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Best silk pillowcase for you

Looking for the best silk pillowcase for you?

You’re probably here because you already know about the benefits of a silk pillowcase for your hair and skin. So I probably don’t need to tell you about why you might want to choose a silk pillowcase instead of a cotton, linen or polyester one.

If you’d like to know more, you can read my other blog article, Benefits of a Silk Pillowcase, and find out all you need to know. Otherwise here’s a quick recap:

Benefits of silk for hair and skin

Silk is renowned for its benefits for the hair and skin. I won’t detail all the benefits of silk here as I’ve done this in another post article, but in summary silk is a luxurious fabric that has a surprising number of benefits, including:

Now that’s quite a few benefits, so it’s no wonder that silk has become increasingly popular for pillowcases, duvet covers and sheets. In addition, this beautiful fabric has such a lovely lustre and sheen that it can easily dress up any room and add a touch of class.

It was once difficult and expensive to find silk bedding, but these days there are so many more brands offering silk objects of desire at increasingly affordable prices that you too can enjoy them.

What is silk fibre?

Silk is recognised as a beautiful fabric around the world. Different types of silk have their own characteristics and they can be woven into particular fabrics to enhance those characteristics. Despite the variations in silk, this fabric is generally is desired for its beautiful lustre, sheen and strength.

Silk fabric is produced using silk thread, a natural fibre derived from the cocoons of the larvae of silkworms. The silk threads are fine but incredibly strong as they comprise primarily of a protein fibre called fibroin.

The process of rearing silkworms and producing silk is highly skilled and labour intensive, and this reflects its price.

The best-known and most sought-after silk is obtained from mulberry silkworms, Bombyx mori, which are grown in captivity, mainly in China.

Not only is silk beautiful in appearance and feel, it’s surprisingly strong and durable, when cared for correctly. You can read more about how to care for silk here

The story of silk

Silk has been prized around the world for thousands of years. It was discovered by the Chinese Empress Xi Ling-shi, wife of the Yellow Emperor, in the 27th century BC. Legend has it that she accidentally discovered that a cocoon could be unravelled and used to produce a thread when one dropped into her tea cup while sitting under the shade of a mulberry tree.

Silk remained confined to China until the Silk Road opened at some point during the latter half of the 1st  millennium BC. Silk production was a tightly held secret held by the Chinese for years and anyone who revealed how it was produced or took a silkworm cocoon out of the kingdom was under threat of death. Silk production brought wealth and prestige to China and it wasn’t going to reveal its secrets any time soon. As a result, China was able to maintain its virtual monopoly over silk production for another thousand years.

Silk cultivation reached Japan after 300 AD and the Byzantine Empire by 552 AD. The West began to unravel the secrets of the rare silkworm when Byzantine emperor Justinian sent two Nestorian monks to Central Asia to find and smuggle out silkworm eggs. The monks hid the eggs in hollow bamboo staves. The eggs later hatched into worms which spun their precious thread.

China today accounts for about 70% of all the silk produced in the world. It’s the leading producer of Mulberry silk at about 82% of global production, followed by India at about 15%. Twenty-two other countries produce the remaining 3%.

Understanding silk types

While we generally talk about silk and the benefits of silk for hair and skin, it’s important to understand that there are many different types of silk and they’re not all used for bedding.

Silk comes in many varieties, both in terms of the source of the silk thread and the weave of the fabric. And each one lends itself to certain uses more so than others.

When it comes to silk, both the type of silk thread used and the type of silk fabric woven are important to consider.

Mulberry silk is the predominant silk grown in the world and is produced by the hard-working larvae of the silkworm that toil to make a long thread that forms a cocoon that they enclose themselves in before transforming into moths.

The silk thread is then woven into a particular type of fabric. You’ve probably heard of silk charmeuse, silk jersey, silk organza, silk satin, silk shantung and silk taffeta. Each of these silk fabrics has its own distinguishing features. While silk satin is perfect for clothing and bedding, it won’t hold up to wear and tear in the way silk shantung will when used for drapes or upholstery. Likewise, silk taffeta is ideal for a structured dress and cushion covers, given it holds its shape well, it won’t have the right texture and feel for a pillowcase.

