The best materials if you have sensitive skin

9 September, 2022 / words by Alicia Lartey

Image by SKIMS

Our skin comes into contact with so many different materials on a daily basis, most of which have no impact on us, however there are a few changes that I have made during my skincare journey which have benefited me and may be useful to you. Before we get into my material trade secrets, there must be acknowledgement of the uniqueness of each individual’s body, something that may cause irritation can be fine for others and vice versa. 

As someone who deals with breakouts and hyperhidrosis I prefer to opt for breathable materials where possible to increase airflow to the skin. With skin conditions such as breakouts (which may be coupled with inflammation) and hyperhidrosis, it’s best to avoid tight non-breathable synthetic fibres. Increased airflow to the skin can improve the ability for sweat to evaporate, leaving the surface cool and dry, which is important as bacteria tends to thrive in damp and humid environments. The breathability of a material is due to the fibre that is used or the method of material construction. When we think about breathable materials, this often refers to natural fibres such as cotton and flax, although some synthetic fabrics can be constructed in a way that allows for breathability. Not all types of garments can be made from natural fibres (not all natural fibres are the best for breathability) such as exercise attire.

With these principles in mind, the most important items to me would be undergarments and sportswear as they are most in contact with the skin during times where the body can sweat more. I favour the Skims Cotton Collection, as they offer different styles of underwear that are still chic, yet breathable. During the summer months I am also partial to linen, as this fabric is often light and dries quickly. Linen can be a bit of a pain to deal with in terms of washing and ironing so I would recommend a loose fibre linen blend.

As an avid gym goer, I have tested a number of different brands and found that Lululemon and Adanola provide the most versatility for breathable workout gear. Although materials can be made breathable, it’s important to remove your gym wear as soon as you have finished working out to avoid feeling damp and humid. When looking for gym wear, you should be on the lookout for thin, stretchy and fast drying fabrics. Some materials such as toweling can often make the skin feel damp for extended periods of time, this can be particularly uncomfortable for people who are managing body breakouts. 

When you are choosing clothing, do not get too hung up on the effects a material can have on your skin, it is just something to keep in mind when exploring and experimenting with your skin care journey.


Alicia Lartey


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