There are some things that can improve with age — your confidence, your vocabulary, the ability to fold a fitted sheet — yet acne, unfortunately, isn’t always one of them. No matter the root cause behind it, adult acne is no less frustrating now than it was in our teenage years. The upside is that there’s an ever-growing lineup of treatment options, from natural ingredients to clarifying masks, to help banish breakouts.
One blemish-fighting solution that recently caught our eye is so simple to use that anyone who sleeps (so, all of us) can add it into their routine: new bedding. Linen brand Silvon® has been going viral on Instagram® due to claims that its technologically-advanced fabrics can help fight off acne-causing bacteria. But do they actually work? I consulted with a dermatologist and a cosmetic chemist — and tested the bedding myself — to find out.
How Silvon Claims Its Products Work
The idea is pretty straightforward: pure silver is woven into cotton fabric to make the bedding. Silver has been used as an antibacterial agent for centuries (more on that shortly). While traditional sheets just collect all the dirt and grime from your face and body and transfer it all back onto your skin night after night, the silver thread eliminates the bacteria. Effectively, you’re helping your skin fight off spots while you snooze.
What Experts Think of the Silvon Concept
“Silver is an old-school antibiotic, and it has been known for centuries to be antibacterial,” explains Rita Linkner, MD, board-certified dermatologist of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City. (For this reason, Dr. Linkner personally uses a prescription-strength, silver-infused cream in her practice to help treat burns.) Interestingly enough, no one really knows how the metal works to destroy bacteria, and while it may help prevent infections on burns, she believes this may be the extent of its bacteria-fighting abilities.
“Silver is said to have wound healing benefits, however, there isn’t anything that shows it’s an acne fighter,” points out Dr. Linkner. Cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski agrees. “Silver is an antimicrobial,” he says. “It is toxic to cells, but more toxic to bacteria than to human cells. The mechanisms by which silver kills cells are not known.” He also warns that unlike benzoyl peroxide, salicylic, and sulfur, silver isn’t FDA-approved for use as an anti-acne ingredient. That hasn’t stopped several skincare brands from including it in certain products. Romanowski notes that a specific water-soluble type of silver, AgNO₃ (silver nitrate) is proven effective — but again, it’s not an FDA-approved acne treatment method.
As far as whether or not your skin can absorb the hotly-contested ingredient through a pillowcase, Dr. Linkner says that she’s skeptical. “Given that pillowcases are washed — or at least should be — with a frequency of every one to two weeks, the silver in the fabric would likely not be able to persist with frequent laundering,” Linkner explains. Romanowski adds that all cloth can trap and transfer bacteria from skin to skin. He doesn’t believe that a special cotton woven with silver can necessarily make a difference in improving skin health.
My Review of Silvon
After seeing tons of advertisements for Silvon on Instagram — and doing research for this story — my curiosity was piqued. I deal with hormonal acne that tends to crop up right around my period, and thought that these sheets could help me manage my skin inflammation that week. Plus even though I’m very much a germaphobe, I can also be guilty of going to bed without washing my face. This made the idea of antibacterial bedding right up my alley.
That all said, I’m a self-admitted bedding snob, and it just has to feel right. As soon as I opened the packaging, I was pleasantly surprised. The material is soft and satiny, not overly crisp. Plus, the sheets are well-sized, with ample room in the pillowcases after inserting my standard pillows. You’d think with any bit of metal infused, you might feel some roughness or irritation, but they’re very comfortable to sleep on, as fabric is smooth and luxe. Plus, the Silvon website touts the cotton sheets’ breathability, and that seems accurate (they never felt heavy or super thick).
Let’s get down to what you’re probably wondering: did the Silvon sheets prevent my breakouts? Honestly, the verdict is still out. I will say that my skin has been a lot tamer than usual, but it’s hard to say whether the pillowcases or my skincare regimen are to thank. If these sheets contribute even a smidgen of power against acne-causing bacteria, I’m thrilled. In my book, they’re totally worth an extended try.
Some complimentary products were provided to the author for the purpose of writing this article.