Are anti-wrinkle pillows good for anti-aging? Episode 86

Today were going to do one of our anti-aging spotlights on anti-wrinkle pillows. Let’s start by talking about whether or not sleep really causes wrinkles.

Does sleep cause wrinkles?8329909177_33e31c1a05_b

The answer to this question lies in understanding the two basic types of aging. There is intrinsic aging which is what happens internally to your skin. For example, your skin stops producing enough fresh collagen so you get some collapse of skin structure, gravity pulls skin structures down creating a more saggy look, your skin loses some of its natural ability to hold onto moisture so it looks drier and so on. These are things that happen internally as a function of aging and there’s not a whole lot you can do about them.
Then there are the extrinsic factors – things that are done to your skin from the outside like environmental effects. Sun exposure is the big one of course. In fact studies show that photo damage is the single biggest contributor to extrinsic aging of skin.

After the sun, smoking is noted to be have a major impact on the youthful appearance of skin.

Beyond that there are a number of lesser factors that apparently contribute to skin aging. Sleep is one of them. Regardless of what you sleep on, the quantity and quality of your sleep is important. Not getting enough rest contributes to dark under eye circles and just in general an overall dull complexion. So get plenty of sleep, that sort of goes without saying. But what about this idea that WHAT you sleep on can make a difference? Is there any merit to this idea?

As always we can turn to our Kligman questions to help us get to the bottom of this. These questions are really geared more toward ingredient efficacy but I think they can be adapted for use in helping us answer this question.

So the first question we should ask is there a mechanism by which sleep could cause wrinkles? For the most part the primary cause of wrinkles is a collapse of the underlying supportive tissue like collagen and elastin. Muscle tension is another contributing factor.

But another well-recognized cause of wrinkles is creasing. That means if you were to form a fold in the skin of your face at the same spot repeatedly over long periods of time that action will lead to a wrinkle or a crease in the skin. The best known example of that are the lines of facial expression, those are the lines were wrinkles in your skin formed by smiling crinkling up your nose or for wearing your brow.

And that brings us to the question of creases being formed on your face as a result of laying on your pillow. Can that sort of creasing while you sleep cause wrinkles? It’s certainly theoretically possible because the mechanism supports it. Of course unlike a line from a smile or a frown that is going to occur on your face very frequently and very consistently in other words in the same location crease lines from sleeping don’t necessarily occur exactly in the same place every time.

The mechanisms of sleep wrinkles: Compression and shear

You have to look at the two factors that contribute to facial creasing which are compression and shear.

Compression as the name suggests is the force of the pillow or whatever you’re sleeping on pushing up against your face. You can easily demonstrate this just by pushing your face hand into the side of your face and squishing the door you’ll see that in all the way to pushes your face does lead to some creasing Lions. Compression will occur solely as a function of how much force is being applied to your face as you sleep. To some extent the softness of the pillow may reduce that pressure but the material of the pillowcase is immaterial for this factor. A firm pillow with a silk pillowcase will exert just as much compression on your face as the same pillow in a triton pillowcase. The JuveRest website has pictures which explain this really well.

Sheer, on the other hand is a function of the material of the pillowcase. It makes sense that silk would cause less of a shearing force because it’s a more slippery fabric than cotton. It’s not that really really that big of a deal though because sharing is has less of an impact on wrinkles than compression.

In addition to compression and sheer, I found another paper by a Dr. Pugliese that describes another mechanism. (This article is not from a peer reviewed journal, however) Still, it’s interesting because it explains how your skin release water during sleep that’s absorbed by the pillow case (both cotton and silk according to this author) and the result is that skin is “stuck” to the pillow case as these the microscopic points. Then, as you toss and turn, at the force of breaking these adhesion points stresses the skin and causes it to release collengenase, an enzyme that breaks down collagen. Of course, less collagen means more wrinkles. I don’t know if this is completely accurate but it’s an interesting twist on the mechanism.

So, overall, it does appear that there’s a plausible mechanism (or series of mechanisms) that explain how sleeping could make your wrinkles worse. The second Kligman question is “is there any evidence that this is really the case?”

