What are Pillowcases Made Of?

When it comes to bed linens, cotton seems to be king. Stores are bursting with percale and Egyptian cotton sheet sets. Buyers from fine bedding and linens stores told the New York Times that shoppers should look for fabrics with higher thread counts to protect skin from the pillow’s filling material and to discourage deterioration of the pillow’s feathers, fibers or foam. But which pillowcases are best suited to soothe your skin as you snooze?

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Beauty Rest?

According to the Wall Street Journal, the answer is silk. They cite dermatologist Francesca Fusco, explaining that silk is so smooth, it helps you avoid crease marks on your face. The hypoallergenic material doesn’t cause irritation, nor does it wick moisture away from your face. Even better, your hair will glide over a silk pillowcase (rather than stick due to the friction of cotton), and you’ll wake up without knots or tangles.

The downside to silk is that it’s expensive, delicate, and requires hand-washing. Its more durable cousin, satin, can be machine washed and offers many of the same benefits of a smooth surface for hair and skin. Satin and silk are so beneficial for hair, particularly curly hair, that celebrity stylist Jen Atkin told Cosmopolitan shoppers should consider a silk scarf to wrap their hair at night if they can’t bear to part with a cotton pillowcase.

But the consensus seems to be that sleeping on silk is one of life’s finer luxuries. The material is, well, silky smooth. Buttery bedding, glowing skin, and fabulous hair–what could be better?

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Copper Toned Skin

The New York Times reported an interesting study on nanotechnology’s role in pillowcases. Textile companies infuse tiny particles of copper into pillowcases that promise to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, crow’s feet, and fine lines as well as combatting bacteria and fungi. New York City based plastic surgeon Dr. Yael Halaas was impressed with the copper cases’ ability to control acne.

She was interested in copper-infused sheets as well, saying they would be “great for back acne.” Halaas was intrigued by a study that found “a statistically significant cosmetic effect” from using the copper-infused pillowcases for a month. While she didn’t think the linens would ever replace plastic surgery, she says they might compete with facial creams in terms of effectiveness. Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner told Allure that “copper is an essential cofactor needed for skin health.” He explains that our cells use copper to produce collagen and elastin, as well as hyaluronic acid–the substance that plumps skin and leaves our faces looking fresh.

Copper isn’t the only metal to meet the mattress. Silver pillowcases make many of the same claims. Zeichner agrees that since silver is “anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and has wound-healing properties,” it makes sense that the pillowcases would be good for your skin. Since we spend so much time in our beds, our pillowcases tend to build up a layer of gunk and critters. Silver is thought to ward off bacteria and help with skin health. As a bonus? These heavy metal covers are durable, so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth through multiple washes.

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Proper Care for Better Rest

Regardless of which fabric you choose, it’s important to wash your pillowcase regularly. Dermatologist Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, urges us to launder pillowcases at least weekly. Even if we’re going to bed with clean skin and freshly washed hair, she says, “your face is not the only thing coming into contact with your pillowcase.”

If you’ve just been tossing your linens in with your towels each week, think again. Professional cleaning service Merry Maids say, “That’s a major faux pas because towels have a nasty habit of producing lint, which can stick to your sheets.” The Merry Maids suggest washing the linens on their own, with a gentle detergent and to use warm water instead of hot.

While you’re taking care of your cases, don’t forget to think about the pillows they cover. Martha Stewart recommends zipping pillows into a pillow protector to “keep allergens at bay while shielding pillows from hair and body oils, which can soak into the filling.” Stewart prefers down pillows, which she says can last over 10 years, making them well worth the investment. Martha reminds us we spend a third of our lives in bed, “so why not make it the cleanest, loveliest, and most comfortable spot in your home?” If you choose materials that help your skin and hair look more youthful to boot? Even better.