Silk pillowcases are one of the easiest and the best things you can use to fight the signs of aging. Yes, they are as soft as air and so comfortable you’ll be sure to get plenty of beauty sleep, but that’s not all. They also do wonders for your skin and hair. There are so many options available, some better than others. Some things to consider before you buy… What’s the best silk for a pillowcase? Where does the silk come from? What are mommes and why are they important?
Benefits Of Silk
Silk is absolutely amazing for your skin and your hair. Its smooth surface creates less friction. Your skin doesn’t snag and crease like it does against a normal pillow so you won’t wake up with sleep wrinkles. Read more about how to prevent sleep wrinkles here.
Silk doesn’t absorb moisture so your expensive serums and night creams will stay on your face instead of rubbing off into your pillow.
If you suffer from acne then silk is perfect for you. It discourages the growth of bacteria and doesn’t harbour pore-clogging dirt and grease like a cotton pillowcase does.
Silk won’t absorb the natural oils of your hair. Without any effort on your part your silk pillowcase will tame frizz and help prevent breakage meaning you wake up looking fabulous with a smooth, shiny mane.
If you suffer from allergies you’ll be pleased to know that silk is hypoallergenic and very breathable. Air will circulate through the fabric throughout the night so you won’t be breathing in dusty, stale air. Dust mites inside your pillow will be a thing of the past. It’s also a natural bedbug repellent. Silk is so smooth that those nasty little bugs can’t stick to it.
Another wonderful benefit of a silk pillowcase, especially if you suffer from hot flashes, is its ability to keep you cool. No more flipping the pillow over to the cool side in the middle of the night. Both sides are always cool.
Types Of Silk
There are four different types of natural silk – Mulberry, Tussah (Tassar), Muga and Eri. China and India produce most of the world’s silk, though sericulture has help spread production to other countries across Asia and South America.
Silk is produce by silkworms to build their cocoons. Each cocoon is made of a filament that’s around a mile long. Some silks are made with one continuous filament, others are made with shorter filaments depending on whether the cocoon is whole or broken when harvested.
One filament is too fine to be woven alone so three to ten filaments are wound together to produce one strand of silk.
Considered to be the best quality silk in the world, about 97% of raw Mulberry silk comes from India. It’s produced by the Bombyx mori silkworm that is raised in captivity, or sericulture. The worms are fed exclusively on Mulberry leaves and the silk fibers they produce have a triangular prism-like structure. This structure refracts light at different angles, giving the silk its lustrous sheen.
Mulberry silk contains lots of amino acids and protein fibers. They help keep skin hydrated and supple, maintain its texture and resilience, and give it an overall healthy glow. It’s used in everything from lingerie and pajamas to bedding and wedding gowns.
Sericulture is not a vegan practice. To keep the continuous mile-long filament that makes up the cocoon in one piece, the pupae inside are killed before they have the chance to hatch and break the cocoon.
Tussah or Tassar Silk
This wild silk is made by Antheraea mylitta silkworms that aren’t bred in captivity. Found mostly in India and China, they feed off of oak and juniper leaves. The silk moths hatch from their cocoons, breaking the filament, and then the broken cocoons are collected. The filaments are shorter and coarser, making the silk slightly rougher, less durable and difficult to dye. You’ll usually find it in its natural colour, a creamy tan.
It may not have the luxurious sheen of Mulberry silk, but it’s still a lovely material. The stuff produced in India tends to have a bit more lustre than that of China. It’s cool and airy, drapes nicely and doesn’t wrinkle easily so it’s a great option for travel clothes. It’s also vegan friendly as the moths hatch and are gone by the time the cocoons are collected.
Also know as “endi” or “errandi” in India, Eri silk is produced by the Samia ricini worm which feeds on castor plants. Its cocoons are open-ended, meaning that the silk moth can emerge or be extracted without harm and the cocoon remains intact. Because of this Eri silk is nicknamed the Peace Silk, even though the worms are domesticated.
The shorter filaments can’t be reeled like a continuous yarn. It’s spun like wool so strands are coarse and dense, very strong and elastic. It has great thermal qualities, keeping it warm in winter and cool in summer. Eri silk has a cottony feel and it blends well with cotton and wool.
Its thermal qualities make it perfect for jackets, shawls, blankets and bedspreads. Its durability make it popular for home furnishings like cushion covers, wall hangings and quilts.
Another wild silk, produced by the Antheraea assamensis silk worm in Assam, India. This worm feeds mostly, but not exclusively, on plants that are in the Mulberry family. The silk they produce has a very distinct golden colour and a glossy texture.
Considered the Empress of Silks, Muga was used to dress royalty throughout history. Nowadays its recognised as a protected geographical indication (GI), meaning that real Muga only comes from Assam and is produced using traditional methods.
