Recently I have discovered a very effective new beauty routine – one simple move, involving no cosmetics or procedures but giving noticeable benefits to skin and hair, and with a touch of luxury about it. Change to a silk pillowcase – it’s as simple as that. Upon investigation, there appears to be some fairly convincing science attached to the idea and, more importantly, the actual testing was emphatically positive. Our testers ranged in age from their 30s to their 60s and all reported back in glowing terms.

The pillowcases tested were sourced for their beauty benefits, with silk quality and practical details such as seaming and size carefully factored in. Several have come from small companies run by individuals with a real passion for the benefits and beauty of silk, who have searched far and wide for the best quality with the most beneficial attributes. Most are made from mulberry silk, which tends to be the most luxurious and most durable. It is graded in “mommes” to indicate weight, with 12-19 mommes considered high quality.

Recommended by dermatologists as an anti-ageing tool, silk pillowcases let skin retain its natural moisture while you sleep, keeping it soft, supple and helping reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Cotton, by contrast, is a very absorbent fabric which draws moisture from your face and hair.

The science bit shows some convincing benefits: it turns out silk is made of strings of amino acids with the same ph level as our skin; it is naturally hypoallergenic, natural mulberry silk containing sericin, a protein that reduces the possibility of an allergic reaction and can thus be beneficial for those who suffer from sensitive skin and itchy skin conditions, such as rosacea and eczema. 

Silk pillowcases are not cheap, but translate into a good buy when compared to even a mid range pot of face cream and given that they are surprisingly tough, washable and durable, the price seems a worthwhile investment over time.

Since a good night’s sleep is probably the best beauty treatment of all, and I found that I really did sleep better – the pillowcase seeming magically to improve the quality of my pillow – this was, all in all, a very good move.

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This is Silk £45.99 (including free shipping to the UK),  

The blurb on the box tells you everything you need to know about this little piece of luxury, which announces itself as an eight-hour beauty treatment, which will give you anti-ageing, anti bedhead hair and anti sleep-crease benefits while you sleep. Where cotton and synthetic fibres in pillowcases can create friction, which drags skin and hair, these pillowcases are made from a superior grade of mulberry silk which is soft and smooth. The founder of the company, Sonal Keay, spent a long time sourcing the quality of silk.

She settled for a 22 momme weight because she finds the thicker silk smoother and more lustrous and, crucially, it emerges perfectly from a delicates machine wash (at max 30C). She felt that it important that, if looked after well, her pillowcases would last a long time, and they are supremely washable, with the slightly thicker and heavier pure white silk feeling gorgeous on the skin, very soft and with no seaming, except at the sides.

Our tester has really sensitive skin and loved the pillowcase. After one cool, comfortable night her skin felt less aggravated and puffy. The smoothness and lack of abrasion made her skin feel softer after only a few days, with the effect continuing longer term.

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The Ethical Silk Company, queensize pillowcase, £45,

These pillowcases come from silk made from a different process from the others tested. Though soft, it initially seems a little stiffer and thicker. Eva Power’s first introduction to the benefits of sleeping on silk came from her mother, who always slept with a silk scarf draped over her pillow, and encouraged her daughters to do the same to benefit their skin and hair.

That gave Eva the idea for her company, and as she found out more about silk as a fibre, led her to source the most eco-friendly mulberry silk available, extracted after the silkworm has emerged from the cocoon as a moth. The resulting silk is soft and fine, with a subtle matte lustre, more like a fine linen than the shiny finish of traditional silk.

It has a momme weight of 19. Our tester has noticeably dry skin and she found overnight improvements during her trial month. The pillowcase still looked nice and clean every morning, suggesting no moisture was being absorbed from our tester's skin while she slept.

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Gingerlily Beauty Box Silk Pillowcase, £45,

Our tester was very pleased with this from the outset. Opening the Gingerlily Beauty Box revealed a luxuriously soft pillowcase in an expensive-looking ivory shade that looked very good with her white bedding. She could have chosen silver grey or nude, all in pure 19 momme mulberry silk, and there is a monogramming service which would make for a great present.

While our tester is normally prone to wake up with a bed-crinkled face, this did not happen with the Gingerlilly pillowcase, which bodes well for its anti ageing properties. With a distinct shortage of time for hair brushing first thing, she found waking up with slinkier hair a massive bonus, affirming silk is better for a get up and go look, and bearing out the company’s suggestion that because it is anti static and contains the same naturally occurring proteins as hair, sleeping on silk will reduce friction and moisture loss, preventing hair from becoming dry and brittle and helping it to be healthy and shiny.

On a practical note, she has found her pillowcase also washes well in a regular cool wash and is easy to iron, rendering it a splendidly low maintenance piece of kit. 

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Soak and Sleep Pair of Mulberry silk housewife pillowcases, £55, www.soakandsleep

The Soak and Sleep ethos is all about helping customers find products that support a great night’s sleep and, given the name of the company, it is not surprising the sleep benefits of their good value pillowcases are what they stress.Our tester likened the delicate cream shade and glorious soft silk of this pair of pillowcases to sleeping on a wedding dress.

On a more practical level, the zip closure and tailored piping guaranteed a good fit and kept the pillow in place. The cool, breathable texture of the 17 momme, 100 per cent mulberry silk contributed to a lovely night’s sleep right through the test. Our tester felt there was a noticeable improvement in the moisture level of her skin. 

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Holistic Silk pure silk pillowcase, cream and white versions, £65, Limited Edition Liberty Print Silk, £110, Cult Beauty

Wrapped in its own little organza bag, this is a luxurious, soft, 100 per cent mulberry 19 momme silk pillowcase; beautifully made, sized to fit a standard pillow and with piped edges to ensure it stays in place. It feels super smooth and our tester found it lovely to lie down on and not at all slithery, as she had feared. She had been dubious about its face-smoothing qualities but was convinced after one comfortable night’s sleep, from which she emerged looking “rather less rumpled than usual”.

She found it really good at combating split ends while she slept, and noticed it no longer seems quite so imperative to wash her hair every other day since she started using the pillowcase – that right there is a potential saving in time and shampoo! The fact things went downhill a bit hair-wise when she spent a week away without the magic pillowcase, has convinced her that from now on she will be using that little organza bag to take it with her.

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The Verdict: Silk pillowcases

This is Silk has a particularly luxurious feel, and The Ethical Silk Company provides an all-round lovely product.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.