What is the Difference between Satin, Silk and Sateen Pillow Cases?

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What is the Difference between Silk, Satin and Sateen?
When it comes to bedding and pillow cases there is a lot of confusion over the differences between satin, silk and sateen.
They are all made from different materials and we’ll break it down because it can be so difficult when you can't actually feel the fabric and you're just staring of pics of the material on your computer screen.
First, satin and silk do not have a thread count which is a term used for cotton.
Satin is made from synthetic materials meaning the actual material may be called Satin, but its ingredients are always polyester or other synthetic materials including nylon. The quality of satin can vary from ultra-flimsy and cheap to thick and luxurious. Satin is typically machine-washable and vegan (unlike silk).
Quality all depends on the blend of the satin and there are hundreds of polyester blends, which is why it is so difficult to look at a picture online and be confident of its quality without actually feeling it. For example, (above is the Savvy Sleepers Vintage Rosé) in our standard anti-aging 100% pure high-quality polyester blend. Below we googled 'cheap satin pillow case' just to give you a sense of how different the fabric looks based on a photo alone.
This pink satin pillow case is one of the first images that popped up when we googled 'cheap satin pillow case' being sold on Ebay. A cheap blend of satin will feel almost static-like to touch and usually looks ultra-shiny and plastic feeling. (Based on all of the brands we've tested, the Low-quality satin blends usually range in price from $5-$20).

pic via

Silk is a natural product and is made from silk worms. 'Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles (aka sheets, clothing and pillow cases). The protein fiber of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and is produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoons.'- Wikipedia 'One silkworm produces very little usable silk. To make one yard of silk material, about 3,000 cocoons are used.' (source)
Silk offers many of the same beauty benefits of satin, although it is not vegan and is  more time-consuming to care for because of its delicate nature. Real silk pillow cases should be hand-washed. Real silk pillow cases are usually more expensive (in the range of $60-$90 per pillow case for high quality silk). While luxurious, silk is thin and smooth by nature, which can make silk pillow cases more likely to slip off your pillow while you sleep. Many come with a zipper detail to protect it from falling out.


pic via


Sateen may seem like the wild card, but sateen is actually made from a blend of cotton and satin. Sateen pillow cases are typically part of a set of sheets. They are rarely sold individually as a beauty product because they don't offer the same anti-aging benefits for skin and hair, although they can be very nice. Sateen is best described online as a 'strong cotton fabric constructed in a satin weave.'
Although percentages vary, a high-quality sateen is often very luxurious, but not as smooth as satin or silk because it’s made with cotton. The true beauty, benefits such as preventing breakage for hair and protecting delicate facial skin, come from sleeping on luxurious satin or silk. Because sateen is made with cotton, it has a thread count and generally a 500 or 600 thread count is very high-quality. (A sateen sheet set with pillow cases can range from $125 - $300+ at department stores like Nordstrom or Bloomingdales.)
We hope his helps! If you have any questions, just let us know and if you want to give our luxe Savvy Sleepers satin pillow cases a try, click here to view the full collection. They're ultra-smooth for hair preventing breakage and the skin's delicate facial skin which glides across as you sleep. Even our baby loves to lay against her Vintage Rosé during story time.


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  • Joan: December 14, 2016

    Thank you for this as I was googling the difference between satin and sateen. Just ordered a set of your satin pillowcases

  • Graham: July 18, 2016

    Surely this is all nonsense. Satin is a specific weeve, it can be of any type of thread. Therefore you can have cotton or even silk “satin”. Perhaps the issues is “American” English as opposed to “English” English but to say satin is polyester is just not the case – well not the case in the UK anyway.

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