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Published 3:12 PM EDT, Wed March 17, 2021
This article is a part of CNN Underscored’s Guide to Sleep, a week-long focus on the best sleep-related products. We’ll be featuring new products and guides all week, so check in every morning to see what’s new and keep your eyes peeled for exclusive deals.
Silk pillowcases are having a moment, bolstered by claims they can help reduce wrinkles, acne and even frizziness in hair — all while giving you a better night’s sleep.
First, let’s parse fact from rumor. After several weeks of testing and speaking with several experts about whether these added beauty benefits are real or just clever marketing myths, we can confirm that there is likely some truth to at least some of the claims. There is a study that links sleeping on silk to acne reduction, and according to the experts we consulted, since the fabric creates less friction than other fabrics like cotton, there’s anecdotal evidence that silk can benefit skin and hair. (You can read more from the skin and textile experts we consulted below.)
While we determined there is some truth to the beauty benefits and that they don’t entirely reside in dreamland, there’s no doubt that these ultra soft, smooth pillowcases are a wonder to lay your head upon. But which silk pillowcases are the best? To figure this out, we chose 13 top-rated silk pillowcases and put them to the test. We surveyed the initial look and feel of our facial skin and our hair after each sleep. We washed and dried each case, reapplied them to our pillows, then slept on them again. Six weeks of testing later (during which we slept on each pillowcase three nights total), we found three silk pillowcases that stood out:
Coming in the top spot is the Fishers Finery 25mm 100% Pure Mulberry Silk Pillowcase. At $48 for a queen size pillowcase (a price that was middle-of-the-road compared to others in our testing pool), Fishers Finery — made from the finest silk available — felt luxuriously silky, fit our pillows perfectly, offered beautiful nights of sleep and were easy to wash and dry both by hand and in the machine.
If you want to sleep in luxury but prefer a less luxurious price tag, at $22.99 the MYK Silk Natural Silk Pillowcase is an excellent pick. Lovely silk on one side and white cotton on the other, MYK Silk was our favorite budget silk pillowcase, offering a good fit, restful sleep and for about half the price of the Fishers Finery option. It’s a notably less luxurious-feeling pillowcase compared with our other winners, but still terrific in lots of ways — for a third of the price.
Want to elevate your sleep routine to that of, say, a royal? We couldn’t get enough sleeps on the Lunya Washable Silk Pillowcase. Also a silk on one side, cotton on the other option, Lunya’s silk surface case was the most lavish to the touch, and design details made it feel significantly elevated (with a price point to match: $74). Sleep felt so restful on Lunya’s silk we didn’t want to lift our heads out of bed.
Fishers Finery 25mm 100% Pure Mulberry Silk Pillowcase
Our above and beyond winner is Fishers Finery’s 100% long-strand, luxurious mulberry silk and feels impossibly soft to the touch.
Fishers Finery cases are made from the finest silk out there. The cases are weighted at 25 momme — a standard unit to measure the weight and quality of silk — which is at the upper end of the scale. They’re spun from 100% pure grade 6A Mulberry silk, which is believed to be smoother, stronger and more uniformly colored than other silks. (Read more about momme and silk grading below.)
We should note that while in general we experienced that sleeping on silk reduced frizziness and could understand how they might even help soften facial wrinkles, we couldn’t discern significant differences in these benefits from one brand to the next. That said, the first time we slept on Fishers Finery, it was almost like we didn’t notice the pillowcase — that’s how much it melded into our face, hair and sleep experience. The silk felt noticeably softer against the skin and hair compared to other pillowcases we tested.
Fishers Finery’s cases had the best fit for our pillows: well-fitting but slightly loose, so they’re easy to put on and pull off. There’s a cute envelope foldover closure that looks nice and makes the bed feel a bit neater than a loose, open pillowcase end.
We also found these easiest to wash and wear, so to speak. Like all of the brands we tested, these are both machine- and hand-washable, and after washing them by hand, we found they fit perfectly to our pillows and, bonus, these cases were the least wrinkly after being washed and squeezed out by hand — a plus if you’re someone who, like us, is never going to iron or steam a pillowcase. We also washed these, as well as the others we tested, in the machine on a delicate cycle, then hung them to dry — machine washing without hand-wringing led to fewer wrinkles once dry, for both these and the other pillowcases we tested.
These come in three sizes, standard, queen and king, and in 11 colors, more than most of the brands we tested. Fishers are priced solidly in the middle range of the brands we tested, and we found these to be an excellent mid-range pick, though one that doesn’t feel at all middle-of-the-road.
