As many of my curly-haired colleagues know, managing your curls requires a lot of problem-solving. I used to straighten the bananas out of it, until I figured out a good curl routine in my late twenties. Even then, I would get only one day of great curls and wake up to find them tangled and trashed.
I tried a bunch of products. Sea salt spray makes my hair feel sticky and dry. My hairdresser suggested a head wrap, but I kept waking up to find it lost in my sheets. So many of my friends raved about silk pillowcases: “Your skin and hair will look so much better!” “It’s the only thing I’ll sleep on!” I decided this would be the easiest—and best!—solution.
By now, I’ve tried a couple of silk pillowcases in different momme weights. (Silk is measured by weight in the weave; the higher the momme weight, the denser the silk.) While the frizz has cut down considerably, I’ve realized that nothing can stop me from crushing my curls.
Two to Tango
I slept on pillowcases from LilySilk and Quince. I’ve tried 19- and 22-momme weight pillowcases, and I didn’t really see a difference in my hair between the two weights. From both pillowcases I woke up with smoother hair but curls that still needed a little oomph added back into them.
I did prefer the feel of Quince’s pillowcase. The value proposition also seems to be better, as the 22-momme pillowcase is the same price as as LilySilk’s 19-momme pillowcase ($40 is a great price for a silk pillowcase!). The Quince version also comes with a zipper, so it looks a little more finished on the bed.
LilySilk, on the other hand, has three pillowcase sizes instead of two, if you’re particular about what size pillowcase you get, and it comes in as high as 25-momme if you’re looking for a higher weight. I also loved the presentation of its pillowcases, as they come in a pretty little box with a ribbon.
I’ve seen some benefits from sleeping on a silk pillowcase. At the very least, my hair is certainly softer and more manageable in the mornings, thanks to fewer dry patches and knots. According to articles from the National Library of Medicine and the Journal of Sericultural Science of Japan, silk absorbs less moisture than other fabrics, so you’re losing less moisture in your hair (and your skin) overnight. Retaining that moisture makes your hair feel silkier when you wake up.
But by sleeping on a silk pillowcase, I’ve actually added to my maintenance work. Silk requires much more careful washing than your standard cotton or linen pillowcase. LilySilk’s recommended maintenance suggests dry cleaning or handwashing, or using a mesh bag on as low as a cycle as possible, with a sun-free hang dry and ideally a special detergent for silk.
I’m tired just from writing that list, let alone actually doing it. For a single pillowcase?! But you need to do it, because otherwise it loses its sheen and starts to look dull. You can try using a white vinegar bath to restore your silk pillowcase.
All Night Long
Ultimately, I realized that even a silk pillowcase can’t fix the real reason my hair is a mess. I toss and turn, squashing my hair in various directions, and effectively flattening my hair each night. (It’s no wonder my head wraps kept falling off my head.) My hair is certainly less tangled each morning thanks to the silk pillowcases, but it still requires some reviving each day.
I had imagined waking up and being instantly ready to go, at least as far as my hairstyle goes. The thing is, I do get that experience on some days—on the days I blow out my natural curls and replace them with Dyson Airwrap-created ones. It’s a bummer to realize that silk pillowcases are, like many other things, great for those with straighter hair.
Maybe instead of a silk pillowcase, the best way to solve my nighttime hair-related problems would be to work on getting more peaceful sleep, either with a new mattress or even an alarm clock to tell me AI-generated stories. But that’s a problem for another day.