Is Nighttime Skin Care Rubbing Off On Your Pillow?

Is our nighttime skincare absorbing into the pillowcase overnight?

Is nighttime skincare just rubbing off onto the pillowcase overnight?

Beautiful skin that retains a healthy appearance as we wake and start our day is something we all wish to experience. We spend money (sometimes a lot of money) on quality skincare products and take the time to apply our carefully selected routines and rituals both morning and night.

Whether or not your skincare products are rubbing off on your pillow is determined by -

  1. how well your skincare product absorbs into the skin
  2. the order in which you apply nighttime skincare
  3. and the fabric of your pillowcase. 

What affects product absorption into the skin? Here comes the science.

The more your nighttime skincare products are absorbed into the skin, the less likely they are to smear on the pillowcase overnight. Topical product absorption is affected by many factors, some of which include particle size, skin hydration, and whether product ingredients are water-based or oil-based.

  • The size of the particles that make up your skincare ingredients, a smaller size means the particle can permeate the stratum corneum, or the outer layer of skin, the epidermis.
  • This top layer of skin consists mostly of corneocytes (dead skin cells). Dead skin cells can't absorb skincare products, hence the importance of regular exfoliation! Once through the stratum corneum, skincare product particles can be absorbed by keratinocytes, or living skin cells.
  • However, if the particle size of the skincare products are too large, they won't get past the top layer of dead skin cells of the epidermis, and therefore won't be absorbed by the living skin cells in the next layer.
  • The larger-particle product will either remain on the surface of the skin or move in between the cells. Products that remain on the surface of the skin, such as thick creams and ointments, have a high tendency to rub off onto your pillowcase during the night.

"Product ingredients are better absorbed if the skin is well-hydrated and moist" (Nursing 411).

While it is beneficial to maintain your skin’s hydration level, applying certain products when your face is not fully dry can lead to excessive absorption. This explains why a strong warning exists regarding waiting at least 10 minutes for your skin to dry after cleansing before application of topical retinoids. Observe this only if you want to avoid skin dryness, redness, burning, and peeling, that is.

Order of application

Applying nighttime skincare in the wrong order can cause decreased absorption of certain products and subsequently excess product left on the surface of the skin. This leads to a greater likelihood of the product rubbing off onto the pillow overnight.

Even if you follow the rules and apply your moisturizer and oil-based products last, there is still a high likelihood for them to rub off overnight. Dr. Maureen Allem from Skin & Body Renewal explains,

“If you’re using a moisturizer that leaves an occlusive (thick and protective) layer, and you apply a liberal amount of it, then it’s absolutely possible for your product to smear onto your pillow. It really depends on what you are using.” 

Pillowcase fabric

If you are able to navigate the science of skincare products only to place your face on a fabric that will quickly absorb all the precious moisturizing and restorative ingredients, you are fighting a losing battle.

Many different types of fabric are used to create bed linens, including cotton, flannel, linen, satin, silk, rayon, and more. While many people choose their textiles based on comfort and temperature, but it’s important to realize how fabric type can affect your skin health.

Cotton pillowcases are not ideal for skin because cotton is a highly absorptive fabric. Overnight, sweat from your facial skin will cause skin to stick to cotton pillowcases instead of sliding, causing friction that can lead to sleep lines and wrinkles.

Satin and silk pillowcases are often considered to be the best for your skin, but the problem with these is that they are not very breathable, depriving skin of the oxygen it needs to repair itself overnight. On the plus side, pillowcases made of these materials are less absorbent than cotton, which can aid in keeping nighttime skincare absorbing into your face instead of on the fabric. However, some consider just the friction of your skin against the fabric as you move during the night to be enough to wipe off moisturizers and serums. (The Beauty Brains)

The optimal fabrics for your skin combines the best benefits of both natural and synthetic fibers like Nollapelli's patent-pending fabric blend that balances moisture, regulates temperature and reduces friction between your facial skin and the pillowcase

Two women happily placing their cheeks on Nollapelli's Pillowcase Duo. Nollapelli bedding fabric is best for healthy skin and hair.

Nollapelli's signature fiber blend paired with the unique dual-face construction also promotes continuous airflow on both sides of the bedding fabric. Bedding like Nollapelli that is designed with skin science in mind makes it far less likely for your nighttime skincare products to ultimately rub off your face and absorb into the pillowcase fabric. 

Sign up to receive 15% off your first bedding order and test our better-for-you-bedding paired with your skincare for better sleep, skin & hair. Try risk-free for 30 days. Free ground shipping and free returns.


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