You’ve probably looked at countless product reviews and countless websites to find the best hair styling tools and products. Or, watched an embarrassing amount of YouTube tutorials to get an edge on hair that looks fresh from the salon. In short, you put the job for your hair. But there’s another factor that helps unlock the status of ‘best hair ever’ that you’ve probably ignored and literally slept on: we’re talking about the tissues that come into contact with your hair on a daily basis – specifically those used in pillow cases, hats, towels and even your favorite t-shirt.
This is because the structure, shape, and chemistry of a fabric – such as whether it is hydrophilic (likes water) or hydrophobic (water resistant) – can play a role in defining your pattern. of curls or in the strength of your hair shaft. What exactly difference can tissues make when it comes to maximizing hair health? Coming up, we’re chatting with dermatologists, hairstylists, and fabric engineers to find out. Their answers will have you bypassing the bathroom shelves for once. Because it turns out that the best tool in your hair care arsenal might be hidden in your laundry basket instead.
The best fabrics for sleeping (and in)
There has been a lot of ado about silk being the best pillowcase material to sleep on for smooth cuticles and groomed hair – and according to our experts, the hype is real. This is because silk (a natural microfiber), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or nylon can be made into very smooth woven fabrics, such as satins, like Margaret W. Frey, Ph.D., professor of science. of fibers and clothing design at Cornell University, points out. “These fabrics have very low surface friction, so they are unlikely to break the hair.” she says.
Plus, silk and satin are hydrophobic (water-resistant) fabrics that can help hair retain moisture, according to Tym Wallace, a highly sought-after hairstylist whose client list includes Taraji P. Henson, Brandy and Mary J. Blige. For this reason, he suggests sleeping on pillowcases made of slippery fabrics (like the mulberry silk found in Blissy silk pillowcases and Slip silk pillowcases, something the brand touts as containing “anti-headboard” properties); Silvi silver treated silk pillowcase; or Herb + Flora Morpheus Pillow, made with copper oxide polyester shown in the brand’s own clinical trial to produce smoother hair after a night’s sleep). Ditto for sleeping in silk and satin beanies and scarves (like the Kitsch satin-lined jersey beanie) or rags or caps to minimize chafing and reduce pigtails and tangles, especially in curly hair types and curly. This is also one of the reasons Yolanda Lenzy, MD, a Massachusetts dermatologist specializing in hair and scalp care, recommends satin and silk or satin as the premier hair care fabrics for women. pillow cases and caps. “Cotton robs hair of moisture and can lead to increased breakage in some people,” she notes.
While silks and satins can bring out the best in more textured hair types – or even help prolong a blowout, according to hairstylist Vickie Vidov, owner of Vidov West New York salon – the moisture-trapping abilities of cotton. may be just the thing for others. As Wallace notes, those with straight or wavy hair may benefit better from the moisture-wicking properties of cotton. “This type of hair tends to produce a lot more sebum – and at a much faster rate,” he says. “The cotton will help absorb some of this oil so you don’t have to wash your hair as often.”
The best fabrics for drying wet hair
You would think that cotton towels and other moisture-wicking materials would be perfect for drying wet hair. But our experts tell us the opposite. Although Dr. Frey considers terrycloth towels to be “very good for absorbency,” thanks to their fluffy yarn loop structure, hairdressers note that their textured surface may be too hard for the shaft of the towel. hair.
“I generally recommend ultra soft microfiber towels for drying the hair,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York-based dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research in the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. “Wet hair is particularly prone to breakage, so try to avoid rough synthetic fabrics when drying your hair. “
This might help explain the upsurge in microfiber towels available on the market lately (like the Collective Labs Microfiber Hair Towel) and those with antibacterial materials, like copper and colloidal silver woven into the fabric (like with Aquis Copper Sure Rapid Dry Hair Wrap and Resorè Body Towel, respectively). “The latest generation and textiles incorporate metals like copper and silver for antimicrobial and anti-aging benefits,” notes Dr. Zeichner. “Silver helps reduce the levels of microorganisms on the skin, including those responsible for odor and dandruff. The silver in the fabric can help prevent bacterial contamination of the fabric as it dries after use.
While metallic fabrics are relatively new for pillow cases, towels and scarves that claim hair care, Vidov, who is also a go-to stylist for clients like Florence Welch and Selena Gomez, points to an option at the old who can offer the same. “Bamboo microfibers have a built-in antibacterial quality,” she says. “So your towel dries faster and stays cleaner between washes, because the longer your towel is wet, the more bacteria can grow. The smoother surface of the bamboo microfiber also absorbs more water from your hair faster.
For those with very curly hair, a smooth but absorbent fabric can be essential in keeping the curls in shape. This is the philosophy behind the popular curl plopping trend on TikTok, which uses a simple cotton t-shirt to dry the hair because the smoother surface offers less room for rubbing than with traditional cotton towels made. of curly fibers.
But as Wallace notes, it’s not just about the type of fabric you choose for drying hair, but How? ‘Or’ What you do it that matters. “You don’t want to rub the hair. It doesn’t actually dry the hair – and that goes for all hair types. (As Vidov notes, this is especially important for those with bleached, platinum hair and for whom abrasion can particularly break or damage fragile cuticles.) Instead, Wallace suggests squeezing excess water from the hair onto dry hair without agitating the cuticles and creating artificial tangles and frizz.
Ultimately, choosing the right fabrics to treat your hair with – and the right techniques for using them – can be the missing link to living your best hair life. Best of all, they might already be lurking in your laundry pile, no styling products or expensive tools required.