Genuine Silk vs. Synthetic Satin: Understanding the Difference When Buying Silk Pillowcases and Sheets

When shopping for silk pillowcases and sheets, you may be confused about the difference between silk and satin. The fact is this: genuine mulberry silk and satin are two entirely different fabrics. This article outlines the difference between natural silk and synthetic satin.

Silk verus Satin, which is better?

What is the difference between silk and satin?

The experts at Mulberry Park Silks can shed some light on this very important question. We’ll also show you why you should never settle for anything less than 100 pure mulberry silk of the highest quality when buying a silk pillowcase or silk sheets. Let’s take a closer look at some of the essential differences between silk and satin.

1. Silk is a natural fiber.

Satin, on the other hand, is a type of weave made from polyester or nylon, which are manmade fabric and chemical based. Nylon and polyester satin fabric are derived from petroleum, or oil. A satin pillowcase or satin sheet set is synthetic fiber; therefore, it is not sustainable or particularly environmentally friendly to produce. As a natural fiber, real silk is biodegradable and not made with any dangerous chemicals or fossil fuels.

Silk is a natural fiber

2. Silk helps hair and skin retain moisture.

Silk thread contains amino acids and a special protein known as sericin. During the silk processing, the water-soluble protein sericin is removed. The protein retained in the silk is called fibroin, which is rich in 18 amino acids. When you sleep on silk, your hair and skin is naturally conditioned by these amino acids In fact, many high end body lotions, skin, and hair treatment products are made with silk protein. Sleeping on a silk pillowcase is an overnight beauty treatment for your hair and skin.

Satin is a type of weave made from polyester or nylon, that is derived from oil or petroleum

3. Silk is naturally temperature regulating.

Silk fibers have a special structure with a hollow center. This allows silk to absorb moisture and store heat, which regulates body temperature. When you sweat, silk wicks moisture and keeps you cool; when you're not, it maintains warmth. This is why silk sheets are great for staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer. As a petroleum based manmade fiber, satin lacks the natural breathability, absorbency, and comfort of silk.

4. Silk is hypoallergenic and resistant to mold and dust mites.

Indeed, silk may be the most naturally hypoallergenic fabric on earth. Once again, we can thank sericin, the protein coating silk fiber that naturally repels allergens, fungus, and dust mites.

5. Silk is non irritating to even the most sensitive skin.

Along with being hypoallergenic, pure mulberry silks is made from long, smooth silk fibers that are the strongest and softest on earth. This makes silk ideal for anyone with sensitive skin (including babies) or underlying skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and contact dermatitis.

6. Silk is the definition of luxury.

Along with all its beauty and wellness benefits, nothing else feels like genuine silk. For centuries, genuine silk has been valued for its look, feel, and organic properties. A satin weave pillowcase or sheet set made of synthetic material simply cannot compare to genuine silk.

How To Be Sure You’re Buying Genuine Silk

When it comes to buying silk bedding, you have to do some homework to ensure you’re getting genuine silk. Historically, silk has been more expensive than satin for one reason: quality. However, real silk can be affordable. At Mulberry Park Silks, we suggest the following to make sure you are getting the best value when buying a silk pillowcase or sheet set.

1. Buy only 100 percent mulberry silk.

This is absolutely essential. Many unscrupulous vendors will attempt to sell pillowcases and sheets made out of synthetic fibers and fraudulently label them as "silk satin" or "satin silk." They may also try to pass off silk blends as pure silk. This is unacceptable. Carefully read the label of any silk you buy; pure silk will be labeled as such.

2. Pay attention to the quality of silk.

All silk fibre is graded according to both number (1-6) and letter. Grade 6A silk is the highest quality with the longest, strongest, fibers of uniform color. All Mulberry Park Silks products are made with Grade 6A silk.

3. Consider the momme weight.

Silk weight is measured in momme, which is equivalent to thread count in cotton fabric. The higher the momme, the more silk is used in the fabric and the denser the weave will be. Higher momme count silk also uses thicker silk fiber. A pillow case or sheets in 19 momme count silk equates roughly to 600 thread count; a 22 momme pillow case or sheet set equates to 900 thread count. Mulberry Park Silks carries pillowcases in 19, 22, and 30 momme weights. Our signature silk sheet sets and silk duvet covers are a luxurious 22 momme weight.

