Do Pillow Cases Cause Acne?

Pillowcases are a necessity when it comes to sleeping on your bed. They protect the pillows that you sleep with, and they also keep your pillow in place, so there is no need to rearrange them every morning before heading off to work. 

But do pillowcases cause acne? This article will explore this question by giving you some information about how pillowcases can affect skin health and what you can do about it.

Why Pillowcases Cause Acne

Many pillowcases are made from cotton, which retains moisture and can make skin feel damp, causing acne. This is especially true when you’re using cases that have not been washed regularly enough to keep them clean of dirt and bacteria. 

If your pillowcase has become dirty or filled with dust mites, it will be harder for the skin on your face to breathe while sleeping at night, resulting in more breakouts than normal. 

It’s best to wash these types of cases every week, so they do not cause any problems with skin health later down the road.

Washing Pillow Cases Regularly Can Help Fight Acne Breakouts

If you get pimples around your mouth, this could indicate a problem with how often you are washing your pillowcases. 

Because these cases are touching your face every night, sleeping on them can cause acne to form around the mouth, which is not always easy to get rid of later down the road.

Additionally, if you believe your pillowcase may be triggering acne breakouts you should make a point to avoid touching your face except when using a facial cleanser.

Washing pillows regularly will help prevent more breakouts from occurring, and it’s best to do this at least once a week for maximum results in lessening acne flare-ups. 

Doing this weekly should be enough to keep skin looking smooth without any pimples or signs of irritation constantly forming throughout the day/night hours when going into work or school.

Try Using a Satin or Silk Pillowcase

Oils from your face do not absorb into these fabrics nearly as much as silk or satin. Additionally, these fabrics stay clean longer than cotton pillowcases, which can be breeding grounds for bacteria. The cleaner your pillowcases the less likely you are to wake up with acne in the morning. 

On top of that, satin and silk pillowcases are less likely to leave any creases behind, so you will look more refreshed when you wake up each day! Our recommendation is to not use cotton pillowcases if you are prone to acne. 

Instead, use satin/silk because they are more hygienic and do not leave creases on your face while sleeping!

Plus, it is less likely for these types of fabric to cause breakouts. Pillowcases made from silk or satin are an alternative for people with oily skin who want a cleaner sleep environment since the case will be less likely to absorb oil.

If you are interested check out our post on the top pillowcases for acne-prone skin. Our team spent weeks evaluating over 75 different pillowcases in order to create a list of the best picks based on your budget, the type of acne you have, and your skin type.

Try out an antimicrobial pillow cover.

An antimicrobial pillowcase is a great way to reduce your exposure and keep your pillow clean. This type of pillowcase is designed to protect both you and your pillow. 

They are usually made of fabric treated with an antimicrobial agent, which prevents the growth of small organisms like bacteria or mold. Additionally, high-quality antimicrobial pillowcases are not expensive and can be purchased for $20.

Keep in mind that the pillow cover only protects your pillow from organisms; it does not protect you. Therefore, many people prefer to use a cotton pillowcase over an antimicrobial one.

How To Avoid Breakouts From Pillowcases

You have to do several things to avoid breakouts from your pillowcases. First, you should be washing your pillowcases at least every other night to prevent a build-up of dirt and oil. It might seem like a waste of time, but if you don’t wash them, there will only be more dirt and oil on them, which could cause acne or worsen an existing breakout. To make this easier I suggest buying 2-3 pillowcases and switching them out to avoid doing laundry every day.

When washing your pillowcases make sure you use water at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 Celsius) since this temperature will not damage cotton fibers, but will adequately remove oils and dirt 

Using cold or lukewarm water can make the cotton rough and less absorbent over time. Because of this, we recommend getting new pillowcases every four to six months. 

The last thing you can do is invest in silk pillowcases, which are naturally hypoallergenic and prevent acne-causing bacteria from growing on your face at night. Just make sure they have a “silk” label, or else it will probably be synthetic material that does not offer the same benefits.


If you are getting acne on your face, then it is more than likely caused by something that has nothing to do with the pillow. 

However, if you have tried several things and still get breakouts along the hairline or around the jawline, try switching up your pillowcase often. This way, you can sleep through the night without worrying about acne forming.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I sleep to avoid acne?

You may want to switch up how you are laying on your pillowcase if the issue seems to be coming from that area specifically. Make sure you sleep with clean sheets and wash your pillowcases regularly to keep your face clean.

Why am I getting pimples every morning?

If you are prone to getting pimples in the morning, it could be due to sleeping on pillowcases that are not cleaned regularly. Dirt, makeup, and oil can build up on your pillowcase and clog your pores.

Can oversleeping cause acne?

YES! When you sleep, your face rubs against the pillowcase, which can cause facial oils to clog your pores and lead to acne breakouts. This is especially true for people with oily or combination skin types since sebum (oily substance) will build up over time on the surface of the pillowcase.

Originally Published: November 07, 2021

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I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their acne naturally. If you cannot easily find an answer to your question on the website, please reach out to me by email ([email protected]) or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. I will reply within 24 hours.

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood
Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook!

I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health.

I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on.

This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it.

As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”.

After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts.

In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy.

Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself.

After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅

While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently.

To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision. Read more of Sam's articles.

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