When it comes to fabric, it's obvious that some just shine above the rest. We've come to think of silk as one of those top-tier materials — it's elegant, sophisticated and above all, one of the faces of luxury. But while silk can sure make a statement in the fashion world, it's also one to keep an eye on to improve hair and skin routines.
You may have noticed the textile's rising popularity for pillowcases, overall bedding and even hair accessories, but there's more to these silky products than how trendy they look. According to experts, silk can have a major impact on the health and protection of your skin and hair, from avoiding fine lines to reducing breakage. So, we tapped a top hairstylist and board-certified dermatologist to give us the scoop on the material and what it can do for our complexions and 'dos.
Plus, we also rounded up some budget-friendly finds to help you hop on the luxury trend, without breaking the bank.
Are silk pillowcases actually good for hair?
The beauty connection between silk and hair is stronger than you may think. Shop TODAY spoke with stylist Nunzio Saviano to get his take on just how important the material can be to protect hair. (And as he's a 20-year veteran in the hair styling game, we suggest listening up.)
The first thing that most likely comes to mind when discussing silk is usually the hot topic of bedding. Many beauty experts are pro silk pillowcases in particular, and Saviano is no different, confirming that the material is the best choice to sleep on due to the lack of friction it has on your strands. "I do [recommend silk] because [the hair] slides, and it doesn't cause friction to the hair. So, when we talk about hair, we’re really talking about the cuticle. When [your pillowcase] causes friction, it ruins the cuticle, so it damages the hair even more," says Saviano.
Saviano also stresses that silk can be especially beneficial to dry or over-processed hair. He says that sleeping on an average cotton pillowcase or other non-silk materials can cause even more damage. In fact, the stylist states that the material can help you avoid hair breakage altogether.
Can't I just use a satin pillowcase?
When asked about the popular alternative, Saviano vehemently dismissed it. According to him, the material first started becoming a hot recommendation about 30 to 40 years ago, only because it was a better option than cotton. ("It was horrible," he says.) But when silk came around, it changed the hair care game due to its more natural properties. "Silk is a natural fiber and satin isn’t, so silk is more breathable and it will keep you cool while sleeping. While the fabrics are essentially the same when reducing friction, I think silk is the best choice. Natural is always better."
Hair types that benefit from silk accessories
Long story short: All of them. But Saviano says the material is basically imperative for all his curly-haired clients, saying it's essential for preventing frizz and tangles. "With curly hair, [silk] makes the hair look less frizzy and it doesn't get matted. It's really hard to get rid of [those] knots. So, for curly hair, it’s a must."
But all hair types can experience improvements with the help of silk, from pillowcases to accessories. One product Saviano suggests is a silk scarf. Not only does it help with friction, but the material won't make you sweat as much as, say, a warmer cotton material. "If you tend to perspire or are going through night sweats, then I say silk will definitely make your blow-out last longer."
Banana Republic Signature Silk Scarf
Whether you use this as a bedtime hair wrap or as chic accessory around the neck, this silk scarf will add a touch of luxury day or night. The 100 percent silk style comes in a variety if chic styles, but a few are on sale for 60% off.
LilySilk 100% Mulberry Silk Hair Scrunchies
Keep hair pulls and tears to a minimum with a silk scrunchie that will both take care of your hair and keep it out of your face. The affordable accessory comes in several colors and multi-packs.
Grace Eleyae All Silk Turban
According to the brand, this turban offers "heavyweight protection" with a "lightweight feel." Use it to lock in your hair's natural oils and prevent your tresses from becoming a frizzy mess after a good night's sleep.
Damiano Collection Raw Silk Hair Towel
Tying up your wet hair in a cotton towel can do more damage to your hair than you think. A silk version can help prevent all that breakage, and according to Damiano Collection, this brand's style can even increase shine.
Slip Pure Silk Glam Band
Avoid the potential damage of a hair tie by trying one of these pure silk bands. Use it while performing your skin care routine or while getting glam to keep your hair out of your face and protected at the same time.
How silk can improve your skin care routine
If you have a 12-step skin care routine or spend a pretty penny on your favorite serums or creams, silk can help keep these formulas on your face and not on your sheets, according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Samer Jaber.