If you’re new to the silk pillowcase market and want an entry point that’s not overly expensive, this is an excellent starter choice that should last for years to come.
MYK Silk Natural Silk Pillowcase with Cotton Underside
MYK Silk’s pillowcase is less luxurious than Fishers Finery’s lush Mulberry silk, but terrific in lots of ways, including its price point.
Made from 100% 19 momme mulberry silk — lower weight than Fishers Finery but still quite nice to the touch — and OEKO-TEX certified to standard 100 (this label indicates that every component of a product has been tested for harmful substances), these are very good pillowcases for the price. When we pulled them out of their unadorned packaging, they felt like bedding you’d find in the interiors department of a high-end store: soft silk on the face, cotton on the underside, which made them feel more sophisticated than bargain bedding. They’re also very soft and comfortable against the face, without being one of the overly slinky, slippery silk options.
MYK Silk’s cases fit our queen-size pillows more traditionally than most of the other brands we tested — snugly in both width and length. They have a zipper closure, which is a nice functional touch, but because the zipper’s opening and closing points are placed about an inch in from the actual end of the pillow, the opening of the case is a bit shorter than the length of the pillowcase. This meant that putting a fluffier down pillowcase with more volume into the pillowcase was slightly less facile than doing so with some of the looser, larger pillowcases. Once fitted to the pillow, though, MYK Silk’s looked nicely appointed on the bed.
These also provided an amazing sleep and, as noted above, like all the silk cases, they seemed to leave our hair feeling less bothered than standard pillowcases. They’re machine washable, or can be washed by hand and line dried (we did both, with good outcomes in terms of softness of the material) and are hypoallergenic, protecting against dust, allergens and toxins.
MYK Silk pillowcases are sold in three sizes (standard, queen, and king), and nine colors. For a third of the price, you’re giving up the most luxurious feeling pillowcase, but you’re getting lots of color options, and a fantastic night of sleep.
Lunya Washable Silk Pillowcase
Delivered in a thin zippable pouch imprinted with the words “good in bed” (which can be saved to store the pillowcase when not in use), Lunya, a brand that makes beautiful silk sleepwear and other textiles, also makes superlative pillowcases.
Lunya’s hybrid silk pillowcase is 100% washable silk on the front and 100% woven cotton on the back, similar to the MYK Silk option above. But Lunya’s washable silk is a reminder of just how luxurious silk can feel. Like pressed velvet or some fabric in a different category of quality from cotton, the Lunya pillowcase was so soft and touchable it was downright evocative. Sleep felt so restful on Lunya’s silk we didn’t want to lift our heads out of bed. But once we did rise, we did seem to notice less frizz (compared to sleeping on other pillowcases in our testing pool), almost as if we’d slept in a shower cap or a towel.
Lunya’s pillowcases fit a bit more loosely than the others we tested, fitted in the width, but easy to slip on and off, and extra long in length. Though these are very good-quality silk, they really are washable. Throw them in the machine on cold, or wash them by hand with a little liquid detergent, then hang to dry (we did both — hand washing takes more time of course, but both cleaning methods resulted in good outcomes, with the machine washing leaving them less wrinkly after line-drying).
Lunya silk pillowcases only come in two sizes, standard queen and king, and in just one color, Tranquil White, which may be too limiting for some customers. That, plus the significantly higher price point over our two other winners, kept Lunya’s out of our top spot.
Still, the Lunya pillowcase was just downright dreamy, offering the best night’s sleep and some of the most noticeably positive effects on our hair, making them worth the upgrade.
There’s a lot to consider when buying silk pillowcases, from the type of silk and possible benefits to ease of care and price point. So we’ve compiled all our research to walk you through exactly what you need to know before you add to cart.
While there’s documented evidence that silk pillowcases might reduce acne, other skin benefits — such as reducing wrinkles — are mostly anecdotal. Dendy Engelman, M.D. cosmetic dermatologist with the NYC-based Shafer Clinic, said that no one should expect silk pillowcases to completely eliminate wrinkles, but adds that they can “help to slow down the formation of them,” especially “sleep wrinkles,” the lines some dermatologists believe develop from sleeping on your side or your stomach as your face scrunches into your pillow. “Silk creates fewer wrinkles and indentations on the skin as you sleep because it helps reduce strain or friction,” Engleman says.
Silk is also less absorbent than cotton, Engleman adds, so it doesn’t drink in our nighttime skin care products the way cotton can, which means night serums and moisturizers stay on the skin doing their work there, not on the pillowcase.
