Is Nighttime Skin Care Rubbing Off On Your Pillow?

Is Nighttime Skin Care Rubbing Off On Your Pillow?


skin product absorbing pillow

Healthy, beautiful skin that retains a youthful appearance as we age is something that we all desire. We spend money (sometimes a lot of money) on quality skin care products and take the time to apply our carefully selected regimens both morning and night. But who’s to say that our nighttime skin care isn’t just rubbing off onto the pillowcase overnight?

The question as to whether your skin care products are rubbing off on your pillow is determined by how well the product is absorbed into the skin, the order in which you apply nighttime skin care, and the fabric of your pillow case. Keep reading to learn which nighttime skin care products are more prone to rub off overnight and what you can do to prevent it.

What affects product absorption into the skin?

The more your nighttime skin care 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.

In regards to the size of the particles that make up your skin care ingredients, a smaller size means the particle can permeate the stratum corneum, the top layer of skin that consists mostly of corneocytes (dead skin cells). Once through the stratum corneum, the molecules are available for uptake by keratinocytes (living skin cells).

However, if particle size is too large to navigate through the corneocytes of the stratum corneum, the product will either remain on the surface of the skin or move in between the cells. Products that remain on the surface of skin, such as thick occlusive creams and ointments, have a high tendency to rub off onto your pillow case 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 skin care 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 moisturiser that leaves an occlusive 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.” (Beauty South Africa)

Pillowcase fabric

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, 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 a 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, thus 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 skin care on 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 best types of fabrics for your skin are ones that wick moisture, reduce friction between your facial skin and the pillowcase, and also promote continuous air flow on both sides of the textile. These properties will make it less likely for your nighttime skin care products to stick to the pillowcase fabric and ultimately rub off.

To sum it up

So – is nighttime skin care rubbing off on your pillow? Well, the answer isn’t exactly black and white and research on this topic is lacking. However, by applying principles of topical product absorption and considering the mechanisms behind how facial skin interacts with pillowcase fabrics, it can be concluded that certain nighttime skin care products do in fact rub off onto the pillow.