Sleeping on the finest silk pillows is definitely a luxurious indulgence. In addition to the expensive appearance and feeling, because of the astonishing natural proteins and low friction surface of silk pillows, resting in a soft and comfortable extravagant silk pillows confers skin, hair, and overall health benefits.
However, it must be noted that not all silk pillowcases are created equal. With that, in contradiction of all the hype and marketing and competitive claims, it is vital to know what to search for to harvest the full benefit from what the best silk fabric can offer. In order to help you choose and understand the importance of having silk pillows, this article will provide you with all the necessary details so that you can get the top products available in the market.
With its outstanding configuration and flexibility, silk has appeared as a main focus of research because of its physical, chemical, and biological properties that offer themselves to several uses. Silk fiber production begins from creating polymers from amino acid building blocks. The method continues with change in concentration of the protein and ionization of the environment followed by use of an elongational flow or shear stress. Various silk material systems are made in nature, from traditional fibers to sheetlike and ribbonlike morphologies. Different material formats are responsible for a number of functions such as protection from the environment during molting in cocoons which are vital for the survival of silkworms from possible prey and harsh environmental conditions.
Commonly, silk is made from the cocoons of Bombyx mori. This type of silkworm is the most domesticated silkworm that comprises a single core protein. This protein is known as fibroin with a high molecular weight that is approximately 390 kDa. This is spun into a capsule or cocoon during molting from the worm to moth to function as protection. Silkworm cocoons, which are best recognized as the chief profitable source of silk material, are themselves significant natural composite materials. While the commercial silkworm Bombyx mori has been cultivated by ancient China for thousands of years, a wide array of wild silkworms has evolved independently over the world after such time, and each has a somewhat different combination of morphology and properties that have altered to survive with varied local environments.
A cocoon is a natural silk combined with a non-woven structure built of uninterrupted silk fibers conglutinate by sericin bonding matrix. As a biological structural material, it has an ordered structure that was presumed to be improved through evolutionary pressures over millions of years in order to offer the best protection for the silkworm pupae as they metamorphose into moths, and are exposed to a wide array of threats including physical attack from animals, birds or insects, or more subtle threats such as bacteria or merely tough environmental circumstances. These cocoons have been nurtured for produce and relief of reeling of the silk fibers and for their whiteness in textiles, so their morphology is an open non-woven form that can be unwound comparatively easily after soaking in mild degumming agents. Ecologists have suggested that wild silkworm cocoons have evolved for two reasons: (1) for protection against various threats and also; (2) to adjust the environment such as to aid in conserving/blocking water or adapting the flow of gasses such as oxygen and carbon dioxide for the pupae as they mature.
Although there are a number of different types of silks, such as those that come from spiders, it must be noted that about 90% of silk production in the world is from mulberry silk. As stated above, mulberry silk is made from the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori. In addition to what has been noted above, studies suggest that silk from silkworms may have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties in order to protect the pupae inside the cocoon. However, some studies also suggest that the antibacterial properties of silk may only be due to chemical residue in the cocoon. This study found that unique silk fibers had no resistance to Escherichia coli bacteria. With that, silk from genetically modified silkworms may have antimicrobial properties, according to the study of Saviane et al. in 2018. Furthermore, a study conducted by Nadiger and Shukla in 2016 stated that silk absorbs moisture from the air and requires additional treatment, such as adding silver nanoparticles, to protect it from microbes.
Grades of Silk
Why is it important to understand the different grades of silk? Well, just like other precious things in the world such as gemstones, diverse grades of silk create diverse types of products. Many people invest in silk products because of its warmth, lightness, breathability, softness and durability. With that, different grades of silk offer different characteristic benefits of silk products. It is vital to know that there are three chief grades of silk. They are classified as grade A, grade B, and grade C.
