Can the Right Pillowcase Cure Every Beauty Qualm from Acne and Wrinkles to Split Ends?

Kourtney Kardashian seems to think so. Dermatologists, however, are skeptical.

by Sophie Wirt

Photo by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, styled by Edward Enninful.

What are the three leading causes of skin damage? According to celebrity beauty guru Nurse Jaime, “The number one cause of aging is UV damage, the number two is smoking, and the third is sleeping on a traditional pillow.” If your response is “huh?” you’re not alone. But the fact is, the market for speciality pillowcases that promise to cure everything from acne to split ends is on the rise.

Not all experts agree that the answer is in the pillowcase, though. Dr. Jeanine Downie, a New Jersey-based dermatologist, is skeptical that a pillowcase alone can prevent wrinkles. While she agrees that sleeping habits can expedite or delay wrinkle formation, the development of sleep-induced lines, she says, depends on pressure and positioning—not the material you’re sleeping on.

So, are these luxurious new offerings worth a try? We took the top three for a spin–and consulted the experts.

Slip pure silk pillowcase, $79-$99

The claims: This 100-percent pure silk pillowcase is touted as an anti-aging, skin-smoothing, and anti-bed head solution. Celebrity fans include Kourtney Kardashian, who credits Slip as her beauty sleep secret (her younger sister Kendall Jenner is also a fan, according to the brand’s website.)

While conventional cotton pillowcases can tug on sensitive facial skin, Slip silk allows skin to glide and consequently minimizes sleep creases, which are said to cause wrinkles over time. Additionally, silk produces minimal friction, meaning less hair breakage and longer-lasting blowouts.

What the pros say: Like Dr. Downie, Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, Founder & Director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center, is skeptical: “There have been no solid scientific studies to support the claim that silk pillowcases reduce skin aging,” she says. Instead, both doctors strongly recommend snoozing on your back to avoid sleep creases come morning. “If sleeping patterns aren’t changed,” explains Dr. Tanzi, “sleep creases can become permanent.”

As for claims of longer lasting blowouts and less frizz, Dr. Downie does recommend silk pillowcases for some extra hair TLC. Cotton pillowcases are super-absorbent and can suck moisture from the hair shaft, whereas “your hair actually retains moisture with silk,” she explains.

Bottom line: While we can’t promise Slip will keep you forever young, it can keep hair smooth and prolong blowouts. Also, this pillowcase heightens the tactile and aesthetic experience of sleep.

Similar products: shhhilk, DryBar Slumber Party

Skin Laundry Sleepcycle Pillowcase with Silver Ion Technology, $38

The claims: Regardless of how thoroughly you cleanse your face at night, microorganisms remains on your skin. Just as clothes become dirty when you wear them a few times, so do pillowcases; after days without washing, your sleeping surface can become a breeding ground for bacteria, which–needless to say–is hardly the key to a clear complexion. Skin Laundry’s pillowcase is coated in an imperceptible yet highly antimicrobial silver ion spray, which can reduce up to 99.9 of acne-causing bacteria. The result: fewer breakouts and clearer skin.

What the pros say: Silver itself has been hailed as an antimicrobial substance for centuries, so it makes sense that derivatives of the metal can be found in beauty products. Dr. Downie notes many of her mildly acne-prone patients do notice improvements after using silver ion pillowcases, though the evidence is purely anecdotal at this point. “I’d need to see more clinical trials to assess their effectiveness,” she explains. “For now, washing your pillowcase more often is probably a better option.” Tanzi agrees, noting that more frequent washing (we’re talking every few days!) effectively rids run-of-the-mill pillowcases of skin-sabotaging bacteria.

The bottom line: While “silver ion technology” may sound like a galactic gimmick, it has been proven to prevent microorganism reproduction and plenty of users have reported a noticeable decrease in breakouts. Plus, a pillowcase that requires less laundering is a huge selling point.

Similar products: Hygenie, SleepClean

Iluminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase, $60

The Claims: This polyester pillowcase is infused with copper, which is said to be a natural skin rejuvenator due to its role in the synthesis of collagen (i.e. structural support for skin). According to the brand, the special fibers transfer copper ions into the upper epidermal layers to “support skin’s natural self-renewal,” thereby reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

What the pros say: Tanzi explains that although copper is important in collagen synthesis, there is no solid scientific evidence that infusing it into a pillowcase makes a significant difference to dermal health. Downie adds that sleeping on a copper ion pillowcase can’t turn back time or reverse lifestyle-related damage.

The bottom line: Proponents of this technology believe copper can absorb into skin and maintain youthful structure, though skeptics abound. That said, we’re firm believers in using products that make you feel good—and this one is luxuriously smooth.

Similar brands: Night Spa Skin Revitalizing Pillowcase with Cupron Technology

10 Products That Will Transform Your Hair, Skin and Nails While You Sleep

The inspiration: Cara Delevingne, just rolled out of bead. Photo: “Cara Delevingne: Style Rebel” photographed by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott, styled by Edward Enninful; W Magazine September 2013.

