Are Satin and Silk the Same Thing?

This article discusses the concerning properties of satin, a synthetic fabric made from petroleum-based polyester, which is used for clothing, bedding, and other home textiles.

Understanding the Differences Between Satin versus Silk

If you’re a layperson in the textile world, you may be confused about the terms, “satin” and “silk”. After all, the adjectives “satiny” and “silky” are frequently used interchangeably. But what is satin, really? The short answer: not silk.

The longer answer about what satin precisely is will take some explaining. One use of the term “satin” is to describe satin weave, a type of fabric that is smooth on one side with a matte finish on the reverse. However, when “satin” is used to describe the content of a fabric, it typically refers to a synthetic fiber fabric made from petroleum-based materials and chemicals.

100% Polyester

Here at Mulberry Park Silks, we want our clients to understand the difference between our pure mulberry silk and synthetic satin, which does not deliver the many benefits to hair, skin sleep, and overall wellness (you can read more about the differences between silk and satin here). 

Synthetic Satin: Man-Made Fabric from Petroleum

Synthetic satin is a fabric made from man-made fibers, typically polyester or nylon. Unlike natural silk, artificial satin fabric is created through a complex chemical process. This method allows for the production of material that emulates the lustrous appearance and smooth feel of silk at a much lower cost. Additionally, making polyester and nylon -- the primary materials used in satin -- requires extracting and refining crude oil to produce the fabric.


Mulberry silk is a natural, protein-based fiber, satin is man-made from petroleum.

Satin Fabric Can Take Centuries to Biodegrade


Model Wears Silk Robe and Sleep Mask

While we applaud the reuse and recycling of polyester satin fabrics, they are not inherently biodegradable. It is estimated that polyester and nylon will sit in a landfill for anywhere between 20 and 200 years.

Recyclable Fabrics

Mulberry silk is biodegradable, satin fabric can take 100+ years to degrade.

Is Satin Unsafe? Possibly

We are not going to make any type of general statement about the safety of satin. However, we will say the following:

  • Satin is not a natural fabric.
  • Satin is not breathable, which can lead to overheating and skin irritation.
  • Satin may contain certain compounds, dyes, or chemical finishes that can trigger allergies, asthma, and contact dermatitis
  • Satin does NOT provide any of the health and wellness benefits of pure silk, including breathability, temperature regulation, and hydration of skin and hair.
  • Satin is NOT naturally hypoallergenic. 
Older Model Holds Silk Pillowcase

In contrast, pure mulberry silk fiber -- like the Grade 6A silk fabric we use in all of our products -- is a natural fiber that is breathable; temperature regulating; hydrating to skin and hair; and hypoallergenic. Our silk resists mold, mites, and repels allergens and other impurities; this makes oursilk ideal for anyone with allergies or sensitive skin. Even better? Nothing matches the feel of pure mulberry silk.

When you are shopping for a silk pillowcase or bedding, never settle for artificial satin. Insist on pure mulberry silk. You can learn more about how to tell the difference between genuine silk and artificial satin

Pro Tip:  carefully read the fabric label on any apparel or home textiles purchase: you will discover that satin clothes are quite common, with everything from prom dresses, evening gowns and wedding dresses to novelty bed linen made from satin material. These polyester satin fabric pieces will never match the quality of their pure silk counterparts.

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.