4. Buy silk that is environmentally friendly and safe.

Although silk is a natural fiber, it is important to ensure that it has been manufactured safely through all aspects of production. Look for silk that has been tested and certified by an independent agency. At Mulberry Park Silks, all of our products are Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 certified. This means that they have been lab-tested guaranteed to be free of all harmful substances, including toxins and irritants. This certification is intensive and will be clearly labeled by the manufacturer. If you don't see Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 or another certification clearly designated, the product is not certified to be safe of harmful substances.

5. Details matter.

All Mulberry Park Silks products are made with a charmeuse weave, which is super lustrous and smooth on one side with a matte finish on the reverse. This helps minimize hair breakage, frizz, and bedhead (especially on curly hair) while preventing sleep wrinkles. Our mulberry silk pillowcase features a hidden French seam for a tailored look. You can also choose a generous envelope closure or hidden zipper closure based on your personal preference. If you are unsure, ask the seller for a swatch sample to review prior to purchase. Mulberry Park Silks offers a complementary swatch sample program that lets you see, touch and feel our luxurious silk before you buy.

Silk Is Quite Easy to Care For

Another important fact about silk: it can be easy to care for. Many consumers mistakenly believe that silk bedding to be dry cleaned. In fact, Mulberry Park Silk sheets and pillow cases can be laundered right at home in your machine on a gentle cycle. Follow these instructions for best results washing your pure silk sheets, bedding, and pillowcases:

Follow these recommendations for machine washing your momme silk sheets and pillowcases:

  1. Use a special silk-only detergent like this one from Heritage Park. Wash your bedding in a silk-only load.
  2. Turn your silk pillowcase inside out, and place it in a fine mesh laundry bag. Your flat sheet and fitted sheet should also be placed in their own individual mesh laundry bags to protect against damage from inside your machine.
  3. Add the proper amount of detergent and run your machine on a delicate or silk cycle. Learn more about washing machine cycles here. Never use fabric softener on pure silk.
  4. Hang your silk to dry indoors or outside away from direct sunlight (which can cause your silk items to fade).
  5. You do not need to iron silk bedding; simply put it on the bed and smooth it by hand and the wrinkles will release over a day or two. However, you can iron silk if you would like, using the lowest setting on your iron and taking extra care not to burn the fabric. Follow these guidelines for ironing silk without ruining it.

Silk: A Timeless Textile with a Rich History

A final word about silk: no other fabric on Earth has such a rich and storied history as silk. Indeed, this luxurious fabric dates back nearly 4,000 years to 27th century BC China. Wearing silk became a fashion statement that signified nobility and wealth in that era. As a result, silk grew essential to the Chinese economy and was even used as currency for a time. China began to trade silk outside of Asia, opening up trade routes through Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Europe. Known as The Silk Road, these routes opened up paths for exploration from Europe to the East, most notably the Italian explorer Marco Polo who traveled the route to reach Mongolia in the 13th century. Over time, silk production spread to the West; by the 15th century, France and Italy were leading manufacturers of silk in Europe.

Today, the majority of the world's silk is once again produced in Asia, with China and Japan accounting for more than half the world's silk. This timeless textile remains the pinnacle of luxury and beauty. Learn more about the history of silk here.

Mulberry Park: Accessible and Affordable Luxury Silk

We founded Mulberry Park with one simple mission: to design the highest quality silk items in the market and offer them at an affordable price. And we've done just that, with a full range of silk products made from 100% pure mulberry long strand silk fabric. The silk fabric used for our silk sheets and silk pillowcases has also been OEKO-TEX® Certified (Standard 100) to be free of chemicals.

Visit us online or call us at (800) 860-1924 to learn more about our silk sheets, silk pillowcases, duvet covers and shams, and real silk accessories including sleep masks, travel pillows, and silk hair scrunchies.