Do they actually live up to the hype, though? We consulted a few dermatologists to find out.
Well, for starters, some of the benefits are real: According to Austin-based dermatologist Dr. Adam Mamelak, MD, silk pillowcases don't absorb as much moisture compared to their cotton counterparts — which in turn helps to prevent irritants from touching your skin while you're sleeping.
Even so, don't let a silk pillowcase replace your whole skin care routine: "While silk pillowcases help with acne prevention, it better works to complement skin care with cleansers and topical treatments that are definitely more effective," explains Dr. Mamelak.
To give you the full breakdown on all things silk pillowcases, we tapped Dr. Mamelak (and other board-certified dermatologists) to share the pros and the cons — and, of course, the best shopping options.
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Yes, silk pillowcases have benefits for acne-prone and aging skin
Cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Howard Sobel, MD, explains that silk products have certain cosmetic benefits: "100 percent silk does not clog pores, which is why a silk pillowcase or sheets are a great option to consider if you have oily or acne-prone skin," says Dr. Sobe. "Silk also tends to absorb less moisture than cotton, leaving your skin more hydrated through the night."
Similarly, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, adds, "Silks (and some satins) have a tighter weave, that creates a smoother surface, so that hair and skin glide over it, but don't get caught or rubbed or irritated. Reducing friction (which can be much greater with some stiffer and rougher cotton or polyester sheets) can help both hair and skin."
Silk pillowcases are great for sensitive skin
As Dr. Shainhouse points out, since silk pillowcases reduce friction, they also minimize chafing when you move around at night. In return, this may reduce irritant skin reactions, such as eczematous flares, inflammatory acne, or rosacea.
As such, silk pillowcases can be quite beneficial for those with sensitive skin: "Silk pillowcases are more gentle on the skin," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Shari Sperling, MD. "Cotton pillowcases absorb moisture from the skin, so it can dry out those with sensitive skin."
Don't forget to wash them
While silk pillowcases are less absorbent than cotton pillowcases, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Anna H. Chacon, MD points out that you still need to wash them just as often.
"It is more than important to evaluate the state of your pillow and bedsheets," she says. "Try to wash them at least twice weekly, so that residual oils do not contribute to breakouts or additional acne flares."
Oh, and be sure to choose your detergent carefully: "If you have sensitive skin, or are generally prone to acne, you should also check the type of detergent or dryer sheets you may be using," says Dr. Sobel.
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Silk pillowcases aren't a cure-all
Yes, silk pillowcases can help your skin. However, Dr. Shainhouse says it's important to remember that they can only do so much: "Silk pillowcases are definitely not a cure for acne, particularly hormonal cystic flares and acne rosacea, to which many adult women are prone," she explains.
Additionally, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, says that there are currently no studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of silk pillowcases. "Silk pillows are certainly luxurious, but unfortunately, there's really no proven benefit and no signs that using a silk pillow helps prevent wrinkles or acne," he explains. That said, he agrees that silk's lower absorbance level can help keep sensitive skin calm.
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