They don’t call it “beauty sleep” for nothing. Getting a minimum of seven hours nightly is good for your health, which is above all else. But sleeping in the wrong position, or on the wrong type of pillowcase, can actually make you look more tired.
Luckily, there are also a few hacks to improve your chances of looking your best when you wake up. We talked to medical and beauty experts about the “three p’s” — position, pillowcases and purpose — which will help you get your zzz’s in the most wrinkle-preventing way possible.
Position matters. Try to sleep on your back.
“Sleeping on your back is the best option when it comes to reducing wrinkles,” said dermatologist Michael Jacobs, medical technology director at Cortina and clinical associate professor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. “When you sleep on your side, the skin folds and there is pressure on just one side of the face, which can allow wrinkles to form. Sleeping on your back can help combat those unwanted lines.”
Dermatologist Courtney Rubin, co-founder of Fig.1, agreed that back is best for wrinkle prevention. “Sleeping preferentially on one side of your face, or on your stomach, can lead to pressure and shear forces on the skin, along with creasing of the skin,” she said. “Spending many hours sleeping in a position where your skin is stretched and creased from your sleeping position can lead to wrinkle formation over time. If this applies to you, then finding a pillow that offloads pressure from your face — or changing positions to sleep on your back — can reduce the likelihood of these wrinkles.”
“Sleeping this way eliminates the possibility of your face being pressed into a surface all night,” said dermatologist Arash Akhavan. “It also eliminates any potential irritation from the surface you are sleeping on.”
If you’re wondering how you can change your natural sleeping position, there are ways. Here’s a full guide.
“Picture tossing a sheet down on your bed, crumpled in a pile,” said Joie Tavernise, medical esthetician and founder of JTAV Clinical Skincare. “The next day that sheet will be wrinkly, whereas if you stretch it out flat, it will remain wrinkle-free. Our skin acts the same way.” Her advice? “Just as you wear a hat and sunscreen during the day to protect from harmful UV rays and free radicals, at night there are tools and products to use to ensure that you aren’t doing damage during what is supposed to be a replenishing time.”
Pillowcases can be soothing for skin, especially if they’re silk.
If you’ve been reading about the benefits of having the right type of pillowcase, there are some experts who see the logic behind the claims. “Silk pillowcases are better for your skin,” Jacobs said. “There’s less friction between your skin and the pillow, which reduces the negative effect that it can have on your skin.”
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Don’t forget sleep masks, too, he said. “Using a silk sleeping eye mask can significantly reduce the formation of wrinkles by protecting the most delicate part of your skin around your eyes.”
So what’s so great about silk? “Because silk is softer than cotton, it won’t tug or pull at the skin as you move around during sleep,” Tavernise explained. “Silk also absorbs less moisture than cotton or microfiber, so it won’t suck the hydration or night products from your skin overnight.” She had another smart tip to keep your face its freshest: “Regardless of what type of pillowcase you use, you should be washing it regularly to prevent the spread of bacteria that can lead to acne.”
But sleep alone has a lot of benefits for your skin.
It’s important to prioritize sleep as a time to undo some damage of the day that’s just passed.
“Most of the environmental damage that happens to skin is during the daytime hours, with exposure to pollution and oxidizing agents, UV light and other factors, which all contribute, over time, to loss of collagen, fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots,” said Rubin. “I think of nighttime as a chance for skin recovery, by using topicals like retinol, which supports collagen production, and by getting sufficient rest to combat daily wear-and-tear.”
“When you’re sleeping, your skin is working to rejuvenate itself by increasing blood flow and rebuilding collagen,” Akhavan said. “With an insufficient amount of sleep, the body produces stress response hormones, which play a major role in skin inflammation, aging and slower wound healing. Lack of sleep is one of the main contributors to aging skin, and it also exacerbates inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis.”
So remember: Get a fresh, clean pillowcase (possibly silk), lie flat on your back and enjoy those sweet, skin-renewing dreams.
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An organic 22-momme silk pillowcase and matching eye mask.
“Using a silk sleeping eye mask can significantly reduce the formation of wrinkles by protecting the most delicate part of your skin around your eyes,” said dermatologist Michael Jacobs.
This zippered-closure 22-momme pillowcase comes with matching double-sided sleep mask made from the same organic Mulberry silk. The American Sleep Association recommends searching for a 100% Mulberry silk sheet with a rating of 15 momme or above. The higher the momme, the stronger and more durable the weave.
The set is available in 17 color options.
A skin-friendly Mulberry silk pillowcase from Brooklinen
This 100% Mulberry silk envelope-closure pillowcase from Brooklinen comes in a variety of patterns and colors, and due to the anti-friction nature of silk, it can protect hair and skin from damage. It’s also machine-washable when using cold water and pH-neutral laundry detergent.
A set of two high-momme 6A-grade silk cases
This luxurious pair of 100% 6A-grade Mulberry silk cases has a momme of 30, which means a tighter weave and higher density of silk. They feature a slightly oversized fit with an envelope closure and are available in four color options.
A popular 19-momme case at a reasonable price point
This 100% Mulberry silk pillowcase by Zima Silk has close to 29,000 five-star-ratings on Amazon, is resistant to fading and has a zippered closure. It’s available in six sizes, including for body pillows and throws, and is offered in 34 different colors and patterns.
A natural silk pillowcase that has been highly rated
Made with 100% mulberry silk spun by domesticated silkworms, this pillowcase has a momme of 22 and it’s available in three sizes and 20 colors including lavender, midnight blue, champagne and saffron yellow. It also has a discrete zippered closure to keep the case in place all night long.
An Oeko-Tex certified set of eucalyptus pillowcases
These silky hypoallergenic and antibacterial silk alternative sheets are made using 100% premium lyocell fibers from eucalyptus that effectively mimic the temperature-regulating quality of silk. This sustainably processed material is three times more breathable than cotton and has moisture-wicking abilities to help keep the body cool while also being great for sensitive or acne-prone skin. These cases by Eucalypso are available in two sizes and seven colors including rust, spring green and light gray.
An affordable Mulberry silk case with lyocell backing
This machine washable pillowcase by Thnxsilk features a fun strawberry print with red piping and is made with 100% 19-momme silk on one side and lyocell on the other. Lyocell is a highly breathable fabric and cooling fabric with similar properties to silk and both materials have been Oeko-Tex certified. This pillowcase is available in three sizes.
A luxurious Mulberry silk charmeuse pillowcase
This case is made using a supple charmeuse weave that helps skin feel moisturized and hair frizz-free. It has a momme of 22 and a hidden side zipper to keep it in place while you sleep. It’s available in three sizes and 26 colors like taupe, cream, coral and sea-foam green.
A pair of cooling and sustainable CleanBamboo sateen cases
Ettitude’s signature sateen sheets are sustainably crafted using cleanly sourced bamboo lyocell which is cooling, soft and breathable, just like silk. The similar weave structure is also hypoallergenic and can be machine washed just like cotton or flannel sheets. The set is available in 12 colors such as moss, sage and sky blue and is also Oeko-Tex certified.
A natural and cooling vegan silk pillowcase
For a vegan silk sheet alternative not made from silk worms, you can try the naturally cooling properties of these pillowcases made from Tencel fiber, a soft and sustainably sourced fabric that mimics the same breathable and temperature-regulating qualities of silk. The sateen weave of these sheets is highly absorbent, making them a good option for sweaty sleepers. They’re also anti-bacterial and anti-allergenic, easy to wash and wrinkle resistant.
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