"[Silk] is less absorbent. Nowadays, there are always new skin and beauty fads. Slugging is one that's really popular where you use Vaseline or Aquaphor at the end of your skin routine to really moisturize your skin and get that ‘glassy skin' look. So, when you put on Vaseline or Aquaphor and then use a cotton pillowcase, the cotton is definitely going to absorb more of whatever serums, moisturizers or retinols you put on your skin. I think if you do use a lot of products then using a silk pillowcase over a cotton pillowcase can be helpful," he says. Because of the material's lack of absorbency, Dr. Jaber adds that silk bedding can also benefit those with dryer skin types.
And if you're a side or face-down sleeper (who sometimes wakes up to those sleep wrinkles or lines), your choice of bedding can also make a difference in protecting your skin. "The other thing with silk pillowcases is there is less friction than cotton; it kind of slides off the skin," says Dr. Jaber. "It, theoretically, [causes] less friction on your skin. There's less tugging, so your skin can lay better and is less likely to get those deep-etch wrinkles." While there are no known studies on the topic, Dr. Jaber says it's worth a try to see if it makes an impact on your skin.
Can silk help heal or prevent acne?
While silk bedding can clearly offer quite a few skin benefits, Dr. Jaber touches on some silk myths some beauty lovers should be made aware of. "It’s not really clear to me that silk makes a big difference with acne. I think what's more important with acne is that you regularly wash your pillowcase; that you're not going to the gym and getting all hot and sweaty and then going to sleep [on your pillowcase]; that you're washing your face and not letting your pillowcase get really sweaty and icky and full of bacteria," he says.
The benefits of silk fashion
According to Dr. Jaber, if you can afford or are willing to spend the money on silk, the material is a good choice for those with sensitive skin. "It is a hypoallergenic material, so it's definitely going to be less irritating than spandex or polyester synthetic. So, absolutely, I think if you are prone to irritated skin, you can try it and see."
But that's not to say you should consider a total wardrobe refresh. The dermatologist — who admits that he prefers sleeping in fleece pants and a cotton shirt, rather than silk pajamas — says to stick with what works for you. "I think there are lots of 100 percent cotton products out there for your body that you can use."
And while Saviano might have a no-no rule towards satin, Dr. Jaber doesn't quite feel the same when it comes to your skin. "For a lot of people, satin is really effective. Obviously silk is going to be the nicest and most luxurious, but there's certainly no harm in trying satin first to see if it works for you." In terms of skin care, he says that satin has the same properties as silk.
Brooklinen Mulberry Silk Pillowcase
You heard Dr. Jaber — breathability is key! Do your face a favor and invest in a luxurious silk pillowcase to give your skin a little boost. Plus, the brand is taking an extra 20% off to celebrate Sleep Week — no code required.
Casaluna Solid Silk Eye Mask
When you commit to having something on your face all night long, you want to make sure it's good for you skin. This eye mask is made from 100 percent silk is said to feel soft on the skin and features an elastic that won't tug on your hair.
Hudson Park Collection Supima Cotton & Silk Flat Sheet
These cotton-silk blend sheets are available in four different neutral tones — all of which are machine-washable and 30% off right now.
Silk Silky Pure Silk Pajama Set
Who says you can't dress to impress while you sleep? You'll not only love the look of this two-piece set (hello, lapel neckline and chic trim!), but you'll likely be tempted to keep these PJs on all day after feeling the comfortable silk material.
Quince Washable Silk Skirt
A silk skirt is a wardrobe staple year-round, but is especially trendy for the upcoming spring season. Pair this midi option with your favorite sweater and booties until the sunnier weather comes around — then pull out the short-sleeve blouses and sandals. This versatile piece truly goes with anything.
Everlane The Clean Silk Relaxed Shirt
If you want to be the talk of the office (and get tons of "Where'd you get that's" from co-workers), this loose-fitting button-down with a glossy silk finish will grant your wish.
Meet our Experts
- Nunzio Saviano is one of New York's top hairstylists and owner of Nunzio Saviano Salon in New York City.
- Dr. Samer Jaber is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Washington Square Dermatology in New York City.