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When you think about your skincare routine, you probably envision the cleansers, serums, and moisturizers currently on your shelf. Something else to consider, though? The pillowcase you sleep on each night. To be clear, a new pimple is never fully caused by your pillowcase—but the surface might be contributing to the frequency and severity of your breakouts, says Dr. Lorraine Beraho, founder of GlowRx Skincare. “A pillowcase provides a breeding ground for pimple-causing bacteria and skin irritation with rough-textured fabrics,” she adds.
If you’re like us (and only want your pillowcase to be a breeding ground for quality z’s), consider swapping yours for one of our seven picks below. The best pillowcases for acne are made of materials recommended by skincare experts, and—equally as important—they make a clean, luxe upgrade to your bedding.
- Best overall: Silvon Pillowcase
- Best value: Zimasilk 100 Percent Mulberry Silk
- Best colors: Good Side Standard Silk Pillowcase
- Best silk: Slip Zippered Pillowcase
- Best luxe: Frette Ajour Pillowcase Set
- Best bamboo: Sunday Citizen Premium Bamboo Pillowcase Set
- Best low-maintenance: Déjà Cotton Pillowcase
Best Overall: Silvon Pillowcase
Material: Silver & Supima cotton | Machine-washable: Yes | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Sizing: Standard, King
What we like:
- Woven with silver, which has antimicrobial properties
- Nice selection of muted tones
- 30 night trial
- Tumble dry on low
- Not the softest option
Why we chose it: The best pillowcase for skin is light, breathable, and potentially bacteria-repelling.
Come for the light and airy cotton (and calming muted tones), stay for the unique silver fibers. “Silver has been shown to have antimicrobial properties, so in theory, a pillowcase containing silver may help with the bacterial aspects of acne,” says dermatologist Dr. David Lortscher, co-founder and CEO of Curology. More research is needed in the area, he notes, but this pick’s breathable Supima cotton in itself is ideal for acne-prone skin: Less sweat equals less buildup. A nice bonus: The 30-night trial (which goes for any of the brand’s products). We think you’ll love it—but if you don’t, they’ll refund your $40 (with free shipping to boot).
Best Value: Zimasilk 100 Percent Mulberry Silk
Material: Mulberry silk | Machine-washable: Yes | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Sizing: Standard, King, Queen, Toddler, Throw, Body
What we like:
- 100 percent silk
- Affordable price point
- Stays cool throughout the night
- Machine wash on delicate
- Don’t use bleach or powder detergent
Why we chose it: One hundred percent silk at a low price point makes this an easy “add to cart” decision.
While silk can fall on the pricier side, this 600-thread-count option rings in under $30. Reviews applaud the light and cool feel of the pillowcase and the hidden zipper, which helps keep the pillow from slipping out. The breathable silk is ideal for acne-prone skin because it doesn’t trap oil and sweat the way that synthetic fabrics (such as polyester) might, Dr. Lortscher says. “Bacteria thrive in a moist environment, so if your pillowcase is covered with oil and sweat, it might aggravate a breakout.” The luxe look and extensive color options don’t hurt, either.
Best Colors: Good Side Standard Silk Pillowcase
Material: Mulberry silk | Machine-washable: Yes | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Sizing: Standard
What we like:
- Trendy colors
- Matte look and feel
- Can purchase as a pair
- Only one size option
- Mesh garment bag recommended for washing
Why we chose it: Six fun color options to add instant oomph to your linens.
In addition to being made from 100 percent mulberry silk—one of the most ideal materials for acne-prone skin—the color options (sage, chartreuse, blush, terracotta, lavender, and peach) are ridiculously fun. Available as a single standard or a pair, these pillowcases are a super easy and quick way to zhush up your bedding or do a color refresh here and there. Something to keep in mind: The brand recommends turning the pillowcase inside-out and ironing or steaming on low heat to avoid wrinkles and to revive the silk’s luster.
Best Silk: Slip Zippered Pillowcase
Material: Mulberry silk | Machine-washable: Yes | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Sizing: Queen, King
What we like:
- “Invisible” zipper
- Many color options
- Limited sizing
- Requires pH-neutral liquid detergent
Why we chose it: A popular pick from a brand that’s been refining its silk for over a decade.
If you’re a beauty buff, you’ve likely seen Slip: It’s won over 50 awards in the editorial space and beyond, making it one of the best silk pillowcases for skin. The brand’s best-selling pillowcase, made with what they call “Slipsilk”, purportedly creates 43 percent less friction than widely available cotton pillowcases with a similar thread count. The brand claims that this allows skin to glide on the surface, which can reduce pressure, stretching, and tugging on your skin—all in addition to the breathable benefits of silk. Designer Ariel Orkin, founder of Ariel Okin Interiors, is a fan of the Slip pillowcase herself. She recommends going with the ivory or cream options to blend in with your bed (unless you’ve got a more colorful situation going on).
Best Luxe: Frette Ajour Pillowcase Set
Material: 100 percent cotton | Machine-washable: Yes | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Sizing: King, Standard
What we like:
- Simple, minimalist design
- Elevated open hemstitch
- Free shipping over $500
- Do not wash with bleach or whitener
Why we chose it: If you’re going to splurge on a pillowcase set, make it skin-friendly.
