Do you ever wake up to unruly, knotted hair? Or go to sleep with great shiny and bouncy curls, only to be disappointed in the morning with frizz and zero volume? If you’re trying to maintain your twist-out, preserve your blowout, or prevent split ends, one of the easiest steps you can take is switching out your cotton or linen pillowcase with a silk or satin alternative. “Silk or satin pillowcases will boost your beauty game more than any traditional bedding materials (ahem, cotton),” says Derrick Kieth, celebrity hairstylist and Hairstory hairdresser.
And although both satin and silk are breathable, soft, hypoallergenic, and less absorbent than cotton, there is one that is favored more for certain hair types (more on that later). Regardless of your hair type — straight, curly, wavy, or coily — if you wake up to hair that is tangled or lacks shine, switching to a silk or satin pillowcase could be life changing for the health of your hair. But which is better: satin or silk? To gather more insights on the benefits of both and which one is the better option for your hair type, TZR spoke to four expert hair stylists to help you narrow down your decision. The experts even recommend some of their favorite options to shop.
Silk Vs. Satin Pillowcases
Silk, first developed in ancient China around 1100 B.C, is a “natural protein fiber produced by silkworms,” says Hairstory hairdresser Jennifer Covington-Bowers. It’s a breathable fabric that allows circulation and prevents the trapping of oil and bacteria on the pillow, which is beneficial for the skin and complexion as well. “Silk also doesn’t absorb oils and products from your skin and hair, therefore [it] won’t transfer any of that onto your face, which can lead to breakouts,” adds Michelle O’Connor, Matrix Global Artistic Director. It also helps minimize friction between the hair fibers that could potentially cause split ends, frizz, tangles, and knots. “Satin and silk pillowcases lack friction and won’t rough up the cuticle — meaning less chances of breakage,” Covington-Bowers continues.
Satin, on the other hand, is made from many materials like polyester, rayon, and cotton, and “is technically a type of weaving, rather than a type of fabric,” BosleyMD Trichologist Gretchen Friese tells TZR. Satin will move with the hair while sleeping, reducing the friction between the hair fiber and the pillowcase. “Like silk, satin is hypoallergenic, less absorbent, and breathable,” Friese continues, which allows your hair to retain more moisture while you sleep. Comparatively, with a cotton pillowcase, natural oils are absorbed, which can leave the hair dry and brittle.
Is Silk Better Than Satin?
“Both silk and satin are breathable, soft, hypoallergenic, and less absorbent,” says O’Connor. Translation: they are both great for your hair health. Between silk and satin, the biggest difference is cost, with silk pillowcases costing anywhere from $30-$90 and satin at $8-$20. “Silk can be slightly better as it has a bit more slip, but satin is a budget friendly alternative that has similar benefits,” Covington-Bowers tells TZR. Essentially, silk is more luxurious, raising the price; while satin is often blended with other fabrics, making it less expensive.
O’Connor also confirms that satin pillowcases are easier to clean because they are made with synthetic materials and can be washed in a washing machine. “Silk pillowcases do require specialized care (laundry bag and a specific delicate cycle) to maintain them,” shares Alicia Bailey, hair expert and global education manager at Design Essentials. So, if laundering options are important to you, O’Connor suggests going with satin.
Does Hair Type Play A Part?
“Both silk and satin reduce friction and provide a surface that allows the hair to glide or move across the material more easily,” Bailey tells TZR. “The ease of movement on the material helps to avoid snagging and breaking of the hair strands for all hair types.”
The experts all suggest choosing whichever works best for your sleeping situation and hair texture; however, Keith believes silk is better for curly and textured hair as it is slightly smoother (which helps minimize breakage and frizz). “If you suffer from dry hair and scalp, go with silk,” he shares. “Along with being hypoallergenic, pure silk is made from long, smooth silk fibers that are the strongest and softest on earth.” This makes silk ideal for anyone with sensitive skin or underlying scalp conditions like dryness, eczema, and contact dermatitis.
And it's not just curly textures — silk and satin are great for anyone that uses heat on their hair, chemical treatments, and color as all three can weaken strands and create split ends. Neither satin and silk absorb any moisture, which leaves your hair hydrated and less prone to breakage than a cotton pillowcase would. As for choosing between the two, the choice is up to you!
Ready to sleep free from hair damage and tangles? The experts recommend the below products to get you there.
We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. started.