Sally from my office recently listened to my advice and got herself a pair of silk pillowcases – at least that’s what she thought. Apparently, she ignored the part of my advice where you have to watch out for the pricing. The package arrived at the office this morning and she was thrilled, until I pointed out that the material for the pillowcases wasn’t silk – it was polyester.
Of course, Sally was baffled. She saw the pillowcases on Ebay on a 70% discount (yep, that’s 30% of original price) and were selling for a measly $14, and she thought it was a great deal. The title of the merchandise read “Top Quality Silk-y Satin Pillowcases – Clearance Sale”, and being the ever-so-careless klutz of our office, she thought it was silk. She even tried to defend her decision by refuting my claims and claiming that even I could be wrong. This is, of course, before I compared her pillowcases with the silk travel pillowcase I had in the office. The obvious difference in the touch and feel of the materials made her realize her mistake right away.
Sally was lucky that the polyester satin pillowcases she bought were cheap and $14 is nowhere near a big loss. Besides, polyester satin fabric is smooth and offers some skin protection as well so the money isn’t completely wasted. However, I was really intrigued by the use of trap words in merchandise titles (such as “Silk-y”) that could mislead the unknowing buyer into buying something they don’t really want. Doing a quick search on Ebay returns many more results with “silk” being part of the title yet are not made with silk at all. Most of these products that can be searched with “silk” have “polyester” written somewhere in their description to avoid accusation of fake product description, but customers who are encouraged by the low prices can overlook these small details in their excitement.
So some of you might ask: “well, as long as my penny is worth it what’s wrong with polyester?” To this I answer: “Nothing”. There is, of course, nothing wrong with polyester – it IS the more economical choice of the two. However, you are not paying more for silk for nothing. Silk offers a number of benefits that polyester simply doesn’t:
– Polyester is a poor moisture wicker, a heavy sweater sleeping on polyester pillowcases will find himself waking up with half his face wet. Silk has one of the highest moisture absorption rate out of all textiles.
– Polyester has poor insulation. Sleeping on polyester pillowcases in winter leaves your face feeling cold. Silk on the other hand, keeps just the right amount of warmth in the material.
– Polyester is not hypoallergenic while silk is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-acarid at the same time.
– Polyester is synthetic and chemically inert while silk is composed of proteins and essential amino acids, which helps nourish your facial skin.
Then there are the subtle differences in touch and feel – silk is softer while polyester feels slightly rigid. The only area in which polyester has a convincing victory is anti-wrinkle, which is nothing a good ironing can’t solve.
So I’m not writing this to bash on polyester, but if you are aiming to get silk for its health and beauty benefits, you have to watch out for the little traps in online shopping. Going for the cheap goods will almost always reward you with cheap quality, which is something you probably don’t want.
PS. For those who are interested in reading about techniques in telling silk and cheaper materials apart, please see part 7 of my blog series from 2013-2014, which talks about how to avoid common traps and pitfalls when you shop for silk online.