Can you wear probiotics in clothes?

Kylie Jenner was recently featured in Vogue in an article called “Wearing Rather Than Drinking Her Probiotics”. Well, I have no idea who this famous lady is, wearing the latest fashions and collecting expensive handbags, but this new clothing range, Skin II, from graduate Rosie Broadhead is just great.

Your skin has its own protective bacterial barrier

It does follow on from my thoughts last year when we entered the first pandemic lockdown in March. Everybody was told to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds and to sanitise every time they went from one room to another (it seemed). I was slightly uneasy about such intense and repeated cleansing and the possible dangers of this overwhelming hand sanitising mania. I had splits form on either side of my thumbnails which wouldn’t heal for ages and kept opening up again. As a naturopath, I am very aware of the need to keep intact the skin’s own protective bacterial barrier, known as the acid mantle, it is Nature’s way of keeping us safe from the environment. It is our sebum, that slightly greasy and acidic secretion which keeps our skin supple and of a slightly acidic pH (acid value), to deter the growth of lots of bacterial and fungal species. Continual washing and sanitising with alcohol-based chemical solutions strips your skin of its protective sebum and friendly probiotic bacteria (the skin’s acid mantle) and this is exactly what Rosie, and her team are protecting by developing this new clothing.
Awesome is what I’d call it!

Kylie Jenner wearing an outfit from Rosie Broadhead Skin II range


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A post shared by Kylie 🤍 (@kyliejenner)

What is our clothing made from?

Why would such an invention be useful? Most newly manufactured fabrics come drenched in formaldehyde to stop mildew and mould forming in the fabrics as the majority come from tropical hot, humid factories and could start going mouldy while they are stored and shipped if they weren’t dressed in chemicals. Some people cannot enter a fabric shop without having a reaction. My husband was dragged around fabric shops as a child in Malaysia by his seamstress mother, and the levels of formaldehyde in the fabric shops, off-gassing from the fabric bolts, caused him extreme irritation. He would get a prickly nose with a burning sensation which then worked up to his eyes. The deeper he went into the shops, the pricklier his nose got and his eyes smarted and watered. He had to flee the shops and wait outside for his mother. His mother was equally irritated by not being able to stay in the shops as long as she wanted!

Dressmaking in the UK

Sometimes during dressmaking even here in the UK, the steaming of seams can give you a sore throat from the fabric dressings of all sorts of starches and chemicals like formaldehyde. Then we wash our clothes in enzyme-rich biologically active detergents which some people react to with sore skin and contact dermatitis. The ones that don’t react may be storing up toxicity invisibly within their bodies for later expression as more sinister conditions than rashes and itchy skin…?
My attempts to start a career in garment making in 1972, in a factory making clothes for Marks and Spencer’s, came to an abrupt end after one week; the dressing in the fabrics set off my eczema and started to threaten an asthma attack with a forewarning tightening in my chest. As a teenager still battling childhood eczema and with allergy-based asthma, it was just not an environment I could tolerate.
What we have discussed applies to all fabrics, natural and synthetics alike. Cotton, silk and other natural fibres would all be broken down and digested by moulds if they weren’t protected in warm climates by the dressings and chemical antifungals used in manufacture. Here in UK, we may not be warm and tropical, but we are certainly nearly always damp enough to encourage mould and mildew growth.

What about synthetic fabrics?

Synthetic fabrics, however, bring an additional danger to health. The chemical compounds from which they are formed, can be relatively unstable. The manufacture of things like polyester and nylon, are veritable chemical soups and once formed into a fabric matrix, these chemicals can still react with their environments. Certain gasses can be given off just due to friction, body heat, moisture from sweat and things like perfume and deodorants[i]. Let’s remember that sweat is not just salty water, it contains acids, hormones and all sorts of toxins being excreted from the body, which can react with the synthetic fibres. This not only wears the clothing out (check out the underarms of your t-shirts and sweatshirts), but it can allow gasses and chemicals to pass through the skin into the body.

If you can’t eat it safely, you shouldn’t put it on your skin

A useful adage, if you can’t eat it safely, you shouldn’t put it on your skin – this applies not only to toiletries and cosmetics, but also applies to fabrics and fibres in our clothing as they form particles and gasses that pass through your skin into your body.
If you want to learn more, there is a book by Dr Brian Clements (from the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida) called “Killer Clothes” which takes this whole thing into a bit more detail and would give you a huge appreciation for what Rosie is doing here with her probiotic clothing and seaweed fibres. It’s got my hearty applause and I’d like to see and feel the clothing and get to know more about this pioneering invention.

“Killer-Clothes” available on Amazon

[i] If you wish to know more about safer underarm deodorants, check out the solid crystal deodorants which just impart a salt layer on the skin to deter bacterial growth and thereby stops the body odour forming. They are bacteriostatic, not antiperspirant. It doesn’t block pores, impart chemicals or rot your clothing. One crystal deodorant lasts for anything up to a year (if you drop them they smash like glass, so take care and they last for ages). Taymount clinic sells two brands but the average health store will have a range to offer and supermarkets are catching on to their popularity now.

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