NADS blogman, checking in. It’s Saturday night and I’m ready to rip on polyester some more. Why do we rag on polyester so much? Read on, and you’ll soon get it.
Polyester is a synthetic fiber that is widely used in the textile industry because of its affordability, durability, and versatility. However, many people are not aware of the potential health hazards associated with wearing polyester.
Chemical Exposure to Your Skin
Polyester is made from plastic polymers derived from petroleum, and is not biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to decompose. During the manufacturing process, these polymers are treated with various chemicals and additives, such as softeners, dyes, and flame retardants. These chemicals aren’t meant for the human body and can leach into the skin when we wear polyester clothing, especially when the fabric is in contact with sweat or other body fluids.
Some of the chemicals used in polyester manufacturing have been linked to serious health problems, such as hormone disruption, cancer, and reproductive issues. For example, phthalates, which are often used as softeners, have been linked to low testosterone, decreased sperm count, and infertility. While formaldehyde, which is used as a preservative, is a known carcinogen linked to cancer. Makes a lot of sense that those chemicals would be in our clothing, that we wear on our skin all day everyday, right? No.
Airflow and Sweat
Contrary to popular belief, polyester is a non-breathable fabric, which means it does not allow air to circulate through the fibers. This lack of airflow can trap heat and moisture against the skin, leading to increased acne, rashes, and even fungal infections.
Because of this, wearing polyester is even more problematic when sweating. When we sweat, that moisture needs to be released. Polyester, however, is hydrophobic, which means it repels water and does not absorb moisture. This can result in sweat being trapped against the skin, leading to an unpleasant odor, bacterial growth, and more. Yet is is marketed as moisture wicking and is the most common material in most workout and athletic gear.
Personal anecdote from the blogman- I used to work out in tee shirts made with 40% cotton 60% polyester. I always battled chest, shoulder and back acne and in the summer, had breakouts on my upper stomach too. When I learned about the issues with polyester, I tossed all of those shirts out. Within a week of no longer working out in synthetic fiber shirts, the breakouts practically disappeared, and it was the only variable I changed. Science!
In addition to the above health hazards, there are other negatives associated with polyester fabrics. For example, polyester is prone to pilling, static, and staining, which can make the fabric look worn and unsightly. Moreover, polyester is not a sustainable fabric, as it is derived from non-renewable resources and takes a long time to decompose. Plastic based fabric derived from petroleum, not sustainable? You don't say...
Ever noticed how your polyester or cotton/poly blend gear thins out, pills, and looks like a thin rag after 3-4 washes? Yeah. So have we. You’ll end up needing to buy the same garment 3-4 times a year if you want a full year of use out of that style. But since it is a low cost option that requires multiple purchases after the garments inevitably lose their quality, big companies are all about it. More products moved means more $$ in the bank for them.
Final thoughts? Going to keep it simple. Polyester is trash. It's not good for the Earth, your wallet, or your body.
If you can, you're best off getting rid of your polyester garments. If you can't, don't stress, just do what you can to avoid working out in them for now. And this should go without saying but definitely avoid wearing polyester underwear; your boys deserve better.
Now that you know what you know, it's on you. The choice is yours!
NADS blogman, signing off.