A silk pillowcase is a popular alternative to cotton or synthetic materials due to the way it looks after your skin whilst you’re asleep. The idea is that it doesn’t absorb moisture as much as cotton. As a result you definitely wake up looking like a supermodel (Ed: er, not sure we can guarantee that).
The three main things to look for when you’re buying a silk pillowcase.
- What is the ‘momme’ rating? The usual range is about 15-25. Higher numbers mean they are heavier, more durable and usually more expensive. The majority of the silk pillowcases we found on sale in the UK had a momme rating of 19 whilst some were 22 and 25.
- Is it made from 100% Mulberry silk? Most expert guides seem to say this is the best and most durable option. Cheaper alternatives are mixed with synthetic materials. Just because it’s shiny, it doesn’t mean it’s silk.
- What’s the thread count? This isn’t always specified, but don’t get too excited by very high numbers, as there are some creative counting techniques. However, genuinely higher numbers have advantages. Most guides seem to say 400 thread count or more is preferable.
Other things which bump are the price are whether it is silk on both sides and whether it’s a brand you’ve heard of or a complete unknown.
I’ve picked out six of the best silk pillowcases based on customer reviews, specification and value for money.
1. Alaska Bear Natural Silk Pillowcase - £23 for one
There are loads of cheap silk pillowcases on Amazon, but this one from Alaska Bear stands out for me.
Most importantly, it’s 100% mulberry silk rather than a mix of silk with cheaper materials which you’ll find with some ‘silk’ pillowcases.
It’s had more than 18000 customer reviews (average of 4.6/5) and comes in several colours and sizes.
It’s got a momme rating of 19, which is a score for silk pillowcases based on their weight. One useful guide reckons that ‘you are looking for something in the upper teens to very low 20s at the upper end’ for a silk pillowcase. Several silk pillowcases cost two or three times as much as this one but have the same rating of 19.
It’s silk on both sides, whereas some of the cheapest silk pillowcases are silk on one side with cotton on the other which saves a bit of money.
According to the blurb, it’s also ‘OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Certified’ which is a fairly standard thing which means that it ‘has been tested for harmful substances‘.
The bad news
One downside for anyone as lazy as me is that they recommend hand washing the pillowcase in cold water. You also shouldn’t tumble dry it, whereas some other silk pillowcases say you can machine wash them and tumble dry them. See the John Lewis silk pillowcase at number three on this list if that’s your priority.
Pros: great range of colours, good momme rating for the price, vast number of reviews
Cons: hand wash only, no tumble dry option
Our Value Rating: ***** (see notes at foot of page)
2. Calidad Home Silk Pillowcase – £55 for one
Calidad Home gets outstanding customer reviews with an average of 4.7/5 on TrustPilot at the time of writing. Admittedly that’s the score for the brand as a whole but silk pillowcases are the main thing they sell.
Their silk pillowcases are a little pricier than some but they have a ‘momme rating’ of 22, which is higher than most. That means that it will be a little thicker and so should be a bit more durable.
Calidad Home’s silk pillowcases also come in a bigger range of colours and styles than most. You can either pick from 11 different plain coloured silk pillowcases or you can pay a bit extra for a funky pattern or one in a gift box.
Pros: higher momme rating than most rivals, unusual patterns and colours
Cons: more expensive than some silk pillowcases, less famous brand than John Lewis & Partners or LilySilk
Our Value Rating: ****
3. John Lewis & Partners The Ultimate Collection Silk Pillowcase – £45 for one
You pay quite a lot more for a John Lewis & Partners silk pillowcase, but there’s a lot to be said for buying from a household name. Plus, you can say things to the neighbours like ‘if we aren’t in, would you mind taking delivery of our John Lewis silk pillowcases?’.
The pillowcases come in a glorious choice of 12 colours and are made from 100% mulberry silk, with a momme rating of 19 (same as the cheap Alaska Bear pillowcase included at number one).
One big advantage for me is that you can machine wash it at 40 degrees and tumble dry it ‘at low temperature’ whereas some silk pillowcases require handwashing and say they can’t be tumble dried.
It scores 4.6/5 from 500+ customers.
Pros: highly trusted brand name, good choice of colours, machine washable, positive reviews
Cons: more expensive than other brands for the same momme rating, only plain patterns
Our Value Rating: ****
4. Soak & Sleep Pure Mulberry Silk Pillowcases – £55 for two
You get two pillowcases in a pack from Soak & Sleep, so they aren’t actually a lot more expensive than the cheap Alaska Bear pillowcase we picked out from Amazon (and you can sometimes get a discount code for Soak & Sleep).
It comes in a modest range of four colours including pink, blue and white and you can also get silk duvet covers to match if you’ve recently had a lottery win.
