Want to know the benefits of a silk pillowcase? I’m going to tell you everything you need to know so that you can decide whether you should be splurging on one of these.
We all need to sleep and that means hitting the pillow every night for 6-8 hours of zzz. Sleep eases the mind and rests the body so we can repair and rejuvenate. Without it, we couldn’t function and would succumb to disease and early death.
Given the importance of sleep to our health and the number of hours we spend sleeping during our lifetimes – 248,200 or so – you really do want to be comfortable. I know I’d rather sleep on something that feels heavenly rather than something that feels like an old raspy teacloth.
If you’ve ever had trouble sleeping or missed out on getting enough shuteye, then you know you don’t function correctly or feel rested until you’ve caught up on your lost sleep. It’s because a lack of sleep or proper sleep creates a sleep deficit that our bodies are programmed to correct.
For deep, restful sleep, you need a dark, quiet room, a comfortable bed, the correct temperature and the right pillow. Having a comfortable pillowcase to go with your ideal pillow enhances the whole experience and delivers a host of other benefits too.
Silk versus other fabrics
Many people are used to sleeping on cotton, linen or polyester pillowcases and sheets. Depending on the type and quality of the material, they can be coarse or fine. For example, a 200 thread count polyester cotton is going to feel like flax after you’ve slept on a 400 thread count supima cotton percale and like hessian after you’ve slept on 22 momme mulberry silk. Once you’ve made the switch, it’s hard to go back – a bit like travelling economy class after experiencing business class!
Silk is two times smoother and four-and-a-half times more breathable than cotton.
But apart from the comfort and enjoyment of sleeping on silk pillowcase, are there any other advantages? I’m here to tell you that silk has a great many benefits compared with other fibres. But first you need to know a little bit about silk.
Why silk is precious
Silk has long been considered precious and rare. Kings and nobles from around the globe desired it and would pay exorbitant prices to get it. Catherine The Great even had it woven into intricate designs and used it adorn her boudoir walls.
The production of silk originates in China and dates back to the 4th millennium BC. Silk production was a highly prized and guarded secret until the opening of the Silk Road in the latter half of the 1stmillennium BC. China however maintained a monopoly over silk production for another thousand years.
The emperors of China sought to keep the process of silk making a secret and anyone revealing the craft or taking silkworms out of the country was under threat of execution.
Silk brought wealth and prestige to China. It was the country’s most important export over the centuries of the Silk Road trade. Not only was silk highly sought after, it was light and easily transported, unlike porcelain. It was so valuable that, during the Roman era, it was said to be worth its weight in gold.
In China, silk was not only used for garments, it was used for writing too. The colour of silk worn formed part of the social class system, revealing one’s social importance during the Tang Dynasty from 618 to 907 AD.
The silkworm’s secrets were eventually revealed and silk cultivation spread to Japan by about 300 AD and to the Byzantine Empire by about 552 AD. However it was the Crusaders who brought silk production to Western Europe, specifically to Italy. Italian states experienced an economic boom by exporting their fine silks to the rest of Europe. But the Industrial Revolution resulted in innovations that lead to cotton being easier and cheaper to manufacture.
China and Japan remerged as dominant in silk production in the 20th century, but China remains by far the primary producer. Given the elaborate and time-consuming process to produce silk, it’s priced accordingly. And the higher the quality, the higher the price.
Types of silk thread
Different silkworms produce different types of silk thread. There are four main types of silk produced today. These are:
The majority of silk produced in the world comes from the mulberry silkworm. This silkworm is now a completely domesticated species and can no longer be found in the wild.
Mulberry silk is made specifically from the cocoons of the larvae of mulberry silkworms and are fed mulberry leaves. The entire rearing process is controlled so that the larvae spin silk threads that are rounder, smoother, lighter and more evenly coloured compared to other silk. Mulberry silk fibres are incredibly strong and durable.
Mulberry silk is known for its ability to retain one-third of its weight in water without feeling damp, meaning it won’t mildew or require airing out. It’s considered the highest quality silk and comes in three main grades.
