Health Impacts of Wearing Clothing with Chemical Dyes
Your skin is your largest organ, and, just like your stomach, you can absorb things through it. This is how lotions and creams work, but those aren’t the only things you absorb on a daily basis – you can also absorb chemicals from your clothing. You likely wear clothing almost every second of every day, so that’s a lot of time to absorb things, both good and bad. And studies even show that chemicals in your clothes can transfer “into a through human skin to cause toxic effects.”1 Eek!
Now consider this: azo dyes, which account for about 60-70% of all clothing dyes, have been found to cause cancer.2 Some are even banned in the EU for this reason. (That’s, unfortunately, not so in the US, where they are still allowed.)
There are other problematic things in our clothing as well. Trace amounts of heavy metals, some above what are considered the abiding carcinogenic safety limits, have also been found in conventional clothing.3 In fact, even "eco-friendly" "low impact" dyes have been found to cause skin problems, and the long-term effects of these newer dyes have not yet been studied.1
And dyes aren’t the only problem. 60-70% of fabrics are made from plastic (polyester, spandex, acrylic), which, as we know from plastic water bottles, leaches chemicals when it gets hot.4
At Sustain, we produce clothing that’s good for your skin and your health. All of our dyes are completely natural and safe, and many have been in use for thousands of years (indigo leaves and madder root were used by the Egyptians).
Others are made from food or food scraps such as pomegranate peels, avocado skins, and rhubarb leaves – things that are safe to wear and eat.
And that doesn’t even touch upon our ayurvedic collection, which is dyed with over a dozen medicinal herbs and plants including turmeric (a powerful anti-inflammatory), aloe, and peppermint. Clinical trials at the Government Ayurveda College in Thiruvananthapuram show that clothing dyed with these medicinal herbs has beneficial health effects, improving the immune responses of the wearer. That means our natural dyes are not just solving a problem – they’re providing a benefit to your health.
4 "Textile Dye dermatitis," J. Am. Acad. Dermatol., Apr. 1995, Vol. 32(4), p. 631-9; "Allergic contact dermatitis associated with reactive dyes in a dark garment: a case report," Contact Dermatitis, Sep. 2005, Vol. 53(3), p. 150-4.