We did not see a noticeable short-term difference in the condition of our skin while sleeping on silk during our testing. That said, whereas the acne study we cited above lasted 12 weeks, our testing process lasted only six, took place during winter, when skin is more dry, and during a pandemic, when stress levels have been higher than normal. In other words, our first-hand experience wasn’t long enough for us to definitively assess the impact sleeping on silk has on skin. There could be long-term benefits to our facial skin that we’ll see accrue over a longer time, including that we are getting better nights of sleep sleeping on silk.
The decreased friction factor of silk is also thought to aid in managing frizzy hair. The smoother surface of silk can mean “less messing, fuzzing, split ends of your hair,” says textile expert Deborah Young. This benefit is more pronounced for those with thick and curly hair. Simply put, Young says, “less texture equals less bedhead.”
This tester, possessing said thick and curly hair, did notice right away a reduction in dryness and frizziness after just the first sleep on the first silk pillowcase. Those calming and non-irritating effects on hair continued with each of the subsequent silk pillowcases tested. Our hair seemed more supple and healthy during the many weeks of the testing process, though we didn’t find that one specific pillowcase brand was quantifiably better in its treatment of our hair.
In addition to the boosts silk can give your skin and your hair, the material also just feels good to sleep on, our experts said. “The first thing that people respond to is the luxurious hand, or feel of the fabric,” says Young. “Although silk is warm to wear, it has a cool hand, or touch. This means that although your silk pajamas will be wonderfully warm, as a pillow, the fabric will remain quite cool and soothing.” Silk is also often hypoallergenic, Young notes, making silk pillowcases a good option for those with allergies or skin sensitivities.
To those worried that silk may be too high maintenance as a bedding item, Young swears it’s worth it. “Silk can absolutely be machine washed – inside out, in a mesh lingerie bag, with a detergent formulated for silk on a delicate cleaning cycle and absolutely no bleach – ever!” Young advises washing separately, or as she prefers, by hand and in cold water, gently squeezed out in a rolled up towel, lay flat or hung to dry. We washed all of the cases we tested both by hand, then hung to dry, and by machine, on delicate, then hung to dry, with fine results from both processes. Though most of the care instructions for these pillowcases indicate that drying in a machine on low heat is OK, as an option to line drying, we adhered to our expert’s advice and only line-dried. Machine washing was less laborious than hand-washing, but took about the same time to complete.
If you’re shopping for silk pillowcases, Young advises, you’ll find the highest quality if you select real silk (which includes most of the pillowcases we tested, including our winners). Young notes though that some “silk” pillowcases are actually made of 100% polyester, which “could be a budget, but successful, alternative.” (A couple of the cases in our testing pool were polyester, a noticeable difference from real silk in terms of touch and quality, but still effective in terms of offering good, comfortable sleep and less flyaway hair.) Pure silk is perceived as more valuable and luxurious, Young says, but silk blends may be more affordable and still quite effective when it comes to pillowcases.
There’s also a range of types of silk you’ll hear about when shopping. Momme, as noted above, denotes the thickness and durability of the fabric, a higher momme being a heavier weight, Young explains. Mulberry silk comes from cultivated silkworms that eat only leaves from the mulberry tree. “There are other silks that are rougher and more cotton-like, but the shiny stuff is mulberry or cultivated silk,” Young says. Charmeuse is a lighter weight silk. And the grade of silk rates its quality. Silk is graded on an A, B or C scale, A being the finest quality. A number attached to that grade is a more specific marker of quality, 6 being the highest (and the number linked to our top winner.)
- Initial feel: We unpacked each pillowcase (and noted details about the packaging) and assessed its initial feel. Is it super soft? Luxurious? Slinky? Satiny? Velvety? Matte? Shiny? Does it feel high-quality? Does it feel synthetic or cheap? We noted all of our initial impressions.
- Sleep feel: We slept on each pillowcase for a minimum of three nights. We woke up and quickly noted our impressions: Did the case feel comfortable against our face and hair? Did we slip or slide against the material at all? Was it a comfortable, or better-than-comfortable sleep? Was it cool against our face? Did it resist absorbing any skin care products we might have applied before sleep?
- Post-wash feel: We washed and dried each pillowcase at least once. After washing and drying, we observed: Did the pillowcase feel any different, or even softer?
- Durability: We recorded, after multiple sleeps, and after laundering, did the pillowcases pill, shrink or fade in any noticeable way? Did they still fit the pillow?
- Fit: Each pillowcase we tested was queen size. We noted how each pillowcase fit our queen-size pillows, and tried each case on different types of pillows.
