If you’ve had your ear to the ground, you’ve probably heard lore that silk pillowcases are game-changers for your hair and skin. But for those struggling with acne (I’m with you!), the conversation is a little more nuanced than that. So I set out to try eight of the most popular pillowcases for acne-prone skin in a range of fabrics and price points. After 700 hours of testing, I have some thoughts. But before I tested any of the pillowcases on this list, I asked a dermatologist for her advice.
How often should you wash your pillowcases?
According to board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Liv Kraemer, MD, PhD, and founder of
Dr. Liv Skin Clinic, “It’s essential to swap out your pillowcases every two to four days (or sooner if you get into bed dirty or sweaty).” For this reason, “I always recommend 100% cotton. It’s affordable so you can have an extensive collection of pillowcases and, most importantly, it’s easy to wash. Cotton is an excellent material because you can wash it with regular laundry detergent and at a high temperature, ensuring you are eliminating bacteria.” Are silk pillowcases good for acne-prone skin?
While anecdotally, there is a lot of support for the
benefits of silk pillowcases, the most important factor you should consider when choosing a pillowcase for acne-prone skin is how easily it can be washed and changed out. Machine-washable pillowcases are really the best choice for those with acne-prone skin, and that restriction will largely dictate which fabric you choose.
In fact, Kraemer says, “There seems to be a big hype around silk pillowcases at the moment — but I am not a fan. Silk is expensive and challenging to wash. Plus, dry cleaning or hand-washing is not a good way to sterilize bedding.” And, one last tip from Kraemer? “Always buy white pillowcases. This makes it easier to see when it is starting to get dirty.”
So, which pillowcases should you buy for acne-prone skin?
I tested eight of the internet’s most popular pillowcases (many designed specifically with acne-prone skin in mind), in a range of fabrics, like cotton, silk, and satin. I tested them for over 700 hours, and put each pillowcase through a diligent washing and drying process to see exactly how difficult they are to clean. Ultimately, the best pillowcase for acne-prone skin will be the one that you are most likely to wash, dry, and change out frequently, so keep this in mind as you read. But, without further ado, here are eight of the best pillowcases for acne-prone skin.
Pro tip: I ordered these from best to worst. 1. The Best Cotton Pillowcase For Acne What you need to know: Not only is this 100% cotton pillowcase in alignment with Dr. Kraemer’s advice, but it’s cheap, easy to clean, and gets the job done. It’s made in an OEKO-Tex-certified factory so the fabric is in compliance with environmental and safety standards. It has a thread count of 400 (which is the point where many experts think thread count plateaus in quality). The big difference between this one and the other cotton pillowcase on this list is that it’s available in more sizes and colors, and this one did not have a chemical smell when it arrived, which was not true of the other cotton pillowcase on this list. Testing notes: There were some loose threads on this pillowcase, but they were small and on the interior of the case, so they did not affect the use of the pillowcase or get worse with washing. This feels pretty similar to many pillowcases I’ve used in my life, and it was really easy to wash. Washing experience: Machine washable in warm water, gentle cycle, non-chlorine bleach, tumble dry low Cons: This is definitely a very standard pillowcase that does not feel as luxurious as others on this list. Number of sizes/colors: 3 sizes, 19 color 2. The Best Satin Pillowcase For Acne What you need to know: These satin pillowcases are machine washable and come in a set of two for a super affordable price. This means that they’re incredibly easy to wash and because you can stock up on a lot, you can change them out regularly. I won’t lie and say that they’re comparable to silk, silk has a much softer, thicker, and more luxurious feel when compared to satin. But, having something easy to change out and clean should be your top priority, and these are perfect for that — plus there’s no sticker shock. Testing notes: These satin pillowcases have a similar look to the silk pillowcases, but you can definitely tell the difference up close. They are a lot thinner and feel cheaper when compared to silk ones, but I did prefer the sleep experience when compared to the standard cotton pillowcases. Washing experience: Machine washable, warm, tumble dry low Cons: This isn’t the most luxurious feeling