Pillow Buying Guide


Choosing the perfect pillow for you or a loved one can be frustrating and confusing. This fact often causes people to wait too long before replacing pillows that are clearly already past their use by date.

Fortunately, Tontine has been providing Australian families with the widest possible range of comfortable, durable and affordable pillows for more than 60 years, and the majority of them are made right here in Australia, so you know they’re good quality.

With so many great pillows to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect one for you or a family member.


Most people try to make choosing the right pillow as easy as possible, such as classifying themselves as a tummy, back or side sleeper, and choosing a low, medium or high pillow to suit.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple, and if you simplify the process too much, there’s a good chance you’ll be very disappointed in your pillow choice, and you’ll find yourself buying another new pillow shortly after buying the first one.

Of course, whether you’re a tummy, back or side sleeper is a valid consideration, but it’s not the only one. For example, it’s estimated that around 70% of people fall asleep on their side but change positions throughout the night, and spend at least part of each night sleeping on their back and tummy as well. Another danger of just considering your preferred sleeping position is that it doesn’t take into consideration things like differences in body frames and shoulder widths, but more about that in a moment.

OK, so you shouldn’t just base your decision on whether you’re a tummy, back or side sleeper, but then what should you base your decision on?

Well, finding the perfect pillow usually comes down to finding the right balance for you between these key considerations:

  1. Your preferred level of comfort
  2. Your preferred level of support
  3. Your preferred sleeping position and your body size
  4. Your mattress type and age
  5. Existing neck and related back pain
  6. Your budget
  7. How long you’d like your pillow to last
  8. Special needs

Let’s have a look at each one of these in turn.


For most people, finding a comfortable pillow is the most important consideration of all.

How comfortable a pillow is, is of course a subjective thing. What pillow you find comfortable, others may not, and vice versa.

Generally speaking, how comfortable a pillow is usually refers to how soft it is. But be careful. Buying the most comfortable pillow isn’t just about finding the softest pillow.

The best pillows are usually pillows that have the balance right between comfort and support, and have a height appropriate for your body size and shoulder width.

When it comes to finding a soft pillow, the materials used in construction become important.

For example, the softest pillows are often those made with wool, feather and down, or very thin polyester fibre fillings.

Materials generally regarded as less soft, include memory foam and latex, but just as there are wool, feather and down and polyester pillows that offer support as well as softness, there are memory foam pillows and latex pillows that aren’t just supportive, but are relatively soft too.

To help you choose the right comfort level for you, most pillows are classified as either soft, medium or firm to help guide you, including Tontine pillows.


Pillow support is very important. In fact, it’s as important as the comfort level of a pillow.  As you would expect, firm pillows generally offer the most support, while medium pillows offer support with a degree of comfort, and soft pillows the least support but most comfort.

To gauge the level of support a pillow gives, many people apply the hug test to potential new pillows.  While this can help, one of the best ways to decide if a soft, medium or firm pillow has the right level of support for you, is to reference your current pillow. Is it soft, medium or firm, and does it currently, or did it in the past, offer the right level of support for you?

If you’ve forgotten if your pillow is soft, medium or firm, check the pillow care instructions label.


As we mentioned at the outset, your preferred sleeping position can be a helpful consideration in choosing a new pillow, but only if your body size and shoulder width are also considered.

If you have a smallish frame with narrow shoulders, consider a low height or low profile pillow. If you are of average frame with medium width shoulders, your best option will be a medium height pillow. And if you have a large frame with wide shoulders, a high pillow is likely to be your best option.

To ensure you can find the perfect pillow, Tontine offers a range of pillows in different heights, with varying degrees of comfort and support. For example, you can choose a low profile pillow that is soft, medium or firm, or a medium profile pillow that is soft medium or firm.


Along with your pillow, your mattress goes a long way in determining the quality of your sleep. And it’s the combination of your pillow and mattress that’s important, not just each in isolation.

For example, if you have a soft mattress, you may not need a high pillow to cater for your wide shoulders, you may be OK with a medium height pillow instead. Likewise, if you have a hard mattress, you may need a high pillow, even though you have average width shoulders and a medium sized frame, because you won’t be sinking too far into the hard mattress.

Generally speaking, the most important mattress considerations are whether your mattress is soft, medium or hard, and how old it is. The age of your mattress is important, because older mattresses tend to sag with age. So although you may have a firm mattress, its age may contribute to it acting more like a medium or soft mattress.


If you have existing neck and related back pain, your choice of pillow may help you minimise or eliminate that pain, or, if you choose poorly, make it worse.

People who have existing conditions leading to pain in their neck and back typically need to favour support levels over any other pillow choice considerations.

Because they generally provide the highest level of support, latex pillows and memory foam pillows are often the pillows of choice for people with this type of pain.

Changing the type of pillow you use can take some getting used to, so if you do change to different type of pillow to help with existing ailments, you may need to be patient and stick with your new pillow for a few weeks, even if it appears to make matters worse initially.

As with any type of medical condition, it’s best to talk to your preferred medical practitioner before making any lifestyle changes aimed at addressing ailments, such as your local physiotherapist or chiropractor.


The golden rule when it comes to buying a new pillow for yourself, or someone you love, is “buy the best pillow you can afford”.