Its durability, amazing colour, and general scarcity makes Muga silk highly sort after and expensive.
This is one of three very common and versatile types of weave, the other two being plain weave and twill. Light and elastic, it offers a very lustrous sheen on the front, while the back of the fabric is dull. Charmeuse can be made with silk or with synthetic fibers. The traditional method of weaving on a narrow loom gives a more luxurious finish than the modern, seamless version.
Silk charmeuse is excellent for products that are only going to be showcasing one side, like silk pillowcases. It’s delicate enough for lingerie, and drapes and flows like fluid making it perfect for dresses that skim the body.
– Fine, twisted strands are woven in a plain weave, well spaced apart, to give chiffon its translucent, matt finish. This light as air, elastic, diaphanous material billows beautifully, making it perfectly suited for scarves. It’s often used as an overlay on evening dresses because of its elegant, floaty and romantic qualities.
Also known as Crêpe Georgette, it’s a very sheer fabric that is loosely woven with tightly twisted strands. It’s thin yet durable with a crinkled finish, and is most often used for dresses and blouses.
Crêpe de Chine
A plain weave with strands that are twisted in different directions is what gives this fabric its pebbly finish. It has a gentle sheen with a crinkly texture, and is airy and comfortable but wrinkles easily.
This crisp fabric is produced by two or more strands from entangled cocoons being woven together tightly in a plain weave. It’s quite thick and heavy, and has a lustrous sheen. Often, different colour strands are scattered throughout the weave that give the fabric an iridescent glow, similar to shot silk taffeta. Sometimes the fabric has a black speck running through it. This comes from the cocoon and isn’t a fault, it’s more of a character trait.
Dupioni Silk holds its shape well, making it a popular choice for wedding dresses and formal evening gowns, as well as upholstery.
Originally woven in Japan, this silk fabric is made with the most basic plain weave. It’s smooth, light and sheer, and comes in a variety of thicknesses or weights, known as mommes (mm). Habotai silk is usually available in 5mm up to the heavier 12mm. Scarves made of Habotai silk are generally 8mm.
What Is A Momme?
Originating in Japan, a momme (mm) is a unit used to measure the quality of silk.
The number of mommes can tell you a lot about the quality of silk, such as:
- How durable the weave is
- How luxurious the fabric is
- How warm it will be (for bedding)
- How soft it is
- How shiny it is
- How strong it is
- How heavy it is
Pillowcases usually range from about 19mm up to 25mm. The higher the momme the softer and more luxurious the pillowcase will be.
How To Wash Silk
Whenever you buy a silk item it should come with care instructions that you should follow. But just in case it doesn’t, here you go…
What’s The Best Silk For A Pillowcase?
The best silk for a pillowcase is Mulberry silk with a Charmeuse weave. Mulberry silk is the highest quality silk available. It’s long, uniform strands make is super soft and smooth, perfect for resting your face on. It won’t drag your skin and leave creases. It won’t dry out your skin or your hair. It will make you feel like a movie star when you go to bed, and have you waking up looking fabulous (or at least well rested).
The charmeuse weave really gets the most out of the silk, giving it unbeatable sheen and lustre on one side. The other side is dull, which is absolutely fine for a pillowcase as it will be hidden away on the inside.
If you’re vegan, or even if you’re not, you may have an issue with the way traditional Mulberry silk is produced. There are other options available to you. The Ethical Silk Company offer products in a fabric called “Peace Mulberry”. It’s still produced by the Bombyx mori silkworm, in captivity. However, just like with the wild silks, the cocoons are only harvested after the moth has emerged. Peace Mulberry has a muted, matt lustre rather than the sheen of traditional Mulberry, but it’s a great option for vegans.
Eri silk, a wild silk or peace silk, is another option. A company called “We Are Kal” offer handmade pillowcases and many other things made from Eri silk. It’s texture is a bit more like linen so some benefits to skin and hair may be lost, but it is an ethical option.
A completely different but excellent choice is Bamboo. Bamboo is becoming really popular as a fabric, and with good reason. Bamboo is a highly sustainable material. It’s very soft and actually feels a lot like cashmere. Bamboo is hypoallergenic and very breathable, like silk, but it’s more durable, cheaper, and easier to care for. Bamboo is definitely worth giving a go, even if you’re not a vegan.
Mulberry Silk is the best silk for a pillowcase. It’s smooth, soft, luxurious finish does wonders for your skin and hair. It’s the top quality silk available on the market today. However, it’s not for everyone. If you have an issue with sericulture and the way this silk is produce there are plenty of other options for you to choose from that also offer great beauty benefits.
When you think about how much time you actually spend in bed it just makes sense to invest in your bedding. Upgrade your pillow now to really get the most out of your beauty sleep.
If you have anything to add or any questions that I can help you with then please feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll get right back to you.