Free Shipping On Orders Over NZ$99

Silk, Satin, and Polyester - What are the differences?

What is silk and the process of making it? 

Silk is a natural fibre used by insects as a material for nests and cocoons. 
Silk fibres reeled from the cocoon of the Bombyx mori are comprised of silk fibroin, which contains 70-75% of the weight, and silk sericin, which contains 20% to 25% of the weight. Silk's incredible material is glued together by sericin. It keeps the structure of the cocoon. Lightweight and enticing, silk feels great when worn, thanks to its many great properties. 

Does Polyester really resemble silk?

'No' is the unquestionable answer to the question. Polyester resembles silk about as closely as a tricycle does a car. It is made of synthetic fibres spun from petroleum products in such a way that it appears to be silk but it is not silk.

Polyester is a synthetic fibre created from coal and petroleum. Polyester is durable, but it is not breathable and does not absorb liquids well, so it should not be worn during the hot summer months.

Is satin really silk? 
Not at all. Satin is a weave, not a textile, and most fabrics that are identified as satin have a soft, shiny finish that can be found on anything from evening bags to upholstery.

Satin Weave: What is it?
The Satin weave is characterised by four or more weft threads crossing over one warp thread, or the opposite: four or more warp threads crossing over a weft thread. Weaving involves holding the warp thread or threads stationary on the loom, and weaving the weft thread or threads over and under the warps.

Where does satin come from?
The history of satin goes back to mediaeval China, when silk was the only material used. In mediaeval Arabic, the fabric was known as Zaitun, which is why we call it satin today. The weave originated in the Chinese port city of Quanzhou. Throughout the Middle East, fabrics and weaving techniques came to be widely produced thanks to the Silk Road. During the fourteenth century, satin became popular throughout Europe after it was introduced to it by Italy in the twelfth century. 

Satin vs. Silk: What's the Difference?
Silk is the fibre, and satin is the textile weave. Thus, silk fibres are capable of being woven into satin, but silk fibres can also be woven in patterns that would not be considered satin. In contrast, satin is made from any long filament fibre, not just silk.

Silk has many advantages. What are they?
Silk is a natural fibre that is popular for many different reasons. 

  1. Environment-friendly. Natural fibres, like silk, have a smaller environmental impact than synthetic fibres since they use fewer chemicals during their production. 
  2. Breathability. Silk is a lightweight and breathable fabric, which means you won't overheat as you go about your daily routine.
  3. Elasticity. Silk clothes keep their shape fairly well when they're treated well. The flexibility and elasticity of silk make it capable of putting itself back into shape after stretching - to a certain extent. 
  4. Absorbency. Silk is fairly absorbent. Water weakens the fibres, though, so treat your silk carefully when you’re washing it.
  5. Regulation of the temperature. Due to silk's ability to regulate your body temperature, it helps you feel cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather. Silk is a good fabric both for thinness and insulation.
  6. Shine. Under a microscope, you can see that silk fibres are smooth and straight, unlike wool, which has scaliness. As a result, silk is smoother to the touch and shinier to the eye, giving it a luxurious feel.

Is silk better than polyester? 
Nothing beats the feel of silk against your skin, whether you're sleeping on silk sheets or playing with your favorite silk scarf. 

In terms of cost, these two fabrics differ the most. Real silk costs about five times as much as polyester. And that's just a conservative estimate.

Polyester's main drawback is its poor drape, and it tends to stick to your skin due to its tendency to accumulate static electricity.

Then silk has a luxurious, soft, smooth, and natural feel to it and it is wonderful next to your skin. On the other hand, polyester can be rough, not so soft, artificial, and may irritate your skin if you have a sensitive skin type.

The other difference is that polyester is typically not wrinkled, creased, shrunk or faded. If you are not careful with silk, it will do all of those things. You can easily wash polyester in your washing machine.

How Can You Tell The Difference Between Silk And Polyester?
If the price does not already reveal which is which, then you need to learn how to perform some different tests to find out the difference. When it comes to price, if the ‘silk’ price is too good to be true, it is probably polyester.

Polyester is usually woven even, symmetrical, and without imperfections. Silk is not so perfect and evenly woven, and sometimes has flaws. The threads may be slightly twisted as well. 

If you place the material in question up to the light, silk appears to have a subtle sheen, and this shine changes colour when the angle is changed. On the other hand, polyester shines all the time and is boring.

Polyester Pillowcase vs Silk Pillowcase

The first thing you will notice in this comparison is the price difference between real silk and polyester satin. Silk is simply more expensive than man-made fabrics. Then there is the difference in feel between the two.

In comparison to silk, which is soft and smooth, polyester will be slippery and a little rougher. As both fabrics provide less friction, there are fewer split ends, but the major difference lies in their health benefits.

The thermal regulation, hypoallergenic features, and resistance to mold, mildew, and dust mites make silk an excellent choice. This is not possible with polyester satin. In comparison with these two fabrics, it would be like comparing Rolls Royces and Bentleys with 1960s VW Bugs. The latter option achieves the same purpose, but doesn't provide the same luxury or performance as the former. That is the way it is with silk and polyester pillowcases. The latter does not perform as well as the former.

Polyester Pyjamas vs Silk Pyjamas
This comparison will be much like the pillowcase comparison. The two fabrics, especially when it is poly satin made, are smooth with silk being smoother. They are both lightweight and can look really good when cut into great-looking pyjamas
The major difference between the two is that the polyester satin is man-made while the silk comes from all-natural fibres. Then the sating outfit is thicker and heavier than silk so it breathes a lot less than that latter material.

At laundry time the silk pyjamas should be hand washed or dry cleaned only while the satin can also be cleaned in your washer. Polyester satin’s shine is one side only like regular polyester fabric while the silk pyjamas will have a shine on both sides. Finally, silk should drape and flow better than the polyester satin will.

Finally, the difference between the two fabrics is like the difference between daylight and moonlight. Both can shine but the sun or silk can shine brighter than the moon or polyester.

Then while the moonlight looks good, as do some polyester fabrics, the sunlight just makes everything better just like silk can. If you can afford it, opt to use silk whenever possible. It is just the better fabric of the two.