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Why You Want To Wear Organic Cotton Closest To Your Skin

by: Rosie Dalton | 2 years ago | Features

Image: Jess wearing the Lady Bra and the Elastic Bell Pants by Base Range

With the rise of the wellness movement over recent years has also come a marked increase in natural skincare sales. In fact, according to Fast Company, brands with a natural clinical orientation now represent the largest combined share of all prestige skincare profits. “Our skin is our largest organ, and many ingredients contained in these products are quickly absorbed by the skin,” argues Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic senator from California, who introduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act in 2016. If this is true of the lotions and potions that we put on our skin, though, what about the materials rubbing up directly against it?

This is where sustainable lingerie comes in. They are the pieces we wear most (every day, to be exact) and also the items that sit closest to our skin. Not just any skin, either, but our most sensitive reproductive regions, no less. Which is why I would argue that you want to keep your bras, undies and even your high-rotation basics as chemical-free as possible. This may sound overly complicated or somewhat too science-y, but it is actually as simple as choosing better, more sustainable fibres for your underwear drawer. Period.

Organic cotton is a great option here. It differs from conventional cotton insofar as it is significantly less toxic. Grown using methods with a low environmental impact, organic cotton is regulated by strict classification standards. And, for the most part, those standards are designed to reduce the use of toxic pesticides and fertilisers that are commonly used in conventional cotton production. This is important for the planet, because it helps to maintain biodiversity and soil health. But it is also critical for human health too, given the fact that many pesticides regularly used in conventional cotton production are also known carcinogens.

Lambda cyhalothrin, for example, is an insecticide that’s commonly used on cotton crops – despite the fact that it has also been “classified as an endocrine disruptor, [which] can present reproductive toxicity,” according to a recent study from the Pesticide Action Network UK. These findings also point to another study on organochlorine pesticides and female puberty in South Kazakhstan, which discovered that “increased concentrations of pesticides in the blood of women and girls living in cotton-growing regions is associated with delayed physical and sexual development, relatively late puberty, and reduced level of two specific hormones.”

In other words, then, the toxic chemicals often used in so-called ‘natural’ fibres like conventionally grown cotton have actually been proven to be harmful to human health – and, in particular, to the reproductive health of young women. So if these are the affects they can have on people living in close proximity to the crops themselves, then what is the risk their by-products pose to our own health on a daily basis? Unfortunately, not enough research has been done yet into the toxicity of our personal wardrobes. But why risk it?

Especially when there are so many pioneering lingerie labels now making sustainable underwear you can comfortably keep close to your chest. LA-based label Pansy, for example, makes ultra comfy, Insta-cool bras and undies that are crafted from organic cotton. That organic cotton is fully traceable – it is grown in Texas and milled in North Carolina. The underwear is then dyed using fiber-reactive dyes in a factory in Novato, California and sewn in a San Leandro factory near founder Laura Schoorl’s home. This traceability of materials is super important. As is the use of sustainable dyes, because regular ‘azo’ dyes are packed with known carcinogens like formaldehyde.

These chemicals and carcinogens can make their way into our pores after prolonged skin contact. And few garments are quite so close or so prolonged throughout the day as our knickers. So it is for this reason that we have specially curated a sustainable underwear section, to help simplify the process of shopping for safer lingerie. When in doubt, though, seek out sustainable fibres like organic cotton to minimise the toxicity of your lingerie. Because, as Pansy’s Laura Schoorl points out: “Most women can feel the difference on their skin!”


You can shop some of our latest organic cotton lingerie pieces here:

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