The main advantage is that you are buying from a well known name in the UK bedding market, which has won several awards and currently scores 4.7/5 on TrustPilot from 20,000+ customer reviews.
In terms of specification, they are made from 100% mulberry silk and have a momme rating of 19 (which means it is a decent weight and the same as most of the others we’ve included in this guide).
There weren’t a huge number of customer reviews of this product when we checked, but the average score was glowing red hot at 4.8/5.
According to the blurb, you can use a machine to wash these, but they say you should use the delicate setting and wash at 30°C.
Pros: great value per pillowcase, machine washable, highly rated retailer
Cons: requires you to buy two pillowcases, momme rating is OK but not spectacular
Our Value Rating: *****
5. Lilysilk 25 Momme Luxury Silk Pillowcase – £75 for one
Lilysilk offers more luxurious silk pillowcases than most of the others on this list, but they’re a bit more expensive than most. They also offer 60 day free returns.
As well as 19 momme silk pillowcases, they also offer some which are 25 momme which is considered a decent upgrade. As a reminder for those who drifted off to sleep at the start of this fascinating guide, the momme rating is a technical score related to the weight of the silk.
They come in six different colours and several sizes and were achieving very positive reviews for the individual products when we checked. The Lilysilk brand as a whole scores 4.2/5 on TrustPilot from 12000+ reviews at the time of writing.
They have a very high thread count (750) and they’ve got the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification, which means it’s been tested for eco-friendliness.
Needless to say, it’s 100% mulberry silk. You won’t be getting any cheap blended material for this price.
Pros: very high momme rating compared to rivals, very high thread count, positive reviews
Cons: modest range of colours, expensive
Our Value Rating: ****
6. Slip Silk Pillowcase – £85 for one
If you’re a trendy wendy then you might want a Slip Silk Pillowcase.
You may have noticed the price is about four times as much as some other silk pillowcases – so what are you getting for your money, besides celebrity endorsements?
Well, in fairness their pillowcases have a higher momme rating than most at 22. That means it is slightly heavier weight and better quality than a 19 momme silk pillowcase.
Of course, it’s also 100% mulberry silk, as you’d expect for the money.
The real advantage though is the range of 20 different designs and colours, which is far better than any other silk pillowcase company we’ve found. Also, some of the designs are rather funky and unusual rather than the usual plain colours.
It’s machine washable and comes in a nice little box so would make a decent present too.
Pros: unusual patterns and designs, fashionable brand, machine washable, presentation box
Cons: expensive, standard grade silk
Our Value Rating: ***
About our value rating
‘Our Value Rating’ is our subjective opinion of what you are getting for your money. We compare the price when we checked with the specification of the pillowcase and rival pillowcases. We factor in brand value, warranty, momme rating and other factors to reach our conclusions.
If you see a five star rating, it means we think it is ‘exceptionally good value’. We tend to give out a maximum of one or two of these ratings in each of our guides. Four star ratings mean that we think a product is ‘very good value’ whilst three star products are ‘good value’ in our opinion. Two star and one star products are not usually included in our guides as we think they only offer ‘reasonably good value’ and ‘poor value’ respectively.
What’s the evidence for and against using silk pillowcases?
A number of relevant studies have been carried out into the impact of switching to silk bedding and materials. A lot of the research has looked at silk’s value for dealing with skin conditions such as acne but the findings are still worth a mention.
In 2017 Schaunig and Kopera looked at whether ‘Dermasilk’ would have ‘a positive influence on acne vulgaris on the back’. Dermasilk is a brand which is popular with people who have serious skin conditions and is made from ‘medical grade silk and bonded with Microbe Shield technology’.
Schaunig and Kopera’s research involved giving Dermasilk T-Shirts to 14 people who had ‘acne vulgaris papulopustulosa’. After six weeks there was a ‘clinically significant reduction in acne lesions on the back’, demonstrating the material’s potential benefits for skincare.
In 2006, a similar study was carried out by Ricci, Patrizi et al which led to ‘significant improvements’ amongst children with dermatitis.
Copper oxide as an alternative to a silk pillowcase
As an alternative, you might like to read this study into ‘copper oxide-containing pillowcases’ which was led by Baek, Yoo et al in 2012. They investigated whether ‘sleeping on pillowcases containing copper-impregnated fibers would reduce skin wrinkles’. Over eight weeks, volunteers aged 30-60 used either a standard pillowcase or a copper-oxide containing pillowcase. The results were very positive, with the use of the copper oxide-containing pillowcase resulting in ‘significant decrease of crow’s feet after 4 and 8 weeks’.
You’ll find a number of copper oxide containing pillowcases are sold on Amazon and other shops.
Need a pillow? Check out our guide to the best pillows