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Sheets and pillowcases worth considering in 2021

Medical experts weigh in on the skin benefits of silk pillowcases and cotton sheets and share their thoughts on copper- and silver-infused bedding.
Woman in bed sleeping on silk pillow case and sheets. Dermatologists recommend the best silk bedding and cotton sheets of 2020 along with the benefits of silk for your skin. Brands include Slip pillow case and more on Amazon.
From organic cotton sheets to classic silk pillowcases, these expert-recommended bedding essentials can help make your beauty sleep more enjoyable while improving your skin.Ridofranz / Getty Images

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Sleep is when your body regenerates. In particular, it’s when your skin gets a chance to relax and do the work to look its very best. While we know of products that can aid you in your sleep, there are also types of bedding that are better for your skin than others.

Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, said those with acne-prone skin should be mindful of how the ingredients in their skin care routine can inadvertently ruin their bedding. “For those using benzoyl peroxide products to treat acne, they are likely all too aware of how [the ingredient] can bleach fabric. Benzoyl peroxide-resistant sheets and pillowcases can be a great choice,” she explained.

To gain a better understanding of what other bedding options are beneficial for skin, we spoke with dermatologists about how to shop for the best bedding for your skin. From organic cotton sheets to classic silk pillowcases, these bedding essentials can help make your beauty sleep more enjoyable while improving your skin.

SKIP AHEAD Best silk pillowcases | Best breathable bedding

Silk is lightweight, breathable and non-irritating.

Hadley King, MD, board-certified dermatologist

Benefits of silk pillowcases and sheets

The experts we spoke to recommended silk pillowcases for those concerned with how their bedding affects their skin. “Sheets that keep you cool and comfortable are best,” said board-certified dermatologist Caren Campbell, MD, adding that silk sheets can be "less irritating to the skin for patients with eczema.” She recommended DermaSilk by Alpretec bedding, a medical textile device company focusing on allergy prevention technology — hence “Al-Pre-Tec.” Their bedding contains antimicrobial material — eczema can worsen when the normal skin bacteria overgrow, causing inflammation and irritation that Dermasilk can prevent and reduce, Campbell explained.

King agreed silk sheets and pillowcases are good for the skin. “They can be helpful for sensitive skin because silk is lightweight, breathable and non-irritating,” she added. “Silk dressings are sometimes used for burns and severe eczema because of these properties.” However, Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, said that a silk pillowcase is ultimately more important than silk sheets. “The rest of your body won't benefit the way your hair and face will," she noted.

Silk pillowcases

Below are some highly rated silk pillowcases we think are worth considering based on expert guidance we got, and one specific recommendation from an expert.

Slip Queen Silk Pillowcase

Robinson said that, if possible, you should splurge on a high-end silk pillowcase and save on the rest. She specifically noted the quality of the Slip Pillowcase, which comes in numerous colorways and both Queen and King sizes.

Alaska Bear Natural Silk Pillowcase

This 600-thread-count pillowcase is made of high-quality, 100-percent mulberry silk. There's also a hidden zipper so you won't have to worry about accidentally snagging your skin or hair. Choose between 40 colors and patterns such as Tiffany, The Dandelion and The Marble White and seven sizes, including body pillow and travel pillow.

SpaSilk 100% Pure Silk Pillowcase

SpaSilk made its 100-percent charmeuse silk pillowcase with preventing face wrinkles and frizzy hair in mind. The hypoallergenic and breathable material is helpful for those with allergies. It’s available in 12 colors — including Sage, Champagne and Burgundy — and in three sizes: Travel, Queen and King.

How to get rid of sleep wrinkles

Rough sleepers who wake up with sleep wrinkles don’t have a completely clear path to freedom. “Sleeping on your back is important at preventing sleep wrinkles, but again good sleep is most important. Back sleeping can worsen other medical conditions like acid reflux or snoring for example, so only practice back sleeping if it also enables you to get good rest,” said Campbell.

King noted that while silk pillowcases are often recommended for preventing sleep creases — the soft material is supposedly less likely to crease your skin — the effectiveness of silk for this purpose has not been proven. Instead, she recommended the Nurse Jamie Beauty Bear Age Defy Pillow for the issue of sleep wrinkles — “its unique U-shape design cradles the face so it does not become creased with pressure as on a standard pillow,” she explained.

Benefits of breathability in pillowcases and sheets

The dermatologists we consulted all agree that breathable fabrics are helpful. The experts say breathability is an important factor in regulating skin temperature, which has been shown to affect sleep quality. King recommends finding 100 percent cotton or silk bedding to promote excellent sleep quality.

Below are some highly rated options we think are worth considering based on expert guidance we got.

Sol Organics Crisp Percale Organic Sheets

“Breathable natural fibers such as eucalyptus, bamboo, crisp percale cotton and linen are popular,” Cheung said. These 300-thread-count sheets from Sol Organics are made from 100-percent organic cotton and available in five colors, including Ivory and Steel Grey. The sets come with one fitted sheet, one flat sheet and two pillowcases and are available in six sizes — from Twin to California King mattresses.

Brooklinen’s Linen Core Sheet Set

Brooklinen’s sheets are a popular choice for linen fans and sweaty sleepers, according to Cheung. “Less heat is trapped and moisture is removed away from the skin to keep them comfortable overnight,” she said. These 100-percent linen sheets are made with Belgian and French Flax and the company says they are OEKO-TEX certified for chemical safety.

Sheets & Giggles’ Eucalyptus Lyocell Sheet Sets

These sheets are both breathable and sustainable — they're made of 100-percent lyocell, an environmentally sustainable fiber made from eucalyptus tree pulp. These ultra-soft sheets will have you sleeping comfortably, knowing both your skin and the environment will benefit. Available in seven colors and seven sizes, including Split King, you can find an option to fit your personal style.

Benefits of metals in bedding

Brands are infusing their sheets and bedding with metals like silver, which has antimicrobial properties. A 2012 study in the National Library of Medicine found that pillowcases infused with copper help with signs of aging.

However, the doctors we consulted recommended taking that information with a grain of salt. Jessie Cheung, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Chicago, has an idea of where that idea came from: “Germaphobia is to blame for the trend in silver and copper bedding, as these metals are antimicrobial. The idea is to decrease the bacteria that cause acne and odors, although we don't know if we are causing a detrimental imbalance of our normal skin microbiome.”

Cheung said that both silver and copper are anti-inflammatory and enhance wound healing, while copper boosts collagen synthesis. “However, with the variability in the amount of silver and copper lost while washing your bedding, it may make more sense to invest in a shower before bedtime and just do laundry more frequently,” she explained.

If you’re still interested in trying out some metal-infused sheets, there are a few options on the market. Silvon Home sheet sets are 100 percent cotton infused with silver threads. Miracle Brand’s Miracle Sheet Set is made with all-natural silver and the company says it removes “99 percent of bacteria through a process called ionization.” Sheex Luxury Copper Sheets uses PRO+IONIC copper fabric, a super-soft material that releases ions that may decrease oxidants in the body as well as helps to keep the body cool.

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