silk vs satin pillowcase for hair and skin, is it the same

silk vs satin pillowcase for hair and skin, is it the same

As a natural fabrics and fibres fanatic, I started off with natural cotton pillowcases thinking that natural fabrics equals good. But now I know better and have shifted to silk pillowcases. Why silk and not satin (the polyester blend) ? Let’s compare the two today.

What does a cotton pillowcase do to our skin and hair

Cotton wicks moisture away from our skin and hair, that is why towels are made of cotton. Your cotton pillowcase essentially does the same as a cotton hair towel, it takes away the moisture from your hair and skin, although not quite as excessively.

Ladies (and gentlemen) with thick hair like mine, or curly hair – sleeping on cotton pillowcases promises frizzy tangled hair. 

silk vs satin pillowcase for hair and skin, is it the same
This is what my hair resembles in the morning with a cotton pillowcase. I just lack the horns

Are silk pillowcases good for hair and skin

I have shared my experience of converting to silk pillowcases previously [link] and raved about the multiple benefits [link] of using it. Here it is very quickly again:

What are the advantages of silk pillowcase for hair and skin

  • Silk does not absorb moisture, allow your hair and skin to stay hydrated
  • Sleek, smooth surface that is almost friction free that does not irritate your skin 
  • Cool in the summer, warm in the winter, keeps your skin feeling comfortable
  • Anti-static surface keeps your hair frizz free and reduces tangles
  • hypoallergenic and antibacterial, does not harbour germs that may cause facial breakouts.

Are there disadvantages of silk pillowcase for hair and skin

I cannot say that I have experienced any or heard of any. My wallet however, is quite disadvantaged by the price of silk pillowcases.

silk vs satin pillowcase for hair and skin, is it the same

What is satin

Satin is traditionally a type of weaving technique, silk used to be woven with the satin technique to produce a glossy and sleek surface. In modern times however, satin often refers to fabric made of synthetic fibres that are woven with the satin technique to produce a glossy and sleek surface, similar to that of silk’s.

Today, when we mention satin, we often refer to fabric made from polyester, rayon and acetate. 

Are satin pillowcases good for hair and skin

It is a better choice than cotton pillowcase, it has very similar properties and advantages that are to silk with few disadvantages. Here’s some of the advantages:

What are the advantages of satin pillowcase for hair

Satin, assuming it is made from synthetic materials like polyester, does not wick moisture and has a smooth surface. This would allow your hair to stay sleek, reduce tangles and frizziness. 

If you have straight hair, satin pillowcases can help retain its sleekness overnight, making hair brushing less of a chore. Those with wiry curly hair will be familiar with the sight of frizzy strands in every direction upon waking, a satin pillowcase shares similar properties with silk and is able to reduce frizz.

What are the advantages of satin pillowcase for skin

The poor moisture wicking ability of satin means that it does not absorb the hair oil or facial products that you have applied, allowing your hair and skin to benefit from those products better. It also ensures that minimal excess oil is transferred onto your skin, reducing the chances of a breakout.

Why use a silk pillowcase if satin is available

So far it seems like satin does what silk does, at a cheaper cost. Why use silk instead of satin then? Silk has distinct advantages over satin, they may share similar properties and benefits but silk takes these benefits one step further.

Is silk better than satin for pillowcase for the hair

Personally, this is one area where I do not experience much difference in the benefits that silk and satin offers. My hair seems to be just as tame and less tangled regardless of a satin or silk pillowcase. 

However, I will still choose a silk pillowcase over satin for the skin benefits.

Why is silk better than satin for pillowcase for the skin

Silk is hypoallergenic, and naturally resistant to bacteria. Satin on the other hand, is not. Silk is better at preventing breakouts or acne caused by excessive bacteria on our pillowcases. Silk is also more breathable than satin, a silk pillowcase will stay cooler through the night than a satin one, allowing for more comfortable sleep.

silk vs satin pillowcase for hair and skin, is it the same

Personally I produce a lot of heat when I sleep at night, a silk pillowcase does not absorb and retain the heat which ensures that I do not perspire. A satin pillowcase however, is less breathable due to the synthetic materials it is made out from, which does not prevent  perspiration on warmer nights.

Advantages of satin over silk pillowcase


Price tag for one, satin is so much more affordable than silk. Previously it was more easily found too, but in recent years silk pillowcases have been more popular and more easily purchased. 

Ease of care

Satin pillowcases are more hardy, you can throw them in the wash with the rest of your bedding or clothes on a regular wash cycle unlike silk.

Photographs better

Another weird but true perk, satin can sometimes feel softer than silk. It may even look better in pictures than silk due to its shine from the synthetic fibres.


Satin is considered vegan as it is entirely synthetic. Traditionally in the production of silk [Link], silkworms are sacrificed, so that is something to keep in mind too.

How do I tell silk from satin pillowcases

You can tell with two senses, touch and sight. Flip your pillowcase over, it is that simple. Silk is usually evenly smooth on both sides with an even lustre. Satin is glossy on one side and matte or dull on the other. 

But frankly, the most reliable way is still to look at the manufacturer’s label on the pillowcase !  

handheld steamer vs standing steamer for silk pillowcase
There could be a satin pillowcase in these pile of silk pillowcases, but you would not be able to tell just by purely looking at it.

What is charmeuse satin pillowcase

It is a lightweight fabric, of either silk, polyester or a blend of both, with a satin weaving technique. The floating surface threads of charmeuse satin gives it a luxurious sheen which better mimics the appearance of silk. Similar to satin, it is smooth on one side and matte on the other. The smooth side however, is much smoother, shinier and drapes better.

Why use a charmeuse satin pillowcase

If the charmeuse satin pillowcase is made of a blend of silk and satin, the price point would be in between that of silk and satin. You will be able to enjoy most of the benefits of silk, at a lower price point. Naturally, the higher the percentage of silk in there, the pricier it would be.

If avoiding animal-based products is important to you, then choosing a polyester charmeuse satin pillowcase instead of a generic satin pillowcase would be a good option. Charmeuse satin is much lighter, silkier and more breathable than satin.

Is silk or satin pillowcase better?

This question I feel is a very personal choice. 

If you are entirely vegan and abhor anything that is made of living creatures, then the answer is clear – satin all the way.

But a silk fanatic like myself, with extremely sensitive skin, it is team silk pillowcase all the way. My advice would be to try both, then decide which you prefer. But if you have decided on silk pillowcases, here’s how to wash and care for them [link].