Evidence that sleeping causes wrinkles

This isn’t exactly one of those topics that Nobel Prize winning scientists have dedicated their lives to answering. Nonetheless, we did find one study asking this very same question and the results said no there is not an impact. The paper was titled “Effect of sleep position on perceived facial aging” it appeared in Dermatological Surgery in 2013 and was written by Dr. Brett Klotus.

He questioned one hundred women about their sleep position preference and then had an independent expert observer evaluate their images to identify which side of the face had more wrinkles and more ptosis. He found there was NO correlation between sleep side and side with more wrinkles. Not very definitive but that’s the only published study we could find. Then again in the studies that we’ll talk about in a moment about product efficacy there does seem to be an increase in wrinkles associated with sleeping.

We may just have to settle for what the American Academy of Dermatologists said back in 2005 which is…”Even though these lines may seem to diminish or disappear once a patient is no longer lying in bed, if the patient assumes the same sleeping posture every evening, these lines will return creating more damage,” said Dr. Elson. Due to different sleep patterns, women tend to see these types of lines on their chin and cheeks, while men notice them on their foreheads.…-a0128982169

Okay so for the sake of discussion we are agreeing that there is a plausible mechanism and enough evidence to believe that sleeping does contribute to wrinkles. Can your pillow help you anti-age? The answer is… it depends on what kind of anti-aging pillow or pillowcase you’re talking about. So let’s go through the three different types of anti-aging sleep products. We’ll give an example or two of each and we’ll look for the answer to the most important Kilgman question which is “are there any studies on real people that show this stuff really works.”

Anti-aging Pillow Type 1: Silk pillowcase


Description: This is the most basic version. It’s simply a pure silk pillow case. The idea is that your face will slide around on it and not get creased as much.

Key claims: The key claims are pretty generic: It claims to “minimize wrinkles” and “eliminate bed head.”

Cost: $20

Evidence: None presented by the company and we couldn’t find any evidence that simply changing the fabric from cotton to silk has any impact on wrinkles. It makes sense because as we said earlier, the fabric may reduce friction which contributes to sheer but it won’t change the compressive force that contorts your face into creases. The one study I did find was tangentially related because it measured the impact of silk hospital bedding on the production of bed sores. Interestingly they did find that silk vs standard polyester bedding DID decrease bed sores aka pressure ulcers. Now those are caused more by friction than pressure alone so I’m still not sure what that has to do with wrinkles but it’s interesting. A Randomized, Controlled Study to Assess the Effect of Silk-like Textiles and High-absorbency Adult Incontinence Briefs on Pressure Ulcer Prevention – See more at:

Meili & Grace Anti-aging pillow case

Description: The finest silk – a Unique Pillowcase That Reduces Your Wrinkles and Prevents Future Ones

Key claims: Cotton soaks up your night cream and draws moisture from your face which leads to wrinkles and premature aging. By preventing osmosis, Anti-Aging Pillowcase helps your night moisturizer stay on the skin so you wake up with smoother, younger looking skin.
Anti-Aging Pillowcase has a unique quality and design that provides pressure relief, seamlessly adjusting to your every move while you sleep, thereby minimizing skin wrinkling and eliminating sleep lines. By reducing sleep wrinkles or “sleep lines” and locking in moisture, the skin is softer, more supple and soothed

Cost: $65

Evidence: This idea that silk is better for your skin because it doesn’t absorb as much moisture…I found this article from a peer reviewed journal…TEXTILES AND HUMAN SKIN, MICROCLIMATE, CUTANEOUS REACTIONS: AN OVERVIEW. It was more about skin irritation from fibers but found that there are 6 fibers known to irritate skin: Nylon wool, silk, glass, spandex and rubber. It’s funny that cotton doesn’t seem to be a problem. Nothing about silk vs cotton for skin moisture though. We don’t know for sure.

Anti-aging Pillow Type 2: Special ingredient Pillowcases

Iluminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase
Let’s talk about the second kind of anti-aging pillow which uses a pillowcase made with special ingredients or made of special fibers. We have two examples here.