Grade A silk is considered to be the top-grade silk. This means that the cocoon can be loosened without the silk floss being damaged. An individual silk floss, when fully extended, can be as extensive as a mile. The cocoon itself has a pearly white color with a healthy sheen to it. When a silk product, for example a silk comforter or pillowcase, is manufactured using only grade A silk, the workers only sew the silk floss filling to the edge of the product in order to keep the silk floss filling intact. In this case, there is actually no stitching needed anywhere to hold them in place because the silk floss is already so long. This means the silk product is basically two layers of fabrics with a cloudy silk stuffing in the middle with equal width all around. In addition to that, the grade A silk products also tend to have very little clumps of silk. After such time, clumps of silk will get bulkier and it will produce air pockets in the surrounding part. When it gets rubbed over and over against cover fabrics, it will also get clumpier. This will greatly diminish the even warmness of a silk comforter. With Grade A silk containing minimal clumps, your silk pillowcase will be able to offer warmth all around you. Furthermore, without clumps, silk comforters can preserve their primary silk floss batting organization better and therefore improve the longevity of the silk product. With that, a good grade A silk pillow or comforter can last you for more than 10 years.
Another significant indication of a grade A silk is its feel or touch. Grade A silk feels soft and light. This improves the breathability of your silk pillow and other products and helps you to feel as if you are resting under a cloud. In addition to that, grade A silk will also appear glowing white without the need to undergo additional manufacturing processes.
Unlike grade A silk that produce long floss, Grade B silk are cocoons that can only produce short floss. Studies suggest that evolutionary changes during the process of cocoon development may have been responsible for this trait. grade B silk may look comparable in color when likened with Grade A but it certainly holds clumps. As stated above, over time, clumps will produce irregularity and air pockets in your silk pillows. Furthermore, stitching is needed throughout the silk product because of its shorter floss. This may cause for a reduced level of comfort when using the silk product compared to grade A. Also, by touch, grade B silk may feel somewhat rougher and can only have minimal natural when compared with grade A.
Essentially, Grade C silk is the most inner layer of silk. With that, this is the silk that is closest to the cocoon. Grade C is what is left after workers remove either grade A or B silk. It appears yellow and frequently has brown dots because it contains oil from the silkworm. Grade C is also very rough to touch and feels cotton-like. It does not have any natural sheen and the floss is very short. When a silk product such as a pillow or a comforter is produced using grade C silk, stitching is absolutely required all over the product in order to keep the short floss in place. Breathability and lightness of the comforter are prominently compromised because of its cotton-like lumpy feel. Most of the time, this type of silk is bleached to make it look white. This, in result, damages the structure of the silk which makes it have an even rougher feel.
In the market, many companies are actually selling grade AAA, grade AA, grade BBB, grade BB, grade CCC and grade CC. These grades of silk are homogeneous within the silk manufacturing industry. Also, there are quality, inspection, and testing bureau in order to aid customers in verifying the grades of their silk products. So, if you ask why there are a lot of grade C products in the market and why do people buy them? Basically, the answer is demand. There is inadequate production of silk floss per year. With significant demand from customers around the world, a number of manufacturers resort to utilizing grade C silk in order to fill orders.
How to Choose Your Silk Pillow?
If you are shopping for a new silk pillow or pillowcases, we know that you are curious what things should be taken into consideration before proceeding to that purchase. So, if you have already researched the various types of silk pillowcases and are still confused about what to choose as your top choice, this part of the article is made for you. Here, you will be provided with the best tips for selecting the best silk pillows, including the terms to know and features to look for.
Know The Type Of Silk
Silk pillows, just like all other pillows and pillowcases in the market, come in different styles and price points. With that, it is good to remember to do your research before buying your own silk pillows.
In order to know more about silk, let us begin with the four types of silk available in the market. These include Mulberry silk, Eri Silk, Tasar Silk, and Muga Silk.
Today, most of the silk available on the market is the Mulberry Silk. This type of silk is considered as the best for consumer products. Silkworms raised in captivity are responsible for the production of Mulberry silk. As the silkworms are fed an exclusive diet of Mulberry leaves, this permits better quality control which then results in a silk product that is more refined and reliable in quality as well as an instinctively pure white in color.
