Do Beauty Pillows and Pillowcases Actually Work?

An overnight solution to skin-care problems like acne or wrinkles often seems like a dream. But some beauty companies offer ways to improve your skin while you sleep, not with creams or serums, but with the right pillowcases. Since 2004, Slip has sold silk pillowcases and sleep masks purported to reduce fine lines by eliminating the friction between your face and your pillowcase.

On the acne front, laser skin spa Skin Laundry offers a pillowcase with silver ion technology to kill acne-causing bacteria, and the Déjà pillowcase has eight fold-over layers you peel every night for a fresh surface free of oils and residue each time you sleep. These sound promising, but do they really work? To find out, we asked five dermatologists and one aesthetician if there’s any truth behind these claims.

Pillowcases for wrinkles

Calvin Klein Cotton Sateen 300 Thread Count Basketweave Queen Sheet Set

Patricia Wexler of Wexler Dermatology acknowledges that while there’s been no scientific studies showing the benefits of silk or satin sheets, “anyone who has used silk pillowcases knows your skin feels smooth in the morning. You wake up with fresher-looking hair and skin, and you get a better night’s sleep.” Since lack of sleep can lead to wrinkle-causing stress, it makes sense that using the pillowcase you find most comfortable is good for the skin. Wexler says she’s used Calvin Klein sateen sheets for years and loves how they leave her skin feeling cooler and more moisturized than standard cotton. “Cotton can draw in moisture away from the face, so if you think of someone putting nighttime moisturizer on the face, cotton will absorb that moisture and can dry the face out or be irritating to the skin,” she says.

Pillowcases for acne

Skin Laundry SleepCycle Pillowcase with Silver Ion Technology

Anti-acne pillowcases, with silver or copper threads woven in, theoretically work by using those metals’ natural antimicrobial properties to kill off the bacteria that causes acne. It’s the same reasoning behind athletic wear using silver to block odor, but dermatologists are torn on the issue. “I’m really not convinced that the copper or silver threaded pillows are any more antibacterial than a regular pillowcase washed more frequently,” says Tzu. “The scientist in me says, ‘Where’s the data?’” Doris Day of Day Dermatology & Aesthetics says these pillowcases are “theoretically great ideas,” but they aren’t subject to the same rigorous scientific testing as skin-care drugs or devices.

On the other hand, Wexler says that “anything that’s on your pillowcase gets on your skin. If you have antibacterial properties on your pillow, it’ll get on your skin.” As silver inhibits bacterial growth and is used to cauterize wounds, she says it’s possible pillows with silver could have the same effect on your skin. Since it’s also hypoallergenic, it probably won’t hurt to try out Skin Laundry’s SleepCycle silver pillow.

The best pillows for wrinkles and acne

Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

Since a firm pillow can be more abrasive against the skin, Wexler says the type of pillow you use is even more important than your pillowcase. She recommends pillows made with bamboo and foam because “they conform to your face, so they don’t crease or tug your face.” She also says that “bamboo contains certain vitamins and minerals that make it much healthier for your skin” than other types of pillows.

Detergent for pillowcases

Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent, Free and Clear Unscented, 2-Pack

Another gentle detergent, Seventh Generation Free and Clear is Wexler’s pick for avoiding skin irritation. She also says that a detergent with stronger chemicals can prematurely wash away any of the beneficial properties of your pillowcases, whether that’s natural proteins in silk or silver ions in an acne-fighting pillow.

NYMag.com/The Strategist August 2018

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