People ask this question a lot – why do black women use silk pillowcases? All younger women in my family do it religiously every night.
In this article, we will reveal the reasons behind this habit.
Why Do Black Women Use Silk Pillowcases?
Black women use silk pillowcases because African hair is not greasy like Asian or Caucasian hair. Silk pillowcases protect the black women’s hair by preventing excessive moisture loss and drying up while sleeping. The dryness in black women’s hair could lead to breakage of hair.
Silk pillowcases and bonnets also help to protect black women’s cornrows, twists, braids, buns, and many other protective hairstyles.
African hair is a kinky hair with each strand growing in a tiny, angle-like helix shape. Its spiral structure causes it to curl on itself during growth.
First, it is important to know that there are two types of Black women – those with stylized natural hair such as braids, cornrows, buns, etc., and those who have wigs.
Based on this image, we notice that African hair has elliptic twists. That is how it grows into Afro.
Compared to Asian and Caucasian hair which grow straightened naturally, African hair requires additional treatment to stay straight.
When hair is stuck together, the intertwining can cause breakage particularly when combing.
Over time, black women have realized there are ways to keep their hair straight for longer.
Growth of black women’s hair
Black women’s hair does not grow very fast, and yet any healthy person of Asian or Caucasian descent can simply drink water, breathe oxygen and have regular fast hair growth. I am respectfully saying this though.
What’s the reason?
Black women’s hair is a bit unique and requires different treatment from the others.
It is extremely prone to breakage and this fragility means that black hair requires a little extra love. It has bends and twists that make it vulnerable to friction.
That is why there are things black women shouldn’t put in their hair.
African hair has the following characteristics compared with other races’ hair.
- Slow growth
- Low hair density
After trimming or shaving completely, a black woman would need several months to regrow.
A study found that African hair has the slowest growth rate, averaging 4.3 inches per year. Caucasian hair had the second-fastest growth rate at 5 inches per year on average.
Asians have their hair grow by 6.3 inches per year on average making them the fastest growers.
While Asian hair is characterized by slow very fast growth and low density, African hair grows much slower and at low density.
With such unfavorable hair characteristics, black women will do everything to protect their hair. This is particularly for those who do not prefer wigs.
So, Why Silk pillowcases and Bonnets?
While Asians and Caucasians often want to wash their hair as frequently as possible because it feels kind of ‘greasy,’ that is one thing black women with natural hair want to stay away from. It’s a problem that all African Americans wish they had because African hair is not greasy – it is never greasy at all. Applying oils or creams does not even give the kind of greasiness they want.
Products aside, my little science knowledge tells me that hair’s natural greasiness or oiliness is what keeps its strands shine and protected from elements such as sun and friction that could damage it. It is this kind of moisturization that preserves the ends of hair and prevents breakage.
Un-moisturized ends lead to more breakage.
Any hair that is dry is bound to break really easily.
So, it’s already harder for a black woman to maintain moisture in her hair, but what can worsen the dreaded dryness? Rubbing her kinky hair on a cotton pillowcase, resting her uncovered hair on her husband’s cotton shirt, leaning on the cotton sofa, drying wet hair with a regular towel, and most importantly, forgetting to moisturize. These are just a few of a black woman’s worries with regards to hair.
Cotton and artificial fabrics such all the moisture out of hair. From the nature of black women’s hair, drying up puts them at an 85% chance of breakage. It makes sense for African American women to invest not only in silk pillowcases but also silk sheets and bonnets.
Black women have found quite a number of techniques to protect their hair, for instance, you’ll commonly see cornrows, twists, braids, buns, and many other protective hairstyles.
Why do black women choose silk?
Silk is a natural fiber that is generally straight and sleek. As you can see in the picture below, its straightness prevents the little moisture in African American women’s hair from escaping. Using silk pillowcases and caps also ensures that their hair is subjected to less friction. Silk is usually quite smooth when touched.
The other benefit is that black women love to style their hair, and in most cases, silk helps preserve the style of the previous day.
Even a few black men use silk too. They do this particularly when they have texturizers in their hair to offer protection to the hair strands and prevent excessive moisture loss while sleeping.
Silk also flattens the hair and men with long hair use the natural fabric for the same reason black women do.
Reason black ladies sleep on silk pillowcases
Black women sleep on silk pillowcases and wear silk bonnets and head wraps to protect their stylized natural hair and keep it good-looking for longer. For many African American women, silk pillowcases are part of the routine every night and experts explain that is a good practice.
Is cotton pillowcase bad for black women’s hair? Cotton is not usually good for Black women’s hair because it creates too much friction between the hair strand and the pillowcase. Cotton and some synthetic fibers also absorb moisture from the hair leaving it dry. Dry hair is prone to breakage.
Why do black women wear scarves to bed? Many black women wear silk scarves to bed to protect their hair from breakage and maintain their stylized hair for a little longer.
For many black women, tying up their hair at night with silk scarfs or putting on a bonnet is akin to brushing teeth. It has to be done to be on the safe side.
Important to note is that tying up the hair is not a formal ceremony or ritual. The reason behind the act is to maintain whatever hairstyle they have at the moment.
What about non-black women using silk pillowcases?
Anybody can use silk pillowcases. In fact, everybody should because silk has numerous benefits. Studies have proven again and again that silk is the best fabric for bed sheets, pillowcases, and even clothing.
The following are the main benefits of using silk pillowcases:
- Silk pillowcases reduce friction on hair and prevents damage.
- Wicks away moisture and prevents acne and skin irritation.
- Silk has temperature regulating properties thereby making it great for people who sweat a lot during their sleep.
- Silk pillowcases prevent wrinkles.
- The slippery smooth texture of silk will prevent tangles and frizz.
- Silk maintains sleeping surface cleaner for longer.
Although a common issue for black women, dry hair is also a problem for women from other ethnicities. Some Asian and Caucasian women with long hair could experience hair dryness. So, they too will benefit from using silk pillowcases.
The prices of silk pillowcases range from $9.99 – $300 for high-quality silk fibers depending on the sourcing of raw materials.
Modern African American women use silk bonnet as an alternative to pillowcases. These bonnets have numerous benefits but they cost slightly more than polyester satin.
Those who plan to protect their hair by stopping shedding while they sleep prefer having a pair of fine pillowcases instead of other alternatives.
Due to the straightness of silk fibers, the fabric allows black women’s to glide over, unlike cotton or other synthetic fibers. This reduces hair damage by up to 80% in a single sleep session.