Furthermore, another important thing to take note of is the difference between silk and satin. Though usually utilized interchangeably, there is essentially a huge distinction between the two. Satin indicates the type of weave used, while silk pertains to the fiber. This can mean that although advertised as silk, your satin pillow or pillowcase may contain other lesser quality fabrics woven into it as well. With that, if you are searching to get the most of the health benefits out of your investment, it is vital to ensure that you look for a pillow or pillowcase that is 100% silk, not just a mixture of materials that includes silk. It is important to always check the label before buying the product.
Understand Thread Count
Many people would argue that thread count of silk products are important. However, the reality is this thread count does not actually matter. Thread count is merely the amount of horizontal or filling threads, and vertical or warp threads that are observed every one-square-inch. Thread count is not the best measure of quality, hence is not important when choosing silk.
You can also focus on the fabric type in order to better assess the quality of your bedding and pillowcases. For silk in particular, it is better to focus on the type of silk and for the momme and its rating. Nonetheless, you can still ask for the thread count just in case you are curious and if you really just want to know how many threads the silk product contains.
Choose Based on Momme and Silk Rating
Momme, occasionally shortened as “mm”, refers to the weight of the silk and directly denotes the quality and durability of the fabric. The silk’s momme is measured by weighing a piece of 100-foot long by 45-inches wide fabric in pounds. Plump and dense silk are considered to be the perfect silk because they are more durable. With that, in simplest terms, momme weight describes the weight of 100 yards of silk, 45 inches wide, in pounds. So, if a fabric is listed with a momme weight of 8mm, it means that 100 yards of the fabric weighs 8 pounds.
Silk generally falls into a range of 6 momme on the lower side to a maximum weight of 30 momme. Many silk dresses and other silk clothing items will be around 8mm in weight. Higher quality silks tend to be 14, 15 or 16mm or higher. Most silk products available in the market have a momme of approximately 15 to 30 momme. Another thing to take note of is that silk products that have 12 to 19 mm are considered as good quality, those that have 19 mm and higher are considered as high quality. Furthermore, 17 mm silk is usually best for lightly-used items such as scarves, while 19 mm silk and higher is ideal for daily-use items, such as pillowcases and bedding. The best silk pillowcases have a momme of 22 or higher. The 22 mm silk has approximately 20% more silk per square inch than its 19 mm equivalent does. With that, this is the most ideal for pillows or pillow cases since it is a material that gets a lot of usage.
In addition to that, as stated above, silk is also graded. It can be graded on a scale of A, B and C, with A being the highest quality, and C being the lowest quality. With that, research and shop for the best silk pillowcases, making sure you only buy those that are graded A.
Other Important Features To Check
Other than the ones noted above, here are additional features that you should consider as you search for the best silk pillows or pillow cases in the market:
Machine Washable: Today, most of the silk products available in the market are machine washable. However, it is still important to check.
Well-known Manufacturer: Ordering with a trustworthy and reputable company that makes its products in the United States and provides additional advantages like free shipping is crucial to shopping silk products, especially if you are unsure where to purchase yours.
Dual-sided Silk: Make sure that your pillow or pillow cases are made with silk on both sides because there are pillowcases that are produced with silk on one side and cotton on the other to save on costs. A dual-sided silk pillowcase ensures you harvest the best benefits.
A Solid Warranty: A warranty can help with peace of mind especially if you plan to buy a somewhat more expensive silk product. So, look into whether your purchase includes one.
Are Silk Pillows Important?
Now that you have learned how to choose and purchase silk pillows and pillow cases, you will learn why silk pillows are important. There are a number of different benefits that you can gain by just resting on silk products. With that, in order to provide you with a deeper understanding why silk pillows are important, here are its health benefits:
It is beneficial for your hair
One of the most famous benefits of silk pillows is for your hair. This is due to the smooth, slippery surface, which decreases friction and tugging, of silk products. So, what do reducing friction and less pulling mean for your hair? This indicates:
- Protection from Frizz. Silk does not rough up the hair cuticle like a regular pillow or pillow case might since silk is considered as a smooth fabric. This results in less frizz. With that, silk is significantly beneficial to those with curly hairs.
