Your pillowcase may be causing your breakouts

You’re doing all the right things. Using great skincare products that align with your skin’s needs? Check. Taking off makeup at the end of the night? Check. So what’s up? Well, your pillowcase may be causing your breakouts.

Background on breakouts

When it comes to acne there are some things that are out of your hands—there’s not much you can do about your genetics, after all. But there are some easy, everyday things we can do that can help keep breakouts at bay, and may of those have to do with keeping clean.

A thorough cleanse is one of the best things you can do for your skin, especially if you’re acne prone. It helps pores stay clog-free and keeps inflammation-causing impurities from accumulating. These impurities not only trigger breakouts but can also cause dullness, increased skin texture and irritation. Check out our ultimate guide to cleansing for how to get your best cleanse (washing your face is not as straightforward as you think!).

Wash your pillowcase

During the night dirt, oil and other grime from your skin and hair accumulate on your pillow and transfer back to your face. If you have acne prone skin, that’s why your pillowcase may be causing those breakouts. That’s why everyone should wash their pillowcase at least once a week. But if you’re prone to breakouts it’s a good idea to change it every two to three days.

We know that can be a lot of pillowcases to go through over the course of a week, but there are some alternatives. For example, if you don’t have (let’s do the math…) at least a dozen pillow cases lying around, consider putting a fresh t-shirt or a towel over your pillow.

But skip the softener. Liquid fabric softener and dryer sheets leave behind residue that can clog pores. And while fragrance free formulas are a lot less likely to trigger irritation, when it comes to acne it’s the softening agents you want to watch out for. So instead of those dryer sheets, try wool dryer balls to curb static. Trader Joe’s sells 4 for around $12. Public Goods also makes a set for just $6.50. These are also a lot more environmentally friendly as there’s nothing to throw out after each cycle, and they also last FOR-EV-ER.

Your pillowcase may make breakouts worse. These are acne fighting skin care tips.

What about silk pillowcases?

So glossy. So tempting. But is there any science behind the hype?Yes and no.

You can think of your average cotton pillowcase as a sponge. The fibers naturally soak up whatever they touch. In fact, cotton can absorb up to 27 times its weight in water, which is why those old gym shirts took a day and a half to dry.

So, applying this thinking to cotton pillowcases, it’s easy to see how they’ll easily absorb any makeup, oils, creams, serums, acne treatments and sweat that they come into contact with. They’ll also draw in and house bacteria more easily. By comparison, silk absorbs far less moisture and the material remains relatively dry.

When it comes to acne, physical irritation can also make a bad situation worse. It’s one of the reasons why 90s babies who turned to St. Ives to cure their acne were left with just as many if not more breakouts. (More on why you should avoid those scrubby scrubs here.) Silk is a much smoother and more tightly woven fabric so it causes a lot less friction.

Clean what touches your face

Finally, consider other materials or objects that touch your face on a daily basis. Things like your glasses and especially your phone should be regularly sanitized. To do it, saturate a bit of paper towel with rubbing alcohol and wipe down those surfaces as frequently as you can.

And of course stop touching, picking and prodding at your face. You already know this but a reminder never hurts, right?


So, your pillowcase may be causing your breakouts, but will a cleaner or silkier one be the cure for all your acne woes? If only it were that easy! There are plenty of triggers from inflammation-causing foods to pore-clogging ingredients to our COVID-preventing facial masks that can cause and exacerbate our breakouts. But if there’s one thing we’re sure about it’s that the right skincare products can help.

That’s where we come in. When it comes to finding the right skincare it’s a jungle out there. It’s why we use a simple quiz and a smart algorithm to find your best products. Start a Skin Profile at and we’ll take care of the rest.

Team Kura