Silk charmeuse and silk satin are the preferred silk for silk pillowcases, duvet covers and sheets. It’s highly coveted for its long fibre, pure natural white colour, rich lustre and soft hand feel.

Choosing best silk pillowcase for hair and skin

When it comes to selecting best pillowcase for hair and skin you need to consider 10 key things:

  1. thread type
  2. fabric type
  3. momme or weight
  4. grading
  5. safety ie Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX
  6. manufacturing quality, including stitching
  7. enclosure type: envelope or zip
  8. colour choice
  9. brand reputation
  10. reviews

All of these will determine the quality of your silk pillowcase and your enjoyment of it.

Before buying a silk pillowcase, use the above checklist. Something that may appear to be cheaper to buy in the first instance may end up costing you more because it won’t deliver the same benefits and won’t last long, so you’ll be forking out more money in no time. Given the painstaking task of rearing silkworms, producing the thread and weaving it into fabric, quality silk is going to be expensive. If it’s cheap, then it isn’t pure silk or it’s a low grade of silk.

1. Thread type

Start by choosing the right silk. The most sought-after silk for a silk pillowcase is mulberry silk. This type of silk thread comes from the mulberry silkworm, which is raised to produce longer, rounder and smoother thread.

Mulberry silk contains 18 amino acids and doesn’t absorb moisture like cotton and linen do, so the hair and skin retain more of their moisture. This helps reduce hair frizz and dry skin, while also being exceptionally comfortable to sleep on. So hopefully this will mean less tangling and snagging of your hair while you sleep.

2. Fabric type

Find out what type of silk fabric you’re buying. Mulberry silk thread is often fashioned into silk satin or silk charmeuse, and both are gorgeous fabrics and perfect for a silk pillowcase and other bedding. These fabrics are very similar and are luxuriously soft, shimmery and drapey. They feel sensuous on the skin and, given their exceptionally smooth surface, they don’t cause friction, tugging or pulling of the hair or skin. This reduces ruffled hair and sleep creases.

3, Momme

Silk is measured in momme, or weight, and this is an indicator of density and quality. It describes the weight for silk that is 100 yards long and 45 inches wide. One hundred yards of silk at 22 momme therefore would weigh 22 pounds. The higher the momme, the denser the weave and the more silk thread is needed to make the fabric.

Because of this, the price of silk goes up in price to reflect this. A momme of 22-25 is ideal for a silk pillowcase – silky soft and smooth but also strong enough to resist wear and washing. A lighter momme will mean the silk is too lightweight and more prone to damage and wear and tear. If you go for too high a momme, the silk will feel thicker and more textured, and maybe not as dreamy as you’d like. And you’ll be paying out a whole lot more.

4. Grading

Silk that comes from the mulberry silkworm comes in three grades: A, B and C. A is the highest grade and it has the longest threads and virtually no impurities. A grade is naturally white with a lovely sheen and doesn’t need to be dyed to make it look white. A grade silk is further classified as 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A, with 6A being of the highest quality. 6A grade can be up to 1.6km long, which also it to be woven flawlessly. Only 1-3% of mulberry silk meets the 6A grading standard.

Any brand using 100% Mulberry silk in 6A grade will want to call this out. If this information is not specified, expect the silk to be of a lower quality. Do your homework to make sure you get what you’ve paid for.


5. Safety

One of the attractions of a silk pillowcase is that they’re hypoallergenic. But that’s not much value if your silk fabric has been made using toxic dyes and allergenic chemicals. Look to see whether the silk pillowcase you’re looking to buy specifies a standard such as Standard 100 OEKO-TEX®. This is one of the world’s best-known labels for the testing of harmful substances in textiles. It provides a level of comfort that the most stringent standards have been met to ensure your safety.

