by Aubrey Lee
They call it beauty sleep but the fabric of your pillowcase can be the key to radiant, youthful skin or a dull, wrinkled one. We explore the benefits of satin and silk pillowcases - and its environmental cost.
WHEN CONSIDERING THE LONG-TERM HEALTH of my skin and hair, bedding material was the last thing to ever cross my mind. Considering the ongoing and growing trend of silk-based products in the market. My skeptical self was convinced that a marketing gimmick was at play to lure consumers to banking on the industry's latest fad. But... They might be onto something. Considering the time spent sleeping on bedding material, it is worth entertaining the idea that your fabric might be the solution to your hair and skin problem.
WHAT IS SILK?
It is the ultimate luxury fabric. In the olden days, silk symbolized homage for the emperor. There are many different types of silk but the main one is mulberry silk which accounts 90% of the global supply. It is made from domesticated silkworms that are fed with mulberry leaves. Silk is smooth and lightweight but strong. Apart from that, it is a poor conductor of heat, making it one of the most comfortable fabrics to wear.
THE PROBLEM WITH SILK
As the world looks to adopt a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. The fashion industry has garnered its fair share of controversy when it comes to its production of fabric. This includes silk production.
#1 Animal Cruelty
Silk production has brought into question the condition of its main producers - silkworms.
Conventional silk production involves silkworm spinning filament over 2-3 days until it is completely enclosed in a cocoon. The cocoons are then boiled to extract the filament, this process causes transmutation in the newly formed moth.
Around 500 eggs are bred at a time, bringing to life a new breed caterpillars that die without human care because it is sightless, toothless and flightless. Animal activists are strongly against this conventional production and it is considered highly unethical.
#2 Labour intensive
It takes 1 acre of mulberry tree to produce 35 pounds of silk only.
#3 Environmental damage
A Mulberry trees' shallow roots make it susceptible to being blown over, yet the roots are still disruptive enough to cause damage to drainage pipes. To prevent this, trees are usually cut down and sprayed with herbicide.
IS SATIN AN ALTERNATIVE TO SILK?
To accommodate to different preferences and to match principles of consumers, satin is said to be the alternative to silk.
Though satin and silk both have similarities and might even look the same, they are different. While silk production relies on silkworms, satin involves a weaving technique of a fabric. It mimics the texture of silk and is a much affordable option. A satin pillowcase often refers to a pillowcase made from synthetic fibers, like nylon, rayon or polyester.
Silk although a sustainable long-lasting material, the processing process however is not. Silk requires harsh and intensive treatments and chemicals. Satin would make a better and more environmentally friendly alternative.
Whilst satin does not involve the use of animal labour, it also generated some debate on whether it is actually considered the most eco-friendly option (read more here). Indeed, both fabrics have its pros and its cons, however, the longevity and its effects on our ecosystem truly depends on the user - prioritising proper care, buying higher quality and durable material whether silk or satin, will prolong product sustainability and reduce environmental harm overall.
HOW DOES IT HELP WITH SKIN & HAIR?
Now that we understand silk and its production. Let's delve into why silk pillowcases should be part of your skincare and haircare regime - over the cotton pillowcase
# 1 Less Friction, Less Frizz
No it's not pseudo-science. The silky, smooth texture of silk and satin pillowcases produces less static electricity. Meaning less frizzy hair and less hair breakage over time. Plus, less friction also means we are less prone to sleep lines on the face.
# 2 Less Absorbent
Don't waste the effort moisturizing and applying serum. Silk and satin are less absorbent materials compared to cotton which is highly absorbent. Bacteria and sebum are easily absorbed with a cotton pillow case, which can be the cause of breakouts.
Cotton pillowcases are not bad but they’re not the best for our skin and hair, either. If you’ve done all you can yet have not seen any positive changes in your skin and hair, consider investing to satin or silk pillowcase, you may start to notice its benefits in the long run.