Good quality sleep plays a vital role in ensuring we all lead happy, healthy lives, and along with the mattress you sleep on, the quality of your pillow, and how well it meets your sleeping needs, is the most important factor affecting your quality of sleep.

The things that most effect the price you pay for your new pillow is the type and quality of materials it’s made from, and where it’s made.

Some materials are more expensive than others, for example latex pillows and memory foam pillows are usually more expensive than cotton pillows and polyester pillows.

And even among pillows made with the same type of material, there can be quality differences. For example, not all polyester fibres have the same specifications and treatments, and not all latex is the same. A good example of this is Talalay Latex pillows versus regular latex pillows, where Talalay latex is generally regarded as better quality because it is denser, retains its supportive rebounding properties longer and is generally longer lasting.

Where a pillow is made can also affect its price. For example, generally Australian made pillows are often more expensive than fully imported pillows, and more often than not, the increased price reflects a better quality of construction and grade of material used.


Often, but not always, related to the price of a new pillow is the durability of that pillow.

Durable pillows are often those made from superior materials, hence the common link with the price of the pillow.

The material type, in addition to the material quality, used to make a pillow usually has a direct link with how durable a pillow is. For example, a good polyester pillow should last up to 2 years, whereas you should expect a good quality Talalay Latex pillow to last up to 10 years.

With suitable care, Tontine pillows are known to be among the most durable pillows you can buy. For more information about caring from your new pillow, read the Pillow Care Guide.


In addition to all the considerations listed above, you may also need to consider other things, which we call “special needs”. Special needs relate specifically to your circumstances and preferences, and include things like whether you or your family suffer from allergies and asthma, whether your child is transitioning from sleeping in a cot to a bed for the first time, and if you’re pregnant.

In each one of these examples, there are pillows that are designed to cater to these special needs, as well as all the other pillow choice considerations there are.

For example, the fibres used in making Tontine Anti Allergy pillows are coated with an anti-microbial treatment that inhibits the growth of bacteria, as well as mould and dust mites, which are known triggers of allergies and asthma. What’s more, Tontine Anti Allergy pillows are approved by the National Asthma Council of Australia.

Pregnant women often find that special shaped pillows help make them more comfortable at night. For example, full body pillows, and U-Shaped pillows, tri-pillows,or even European pillows are very popular.

Pillow Material Guide

As you’ve seen above, when it comes to variations between pillow materials, there are always exceptions to the rules. That being said, here’s a general guide to choosing an appropriate pillow based on the materials used in its construction.

Cotton and Polyester Pillows

Good quality polyester pillows provide both comfort and support, and often represent great value for money. If the materials used are of sufficient quality, and the pillows have been constructed well, the pillow shouldn’t go flat, lumpy or lose its shape quickly, which some cheap polyester pillows can do. Poor quality polyester pillows may only last 6 months or less, while good quality polyester pillows, like Tontine’s, can last up to two years or more.

Latex Pillows

Latex is a natural product made from the sap of the rubber tree. Latex pillows are generally very durable, and have superior rebound qualities and are supportive yet comfortable. They also have the added benefit of being naturally hypoallergenic. Latex pillows come in a wide variety of shapes, profiles and densities. The average life of a latex pillow is between 5 and 10 years.

Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam molds to the shape of your head and neck, and can relieve pressure on sensitive areas. Memory foam pillows are considered to be a good choice for people suffering from neck and related back pain, but they can take a little getting used to, and may be a little hot for some people to sleep on. For those people who sleep hot, a memory foam pillow designed to address this issue, like a gel infused memory foam pillow, or memory foam pillow with  cooling gel top, may be the best option. Memory foam pillows generally last between 5 to 10 years with normal use.

Wool Pillows

Wool is a natural fibre that is renewable and biodegradable, breathable and naturally hypoallergenic. Wool pillows aren’t as commonly used as wool quilts because while they’re very soft and comfortable, wool pillows don’t offer a great deal of support, and are generally more expensive than pillows made with other materials, like polyester. To add extra support, wool can be blended with other materials, to produce wool blend pillows. Wool pillows usually last between 3 and 5 years with normal use.

Feather and Down Pillows

Feather and down pillows, as the name suggests, are filled with a combination of duck or goose feathers and duck or goose down. Generally speaking, the higher the ratio of down to feathers, the more expensive the pillows are. As well as being more expensive, a higher percentage of down in a pillow usually means that it is softer and will last longer. Pillows with a high ratio of down can also be moulded more easily, and fluffed into your favourite shape. Potential negatives for some people are that feather and down pillows don’t often offer enough support, and the feathers and down can be allergenic for some. Expect feather and down pillows to last between 5 – 10 years. At Marbret we supply a range of excellent quality Australian Made feather and Down Pillows


As you can see, choosing the right pillow for you and your family isn’t as straight forward as deciding if you’re a tummy, side or back sleeper, as some people would like you to believe. 

And although there are quite a few factors to consider, the investment in choosing the right pillow and buying the right one for you, will pay off in spades.

After all, we spend a third of our lives asleep, and few things are as important in determining our general happiness and health, as the quality of our sleep.

For the perfect pillow, and comfort you can trust, the brand to choose is Tontine.