Grade A silk is the highest quality and is unravelled from the cocoon in incredibly long. Because mulberry silk yields the longest strands, it allows for higher quality weaving, a flawless finish and more durable fabric. Mulberry silk contains almost no impurities and is naturally pearly white with a lustrous sheen.
Grade B comes from cocoons that didn’t develop properly and has shorter strands. It has some impurities and requires treatment using chemicals to make it look whiter.
Grade C comes from the inner portion of the cocoon. The fibres are shorter again and it often has a yellow colour instead of a lustrous white sheen. It requires more processing and is of a lower quality.
You can read more about the grades of mulberry silk in our other blog article Best Silk Pillowcase for You.
When we’re talking about the benefits of a silk pillowcase, we’re normally referencing mulberry silk.
Eri silk is made in India by the Philosamia ricini silkworm. The silkworms are raised by villagers and fed castor leaves. Like the mulberry silkworms, they develop into larvae and spin a cocoon. However, unlike the mulberry silkworms, the eri silkworms don’t totally close themselves in, leaving a hole for them to re-emerge as moths. This means there is no need for them to be harmed when it’s time to harvest the cocoon and its thread.
For this reason, eri silk is known as peace silk. This type of silk is the choice of Buddhists and vegans. Additionally, it’s considered the world’s most sustainable fabric.
The silkworms hatch from eggs and spin their cocoon 50 days later. Given the moth is able to release itself and fly away, it is free to lay eggs so that the cycle of silk production can continue without causing harm.
Eri silk is not as fine as mulberry silk, having a texture that’s more of a cross between cotton and silk. This type of silk wears extremely well and is often passed down in families in India. Eri silk is said to become better over time as it softens and becomes smoother.
Tasar silk is coarser and stronger than mulberry silk and has a distinct visible weave. It has copper shading and is usually used for upholstery rather than for clothing or bedding.
Tasar silk is made by the Antheraea mylitta silkworm. This type of silk is created by silkworms in the wild and the cocoons are harvested. Some studies suggest that Tasar silk may be better to mulberry silk when used for biomedical applications, such as tissue engineering and implantable devices.
Muga silk is produced by the Antheraea assamensis silkworm. The worms are semi-domesticated. They are raised on trees and fed on Som and Soalu plants.
Muga silk is often used to make the traditional silk saree worn in India and has a golden colour. This silk is very durable and is often passed down from one generation to the next as an heirloom.
Types of silk weaves
When it comes to silk, it’s important to also know about the different silk weaves. Silk can be woven into different types of fabrics and the type of silk thread is a key factor in determining how it will be woven. The main silk fabric weaves are Charmeuse, Chiffon, Crepe, Dupioni, Habotai, Jersey, Organza, Satin, Shantung and Taffeta.
Silk charmeuse and silk satin are the two most commonly used silks for silk pillowcases, duvet covers and sheets.
When silk thread is used to make fabric using a satin weave, it becomes silk satin. However this should not be confused with synthetic satin, which has a satin weave but has been manufactured using synthetic fibres.
The satin weave creates a shiny and smooth fabric. Silk satin takes colour well and drapes beautifully. It has a luxurious glossy sheen on one side and a matt finish on the other. Silk satin is perfect for clothing and bedding. Not only does it look and feel luxurious, it doesn’t hold static like synthetic satin does.
Silk charmeuse and silk satin are both made using a satin weave and are very similar. However silk charmeuse has a more lustrous face and is considered more desirable by many.
Charmeuse silk can be made from different types of silk thread, but mulberry silk is considered the best.
Silk and momme
When it comes to silk, you need to know about momme. Thread count is an important quality factor for cotton, but for silk it’s all about the momme.
Momme is a Japanese form of weight measurement. A higher momme creates a thicker and heavier fabric that’s stronger and more durable. A lower momme creates a finer and thinner fabric that’s finer and less durable.
Silk that is 22 momme has almost 20% more silk per square inch than silk that is 19 momme. This denser weave makes the fabric heavier, more resilient and longer lasting. Sheets made of 22 momme silk are expected to have double the life of sheets that have a lower momme.
