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by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

Here’s Why Your Pillow Could Be The Reason You’re Breaking Out

Struggling to get rid of acne? Your pillowcase may be to blame.

By now, most of us know that touching your face constantly is a big no-no if you want to prevent or get rid of acne. But what if you’re still struggling with breakouts even after you’ve tried pretty much every acne treatment out there? Turns out, there are many things that can cause your skin to freak out—like your pillow, for instance.

According to a study published by the Archives of Dermatology, acne mechanica is a form of acne that can develop when an object or material is in constant contact with your face. If you don’t wash your pillowcase often enough, now’s the time to start doing it. Your pillowcase can absorb dirt and oil and transfer them onto your face, leading to clogged pores and breakouts

Plus, if you don’t wash your face before you go to sleep, all the dirt, makeup and grime you accumulated from the daytime gets transferred to your pillowcase and back to your face.

Of course, not everyone will break out from their pillowcases, but if you have acne-prone skin, they can aggravate your already-sensitive skin and cause irritation

Here are some ways to avoid an unpleasant AM surprise from your pillowcase: 

1. Cleanse your face!

First and foremost, make sure you remove any makeup and cleanse your face every night before bed.

It might seem like an obvious thing to do but it is vital to important to remove all the makeup, sunscreen grime, sweat and dirt you have may have accumulated over the day. You can double cleanse to make sure you got rid of all the gunk on your skin. Use a cleansing oil, balm or micellar water (whichever you prefer) to wipe off the initial layers of makeup and sebum and then go in with a gentle cleanser.

Of course, don’t forget to moisturise and treat your blemishes with an acne treatment of your choice.

2. Wash your pillowcases every 2 to 3 days

While the material of your pillowcase could be a factor in your breakouts (which we will address shortly), the best way to deal with acne is to regularly change your pillowcase, preferably every 2 or 3 days. Even more so if you use thick leave-in hair products while you sleep; the oils from the hair product could collect on your pillowcase and transfer to your face.

Also important: when washing your pillowcase, opt for fragrance-free detergent and leave out fabric softeners. These could leave a waxy residue behind that could clog pores and lead to breakouts.

3. Switch to a silk pillowcase

There has been some debate about whether cotton or silk pillowcases are better at preventing acne. Cotton fabrics may be more breathable but it is also more absorbent and could be soaking up oil, dirt and bacteria from your hair and face.

Consider switching out to a silk pillowcase. In a clinical trial run by Wake Forest University, researchers found that people who slept on pillowcases with “silk-like” qualities experienced a reduction of acne breakouts compared to those who slept on cotton pillowcases. This is probably because there is less friction between your skin and the silk material, which means less irritation. Silk can also absorb significantly less dirt and moisture as compared to cotton fabrics.

Another material worth looking into is copper. Copper is naturally antimicrobial, which means minimal transfer of bacteria onto the face, thus preventing further acne breakouts.


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