- Ease of care: We read the washing instructions on each pillowcase. Is each case machine-washable, and dryable? Is delicate cycle a mandate? Is hand-washing recommended or preferred? Line drying? After hand washing and line drying, what’s the wrinkle factor of each case?
- Reduction in skin or hair frizziness: After each night of sleep, we surveyed the condition of our facial skin and the texture of our hair. Was there any noticeable change in visible wrinkles, dryness, or other condition? Were there fewer flyaways, frizziness or “bedhead”? We assessed if either our facial skin or our hair feel less dry than usual after sleeping on standard pillowcases.
- Sizes: We noted in how many sizes each pillowcase is available. Most come in standard or queen, and king (or all three), at a width of about 20 inches, and length ranging from about 26 to 40 inches. Some cases have a smaller travel or toddler size, or a slightly longer than king size.
- Colors: We recorded how many colors are available for each case. Some of the higher end brands are only available in white, and many of the more affordable ones have upwards of 25 colors, and some patterns.
Using the above criteria we assigned scores in each subcategory to each pillowcase, combined those numbers for a total score in each subcategory, and then added the scores for an overall total. The scores were broken down as follows:
- Quality/feel had a maximum of 80 points: initial feel (5 points), sleep feel (20 points), post-wash feel (15 points), durability (15 points), fit (10 points) and ease of care (15 points).
- Noticeable benefits had a maximum of 10 points: reduction in skin or hair frizziness (10 points).
- Options had a maximum of 10 points: sizes (5 points) and colors (5 points).
In addition to the overall score, we factored in the price of each pillowcase, which ranged from about $10 to $90.
Slip Silk Queen Pillowcase ($89; amazon.com)
Slip Silk Queen Pillowcase
Our dermatologist source Dr. Engelman’s favorite silk pillowcase brand is Slip, and after testing, we’re also huge fans. Slip pillowcases also come in a cute, slick cardboard box designed with witty copy (“sleep with us, tell your friends”) and a magnetized cover that can be used to store the pillowcase when not in use. The pillowcase itself is of a more slinky variety than some of the other high-end brands we tested, giving us vibes of a silky robe or, yes, a lingerie slip — in the best way. It’s made from high grade, 6A long fiber mulberry silk, with a thickness of 22 mommes. It’s soft and sleek to the touch and against the skin and hair. This one is a more traditional, closer fit to the pillow, plus it washes (both by hand and by machine) and line dries beautifully.
Slip comes in two sizes, queen and king, and in 13 colors. Slip, while deliciously soft and wonderful to sleep on, didn’t feel necessarily more pleasing than Fishers Finery, nor did it feel more over-the-top fantastic than Lunya, which is why, at its price point of $89, Slip didn’t end up one of our winners. If you do spring for this indulgent pick, though, we imagine you’ll love it a lot, and sleep on it, quite peacefully, for years to come.
Blissy Silk Pillowcase ($79.95, originally 99.95; blissy.com)
Blissy Silk Pillowcase
Also a highly ranked option (and one that textile expert Young recommends) is Blissy’s silk pillowcases, on sale right now. Blissy arrives in a delicate iridescent cardboard box with a pullout drawer lined with tissue paper, that feels like you’re opening a fancy little gift of fine jewelry. Blissy’s cases are 100% pure mulberry silk, 22 momme 6A grade — indulgently soft for sure, and similarly high quality, but more of a satin finish than that washable silk feel of Fishers Finery or Lunya that we loved so much. Blissy’s silk offered amazing nights of sleep, with no residue from nighttime face moisturizers or leftover makeup from the day. And we woke up feeling like our hair had been treated somehow, like it was wrapped in a protective towel over the night. Blissy’s case was among the snuggest fitting of the cases we tested, and with its zipper closure, almost feels like your pillow is being swaddled, in an unexpectedly comforting way. And if these specific features — a satiny-silk texture, a close fit, premium packaging and design — are appealing, you may indeed never sleep without what the brand calls “your new bed time best friend.”
Blissy is machine-washable, but instructions encourage hand washing in cold water and line drying for best product life. They come in standard, queen, and king sizes, but only one color, white — that limitation, plus the almost-double price as compared to Fishers Finery, kept Blissy from being one of our winners.