“White is a good color choice that works well for both design and function, especially with cotton, silk, and linen bedding,” says Matthew Malin, cofounder of Malin + Goetz. High-end bedding company Frette is his pick for cotton—which, as a natural fiber, is gentle and “allows your skin to remain cool, reducing sweat and bacteria caused from buildup and dirt on your bedding.” This luxe pillowcase set will elevate any bedding assortment. A good rule of thumb from Malin: “If your white pillowcase does not look white, then it needs to be washed!”
Best Bamboo: Sunday Citizen Premium Bamboo Pillowcase Set
Material: 100 percent viscose from bamboo | Machine-washable: Yes | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Sizing: King, Standard
What we like:
- Helps regulate body temp
- Pretty neutrals and pastels
- Wrinkles easily
- Do not use fabric softeners
Why we chose it: An eco-conscious option that’s equally silky smooth.
Bamboo fabric is both sustainable and ideal for acne-prone skin, Dr. Lortscher says. This moisture-absorbing pillowcase set is antimicrobial, which may help avoid bacteria buildup on the surface that can contribute to breakouts. It comes in nine soothing neutrals and pastels (we love the blush and sage) and the simple, crisp-looking design can be layered into any assortment of pillows already at home on your bed. Reviews for the pillowcase (and linens in general) rave about how soft the fabric is, too.
Best Low-Maintenance: Déjà Cotton Pillowcase
Material: 100 percent cotton sateen | Machine-washable: Yes | Hypoallergenic: N/A | Sizing: King, Queen
What we like:
- Less laundry required
- A fresh surface each evening—literally
- Free shipping and returns
- Only one color option
- Ribbon can be prone to fraying
Why we chose it: A genius shortcut to keep your pillowcase clean, night after night.
A simple thing to help your skin while you snooze? Keep your pillowcase clean. Déjà’s clever design allows you to do just that—all while doing less laundry. This pillowcase comes with four cotton sateen “pages” on each side, secured with a ribbon, so that each evening you can “turn the page” for a fresh pillowcase. You get eight nights of a clean surface to sleep on, which is notable when you consider that experts recommend washing your pillowcase every two to three days. Less laundry, cleaner bed.
How We Chose These Products
To start, we looked to skincare experts, including board-certified doctors and brand founders, to help us understand how different materials can affect skin. And since design is our expertise, we spoke with designers, too, who weighed in on choosing a skin-friendly shell that adds a sense of luxury, a clean look, or a dose of color to your bedroom. Material was the most important factor in our search—from both a function and design perspective—when it came to finding the best pillowcases for acne.
Our Shopping Checklist
Material and Feel
Choosing the best pillowcases for acne is all about the material. When it comes to skin health, silk, satin, lightweight cotton, and bamboo are your best bet. “It’s really important to look for pillowcases that are made of soft, hypoallergenic materials that are breathable,” Dr. Beraho says. “Breathable fabrics help decrease sweat, oils from the hair and face, and skincare products from incubating in the pillowcase—which leads to bacterial growth.” Dr. Lortscher recommends choosing an option that is made with 100 percent natural, non-synthetic fibers like cotton, silk, or bamboo.
You don’t want to end up with pillowcases that don’t actually fit your favorite pillow or look disproportionate to the rest of your bedding, so size—standard vs. king or queen—is important to check before hitting “purchase.”
Care and Maintenance
Keeping your pillowcase clean is (unsurprisingly) a great way to ward off acne-exacerbating bacteria. With that, pick a pillowcase that’s machine-washable for convenience purposes. “Make sure that the washing instructions are easy to follow,” designer Ariel Okin says. “The point of silk [and other skin-friendly materials] is to treat your skin and hair kindly, so making sure that it’s machine-washable will help maximize the effectiveness of the pillowcase.”
Q: How often should I be changing my pillowcase?
More often than you think: Some experts recommend two to three times a week. “In general, it’s a good idea to change it once a week at minimum—and more often if you sweat a lot,” Dr. Lortscher says.
Q: Are my sheets making me break out?
The short answer: They may not be helping the situation. “In theory, pillowcases with a layer of sweat, oil, and product residue from your face, hair, and body could possibly contribute to breakouts,” Dr. Lortscher advises. It’s important to note that this isn’t a proven connection—but the thinking is that anything that involves increased sweating or moisture may increase breakouts.
Q: What else should I consider for my bedtime routine?
Keeping everything as clean as possible is key, and Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz, founders of Malin + Goetz, recommend washing your bedding with non-irritating detergents. “We avoid perfumed detergents and look for gentle or sensitive skin detergents for our bedding,” Malin says. Additionally, you can give your skin a boost by staying consistent with a simple nightly skincare routine, Dr. Lortsher advises.
The Last Word
The bottom line: Material matters, and while it’s probably not the sole scapegoat for your most recent breakout, having the right sleep surface may help avoid your next, which is where the best pillowcases for acne come in handy.
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