The Problem with Polyester: What are we Absorbing When We Sweat?

The Problem with Polyester: What are we Absorbing When We Sweat?

We know natural deodorant is better for our skin and, thanks to Fussy, better for the planet too. But what about the rest of our gym kit?

Despite dominating the sportswear world, science shows that polyester isn’t best mixed with a sweaty workout. It can cause rashes, irritation, and contribute to a not-so-pleasant smell. All the things Fussy keeps at bay.

Let’s dive into the little-known dark side of polyester…

What’s is Polyester?

Here’s a challenge for you: get together all your gym clothes and check the labels to see how many times polyester comes up. Most, if not all, of the time? And the chances are it features heavily in the rest of your wardrobe too. That’s because it makes up more than 65% of the fibres used in the textile industry.

But what actually is it?

The short and snappy answer here is polyester is plastic.

The longer answer is polyester (or polyethylene terephthalate if we’re being technical) is a synthetic fibre derived from petroleum and is used to make anything from a camping tent to a sports bra. On the surface, it’s God’s gift for workout clothes: durable, cheap, and easy to wash.

Now for the flip side - what’s so bad about polyester and why do we care?

Part of the Plastic Problem

As a natural and eco-friendly deodorant brand, there are two things we love to shout about: caring for the planet and caring for our skin. And, you guessed it, polyester does neither of these things.

Let’s start with the more obvious one: the environmental impact. Polyester is part of the plastic problem. As an oil-based plastic, it does not biodegrade and stays in landfills for several decades (at least).

Researchers from The University of Plymouth found that washing polyester releases thousands of microplastics into the environment. In fact, an average washing load of 6kg can release an estimated 137, 951 fibres from polyester-cotton blend fabric and 496, 030 fibres from polyester. They get washed into rivers and oceans to be digested by aquatic organisms. Ultimately, toxins from these microplastics can enter our human food chains and the wider environment.

Since sweaty gym kits need to be washed a lot, this is an especially scary statistic.

Polyester and Skin Health

The less talked about problem with polyester is how it reacts with the skin. When we work out our skin rubs against our gym clothes. With polyester, we’re like a microwave meal getting hot in plastic packaging. That can’t be good for us, right?

And it’s backed by science. Polyester allergy is a common type of fabric allergy, known as textile dermatitis, due to contact with the chemicals used to process the fabric. A study by the University of Stockholm found that concentrations of toxic chemicals were notably higher in polyester than garments made from other materials. Amongst other health-hazardous chemical compounds are benzothiazole and benzotriazole, which can be absorbed by the skin causing irritations.

Polyester and Sweat Odour

And what about the stench that stalks our workout? You guessed it, that’s polyester’s problem too. Did you know that sweat itself doesn’t actually smell, but the bacteria that it comes into contact with creates the smell?  Hence why Fussy natural deodorant targets bacteria, not sweat. Polyester, however, is the perfect bacteria feast. Bacteria grow more readily on workout shirt made from the synthetic fabric, according to research from Chris Callewaert and his colleagues from Ghent University.

Choose Natural

So what’s the solution? Go au natural. And no, we don’t mean hit the gym in your bday suit.

Let’s look at the example natural deodorant is setting. It works throughout a workout by absorbing moisture and neutralising any odour. It’s free from chemical compounds and soothes the skin without causing any irritation.

And luckily, many natural fibres do a similar thing. From fabric made from Eucalyptus trees to organic cotton, hemp and bamboo fibres. There’s lots of nature-based resource that will keep your skin happy no matter how intense your workout. So next time you rejig your gym kit, keep an eye out for these natural fabrics and make sure your pack your Fussy deodorant in your gym bag.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published