If we don’t already have enough to worry about when it comes to skin aging it turns out that perhaps how we sleep or on what we rest our head can hurt our skin. As with most skincare subjects this topic is highly debatable so let us check things out more closely.
It’s hard to sleep on your back but should you do so in order to prevent wrinkles? It turns out that a lot of experts actually say “yes, you should sleep on your back”. Take for instance this exchange from The Huffington Post:
… we’re pulling apart the thinking that the way you sleep can exacerbate wrinkles. New York dermatologist Debra Jaliman, author of “Skin Rules,” breaks it down for us.
This all started a few months back when I was getting a facial. I asked the aesthetician why the fine lines around my eyes seemed to be more noticeable on the right side of my face. “Do you sleep on your side?” she asked. “Yes,” I responded. I’ve been faithfully sleeping on my right side my entire life. “Well, that’s why,” she pointed out. Dr. Jaliman concurs: “The way you sleep does affect wrinkles — that’s why some lines are called sleep lines. If you crunch your face against a pillow you can get them.”
“It’s best to sleep on your back, although most people find this difficult,” says Jaliman. Indeed. Every attempt I’ve made to become a back-sleeper usually ends back at square one, i.e., comfortably on my right side. “One way to do this is to put a U-shaped bucky pillow around your neck and to prop yourself with other pillows all around you so you don’t turn in your sleep,” advises Jaliman.
(From Does Sleeping on Your Side Cause Wrinkles? Beauty Myth or Not?)
WebMD actually refers to the American Academy of Dermatology when telling readers to sleep on their back. I had to find the original reference from the AAD and here it is:
- Try to sleep on your back. Do you wake up with sleep lines on your face? Sleeping on your side or your face causes these lines. In time, these lines turn into permanent wrinkles.
(From What Causes Our Skin to Age)
There are even pillows that help achieve wrinkle free sleep. Allure explains:
Do you have fine lines, wrinkles, or crow’s-feet? Well, maybe it’s because you’re not sleeping on a pillow shaped like Transformers. At least according to the plastic surgeon who designed the JuveRest, a pillow that supposedly reduces the wrinkles acquired by smooshing our faces into our pillows while we snooze.
“My patients are often surprised to learn there are two types of wrinkles on their faces: those caused by expression and those caused by facial distortion from pillow contact during sleep,” says Goesel Anson, the inventor of the pillow. Side and stomach sleepers are the most vulnerable since they spend a third of their lives pressing their delicate visages into heretofore thought totally innocuous bags of goose down.
The Sleep Wrinkle Pillow’s totally un-pillowlike shape minimizes contact between the fabric and your face, thus reducing wrinkles … .
(From Sleep Wrinkles? The Lego Pillow Might Be For You)
Don’t want to invest in a special pillow? Can’t sleep on your back? Maybe all you need to do is use a satin pillowcase. Again I’ll refer to The Huffington Post article
If sleeping on your back is absolutely impossible, don’t worry, all is not lost. “A few tricks to avoid sleep lines is to get satin pillowcases as opposed to the usual cotton pillowcases. The face slides against the satin pillowcase so that it doesn’t crunch against it, and no sleep lines are formed. Beauty sleep pillows are also an option, they are made with a special foam and have a unique shape which helps alleviate pressure on the face.”
Ok but does anyone disagree with the above advice? The Beauty Brains certainly do. Take for instance what they wrote in the post Does Sleeping on Your Face Give You Wrinkles?:
Long time readers of the Beauty Brains may recall the debate that raged over our post on “Are silk pillowcases good for your skin.” At the time, we took the position that there is no data showing that contact between your face and the pillow case causes wrinkles. A new study published in the June 2013 of Dermatologic Surgery seems to support our position.
The study, conducted by Dr. Brett Kotlus, evaluated whether or not sleeping on one side of your face causes an increase in wrinkles. Here’s a link to the study Effect of Sleep Position on Perceived Facial Aging however you have to be a member to download the entire article. So to make it easy for you, Dr. Klotus has provided a few key take away points:
- The study shows no association between sleep side and wrinkles
- Overall, more wrinkles were seen on the left side of the face (not related to sleep position) but instead attributed to to sun exposure while driving. Other studies have found more skin cancer on the left side of the face for the same reason.