- Reduced Tangles. Fabrics, like cotton, hinders your hair to move when you change your positions when you sleep or do other nightly activities on the bed. If your hair is fine, dry, or prone to tangling, the smooth surface of silk pillows makes sure that you wake up with less tangled hair.
- Reduced Breakage of Hair. Fine-haired folks or those people who are experiencing hair loss can definitely benefit using silk pillows. Less friction and tugging from a silk pillow can reduce the incidence of broken hairs. In addition to that, because you do not have to brush through tangles, silk pillows also aid in reducing breakage.
- Hairstyles That Last Longer. Same reason as stated before this. The slicker and smooth surface provided by silk reduces the likelihood for your hair to go messy. With that, silk can aid maintaining your blowout or salon style for a few days.
Hydration of Hair. Cotton removes a lot of hair moisture compared to Silk. Silk is less drying, which makes it easier to maintain your hair’s moisture.
It is beneficial for your skin
Health experts agree that the same benefits to your hair due to the smooth, slippery surface of silk also translates to your skin. Here are the skin benefits of silk:
- Lesser Skin Wrinkles. According to studies, the smooth and slippery surface results in fewer creases and wrinkles on the face. Research indicated that even if pillow lines typically fade after you get up, over time, skin stretching and pulling that happens overnight can contribute to the development of permanent sleep wrinkles. This is the reason why silk reduces the production of wrinkles because it reduces sleep creases.
- Aid in Retaining Moisture of the Skin. As stated above, cotton pillowcases are super absorbent. Cotton collects the dirt and oil from the skin, and when you sleep on the same pillowcase night after night, it can cause clogging of the pores and breakouts. However, natural silk pillows are less absorbent. With that, your skin stays moisturized because your pillowcase is not absorbing all of the natural oils from the skin.
Reduces Acne Breakouts. A number of people have observed that sleeping on a smoother surface, like silk, can help in acne. With less friction, you are less likely to have acne breakouts, which may be caused by recurrent rubbing.
Reduces your chemical exposure
Silk is made from domestic silk worms that are farmed and raised in captivity. They are not exposed to chemicals in order to produce fine and natural silk fibers. In contrast, many fabrics in the market, such as cotton, are produced from chemically intensive crops that need pesticides, herbicides, and other chemical treatments. So, when it comes to luxury bedding, silk pillows are definitely the less that is more.
Silk is also considered to be naturally hypoallergenic because it has natural resistance to dust mites, fungus and mold, and many other allergens present in the environment. Furthermore, because silk is hypoallergenic, it can help with contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.
A study conducted by Hugh in 2019 enrolled 30 patients with Atopic dermatitis (AD) for up to 8 weeks of observation. They were instructed to wear pure silk clothing for the whole day without any additional medication and were investigated using the AD-related questionnaires. The findings revealed a significant decrease of AD occurrence along with a great improvement of patient’s quality of life at each time point. The investigation demonstrated that this treatment promotes good skin appearance, comfort, and remarkable improvement in the quality of life. Therefore, this study showed that silk can be a potential non-pharmacological treatment choice for controlling the severity of AD
Lastly, a study conducted by Smith et al. in 2013 suggested that silk-like materials may make better bedding and hospital gowns than cotton for people with pressure ulcers. The researchers suggested that silk-like materials may help by reducing friction and absorbing moisture.
Silk has been observed to naturally control heat, which aids in maintaining the right body temperature. Silk does not conduct heat. With that, if you desire to keep cool while sleeping through the night, especially on hot days, you should really go with silk. On the other side, it also helps retain heat during the colder seasons.
