Growing up, I was one of many little Black girls who could not keep a bonnet or headscarf on at night. I’d fall asleep with my hair wrapped in satin to protect it from the friction of tossing and turning on my pillow and just to wake up with the wrap halfway across the bed and my hair a mess. So my hairdresser suggested sleeping on a satin pillowcase to pick up the slack when my hair cover clocked out for the night. And I’ve done so ever since—that is, until a silk pillowcase landed on my desk.
When choosing whether to get satin or silk pillowcases, budget is a huge thing to consider. Satin pillowcases, usually made of polyester satin, arose as a more affordable alternative to silk. You can snag a two-pack of polyester satin pillowcases for $10, while a high-quality silk pillowcase can start around $60 and run up into the hundreds. While polyester satin is a human-made fiber, silk is a natural fiber spun by silkworms. Both serve as great alternatives to cotton pillowcases for better hair and skin health.
Cotton is rougher and more absorbent than silk and satin, meaning it can dry out your hair, says Marnie Nussbaum, MD, a New York City dermatologist.
“Silk allows the hair to move easily over the pillowcase without friction, thereby keeping its style in place,” says Nussbaum. “It also allows the hair to keep its natural oils and prevents frizz and dehydration.”
When comparing polyester satin to silk, I immediately noticed the differences. For one, satin is much shinier than silk. While silk has a subtle luster, satin is straight-up glossy—especially in comparison to my Tencel sheets. Both feel incredibly smooth, but the satin feels slippery while the silk feels buttery soft.
Though satin 100 percent gets the job done and has served me well over the past few decades, silk feels otherworldly. When hugging your silk pillow at night, it’s so soft and inviting it’s almost like it’s hugging you back.
This silk pillowcase from Ethical Kind, a socially conscious luxury sleepwear brand that prioritizes good business practices. This pillow (and all of Ethical Kind’s silk) is made from 100 percent organic peace silk, also known as Ahimsa silk or non-violent silk, meaning that the silk was produced without harming or killing the silkworms. The type of silk this pillow uses is mulberry, meaning it’s spun from worms that exclusively eat mulberry leaves. It’s spun from the cocoons of Bombyx mori silkworms that are raised mostly indoors in cottages, the brand explains. The fibers are farmed sustainably and are free of pesticides, dyes, and bleaches. They are woven by small community groups working in India.
If you’re looking to upgrade your pillowcase and find it within your means to splurge on a silk one, I’m here to tell you it’s beyond worth it.
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