Ever notice how some fabrics like silk feel good against your skin but others like wool can feel dry and itchy? Well there’s actually a science to how fibers affect our skin. With different characteristics that can affect your body in different ways; fabrics can keep you warm, to repel sweat, or even allow your skin and hair products to better preform. However, these same properties can have adverse effects like trapping in heat and causing skin irritation.
We know different perfumes, makeup, and of course skin care can have different effects and that we should be careful with what we put on our skin. But shouldn’t we pay attention to what we wear on our skin, too? And with skin being your biggest organ most prone to outside influences, you may want to weave fabric choice into your healthy lifestyle and skincare regime, especially your bedding.
So the question is, what are the best fabrics for your skin? To let your skin breathe, to sleep in, and even put on your hair. How do you incorporate fabric into your skincare routine? And what are some fabrics to avoid?
Read on to find out.
When thinking of fabrics that feel good, are natural for the environment, and are hypoallergenic, cotton is probably the main one that comes to mind, and rightfully so! Cotton is an all in one natural fiber. It’s breathable, simultaneously keeps you warm in the cold and cool in the heat, moisture wicking, and long lasting.
What makes cotton so comfortable? The diameter of a cotton fiber is very thin. Thinner than our hair strands! This fineness, plus the ends of a cotton fiber sticking out from the surface of the fabrics, make it very soft to the touch and comfortable on the skin. Wool has a much thicker diameter and therefore is a thicker fabric which is why people will say it is itchy or that they are allergic. But there are finer grades of wool, like cashmere that is much more comfortable on the skin and softer to the touch.
You’ll also find that using cotton pads for your cleansers and skin products are the most hygienic as you read on.
Silk is another natural fiber to look for. It is hypoallergenic because of its protein structure. Silk is a good fabric choice for sleepwear, pillowcases and sheets. For people who sleep with hair wraps or caps, choose it in silk fabric as it is softer on hair and will help prevent any hair breakage. Because silk is a protein material it will give skin with support and structure. This means it will keep skin bouncy and firm. Brands like Silk Therapeutics incorporate liquid silk into their ingredients to powerfully hydrate the skin.
Linen is a popular summer fabric because it keeps you cool in the heat. It can absorb up to 20% of moisture before it gets damp. Other than being a good temperature regulator, it is also hypoallergenic and antibacterial.
Viscose is a man-made cellulose fiber. It can feel like silk and cotton. It is a delicate and soft fabric Viscose fiber is good for people with sensitive skin.
Overall choosing the most natural fabrics will feel the best against your skin.
Fabrics to Avoid
People don’t often think about the types of fiber they put on their skin often opting for a cheap polyester blend without thinking about it. But polyester and other synthetic, or man made fibers don’t have breathability to allow skin to breathe. This increases the risk of absorbing toxic chemicals. This lack of breathability can lead to various kinds of irritation like athletes foot or fungi due to the trapped moisture.
If you have dry or itchy skin, wool is not for you. Wool can trigger eczema and it could even irritate people with normal skin too.
Vintage clothes can house a lot of dust and mildew that can cause a rash. Not to say vintage fabrics and furs should be avoided altogether. Just make sure to it cleaned thoroughly.
If you want to avoid clothing that irritates your skin, avoid clothes that say no-iron, dirt repellent, or permanent press. Clothes with these special characteristics have chemicals in it that enable them to be dirt repellent and such but not so good for the skin!
If wearing certain fabrics like wool or polyester is giving you a rash, you may have clothing dermatitis. You’re more likely to get it with synthetic fabrics like polyester not only because of their lack of breathability but because synthetic fabrics are more likely to have dyes and chemicals that make you allergic. The best thing to do is stop wearing the clothes causing you a rash. If your rash and skin irritation doesn’t go away in a few weeks, it’s a good idea to consult with your dermatologist for relief.
Any of the following can cause an irritation or rash on your skin
Dyes like Disperse Blue 1, Azo and anthraquinone
Chemicals like formaldehyde and PPD
In addition to Polyester, the following fabrics should be avoided.
Although Silk has those good aforementioned qualities, in terms of breathability, silk is not the best choice. Silk and Nylon prevent moisture from wicking which causes irritation. This is good to note in underwear selection since that is a sensitive area that will need a more breathable fabric like cotton.
Skin Care Regime
Paying attention to how fabric affects your skin can also enhance your skin care regime. Sleeping on a silk pillowcase, as mentioned earlier, not only provide a silky smooth sleeping experience. Silk pillowcases can also be the final step to your nightly skin routine. After your nightly cleanse lock in the moisture and rejuvenate your skin by having a good nights rest on your silk pillowcase. Sleeping with a silk pillowcase will help reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Especially if it has copper ions in it. Copper ions help lock in moisture that helps supports the skin’s self-rejuvenating function. In addition, sleeping with a silk pillowcase helps extend the shine and luster of your hair as well as protect it from breakage and tangles.
If you’re interested in investing in a fabric-based skin care, look no further than cotton. Cottonseed oil can be found in balms, cleansers, night creams, etc. Cottonseed oil is high in vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants making it anti-inflammatory. This makes it efficient in calming redness and sooth skin.
Cotton is also good for skin product application. Cotton pads ensure a more efficient than hands in application especially for toners and essences. In Korea, skin care application is incomplete without them. Choose cotton pads that have a smooth spongey texture that will be gentle on the skin. Pads that aren’t made with bleached and treated cotton minimize skin irritation as well.
A note about Detergents
Not only is it important to choose your fabrics carefully, but your detergent as well. Lots of detergents have skin irritants that can do more harm than good. If you are someone who is especially prone to acne, your skin may not do as well with heavy fragrances in the detergent. Most detergents aren’t toxic so there’s no need to worry about that but the chemicals and harsh soaps in the detergent can cause dry and itchy patches on the skin. For issues like these, a green detergent will be the best solution.
From your clothing and sheets to your pillow cases and detergents, paying attention to the fabrics that your skin loves versus needs to avoid is an important but often overlooked part of a healthy skin care regime. If you are interested in learning how fabric can enhance your skin care routine, reach out directly to one of our team members or request to connect with a physician.