Have you ever been in the beauty aisle or skin care section of a beauty supply store and picked up lotions or serums with silk or cotton in the name or ingredients? Could the same substances that make your clothes feel so soft and cozy make your skin feel the same way? Well, yes and no. It’s not like they just liquified a silk blouse and put it in a bottle. Silk comes from worms (gross true fact) and cotton comes from a plant. Now how do they work for your skin and hair? Let’s discuss.
Silk amino acids or silk proteins is the gelatinous substance that binds silk filaments. It’s generally used in hair products because of its ability to penetrate and strengthen damaged hair. It works because the amino acids bind with keratin in your hair and skin, forming a protective barrier to seal in moisture and impart a—for lack of better word—silky shine and texture. Many of your favorite brands incorporate silk proteins into their products. Try Living Proof’s Restore Instant Repair Hair serum to nix split ends and encourage lush stronger hair. Biosilk, named for using silk as its main ingredient in hair treatment, is a cult classic for giving you the softest hair. The downside for those who live vegan or eschew animal products, is that there’s no way to harvest silk or for this matter silk proteins, without killing the silkworm. If you consider worms under the umbrella of “animal products” you probably want to steer clear of silk anything.
Cotton, on the other hand, is a plant–and a versatile one at that–so this is definitely an option for those looking for a cruelty-free “softener.” The cotton plant offers cottonseed oil and protein, cotton thistle, and cotton milk as beauty-friendly elements. Whether they are hardworking enough ingredients to make a difference is still debatable but that doesn’t stop beauty brands from including one of more of these cotton elements into their more soothing, calming, and softening products. Cottonseed oil is an emollient that possesses vitamin E and linoleic acid—both good moisturizing elements. If nothing else, since it’s a natural fiber, those with sensitive skin might benefit from a lotion with cottonseed oil since cotton in general is non-irritating. The new H&M Group store, & Other Stories offers an entire Cotton Care line—everything from hand soap, to body scrub, creams, lotions, body oil, and balms—all with cottonseed oil. The entire line is super light but heavy-duty moisturizing, with the faintly fresh scent like clean laundry. Burt’s Bees unsurprisingly has a cotton extract collection for sensitive skin.
It makes sense that silk and cotton would be the popular “textile” choice to collab with beauty products, since they’re both natural substances. What’s next? Nylon-based primer or wool sheet masks (it’d be warm at least)?