However it’s not as simple as going for the highest momme. The price of silk increases exponentially as you increase the momme. Additionally, too high a momme results in fabric that has more texture and may feel less smooth on the skin.
Silk at 17 momme is suitable for delicate blouses but won’t stand up to use as bedding. Silk at 22-25 momme, on the other hand, is ideal for a silk pillowcases and bedding. It is silky smooth but still dense enough to be durable.
Now that you’re knowledgeable on silk, let’s talk about the benefits of a silk pillowcase.
Benefits of a silk pillowcase
A silk pillowcase has been a long-held beauty secret of many celebrities, actresses and models. Given the benefits of a silk pillowcase, it’s not surprising that many refuse to sleep on anything else.
Silk pillowcases were once more difficult to find and out of the reach of many. However, in more recent years, as people have discovered the benefits of silk, they have become highly sought after. Production has expanded and many brands have emerged selling silk bedding products, so these are now more readily available and more affordable.
A silk pillowcase is also a fashion accessory. It provides an easy way to dress up your bedroom and make it look like an impeccably styled 5-star hotel suite.
A silk pillowcase really is cherry on the cream when it comes to your nightly skin care and sleep rituals.
So let’s get onto what those benefits are.
1. Fewer sleep creases and wrinkles
Silk is smooth and soft and doesn’t cause drag on the skin. It decreases sleep creases and doesn’t rob your skin of hydration. It’s been found that silk can reduces drag by about 43% when compared with 220-360 thread count cotton, so that’s 43% less tugging and pulling of your delicate facial skin.
Given the amount of time we spend sleeping during our lives, there’s a lot of pressure on our skin, especially for those side sleepers among us. Lying on your side is comfortable and cocooning, but it can cause friction, abrasion and sleep creases.
2. Improved skin hydration
Cotton and linen have a rougher texture than silk. Silk’s soft and smooth surface means your skin glides against it rather than getting pulled and tugged.
Another benefit of a silk pillowcase is that it doesn’t soak up your serums and creams. Silk is breathable but it doesn’t draw out all the good things you’ve put on your skin, like cotton and linen do. Lab testing has shown that silk pillowcases absorb significantly less face cream than cotton ones. This means waking up to skin that’s less dry. Silk also contains 18 amino acids, which help improve the moisturisation of the skin and hair.
3. Less frizzy and unruly hair
Regular pillowcases can create friction and pull and tangle the hair during the night. Silk, on the other hand, has a very low friction coefficient, meaning more slip and less drag. And it doesn’t conduct static electricity. That’s a great thing, especially if you’ve spent several hours washing and styling your hair before going to bed! A silk pillowcase is silky and smooth, and hair glides across it without getting all ruffled and tangled. It’s also good for anyone who has fragile hair or split ends, as it reduces further damage.
4. Less irritation
Silk has a tight weave and uses fine lustrous fibres that are soft and drape. Unlike other cotton, polyester or linen, it doesn’t deeply crease or bunch and therefore it doesn’t leave those tell-tale sleep creases, making it gentle on the skin. Silk isn’t irritating or abrasive, like some fabrics, and is particularly well suited to those who have delicate skin or a skin condition.
Silk is naturally hypoallergenic and doesn’t harbour dust mites, which makes it the perfect fibre for those with allergies and rosacea. Silk is safe for the most sensitive skin, even that of babies.
6. Fights bacteria
Claims are made that silk is antibacterial, but this is not strictly correct. Nonetheless, silk may be a better choice for those with acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis. Silk absorbs less dirt, dust and oils and this may be helpful for those with skin conditions, while also being kinder to the skin. Less friction means less irritation and less inflammation.
Silk doesn’t prevent bacteria multiplying and nor does it kill bacteria. However you can buy silk cases that have been treated with copper ions or silver, and therefore have antibacterial properties. Now that’s not an excuse to not wash your pillowcase regularly. Make sure you still give it a gentle wash using the right detergent once a week to reduce the spread of bacteria on your skin and the spread of those papules and pustules.