In fact, a study conducted by Fu et al. in 2019 has greatly proven that silk has amazing temperature regulating abilities. The study asserts that the individual fibrils do indeed become stiffer as they get colder. The novelty and importance of the study lies in the conclusion that this stiffening leads to increased friction between the fibrils. This friction in turn increases crack-energy diversion while also resisting fibril slippage. Changing temperature would also modulate attraction between individual silk protein molecules in turn affecting core properties of each fibril, which is made up from many thousand molecules. Furthermore, in the study, they discovered that silk's cryogenic toughness is based on its nano-scale fibrils. Sub-microscopic order and hierarchy allows a silk to withstand temperatures of down to -200 degree celsius.
A Luxurious Experience
Resting at night on a silk pillowcase is the perfect way to end your day. There is definitely no better feeling than the soft, smooth, and luxurious feel of silk against your skin when you go to bed at night. This is truly a luxurious experience that you should not miss.
As stated above, silk is definitely the most luxurious pillow you can get your hands out there. Furthermore, no part of a luxury bedding set is more vital than your silk pillowcase. When you buy a silk pillow or pillowcase, you are getting the top quality fabric for your best luxury sleep experience. With that, what other small investment can you do that will have so much impact on your skin and hair after such time, for less than a few hundred dollars, right?
Are there risks to using silk sheets?
There have been some case studies noting isolated cases of people having silk allergy. With that, these people would probably have an allergic reaction to using silk sheets. These occurrences are uncommon. However, in order to make sure, you may want to test using silk sheets for a while to observe how your skin reacts to the material.
Are silk sheets sustainable?
Silk is a natural fiber; with that it is considered to be biodegradable. Some manufacturers handle their silk sheets with chemicals or yield them in resource-intensive factories. However, it is still vital to do your own research on the brand in order to find out their environmental impact and ethical commitments. Also, bamboo and cotton are alternative sustainable options that are fit for vegans and other people who desire to evade animal products.
The overall impact and benefit that a silk pillowcase can provide to the health of your hair and skin cannot be undervalued. Irrespective of your age, a silk pillowcase gives a number of benefits.
The two core selling points for silk fabrics are their anti-ageing and hydrating properties. Silk is less abrasive and harsh on facial skin compared to other materials. This means that it will not pull on your skin while you sleep and leave you waking up with facial creasing. The natural proteins present within silk also work well in combination with your skin's outer layers and hair, aiding to hold in moisture and guarantee you stay sufficiently hydrated throughout your sleep. This means your skin is simpler to preserve with topical skincare products and makes your hair simpler to brush by reducing static. With this in mind, sleeping on a silk pillowcase could effortlessly split the amount of time you use on your morning routine. Furthermore, in terms of hygiene, silk pillowcases are hypoallergenic and do not harbor the same levels of bacteria and dirt that get held by standard pillowcases of cotton or synthetic blends. This could be particularly suitable to those with oily and acne-prone skin types, as well as those with sensitive skin, who require to pay vigilant consideration to skin cleanliness and integrity. If you are looking to see the benefits mentioned throughout this article, then yes, a silk pillowcase is definitely for you. We hope you find these tips useful to aid you find the best silk pillowcase for you.References:
- GhostBed. 2021. Guide: How to Choose the Best Silk Pillowcase. Retrieved from: https://www.ghostbed.com/pages/guide-how-to-choose-the-best-silk-pillowcase. Retrieved on 24 September 2021.
- Gingerlily London. 2019. How to choose a silk pillowcase. Retrieved from: https://gingerlilylondon.com/blogs/journal/how-to-choose-a-silk-pillowcase. Retrieved on 24 September 2021.
- Healthline. 2019. It’s Time to Add Silk or Copper Pillowcases to Your Sleep Routine. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/pillowcase-benefits. Retrieved on 24 September 2021.
- Manito. 2017. Silk Pillowcase Buyer's Guide: Silk Fabric & Smart Buying Tips. Retrieved from: https://manitosilk.com/blog/silk-pillowcase-buyers-guide-silk-fabric-smart-buying-tips/. Retrieved on 24 September 2021.
- The Healthy. 2021. Do Silk Pillowcases Have Real Benefits? What Dermatologists Think. Retrieved from: https://www.thehealthy.com/beauty/face-body-care/silk-pillowcase-benefits/. Retrieved on 24 September 2021.