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Are Your Bedsheets Causing You to Breakout?

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Are Your Bedsheets Causing You to Breakout?

With all that’s happening in the world right now, we defy anyone to not want to just curl up under the duvet and hide. The coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the onset of cold, rainy weather and the possibility of our Christmas plans with family and friends being scuppered is enough to send us all into hibernation.

But what if your bed, your cosy, warm, comforting bed, was causing another problem? Spots and acne.

Yep, our safest place could be contributing to our stressed out, non conformist skin. This could be down to the laundry products we use and how often we change them. Our towels and face cloths don’t escape either, as they could also be doing more harm than good.

So here’s the Sönd lowdown on the everyday things that could be upsetting the natural balance of your skin. 

What washing detergents do you use? 

The detergent we use to do our washing can have a large impact on our skin. Highly scented, artificial chemical based clothes washing products can be harsh on our skin. If we’re sensitive or prone to acne, then they could be causing our skin to break out.

If you can, look for natural washing powders that are suitable for sensitive or baby skin. The same goes for fabric conditioners. They might smell like wildflower meadows or sunshine on a rainy day, but these scents are usually made in a chemistry lab.

As such, they’ve never seen a flower or a ‘fresh breeze’ and could beupsetting our skin (and our breathing). 

How often do you change your bed sheets? 

We’re totally not judging. Nor are we accusing you of living like a teenager in a den of sweat, hormones and general untidiness and unwashed sheets. It’s just that life is busy, we get it. Sometimes, a few weeks could go past and we’re still slipping into the same bed sheets…

The problem is, when we sleep, even if we’ve dutifully washed our faces and removed all makeup, we transfer dirt, sweat, sebum (the natural oil secreted by our skin) and bacteria to our bed sheets.

That is, for eight hours a night, we’re layering on all these unwanted substances onto our pillowcases and bed sheets. Then the next night, we lay on them, and they get transferred back onto our skin. And the next night, and so on.

When we move around, friction causes dirt and bacteria to enter our pores, which can lead to spots and acne breakouts, especially if we haveacne prone skin.

So it makes sense to change and wash our bed linen regularly. We think weekly is about right, and certainly no longer than every ten days. Because there’s nothing like getting into a tidy, well made bed with clean sheets on, is there? Wash all bed linen on 60 degrees too, to make sure all bacteria is killed and dirt is removed in the process.

And as we mentioned above, just as important is what we’re using to wash them. The fabric our sheets are made from is important too. Breathable, natural fabrics such as cotton (organic if possible, as non organic cotton is intensively grown using harsh pesticides) are better. Bamboo fabric is another natural material option.

Man made fabrics such as polyester might feel nice, but they’re actually made using polymers, or plastics in other words. These don’t allow the skin to breathe, which can potentially cause breakouts.

Make sure all bed linen is made from natural fabric if you can, or gradually start to replace them all. This includes your actual pillow and duvet - opt for natural, hypoallergenic ones. Some people are sensitive to duvets made with feathers or down too, so watch out for those.

Some advocate changing your bed sheets, or at least your pillowcases,on a daily basis. But this may be a little extreme, not to mention impactful on both your wallet (washing machines are energy intensive beasts!) and your time. And that’s without even taking the environment into account. But if you feel the need to (or want to experiment with the impact on your skin), then by all means, go ahead! 

How about your towels…?

Our towels need to be washed as frequently as our bed linen (and can all go into the machine on the same 60 degree wash using the same natural detergents and fabric softeners). Damp, warm towels create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria which can be transferred to our skin when we dry. So they really need to be kept clean.

We shouldn’t rub our skin (on our body or our face) when we dry, as this can irritate the skin. (Instead, we should pat our skin dry.) Rubbing our skin also causes friction, and ideal conditions for dirt and bacteria to enter our pores and cause breakouts. 

Or your flannels and face cloths?

The same goes for whatever we use to wash our faces. Be that a traditional flannel, a muslin cloth or a konjac sponge, they all need to be washed or replaced ideally each week.

What we use to wash our faces is important too. Flannels can be harsh, so if you’re breaking out, try switching to a baby flannel or muslin cloth which are gentler on the skin. 

Have you pulled your hat and scarf out yet? 

Hats and scarves are cosy and warm, and now that it’s getting colder, we’re all turning to them as comfort and to keep out the elements.

But just like our towels and bed linen, they need to be kept clean. Otherwise, they could become breeding grounds for bacteria and reservoirs of dirt that can cause skin problems on our foreheads,along our jaw and around our neck.

Wash them every few weeks or more often if you think it necessary and opt for natural, breathable fabrics. 

Is your face mask causing breakouts? 

Finally, there is a chance that the face mask or covering that you’re wearing to go out and about in during this covid world, is causing you to break out. Wearing a mask for long periods of timecan cause ‘maskne’ but also, how and when we wash them can also impact our skin.

If you’re wearing a washable mask, then make sure you’re washing it frequently (and ideally wearing a new one each day) and using a kind detergent to wash it in. 

Could our bed sheetsreally be causing acne and spots? 

There are schools of thought that our bed sheets have absolutely zero impact on our skin. One dermatologist, Dr Meghan Feely,told the Independent newspaper, “Synthetic ingredients in dryer sheets may cause skin irritation and potentially increase the risk of a breakout in some individuals, but everything considered, the strongest factors that underlie acne are hormones, bacteria, genetics, and lifestyle”.

Which makes sense. Acne is caused by many different and multiple factors, indeed including our genetics, stage of life (hello puberty, pregnancy and menopause hormones!), our menstrual cycle (those pesky hormones again) and lifestyle choices. 

Living a skin friendly life

If you think that your bed sheets, or anything else in your daily home care routine might be contributing to or causing your skin to break out, then no one can argue with that.

So our advice is to find a laundry routine that’s kind to your skin. We’re all beautifully different, so your routine will be unique to you.

It may be a case of trial and error, but in the main, natural, eco friendly or fragrance free (or all three) washing powders, laundry liquids and fabric conditioners tend to be the kindest. Change your bed linen often, weekly if possible, and the same goes for your towels and face cloths. This will help to kill any skin upsetting bacteria lurking in them, and avoid spreading them to your face and body.

Your skin will also benefit from using kind skin care products too. Just like our (natch)alkalising range of cleansers, moisturisers, serums and face masks. We developed them all with skin just like yours in mind.

The solution to your acne prone skin is out there. And with Sönd, you’ll find it that bit quicker. 


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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