pillowcase on this list. Number of sizes/colors: 4 sizes, 21 colors 3. The Best Silk Pillowcase For Acne What you need to know: Factoring in the experience of sleeping on the pillowcase, how easy it is to care for, and the price, this silk pillowcase was my favorite. It feels nearly as luxurious as the most expensive pillowcases on this list, and has the significant benefit of being entirely machine washable, and safe for your dryer. The next closest silk pillowcases I tested in price both were harder to launder than this one, so this is a really nice benefit for a pillowcase at this price point. It has a momme weight of 25 mommes, which means this is a more durable and thicker silk than silk pillowcases with a lower momme weight. Testing notes: I loved the experience of sleeping on this pillowcase, and the fabric felt super luxurious. It was one of the few silk pillowcases I tried that felt worth its price. I slept on this for a week, alternating between this and a lower momme silk pillowcase on this list, and I definitely preferred this one. Washing experience: Machine washable, cold, gentle cycle, with delicate detergent, tumble dry low Cons: The price. Number of sizes/colors: 3 sizes, 11 colors Satin vs. Silk Pillowcases This side-by-side image of the Bedsure satin pillowcases (left) and the Slip silk pillowcase (right) does show some of the aesthetic differences. The satin pillowcases look shinier and feel thinner on your pillowcase. But, they do have a similar overall look to the silk pillowcases, especially compared to cotton. Amy Biggart 4. Also, Great – Another 100% Cotton Pillowcase What you need to know: This is a pretty similar cotton pillowcase to the one above on this list, but it had a few very minor drawbacks compared to the other one. It doesn’t come in as many size options and, given that it also came with a chemical smell that was a bit off-putting, I just don’t know why you’d buy this one as opposed to the one above. It doesn’t come in as many colors (though again, for acne-prone skin, white is the way to go). Testing notes: These pillowcases had some loose threads, but again they were more aesthetic issues than structural. They also had a chemical smell when they arrived which did go away with washing. Washing experience: Machine washable, no bleach, tumble dry low Cons: This arrived with a chemical smell. Number of sizes/colors: 2 sizes, 7 colors 5. A Middle-Of-The-Road Silk Pillowcase What you need to know: This is good value for a silk pillowcase, and is comparable (if a little lower in quality) to the Fishers Finery pillowcase at the top of this list. But while this is machine washable, it must hang dry, which is an added step that makes this slightly harder to care for. Given how often you’ll be cleaning this pillowcase (at least once a week), I’d recommend spending the extra $10 on the Fishers Finery pillowcase so you can save yourself some time while laundering it. But, if you’re no stranger to hang-drying clothes, and are fine waiting for it to air dry, you could save some upfront cost with this pick compared to the silk pillowcase above. It also has a zipper, which might be a big pro depending on your needs. This pillowcase has a weight of 25 mommes, which means it’s a thicker, more durable silk, which is especially great considering the price. Testing notes: There are some nice features to this pillowcase for the price, including the zipper. It didn’t feel quite as nice to me as the Fishers Finery pillowcase, which was surprising since they are the same momme weight. Washing experience: Machine washable, cold, gentle cycle, with delicate detergent, hang dry Cons: This has to be hung to dry. Number of sizes/colors: 3 sizes, 28 colors 6. More Work To Clean & A Splurge What you need to know: This is an extremely expensive pillowcase, and while it felt the softest and most luxurious of the silk ones I tested, I find it hard to justify the $89 price tag. And, because it’s not safe for your dryer, you’ll have to hang dry this. This makes it more difficult to clean, marginally, and given the cost, it doesn’t feel like the best purchase here. But, if you’re fine with hang-drying it, and willing to spend the money, this offers the best sleep experience of any pillowcase on this list. This pillowcase has a weight of 22 mommes and comes with a zipper, which is a big plus. Testing notes: I loved sleeping on this pillowcase. I could tell it was intentionally designed to feel really luxurious, and the zipper on the side meant that my pillow stayed securely inside it at all times. If I could better justify the price and the difficulty in washing this, I’d have moved it higher on this list. Washing experience: Machine washable, cold, gentle