Synthetic materials (Polyester, Nylon, Spandex, Microfiber) are bad for your health and now we know they're even more dangerous by sweating in them.  Even worse, almost all active gear, yoga, golf, tennis, running are made from these materials. 

“We know that chemicals are continually lost from any material over time,” Professor Miriam Diamond at the University of Toronto.  “It’s a physical reality that the chemicals migrate to your skin from your clothing, with and without sweat. And that is accelerated when this clothing is skintight, when there’s no air barrier. Even more when you’re sitting on something, because you’re pressing the fabric right against your skin.

In September 2023 the University of Birmingham did a study confirming that sweat leaches hazardous chemicals out of microplastics.

“Human sweat is a complex mixture that contains oily components known as sebum, which facilitated the leaching of toxic chemicals from microplastics, rendering them available for absorption through the skin,” said Dr. Mohamed Abdallah, principal investigator for the project, Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham and a co-author of the paper. What’s more, the research found that the presence of antiperspirant made the problem worse.

How do you know what you are wearing is safe? Oeko-Tex® provides certifications to factories and brands for safe fashion products, uses a test that puts a material into a solution that mimics sweat, and then tests the liquid to see how much of a hazardous chemical leached out. Clearly, that method works.

HyperNatural products are all 100% Oeko-Tex certified.

Here are 5 more reasons to avoid synthetic materials like polyester and look for natural alternatives that are better for you all around.

  1. Skin Irritation: Synthetic fabrics tend to trap moisture and heat, creating an ideal environment for bacteria and fungi to thrive. This can lead to skin irritation, rashes, and even fungal infections. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that wearing synthetic fabrics during exercise can exacerbate skin conditions like acne and eczema.
  2. Poor Breathability: Synthetic materials often lack breathability, meaning they don't allow sweat to evaporate easily. This can result in increased body temperature, discomfort, and even heat-related illnesses. In contrast, natural fabrics like cotton and bamboo have better breathability, allowing sweat to evaporate and keeping your body cool during exercise.
  3. Chemical Exposure: Many synthetic fabrics are treated with chemicals like formaldehyde, which is used to make them wrinkle-resistant. These chemicals can be absorbed by the skin during exercise and may cause allergic reactions or irritation. Research published in the Journal of Textile Science & Engineering has highlighted the potential health risks associated with chemical treatments in synthetic textiles.
  4. Microplastic Pollution: Synthetic fabrics shed microplastic fibers during washing, which can end up in waterways and ultimately enter the food chain. These microplastics have been found in marine life and even in human tissues. By choosing natural fabrics, you can reduce your contribution to this environmental and potential health hazard.
  5. Odor Retention: Synthetic fabrics are notorious for trapping odors, even after washing. This is due to their ability to hold onto bacteria and sweat. Natural fabrics like wool have antimicrobial properties that can help prevent odor buildup, keeping you feeling fresher for longer periods.

Healthier natural options for workout clothing include:

  1. Cotton: Cotton is a breathable and absorbent natural fabric that allows sweat to evaporate, keeping you cool and comfortable during exercise. Look for organic cotton options to minimize exposure to pesticides and chemicals.
  2. Viscose (Rayon): Viscose is derived from natural cellulose sources like wood pulp, making it a semi-synthetic fiber. While it's not as breathable as cotton, it still offers better moisture absorption and breathability compared to many synthetic fabrics.
  3. Bamboo: Bamboo fabric is gaining popularity as a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to synthetic materials. It has natural moisture-wicking properties and is soft against the skin, making it ideal for activewear.
  4. Wool: Merino wool, in particular, is a great choice for workout clothing. It is naturally moisture-wicking, odor-resistant, and regulates body temperature, keeping you comfortable in various weather conditions.
  5. Hemp: Hemp fabric is durable, breathable, and naturally antimicrobial. It also has excellent moisture-wicking properties, making it suitable for intense workouts
  6. Corn-based Polymers: Some companies are developing bio-based polymers derived from renewable sources like corn. These polymers can be spun into fibers that mimic the properties of traditional synthetic materials but with a lower environmental footprint. Fabrics made from corn-based polymers can offer moisture-wicking, stretch, and durability suitable for workout clothing.