My grandmother Ruby was known for her flawless skin. Well into her 80s it was still just as soft, creamy and smooth as I remember it being when she was in her 40s. (Albeit with stubborn cancerous spots on her temples, which were the result of decades of sun exposure sans sunscreen. Sunscreen didn’t really become a thing until my lifetime. Her experience is a great reminder for me to use sunscreen or risk damaging the skin I’ve worked so hard to preserve.) Her many beauty secrets included washing her face only with a Neutrogena glycerin bar (never soap!) and faithfully smearing Revlon Eterna 27 on her face and neck every single night. One practice that always stood out however was her insistence on using a silk (or satin) pillowcase.
Why use a silk pillowcase? It’s a widely held belief that silk and satin pillowcases do wonders for both skin and hair. These fabrics are smooth, thereby (allegedly) reducing friction. Beauty experts far and wide (as well as the companies selling silk and satin pillowcases) report that sleeping on silk or satin pillowcases diminishes those sleep wrinkles and creases in your face as well as split ends on your hair. I’ve been unsuccessful at finding hard data, but in a Huffington Post article by lifestyle blogger Sacha DeVoretz, her source, Mantino Linens president John Kenmuir, says the smooth fabric doesn’t “bind or catch hair the way manmade fabrics can. Hair glides on silk rather than rubs.” Kenmuir also maintains in the piece that silk is sustainable, hypoallergenic, is moisture wicking and stays cool in summer and warm in winter. It’s important to take into account that this is coming from a man who is the president of a linen company, so he stands to gain from these claims, but the logic makes sense to me.
For years I’ve been meaning to put my grandma’s beauty secret to the test, but never got around to it until a few weeks ago. I had a hard time finding the recommended 100 percent mulberry charmeuse silk here in New Orleans (though Leontine Linens does custom, special order sateen pillowcases for $80 each), so I turned to Amazon and opted for the Oosilk 100 percent Mulberry Charmeuse Silk Pillowcase with cotton underside. The day I purchased mine, it was on sale for $15, but the regular price is $20. I got two, so I can rotate them out twice a week and always have a fresh one. They are machine washable, but I hand wash mine and lay them out to dry.
The company’s description states:
“It's the most natural anti-aging product, as well as hypoallergenic, smooth, soft, breathable and comfortable. High-quality silk can help prevent hair from becoming knotted and matted, and it can reduce facial wrinkles. Silk never absorbs facial moisture. You will wake up with shiny hair and healthy skin.”
After two weeks, it seems to be a valid claim, as I have noticed less frizz in my hair (which could be attributed to the humidity dropping along with the temperatures) and the crease on the left side of my face I usually wake up to no longer greets me each morning. So long, sucker! (Fingers crossed.)
The worst-case scenario here is that I’ve succumbed to the placebo effect, but for $30, it’s worth the price of admission to think my skin and hair are smoother. Confidence is half the beauty battle, no? More than anything, I enjoy thinking about my grandmother each time I lay my head down to sleep — which is priceless.