5. Manufacturing quality

If you’re going to be investing in a silk pillowcase for hair and skin, then you’re also going to look good and wear well. The quality of manufacture is also important when selecting the best silk pillowcase for hair and skin. Cheap silk pillowcases are often poorly made. They may be out of square, have uneven stitching and use poor quality zips that break. You may also find that the colour fades very quickly and they start to look shaded and old.

6. Enclosure type

Enclosure is a matter of personal preference, but it also will be affected by the type of pillow you have to some extent. Some people prefer a zipper because the pillow doesn’t move around as much and doesn’t need much adjustment when making the bed. The offset is that zippers can sometimes cause damage to the silk when washed in a washing machine.

7. Colour choice

If you have allergies or are concerned about the environment, then a natural white mulberry silk 6A grade pillowcase may be the best option for you. The silk fabric doesn’t have to go through the same level of processing and doesn’t need to be dyed. However if you want a pillowcase that colour coordinates with your bedroom décor, then choose your favourite shade. Do keep in mind, though, that the darker the colour, the more colour loss you will experience over time. Using the correct washing detergent and not drying in direct sun will minimise this, but it’s inevitable. Wash using a mild liquid detergent such as a wool wash and keep dry indoors or in shade.

8. Brand reputation

Not everyone plays by the rules and not everything that’s stated on the packaging reflects what’s really inside. Buy from a brand that values its reputation and takes pride in its products. If there is a problem with the pillowcase, you can be sure that they’ll take care of this for you.

Watch out for unscrupulous sellers from overseas who don’t have to meet the provisions of Australian law and make false claims for their silk. They will pass off an inferior products for a superior price.

Remember that quality silk is expensive to produce. If it’s super cheap, it’s not going to be quality silk or maybe not silk at all. Don’t expect French champagne for the price of a beer.

9. Reviews

It’s buyer beware when buying a silk pillowcase. Some companies mass buy cheap silk pillowcases from China and mass sell them on third-party sites. Many less-than-scrupulous sellers try to confuse buyers by leading them to believe that their polyester satin is silk satin. They refer to their synthetic fabric as silky satin, premium satin, vegan silk or sometimes even, falsely, silk. Silk is expensive. Synthetic satin is cheap and is nothing like silk satin, yet these sellers makes claims for their fabric that really only apply to silk. Synthetic satin is static, doesn’t absorb moisture well, is hot and feels much coarser than silk. Don’t expect 100% 5-star reviews. You’ll always find someone who complains, sometimes about nothing. Instead look for overwhelmingly positive reviews.

Other types of silk pillowcases

What about other types of special-purpose silk and non-silk pillowcases?

Silver silk pillowcases

There are silk pillowcases on the market that use science to enhance the existing special characteristics of silk. These types of pillowcases are made from silk fabric that’s been infused with silver for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory and are marketed as reducing acne. This technological treatment of the fabric makes these pillowcases a little more expensive than regular silk ones.

Copper silk pillowcases

There are copper pillowcases available that are marketed as satiny and silky, however they’re neither. Don’t be misled. These are made using a technical synthetic fabric that doesn’t have the look, feel or other natural characteristics of silk. They do have antimicrobial and anti-ageing benefits, but they w on’t provide the luxurious enjoyment that silk provides. There really is nothing quite like silk.

Vegan silk pillowcases

There are also pillowcases available that are made from bamboo or eucalyptus fibre that are described as vegan silk. These make a great choice for those who don’t want to buy a product that has been derived from the silkworm. They are smoother and softer than cotton, and may even have a sheen. Bamboo and eucalyptus pillowcases have their own  characteristics and benefits too, however they’re not silk.

Caring for your silk pillowcases

As with all things precious, a little care goes a long way. Make sure you correctly look after your silk pillowcase so that you can preserve the unique characteristics of silk as long as possible and enjoy smoother hair and more hydrated skin.

You can refer to my other blog article How to Wash Silk Pillowcases for more detailed instructions on how to best care for your silk pillowcases.

Now you have all the information you need to find the best silk pillowcase. I hope you experience many wonderful nights of sleep on your silk pillowcase and that your hair and skin thank you for it.

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Yours truly in better skin


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