Ren Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial, $48,

WHO: This night-time facial is best for someone looking for more glow. WHAT: It’s a serum with a blend of lactic and glycolic acids that works as an overnight treatment to brighten, plump and clarify the skin. WHERE: Use it on your face, neck, and décolleté. WHEN: Apply to a clean face at night, before your series of serums. Wash it off in the morning. WHY: If you can’t find the time or money to squeeze in a facial, this is for you.

StriVectin All Smooth Overnight Anti-Frizz Serum, $35,

WHO: Anyone who suffers from frizzy or dry hair and knows that frizz is hair reaching out for moisture. WHAT: An overnight hair serum by a skincare-first brand, meant to tackle the cause of frizz—a lack of moisture—by repairing the cuticle. WHERE: Apply it to your scalp and hair. WHEN: Use on either damp or dry hair before bed, but do not rinse in the morning. WHY: Hair only holds moisture for up to 48 hours after washing. If you don’t lather up every two days, you need to be putting something in your hair to hydrate it.

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, $20,

WHO: This lip mask is perfect for someone with dry, dull lips. WHAT: A softening pink balm packed with Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid that works as an exfoliant and a humectant to prevent moisture loss while you sleep. WHERE: Your lips—feel free to overdraw them a bit with a generous dose of this formula. WHEN: Apply this mask before you go to sleep or in the morning. It’s that good. WHY: Most of us don’t exfoliate our lips often enough. This will do the work for you.

Nails Inc. Overnight Detox Nail Mask, $15,

WHO: You have brittle nails and/or are prefer a gel manicure. WHAT: A smoothie-like mask for the nails that contains green tea, spirulina, and acai. WHERE: Paint this onto your nail beds. WHEN: Use inbetween manicures on bare nails. WHY: If your nails need hydration and a little bit of help, this blend will do the trick.

Dermarche Labs BioRewind PM Pro-Grade Retinoid Repairing Serum, $125,

WHO: This serum is best for someone who uses retinoids to quell acne and/or wrinkles, but hate the side effects. WHAT: A hybrid retinoid serum that offers maximum results without the downers like dryness and redness. WHERE: Your face and neck, of course. WHEN: At night, as the second-to-last or last skincare step. WHY: Demarche Labs packed benefits of your prescription topical Vitamin A, and an antioxidant packed serum that combined will even skin tone, keep pores clear and wrinkles under control.

Fresh Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask, $92,

WHO: You are exhausted and your face looks as tired as you feel. WHAT: An overnight mask that defines facial contours and hydrates leaves skin looking refreshed. WHERE: Your face, neck, and décolleté. WHEN: In the evening, as the last step in your skincare routine. WHY: Fermented black tea and peptides do number on aging skin by working with the nighttime repair cycle to bolster firmness.

Caudalie Vine[Activ] Overnight Detox Night Oil, $50,

WHO: You are worried about pollution-induced damage. WHAT: A plant-based oil that works to detoxify the skin as you sleep. WHERE: Your face, neck, and décolleté. WHEN: Layer it between your serum and sleeping mask at night. WHY: If you don’t have time to mask every day, this should be your go to. The oil flushes the skin of impurities that your two-step cleansing system left behind. Your skin will be happier and brighter.

Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum, $185,

WHO: You’re into natural active ingredients that deliver real results. WHAT: A 22-ingredient serum that is simply too precious to use during the day. WHERE: Press into your neck, décolleté and face—seriously, don’t forget the neck! WHEN: In the evening, after thoroughly exfoliating and cleansing the skin. WHY: If you’re an ingredient label junkie, this stellar serum will check off all of the skincare must have and avoid boxes. Given that it fights inflammation and mitigates dark spots, wrinkles and redness, it might as well be called just that.

Coola Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum, $54,

WHO: You want sun-kissed skin, but know that there is no such thing as a safe tan. WHAT: It’s a colorless self-tanning serum that is 70 percent organic made by a beloved suncare brand. WHERE: Use it on your face, neck and décolleté—demarcation lines are not chic. WHEN: In the spring, when you need some color, apply it before you go to sleep preferably the night after using the Ren Facial. WHY: The beet sugar-derived DHA doesn’t smell and the colorless serum won’t show up on sheets. Plus, the packaging is crazy chic.

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Night Cap Overnight Perfector, $28,

WHO: You want a week’s worth of shiny hair. WHAT: A silicone-fete treatment that seals the cuticle overnight. WHERE: Use on your full head of hair, but add an extra pump to your ends. WHEN: Comb through before bed. WHY: The formula mimics the oils in your hair, resulting in manageable and glossy that lasts longer than your blowout. You won’t need to reapply until four or five shampoos later, and it will reduce color loss during each wash.


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