Silk for natural hair: is it worth the hype?
The short answer: yes. The long answer: it depends on the quality.
We can all agree that cotton is not a natural’s friend. Sleeping directly on cotton will suck the moisture out of your hair, reducing the longevity of your style and increasing the likelihood of breakage.
Using silk bonnets, silk pillowcases and even silk scrunchies for natural hair can significantly improve the overall look and feel of your coils.
Let’s get into the science behind using silk for natural hair, and what you should be looking for in your silk bonnets, scrunchies and pillowcases.
What Is Silk?
Silk is a natural fabric made from silkworms, made from their secretion, used for their cocoons and webs.
The silk is highly breathable and soft, and is one of the most highly sought after materials in the world.
Once the silkworms have consumed enough leaves, they will begin making their cocoon, a process that lasts approximately 3-8 days. The silkworm secretes a sticky liquid protein which hardens when it comes into contact with the air. This hardened protein is the silk fibres, which they then turn into a tight cocoon.
To unravel the fibres, the silk cocoons are usually placed into hot water. Once the cocoons are unravelled, you are left with incredibly long strands, which are tightly woven together to create the silk fabric. This process is known as sericulture.
The plants that the silkworms eat influence the quality of the silk. Mulberry silk is known as the superior type of silk, named after the mulberry tree.
The Benefits of Using Silk for Natural Hair
From a molecular perspective, silk is a very agreeable fabric to natural hair. Silk is composed of similar amino acids that are found in our coils. In fact, silk proteins are often found in our deep and leave-in conditioners!
From the below image, we can see that the silk fibres themselves are very smooth compared to other fibres such as cotton and cashmere.
In particular, the roughness of cotton tug and pull at our hair fibres, causing friction and microtears along our cuticle.
The Best Silk Products for Natural Hair
Finding affordable silk products can be challenging. We want the best for our natural hair, but we don’t want to break the bank!
Fortunately there are brands that exist that take the guess work out of finding cute and affordable silk products.
Remember: mulberry silk is the highest quality silk on today’s market, and will not only keep your hair protected at night but will last for years if properly cared for.
Natural Mulberry Silk Pillowcase
Best for all naturals
A silk pillowcase is the most effective way to protect your natural hair at night, and also has some skin benefits as well. This pillowcase by MYK Silk is made from mulberry silk, the highest quality silk on the market today. Comes to a wide variety of colours to match your bedroom aesthetic (with a cotton underside for affordability). Use code THECURLMARKET15 for 15% off your purchase!
Silk Bonnet With Comfort Elastic Band
Best for all naturals
Silk bonnets are a game changer for all naturals. This silk bonnet by MYK Silk is not only super soft, but contains a sturdy yet comfortable elastic band that will keep your bonnet on your head all throughout the night. Comes in super cute colours and different sizes. Use code THECURLMARKET15 for 15% off your purchase.
Mulberry Silk Scrunchies Combo
Best for all naturals
Who says natural hair has to be boring? These silk scrunchies from MYK Silk are both stretchy yet strong, made from the highest quality of silk (mulberry silk). Comes in a pack of 3 with a variety of colours to match your aesthetic. Use code THECURLMARKET15 for 15% off your purchase!
If you are having trouble choosing which silk products are right for you, consider your sleeping and lifestyle habits. If you like the feel of cotton pillowcases when you sleep, opt for a silk bonnet that have a sturdy elastic to keep your bonnet on all night.
Do you like to tie your hair up? If so, avoid using regular elastics on your hair as they can snag and pull at your strands, causing friction on your cuticle layer. Plus they come in some super cute colours!
Silk vs Satin for Natural Hair
A common question is whether to use silk or satin for natural hair.
Satin is a synthetic material woven with a mix of different fibres like cotton, polyester and silk.
Because of this, it is often a cheaper alternative to silk.
Aesthetically, it is very glossy and shiny (even glossier than silk at times), but this is entirely synthetic. Under a microscope, it will not be as smooth as silk.
It’s important to note that not all satin blends are made the same. If there is a high cotton content in your satin products, you are still subjecting to your hair to damage.
Silk is hands-down the better option for natural hair, however if your budget only allows for satin, be sure to read the label to understand the composition of the satin. The more cotton/polyester, the less silk.
Final Thoughts About Silk Accessories for Natural Hair
Your silk products don’t have to be expensive.
Look for mulberry silk bonnets, silk pillowcases and accessories if possible. Never use cotton pillowcases or regular elastics on your hair.
If you elect to use satin products, be sure to read your ingredient labels to understand its composition.