Have you ever woken up with unruly, knotted hair? Or go to sleep with gorgeous, shiny, bouncy curls, only to be disappointed in the morning with frizz and zero volume? If you’re trying to maintain your twist, preserve your blowout, or avoid split ends, one of the easiest steps you can take is to replace your cotton or linen pillowcase with a silk alternative. or satin. “Silk or satin pillowcases will up your beauty game more than any traditional bedding material (ahem, cotton),” says Derrick Kieth, celebrity hairstylist and hairstylist at Hairstory.
And while satin and silk are both breathable, soft, hypoallergenic, and less absorbent than cotton, there’s one that’s more preferred for certain hair types (more on that later). No matter your hair type – straight, curly, wavy or frizzy – if you wake up with tangled hair or hair that lacks shine, switching to a silk or satin pillowcase could be life changing for your hair. But which is better: satin or silk? To gather more information on the benefits of both and which is the best option for your hair type, TZR spoke to four expert hairstylists to help narrow down your decision. Experts even recommend some of their favorite options to shop around.
Silk Vs. Satin Pillowcases
Silk, first developed in ancient China around 1100 BC. AD, is a “natural protein fiber produced by silkworms,” says Hairstory hairstylist Jennifer Covington-Bowers. It is a breathable fabric that allows circulation and prevents the trapping of oil and bacteria on the pillow, which is also beneficial for the skin and complexion. “Silk also doesn’t absorb oils and products from your skin and hair, so [it] won’t transfer any of this to your face, which can lead to breakouts,” adds Michelle O’Connor, Matrix Global Artistic Director. It also helps minimize friction between hair fibers which could potentially cause split ends, frizz, tangles and knots. “Satin and silk pillowcases lack friction and don’t rumble the cuticle, which means less chance of breakage,” continues Covington-Bowers.
Satin, on the other hand, is made from many materials like polyester, rayon and cotton, and “is technically a type of weave, rather than a type of fabric,” said Gretchen Friese, trichologist at BosleyMD, at TZR. The satin will move with the hair during sleep, reducing friction between the hair fiber and the pillowcase. “Like silk, satin is hypoallergenic, less absorbent, and breathable,” Friese continues, allowing your hair to retain more moisture while you sleep. Compared with a cotton pillowcase, natural oils are absorbed which can leave hair dry and brittle.
Is silk better than satin?
“Silk and satin are breathable, soft, hypoallergenic and less absorbent,” says O’Connor. Translation: they are both excellent for the health of your hair. Between silk and satin, the biggest difference is cost, with silk pillowcases costing between $30 and $90 and satin between $8 and $20. “Silk may be slightly better because it has a little more slip, but satin is a budget alternative that has similar benefits,” Covington-Bowers told TZR. Essentially, silk is more luxurious, which increases the price; while satin is often blended with other fabrics which makes it cheaper.
O’Connor also confirms that satin pillowcases are easier to clean because they’re made with synthetic materials and can be machine washed. “Silk pillowcases require specialized care (laundry bag and a specific delicate cycle) to maintain them,” says Alicia Bailey, hair expert and global education manager at Design Essentials. So if wash options are important to you, O’Connor suggests going for satin.
Does hair type play a role?
“Silk and satin reduce friction and provide a surface that allows hair to glide or move more easily over the material,” Bailey told TZR. “The ease of movement on the material helps prevent snags and breakage of hair strands for all hair types.”
Experts all suggest choosing the one that best suits your sleeping situation and hair texture. however, Keith thinks silk is better for curly, textured hair because it’s slightly smoother (which helps minimize breakage and frizz). “If you suffer from dry hair and scalp, go for silk,” he shares. “In addition to being hypoallergenic, Pure Silk is made from long, smooth silk fibers that are the strongest and softest in the world.” This makes silk ideal for anyone with sensitive skin or underlying scalp conditions like dryness, eczema and contact dermatitis.
And it’s not just curly textures — silk and satin are great for anyone who uses heat on their hair, chemical treatments, and color, as all three can weaken strands and create split ends. Neither satin nor silk absorbs moisture, leaving your hair hydrated and less prone to breakage than a cotton pillowcase. As for choosing between the two, the choice is yours!
Ready to sleep without damaged or tangled hair? Experts recommend the products below to get you there.
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