a bonnet, styles like curls last much better – I still prefer the silk pillowcases though, because it won’t accidentally slip off at night, it offers benefits not only for the hair, but also for the skin and, but that is the silliest reason, because wearing a little silk something is much more appreciated by my husband when it doesn’t refer to a bonnet.

Silk London Hair Turban
I know the colors clash with my top…

I have also started using silk scrunchies when I put my hair up in a bun or ponytail – you see, I was already around when scrunchies were on trend for the first time, back in the 80s, and I vowed to NEVER wear them again. They were comfortable, yes, but whenever I looked at them I immediately felt like my 14 year old self trying to be trendy. That was until I discovered the silk version, which feels (and looks) much more grown-up. I picked up this set of four in the color Clarnet from Momme Silks website – it is just the perfect kind of red and adds fun to otherwise basic styles like a ponytail without tugging at the hair.


So are there benefits of sleeping on a silk pillowcase?

Does everyone need a silk pillowcase in their life? Obviously not.
There are good reasons not to invest in one: Silk is expensive, it is also not vegan and you can take good care of your skin and hair without it.
I personally though am a convert and will not return to my regular cotton bedding – much to my husbands disappointment, as he had to realize that the fact that I got a set of two does not mean he can have one of them. Both are mine so that I can keep sleeping on silk if one of them is in the wash.


Is sleeping on a silk pillowcase good for skin and hair?
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