- The study also calls into question if anti-wrinkle sleep pillows are worthwhile.
In conclusion Dr. Klotus says “I do think that sleep lines come from pillow pressure, but other environmental factors such as sun are more important contributors to wrinkles than sleep position.”
And what about silk pillowcases? Above I mentioned the recommendation to use a satin pillowcase, but let us throw silk pillowcases into the mix too. Plus The Beauty Brains post, Are Silk Pillowcases Good for Your Skin?, is too good not to share:
Stephanie says: Is it true that it is better for your skin to sleep on silk pillow cases?
The Left Brain believes:
There is some evidence, like this Pubmed article, that indicates special silk clothing can reduce atopic dermatitis in children who are prone to that condition. However, I have can’t find any evidence that sleeping on silk pillowcases is really better for your skin. Nonetheless, one brand, Silkskin Antiwrinkle Pillowcases, says they actually fight the signs of aging. Here are a few claims from their website followed by my comments:
1. Gives your skin the chance to breathe naturally
While your skin does perspire and while certain chemicals can clog your pores and cause acne, skin does not really “breathe” so silk doesn’t really make a difference in this regard.
2. Because moisture levels are being maintained throughout the night, deeper lines and wrinkles are not forming.
Moisture loss causes dry scaly skin, not wrinkles. A pillow case can not stop wrinkles from forming.
3. Different from run of the mill silk pillow case as it is made from organic silk which contains amino acids, the building blocks of your skin.
ALL silk is made of amino acids, so the fact that this silk is organic is completely irrelevant. And the amino acid profile of silk is different than keratin protein, which is what skin is made of. And, even if it were the same, it’s not like the amino acids leap off the pillowcase and attach to your skin.
4. Organic silk also has the same pH balance of your skin.
Measuring pH really only makes sense when you’re talking about a water solution. Yes, skin has a optimal pH balance, but the pH of fabric you’re sleeping on is really irrelevant.
5. When sleeping on this pillowcase, your night cream is fully absorbed by the skin and won’t rub off like it usually does, therefore allowing the cream to work to maximum effect.
I’m curious if Silkskin has any actual data to back up this claim. I suppose it’s possible that silk is less absorbent than cotton, which means it could absorb less oils and moisture from the surface of your skin. But even if silk is less absorbent, just the friction of your skin against the fabric as you move around in your sleep is still enough to wipe some of the lotion off your face. Without some kind of test data to show Silkskin has a beneficial effect, I’m skeptical on this claim.
6. Silk stops you getting the dreaded ‘bedhead’ as your hair will simply glide over the pillowcase.
Bed head isn’t just caused by rubbing your hair across the fabric of the pillow. It’s also caused by the warmth and moisture of your perspiring scalp saturating your hair and reforming the hydrogen bonds (also known as salt bonds) in your hair, which results in the bizarre hair configuration you wake up with. Since silk doesn’t stop you from perspiring, it probably has little effect on bed head. But once again, if there’s test data to the contrary I’ll gladly reconsider my position.
7. Dust mites cannot live on silk so the pillowcase is excellent for allergy sufferers.
This is the most intriguing of all Silkskin’s claims. While I found references to very tightly woven pillowcases being used to prevent dust mites from penetrating into pillows, I could not find any legitimate scientific source that answered this question one way or the other.
There may be some legitimate benefits to sleeping on silk, but Silkskin makes a number of definitive claims without providing much information to back them up. Maybe it’s true that dust mites can’t live on silk, but I’d rather not take the word of the company trying to sell me the product as proof. A little independent confirmation would go a long way toward making me feel better about buying this product.
Bottom Line: I have to say that I still debating this topic for myself. Though I think The Beauty Brains, as usual, make a strong argument against back sleeping and special pillowcases and pillows I still wonder if making some small changes could result in fewer wrinkles down the line.
Image from zuzafun.com