Satin vs. Silk Pillowcase: Which Is Best?

February 19, 2022 | Casper Editorial Team

Whether you prefer cotton or polyester filling, sleepers all over the world can agree: bedding down on the right type of pillow is key to catching z’s. Yet there’s one element that’s all too easy to overlook: the right pillowcase.

Of the various materials woven into pillowcases, silk and satin are among the most well-known. They might seem similar on the surface, but don’t judge a pillow by its cover. So, what’s the difference between silk and satin pillowcases?

Below, we’ll discuss the difference between silk and satin pillowcases, from origins to price point to how they play into hair care.

While silk and satin may feel or look similar, nothing quite beats the soft and smooth touch of 100% mulberry silk. For a luxuriously soft sleep, you’ll love our Silk Pillowcase + Sleep Mask Set.

What Is the Difference Between Silk and Satin Pillowcases?

Silk pillowcases are made from threads produced by silkworms while satin pillowcases are made from a type of weave that results in a shiny appearance and can be made from several different textiles. To more thoroughly understand the differences between these two kinds of pillowcases, let’s take a closer look at what silk and satin actually are.

What is Silk?

Thousands of years ago, China began domesticating silkworms to produce—you guessed it—silk. By weaving several threads together, they could use the material to make everything from clothes to screens to banners. Given time and improved silk-working techniques, trade routes sprouted and spread across the globe.1

No matter where it spread, real silk was considered high-end for both the skill it took to work with and its incomparably smooth feel. Indeed, “silky smooth” products went for a pretty penny — and still do, despite no longer being reserved for the upper echelons of society.

What is Satin?

Unlike silk, satin isn’t a material that’s woven into a fabric: it’s the weaving itself! Though there are multiple styles, you can tell it apart from the two other main textile weaves — plain and twill — by its one-sided sheen.2

Once woven exclusively with silk, modern satin mixes and matches a number of materials, most of which are synthetic:3

  • Cotton
  • Rayon
  • Polyester
  • Acetate

Sans the intensive process needed to produce silk, satin is cheaper to make and buy. It’s also easier to imitate, with close cousin sateen (woven with shorter fibers) having carved out its own sector in the textile industry.

different colored silk material

Which Is Better: Silk or Satin Pillowcases?

Instead of answering “which is better, a silk or satin pillowcase?” it might be more beneficial to tweak this question — which is better for you? Whether your answer is a satin or silk pillowcase, each comes with its own share of advantages.

Benefits of Silk Pillowcases

Most of silk’s advantages stem from the fact that it’s a natural material. Let’s take a look at a few of the silk pillowcase benefits:3

  • Silk provides bedtime breathability There are tons of ways to stay cool at night, but flipping your pillow over and over again can be tiring. Silk circumvents that problem, promoting better circulation thanks to its airy threads.
  • No more nasties – Silk is hypoallergenic, meaning everything from dust mites to mildew shouldn’t be a problem. That doesn’t mean you should neglect pillowcase care. Silk can shrink in the wash, so dry-cleaning is recommended.
  • Strong and malleable – Silk threads hold together better than you might think, considering how thin they are right out of the spinneret. That strength doesn’t come at the cost of flexibility, so your pillowcase should hold up just fine.
  • Less friction, less frizz Because it’s so smooth, silk doesn’t cause much friction for your delicate strands of hair. No matter your hair type, this can be a vital tool for stopping bedhead and helping to prevent hair loss that can often come with friction.
  • Skin deep beauty sleep – Switching to a silk pillowcase can’t replace your nighttime skin routine, but it is less absorbent than other materials. This means it won’t hold onto the oils from your skin throughout the night. 
  • Can be organic – Some silk pillowcases are also organic, which means it’s produced without pesticides or other harmful chemicals for a squeaky clean sleep. 

Benefits of Satin Pillowcases

Satin does, however, have several unique boons:2,3,5

  • Satiny smooth – Because satin weave can be achieved with a number of textiles, there are ways to make it even softer than silk. That’s quite impressive, considering the latter’s legacy.
  • Hair and skin help When choosing between a satin vs silk pillowcase for skin and hair, you win either way, as satin also has the benefit of low friction. It also shares silk’s breathability and hypoallergenic nature.
  • Wrinkles? Where? – Anyone who’s used cotton pillowcases (or worn cotton clothing) knows wrinkles. Satin can wrinkle, but not as easily — especially if it’s thick.
  • An affordable luxury It’s worth repeating that satin is easier on the wallet than silk and provides many of the same benefits.
  • Quick clean – For as strong as silk is, it won’t hold up in the wash — but satin will. A cold cycle works best, and you can wash it with other clothing items.
  • Plenty of pillowcases – As incredible as silkworms are, they take time to raise and produce anything worth weaving. Synthetic satin is quite the opposite, so satin products are far more common than their silk counterparts.

Casper Is on the (Pillow)Case

Wherever you come down on the great satin vs silk pillowcase debate, one thing is clear: while each comes with a bevy of benefits, your choice should reflect your personal preference. Counting sheep is a matter of comfort, and comfort is a matter of understanding yourself.

Casper’s here to help bridge that gap so you can cross over to dreamland. From pillows to pillowcases, whatever you need, we have you covered.

Sources:

  1. World History Encyclopedia. Silk in Antiquity. https://www.worldhistory.org/Silk/
  2. MasterClass. What Is Satin Fabric? A Guide to the Types, Characteristics, and Uses for Satin. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-satin-fabric-a-guide-to-the-types-characteristics-and-uses-for-satin
  3. MasterClass. Fabric Guide: What Is Silk? How to Use and Care for Silk Fabric. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/fabric-guide-what-is-silk-how-to-use-and-care-for-silk-fabric