First is the Iluminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase which is unique because its fibers are embedded with Copper Oxide. It’ll cost you $60. It claims to reduce the appearance of wrinkles – I believe the ideas is that the copper ions migrate into the skin and stimulate collagen production and have other anti-aging effects. We’ve seen some evidence that copper delivered from peptides can have this effect so it’s not as crazy an idea as it might seem at first. I also found, surprisingly, that the company shared one of the complete clinical trials that it sponsored. Actually, the test was done by the company who supplies the copper infused fibers which is called Cupron. Here’s the study: Reduction of facial wrinkles depth by sleeping on copper oxide-containing pillowcases: a double blind, placebo controlled, parallel, randomized clinical study . I read the study and it seems legit – it concluded that Sleeping on copper oxide-containing pillowcases results in reduction of wrinkles depth and overall improvement of skin appearance. The amount of improvement wasn’t that large, about 9% but it was statistically significant. Could you tell if your wrinkles were better by 10%? I don’t know.

Description: Unique because its fibers are embedded with Copper Oxide

Key Claims: Pillowcase fibers are carefully embedded with Copper Oxide, derived from a well-known essential mineral. Clinically proven to reduce the appearance of wrinkles for smoother, younger-looking skin in as little as four weeks—with a continuing effect over time.

Cost: $60

Evidence: The efficacy of the Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase has been demonstrated in several studies. Four independent, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies with pillowcases were conducted by laboratories in South Korea, Israel, New Jersey, and Texas. Each study had an average of 60 volunteers–both women and men; the majority of volunteers were women–with ages ranging from 35 to 65. Half of the volunteers slept on a pillowcase with copper oxide fibers and the other half slept on a placebo without copper oxide fibers. Visual grading of facial attributes was measured by expert graders. Imaging system software and 3D Image analysis were used to determine changes in crow’s feet, fine lines and wrinkles. The tests were conducted across 4 weeks’ time of sleeping on the pillowcase. Based on what I read, the Illuminage product is made by Cupron. On their website they have more info.

Here’s the study: Reduction of facial wrinkles depth by sleeping on copper oxide-containing pillowcases: a double blind, placebo controlled, parallel, randomized clinical study

Description: First Physician Formulated fabric for skin care that acts like a natural moisturizer by inhibiting moisture loss from the skin.

Key claims: Not a Silk Pillowcase! Silk, Satin and Cotton Pillowcases siphon more moisture from your skin leaving it dry and dull.
Proven to control Sleep Lines and Diminishes Wrinkles by 50%.

Cost: $40

Evidence: The company sites a very specific number in their claim but doesn’t provide ANY kind of information to back it up. Typically you’d at least see an * saying the test was done vs a regular cotton pillowcase or something. So we have no clue what their approach was. They do say that…”In an additional “overnight study,” four of the five subjects that tested the DreamSkin pillowcase were free of “sleep lines” with improved skin in the morning, while only one of three that used a cotton pillowcase (control) was free of “sleep lines.” DreamSkin’s JuveTex fabric contains no creams or chemicals and works naturally with a specific combination of yarns and a proprietary weave pattern that results in the fabric acting as a cosmetic moisturizer. In addition, JuveTex contains 22,000 microfibers per square inch and provides a soft cushioning effect that causes less pressure on the delicate facial skin than standard pillowcases. Less friction is proven to result in healthier hair and skin and provides facial rejuvenation.”

Anti-aging Pillow Type 3: Specially designed pillow

Our third and final type of anti-aging pillow takes a completely different approach.  You should check out the website to see this thing – it’s very unconventional looking because it basically is a pillow with the back and side parts carved out of it. It’s also expensive – $185. They offer a 60 day refund so I guess there’s no downside to checking it out. They don’t provide any clinical studies but if they really are removing the pressure on the side of your face it seems highly likely that it will reduce compression lines. So if you don’t mind the cost and the odd sleeping configuration it may be worth checking out.

Juverest pillow

Description: Instead of modifying the material of the pillowcase or adding ingredients to the fabric that have anti-aging properties, the Juverest pillow simply cuts out the parts of the pillow that push against your face and cause the compression.

Key claims: See website.

Cost: $185

Evidence: No studies presented but the redesigned the entire pillow does provide a plausible mechanism.

The Beauty Brains bottom-line

It does appear to be true that sleeping on your face is a contributing factor toward wrinkles.

There DOESN’T appear to be any evidence showing that pillowcase material makes much difference in terms of getting rid of or preventing wrinkles.

There’s SOME evidence that copper infused pillow cases may provide a small benefit.

There’s also reason to believe that sleeping on a specially designed pillow that reduces compression of your face will help but these are very expensive.