Brooklinen Mulberry Silk Pillowcase ($59; brooklinen.com)
Brooklinen Mulberry Silk Pillowcase
We’re loyal fans of Brooklinen bedding, having tested and loved its linen sheets and super-plush bath towels. And now, we’re fans of its 100% long-strand pure mulberry silk pillowcases too. The brand’s specialty charmeuse weave (which refers to how the fibers are woven together to create a lustrous finish) silk feels so deliciously smooth against the hands and the face, like all of their products. Generous in width and length, these are easy to slip on to a pillowcase, and feel luxuriously drapey. They come in standard and king size, and in multiple lovely colors, including the chic emerald, cerulean, blush and celestial (navy background with an adorable star pattern). We loved Brooklinen’s pillow cases very much, but they came in just under our very top winner because we loved the Lunya hybrid super-silk touch just a little bit more.
Hairfinity Mulberry Silk Pillowcase ($48.99; hairfinity.com)
Hairfinity Mulberry Silk Pillowcase
Silky, luxurious and high-end, Hairfinity’s was one of the first silk pillowcases we tested, and we were instant converts. There’s an off-the-boudoir feel to this one, in part because it only comes in black and in one size. If black pillow cases match your existing decor, these are an attractive option. We had wonderful nights of sleep on these and did notice less flyaways the next mornings (their site boasts that they smooth the hair cuticle and reduce dryness by retaining moisture). These hand wash and line dry easily, and are also machine washable. Hairfinity was an excellent mid-priced option, but their being available only in black kept them from being an overall winner.
SpaSilk 100% Pure Silk Pillowcase for Hair and Skin Beauty ($19.99; amazon.com)
SpaSilk 100% Pure Silk Pillowcase for Hair and Skin Beauty
SpaSilk’s silk pillowcase is a bargain option, and the packaging reflects that. But the product within feels of a higher grade: silky, sumptuous even. They’re a minimalist design with an envelope closure, and the fit on the pillow is about average, loose-ish but not baggy. These offered an amazing few nights of sleep, and our skin and hair both did feel a bit less dry the next mornings. We washed these by hand and line-dried them, like all the rest, to a fine outcome. Two cool options with SpaSilk: In addition to the queen and king sizes, they come in a toddler/travel size, which is a nice convenience, especially at this price point. And, they come in 12 colors, including a paisley and a leopard print, which, if you’re going to be investing in silk pillowcases, why not create a mood? SpaSilk didn’t feel quite as nice to the touch as MYK Silk did, which is why it didn’t come in as our first-place bargain pillowcase.
Cuddledown Silk Pillowcase ($59; cuddledown.com)
Cuddledown Silk Pillowcase
Another well-reviewed brand of silk pillowcases is Cuddledown. Made of 100% silk charmeuse and finished with piped hems and French seams, Cuddledown’s cases look minimalist chic, feel divine and fit our pillows perfectly. They offered several restful nights of sleep, and didn’t seem to dry out our hair and face. They’re as easy as all the others to hand wash and dry, or throw in the machine, though with this silk material, they would look nice if steamed after drying. They didn’t rank as high as some of our winners only because we didn’t love them quite as much to the touch, but they were more than satisfying. They’re sold in two sizes and nine colors.
Blissford Luxury Satin Pillowcase for Hair ($10.99; amazon.com)
Blissford Luxury Satin Pillowcase for Hair
Blissford’s satin pillowcase, made from 100% polyester, is less luxurious than the 100% silk cases we tried, but a solid option nonetheless. It feels synthetic compared to many of the silk brands, and it’s a distinction we felt against our face during sleep (and one that kept them from being ranked as our best bargain option). However, we did still achieve several good nights of sleep on this case, and our hair and skin did feel unbothered afterward, too. Blissford cases fit our pillow perfectly, and look nice, with a zippable flap closure. These were a breeze to hand wash and line dry, and they’re machine washable as well. Perhaps because they’re satin and not silk, they stand up to being wrung out by hand better than silk, and hardly wrinkled at all once air-dried.
Bedsure Satin Pillowcase for Hair ($8.99 for set of two; amazon.com)
Bedsure Satin Pillowcase for Hair
Another satin option that feels less luxurious than the silk ones but nonetheless quite suitable for a good night of sleep are Bedsure’s pillowcases. A good second bargain option, Bedsure’s cases come in a package of two for less than Blissford’s one. These cases are a much looser and drapier fit than some we tested, and they also have an envelope closure at the end for a neatly-made pillow. Like Blissford’s satin, these are easy to hand-wash and line dry, and are machine washable, and because they’re 100% polyester, emerge from wringing and line drying with few wrinkles. They come in a whopping 24 colors and in four sizes, all 20 inches wide, with increasing inches in length, from 26 to 40. On their Amazon page, Bedsure looks a bit cheesy and lower quality, but in person, the packaging is attractive and the product is quite decent, especially for the price.
Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed price at the time of publication.
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