Is Pillow Case Acne Real?

April 05, 2017 0 Comments

By Kaala Wood

Pfft, you think this is from my pillow?

Before my skin got really bad, I would sort of blow it off when people recommended simple and/or holistic methods of improving my skin. But after things worsened and I got serious about getting rid of my acne, I backtracked to all of those suggestions and one, in particular, stood out: changing my pillow case to improve my skin. For reasons I don't really understand, I thought this was a pretty silly suggestion when I first heard it. "You mean you think my terrible, confidence-destroying, monstrous acne is because of my pillow? How could my sweet, soft pillow cause such a horrible thing?" Well, here is how your pillow case might be ruining your skin.

Why your pillow is super gross

Your pillow case naturally collects your body's oils. Even if you  freshly wash your face before you lie down to go to sleep, your natural hair oil, any product you put on your skin or hair, and dust from the environment will still collect onto your beloved pillow case and make a home of bacteria. Every night, this bacteria grows and collects more oil and product until you change your case.

Unless you are a back sleeper 100% of the time, your face comes in contact with your pillow case as you move throughout the night. This is a huge factor in acne because unlike your phone touching you during a several minute phone call or something short in time, your skin is in direct contact with your pillow for 6-10 hours! Now your freshly washed face is being invaded by acne-causing bacteria all night long. This can both cause breakouts and also irritate existing breakouts.

As someone who struggles with cheek acne and also sleeps on my side, I can greatly testifyto this icky process. I usually have hormonal acne that's deep and cystic, but when I don't sleep on a clean pillowcase every night, I'll actually wake up with a brand new whitehead that was nonexistent when I went to bed.

Two ways to prevent this:

  1. Buy a weeks worth of pillow cases and put a new one on every night. Wash at the end of the week (or whenever you prefer, but this has been easiest for me).
  2. Place a clean towel over your pillow every night.

It is generally recommended that you change your pillow case every 2-3 uses, but I personally have seen the best improvements by changing them every single night. I have extremely sensitive skin, so my case is probably on the extreme spectrum.

If I forget for a night, without failure, I will wake up with a new white head on the side I slept on. I hope and pray this isn't the case for everyone, though!

I challenge you to give this simple method a try for a few weeks and journal out any skin differences to see if it helps!