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We know that a good night’s sleep can make us look and feel rejuvenated, but can a pillowcase swap be the secret to waking up with clearer, smoother skin and lustrous locks?
Word on the Insta is that silk or copper pillowcases are the latest must-have beauty tool. We tucked into the research, plus asked the experts whether slumbering on certain fabrics will make a difference in our skin or tresses.
The slick texture of silk may be better for your skin, especially if you battle acne.
Although more research needs to be done to confirm the benefits, a recent clinical trial showed a reduction in pimples for people who snoozed on “silk-like” pillowcases when compared to those who slept on cotton covers.
“These pillowcases can be a beneficial addition to other acne treatments,” says Yoram Harth, a board-certified dermatologist, and the medical director of MDacne.
Why? Silk may present a kinder and cleaner surface for cradling your cheek. “Silk pillowcases are gentler on the skin of people with acne or sensitive skin than rough cotton pillowcases,” Harth explains. The friction from cotton on pimple-prone skin can create more inflammation, making acne worse.
Cotton also sops up the natural oil and bacteria from your face and hair, and that grime accumulates on your case night after night, creating a petri dish out of your pillow.
“Silk pillowcases absorb less of the moisture and dirt and thus may be a better choice for people with acne,” Harth says. “This is especially true for people who sleep on their sides or stomach.”
The other claim of silky pillow covers is that they’re milder on your mane. While there’s no scientific evidence of this, the same logic that Harth explains regarding silk on skin may also apply to silk on strands.
Silk’s frictionless surface might mitigate damage, and it may prolong the sleek look of a blowout or prevent snarls.
If you’re susceptible to dry hair, a silk case may also leech less moisture.
Quick buying tips
When purchasing silk pillowcases, be sure to double check the reviews. Some companies may bypass the filter by using terms like “silk-like” to get on your radar but not actually provide real silk, or high-quality materials.
Copper pillow slips have copper oxide particles embedded in fabrics like polyester or nylon, and the science behind these cases is pretty sound. Research shows that using a copper pillowcase has antimicrobial and healing benefits for breakouts and may reduce and prevent fine lines and wrinkles.
“Copper is naturally antimicrobial,” says Susan Bard, MD, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist. “In this case, the copper may help keep bacterial counts low, and users prone to acne have reported improvement with copper pillow use.”
Where to buy copper pillowcases
Although copper pillowcases are relatively new on the market in terms of acne prevention and treatment, the use of copper in textiles isn’t new. Copper has been infused in hospital linens, scrubs, and other medical fabrics to prevent the growth and spread of bacteria.
Copper also has the power to restore damaged tissue. Copper has been placed in bandages for wound treatment and in socks to cure athlete’s foot or to prevent or heal foot sores on people who have diabetes.
A copper pillowcase, therefore, could reduce skin inflammation or speed the repair of acne flare-ups.
The healing and skin-boosting benefits of copper can also help banish wrinkles. “Copper is a vital cofactor necessary in collagen synthesis,” Bard explains. “Increased collagen production leads to improvement in fine lines and wrinkles.”
In a 2012 randomized clinical study, participants who slept on a copper pillowcase saw an average 9 percent reduction in their crow’s feet per month over 8 weeks. Participants not sleeping on the copper cases saw no wrinkle reduction.
If you’re thinking about making a switch, you’ll get more bang for your buck with the science-backed benefits of copper. Plus, copper-infused cases are typically made with fabrics like polyester or nylon.
Although not actually silk, a copper pillowcase will be “silk-like” in terms of creating less friction for your hair and face and reducing oil absorption.
But Bard has one last tip for the crinkle conscious. She says, “Best to avoid sleeping on your face at all.”
Jennifer Chesak is a Nashville-based freelance book editor and writing instructor. She’s also an adventure, fitness, and health writer for several national publications. She earned her Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill and is working on her first fiction novel, set in her native state of North Dakota.