cycle, with delicate detergent, hang dry Cons: The price, and the fact that it must be hung to dry. Number of sizes/colors: 2 sizes, 13 colors Cotton vs. Silk. vs. Satin Pillowcases The California Design Den 100% cotton pillowcase (left) side by side with the Nest silk pillowcase (center), side by side with the Bedsure satin pillowcase (right). The Bedsure pillowcases has the most sheen to it, and the cotton pillowcases looks like many standard pillowcases you’ve probably encountered. The silk in the middle has a softer look to it, compared to the satin. Amy Biggart 7. Good Value, But Must Be Hand Washed What you need to know: If you’re willing to hand wash this pillowcase regularly, this is great value and feels nice. There are nicer silk pillowcases on this list and silk pillowcases that are easier to clean. But this is the best price for a silk pillowcase, and comes with its own silk eye mask, so you’re getting value with your purchase. This pillowcase is 22 mommes in thickness, squarely in the middle in terms of pillowcases on this list. Testing notes: This felt noticeably thinner than the Fishers Finery pillowcase, though similar weight to the Nest silk pillowcase below it. I found the task of hand washing this to be daunting and definitely would equal me cleaning it less often. But this is largely a personal decision. Washing experience: Hand wash only Cons: This pillowcase is not machine washable. Number of sizes/colors: 3 sizes, 3 colors 8. Machine Washable, But Thin For The Price What you need to know: This is a solid pillowcase and is machine washable and can go in your dryer. It didn’t feel quite as nice as my favorite silk pillowcase on this list, probably because it is a thinner silk (19 mommes versus 25 mommes), and it’s also more expensive. However, it is machine washable which was a huge perk of this pillowcase. For that reason, I still include it. It’s easy to care for, it feels nice, the only drawback is that there’s better value elsewhere on this list. Testing notes: This slept really well, but I definitely noticed how thin the silk was compared to other pillowcases. If it was cheaper, this wouldn’t have bothered me, but given the price it didn’t feel like the best silk pillowcase for most people. It arrived in great condition and was one of the easier silk pillowcases to wash. Washing experience: Machine washable, cold, gentle cycle, with delicate detergent, tumble dry low Cons: This is expensive for what it is. Number of sizes/colors: 2 sizes, 2 colors You May Also Want: An Antibacterial Pillow Mist With Tea Tree Oil & Lavender
While there's no substitute for regularly washing your pillowcase,
this antibacterial spray will help keep your pillows from collecting bacteria and dirt in between washes. Scented with lavender, this pillow mist is also formulated with tea tree oil, a fantastic acne-fighting ingredient. Simply spray a few spritzes of this solution on your pillow and you're good to go. Reviewers rave about how this solution has helped them, with many people with unwanted blemishes or cystic acne reporting that it's been a game-changer for their skin. How I tested these silk pillowcases:
I slept on these pillowcases for more than 700 hours, and as I experienced each one I made careful notes of what I thought of the pillowcases. I considered a few important factors when evaluating these pillowcases, some obvious and some less so. First, I rated each pillowcase in regards to how the fabric feels, which factored in how each pillowcase fared overnight and over the course of the time I slept on them. This is reflected in a sleep experience score. I gave a score for each pillowcase based on how easy it was to launder, which is particularly important for anyone struggling with acne-prone skin. Lastly, I scored each pillowcase on value. This is a reflection on how much value you’re getting with each purchase, as it compares to other pillowcases made of the same fabric, and the overall quality of the pillowcase. The cumulative scores dictated the order you see of these pillowcases above.
I kept my eye out for any imperfections in the products, as well as some aesthetic features that might factor into your purchase decision. I noted whether they had zippers, if there were any loose threads on the design, as well as the size and color options they are available in.
I also pored over Amazon reviews to look through customers’ most common complaints about specific pillowcases, and evaluated whether or not that bore true in my experience.
Expert: Dr. Liv Kraemer, MD, PhD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Liv Skin Clinic
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This article was originally published on
June 8, 2019