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Silk pillowcases form a moisture barrier against the skin which prevents dehydration of the epidermal cells. Cotton pillowcases in contrast have been proven to leech moisture from the skin resulting in wrinkle formation (1). Silk also does not create friction so is less likely to tear hair out overnight benefiting those suffering from hair loss.
Silk pillowcases are also anti bacterial and anti fungal. They naturally repel dust mites mold and mildew. This makes them ideal for allergy sufferers and is one of the often overlooked benefits of sleeping with a silk pillowcase.
The earliest silk products date back to 3630 BC. It was the Chinese who first realised the amazing cosmetic properties of silk. The ancient wealthy households of China would value their silk bedding. It was already well known in these circles that silk was an anti aging secret that benefited both skin and hair.
So sure were the ancient emperors of China of the benefits of silk that they banned the export of silk production techniques. It remained an exclusive Chinese secret for thousands of years.
It did eventually escape the country and has been a symbol of luxury and indulgence ever since. Marilyn Monroe once claimed to only sleep naked in silk sheets further enhancing the association with sensuality.
This association is well deserved but to some extent ignores the practical silk pillowcase benefits for skin and hair.
Do Silk Pillowcases Stop Wrinkles?
According to research yes they do. A Scandinavian study showed that cotton pillowcases do leech the moisture out of the skin overnight, increasing wrinkle formation. The proteins in silk on the other hand form a protective barrier preventing this epidermal water loss.
A practical example of this are patients who for medical reasons such as pain can only sleep on one side of their body. After many years they will generally form far worse wrinkles on this side of their face. In these cases the cotton pillowcase absorbs moisture from the skin.
Silk Pillowcase Skin Benefits?
Silk is 97% protein, principally 2 proteins sericin and fibroin. Silk proteins have been shown to increase hydration of the epidermal cells and reduce moisture loss (2). Silk proteins are high in anti oxidants which provide a range of skin benefits including inhibiting lipid peroxidation in the skin (3).
Anyone suffering from skin conditions will also be interested to note that bandages of silk are now often employed in hospitals. On average healing under a silk bandage occurs 7 days faster than with a traditional bandage (4).
Do Silk Pillowcases Benefit the Hair?
Silk is naturally smooth and reduces friction. This makes it less likely to tear out hair while you sleep, benefiting those suffering hair loss. The lack of friction in silk pillowcases also reduces frizzy hair or bed head. Silk lined hatsare sometimes also worn during the day for this reason.
Modern research has suggested that it may not only be the smooth nature of silk that benefits hair. This research has shown that proteins in silk adhere to the keratin in both our skin and hair (5). This adherence forms a visible protective film on the hair which helps keep hair strong and straight.
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Are Silk Pillowcases Cool to Sleep on?
Silk pillowcases naturally feel cooler when in contact with the skin. This has lead to silk becoming popular with many women suffering hot flushes and changes in complexion brought on by menopause. Evidence of the benefits is only anecdotal but suggest that silk bedding may provide relief in these conditions.
Some sufferers of hot flushes also report that it reduces the sweating associated with hot flushes. Its ability to regulate sweat is the reason it is commonly used in hiking and high end exercise clothing.
So do silk pillowcases stay cool? No research has ever been done directly on this but users perception very clearly shows that users perceive a real benefit from the cooling pillowcases.
Are Silk Pillowcases hot to sleep on?
No generally people report silk pillowcases feel cool to sleep on rather than warm. Those living in cold environments who want warmth at night may be better with cotton blends. Silk is a cool and natural fabric which may benefit those suffering hot flushes or who experience sweating at night.
Are Silk Pillowcases Good for Allergies?
Yes silk is naturally anti bacterial, anti fungal and repels dust mites mould and mildew. For this reason it is sometimes recommended children and adults who suffer from allergies sleep on silk bedding. Silk sheets may not be an option due to the price but a silk pillowcase can make a difference.
More detailed research is also continuing on the benefits of silk for eczema and dermatitis. Sufferers of atopic dermatitis have long been warned to avoid rough fibres like wool which irritate the skin.
Traditionally cotton was the preferred choice but it too is largely composed of large rough fibres. Modern research is suggesting that silk may be a better fabric for both conditions (6).
We are sometimes asked can you be allergic to silk pillowcases? At this point there has never been a recorded reaction to silk unlike cotton or other fabrics.
Are Silk Pillowcases Better than Satin Pillowcases?
Silk is a natural environmentally sustainable fabric unlike satin. While both fabrics are perceived as smooth. Silk pillowcases are naturally breathable and form a moisture barrier against the skin. This stops moisture leeching out of the skin and prevents wrinkles unlike a satin pillowcase.
Are Silk Pillowcases Better than Cotton Pillowcases?
Research has shown that cotton pillowcases leech moisture out of the skin leading directly to wrinkles. The natural silk proteins on the other hand form a natural moisture barrier preventing epidermal water loss and keeping skin hydrated.
Benefits of Mulberry Silk Pillowcase
Mulberry silk is considered the highest quality of silk available. It is finer and less course than other forms of silk. Silk pillowcase benefits such as not tearing out hair or irritating skin conditions are dependent on the smoothness of the fabric. Therefore mulberry silk pillowcases are usually preferable.
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What to Look for in a Silk Pillowcase?
When choosing a silk pillowcase you should pay attention to the thread count, style and reputation of maker. The momme count determines the thickness of the silk and usually how long it will last. Oxford style is the more luxurious appearance and involves more silk. The manufacturer is important as it is hard for most people to determine the quality of silk they receive.
19 momme silk is considered the best quality for silk pillowcases. Many manufacturers claim higher weave count but this is rarely the case. For this reason it is very important to trust the seller. If not you may find your pillowcase dissolves in the washing machine after several weeks.
If it is important to you look for extras like a gift box if planning to give the silk fabrics as a present .
So Do Silk Pillowcases Actually Work?
This article has shown that silk pillowcases can be effective in assisting, wrinkles, thinning hair, hot flushes and other skin conditions. For a simple piece of bedding the reach and impact a silk pillowcase can have is huge. It can simply and affordably make a large difference in many peoples lives.