Yes, we all know that you’re supposed to do certain things if you have breakouts: Wash with a salicylic acid-based cleanser. Exfoliate with mechanical agents (like scrubs) and chemical agents (like AHAs or retinoids). Moisturize as needed. See a dermatologist, in case you need an antibiotic, hormonal, or anti-inflammatory agent.
While those treatments are helpful, they don’t prevent acne mechanica. According to Dr. David E. Bank, director and founder of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, “Acne mechanica is any type of acne that is the result of material or objects touching your face. When your pillowcase isn’t laundered or changed regularly, a build-up of dirt and oil from the environment as well as your skin and hair touching the pillow is transferred back to your skin. This can clog pores and cause blemishes.”
Given that some studies show that the average American washes his or her sheets only once every 10-14 days (with some people going as many as 3-4 weeks between washings), this makes your sheets and pillowcase prime for growing debris, dirt, oil, and acne mechanica-causing bacteria like P. acnes and even E. coli (gross, I know). At least one study has proven that pillowcases are covered in the same bacteria as toilet seats (eww!), along with sebum from your scalp and residue from any oily or creamy hair and skin products you use.
But just washing your pillowcase may not be enough. While regular washings may keep the majority of the dirt, debris, and oil at bay, we beauty junkies tend to go to sleep every night with a few products on our faces and hands — and all of that transfers to the pillowcase between washings. Meaning that, even on day 2, you’re sleeping in dried leftover gunk from the night before. Gross — and also potentially pore-clogging for any side sleepers or stomach sleepers.
That said, I hate fearmongering, but this may be a legit concern for anyone who is using an anti-acne regimen but not seeing results. As Ellen Clark, the founder and president of Control Corrective Skincare Systems, eloquently puts it: “Not everyone is going to break out from a pillowcase. But if you’re prone to breakouts, whether it’s because of hormones, genetics or stress, [pillowcases] can exacerbate an already delicate situation and cause micro-irritation.” (source)
The deja pillowcase was designed to help combat skin issues between pillowcase washings. It is made of 100% cotton, which has moisture-wicking properties and breathability, and helps to pull the dirt and debris away from your skin into a deeper layer. There are no silver ions or essential oils in the fabric, as there are health concerns surrounding these and the antibacterial properties lessen overtime. The deja pillowcase also has pages that you flip so you can sleep on a clean surface for 8 nights. It’s also soft and doesn’t tug at your skin, the way that some non-silk pillowcases do, which may actually cause wrinkles over time.
I recommend the deja pillowcase for anyone with breakouts or acne, and especially those who have been trying to get rid of their breakouts but haven’t yet found the culprit.