You can sleep easy knowing that, unlike cotton, the silk hasn’t been produced using a lot of chemicals and pesticides. And, because it’s naturally soft and silky, it doesn’t need to be treated with chemical softening agents. The natural colour of A grade mulberry silk is ivory and therefore ivory silk doesn’t need to be dyed.
8. Exceptional comfort
Silk is neither hot nor cold. In winter, your face isn’t hitting a cold, uncomfortable surface. And in summer, it doesn’t make your skin feel hot, clammy or prickly. This will enhance your sleep and hopefully you’ll wake up having had sweet dreams.
9. Luxurious feel
Last but not least, silk is luxurious. At the end of the day, or night, the thing is that nothing is quite as sensuous as silk to rest your weary head and luscious locks on. It feels heavenly. The fabric is super soft, smooth and resistant to creasing. It doesn’t feel hot like synthetics, rough like polyester or moisture-robbing like cotton. And, yeah, let me admit that is looks pretty amazing on a bed, given its sheen and lustre.
How to retain benefits of a silk pillowcase
Some people feel a little intimated when it comes to caring for silk, thinking that it’s delicate and high maintenance. Silk fibres are strong and durable, but it does need to be cared for correctly. It’s also important to buy a quality silk at the right momme – thick enough to be durable but thin enough to be soft and smooth.
Silk is more expensive than other fabrics, but then anything that’s a luxurious product is! When considering that it serves you for about eight hours a night for 365 days of the year, you’re getting your money’s worth. If you look after your silk pillowcase correctly, you should get as much life, if not more, than a regular cotton one.
Silk does need a little upkeep, but it really isn’t that onerous. If you care for it correctly, your silk pillowcase will give you much enjoyment and a long life.
You can read our guide on How to Wash Silk Pillowcases.
Silk pillowcases in our shop
There’s a lot to love about a silk pillowcase and that’s why we’ve included them in our shop.
We’ve carefully selected our silk pillowcases to find the best quality and the best value.
These will ensure you get all the benefits of a silk pillowcase.
Karamaye silk pillowcase
The Karamaye Mulberry Silk Pillowcase is a superb silk pillowcase made from 100% mulberry silk in 6A grade, the finest there is.
It comes in 22 momme silk charmeuse, considered the queen of silk, and has a wonderful lustre, luxurious hand feel and gorgeous soft drape. It comes in a natural pearly white that’s perfect for just about every bedroom décor.
This silk pillowcase has a generous envelop opening so that your pillow is well enclosed. And it even comes with its own little silk pouch so that you can lovingly fold it and store it until you next use it.
This silk pillowcase provides the highest quality silk. It comes at a great price so that you’re not paying a premium for brand marketing. In out testing, it stood up better than other well-known brands at twice the price.
For any everyday silk pillowcase that looks beautiful, feels amazing and stands up to wear, you can’t go passed the Karamaye silk pillowcase. Exceptional quality at an exceptional price.
Silvi silk pillowcase
The Silvi silk pillowcase is a silk pillowcase with a difference. Not only do you get all the benefits of a mulberry silk pillowcase, you get additional antibacterial and anti-aging benefits too.
Silvi is the world’s first silk pillowcase treated with silver, which can help with acne, rosacea, psoriasis, eczema and ageing skin.
Pillowcases are a breeding ground for microbes and the Silvi pillowcase can help stop the spread of bacteria via your pillowcase. Silver has been shown to eliminate 99.7% of bacteria. Together with the right skin care treatments, the Silvi pillowcase will help you get on top of your acne and achieve clearer skin.
And it’s not just those with acne that can benefit from the Silvi silk pillowcase. Silver has been found to help with skin conditions and skin ageing concerns. It has anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties, and helps with wound healing and skin regeneration. As a potent antioxidant, silver may help protect against cellular DNA damage too.
The Silvi silk pillowcase comes with a 100-day guarantee for peace of mind.
Make sure you read our other blog article Best Silk Pillowcase for You.
Now that you know about the benefits of a silk pillowcase, I hope you can appreciate the remarkable gift given to us by the silkworm and treat it with care to extend its life.
Yours truly in better skin