Woman working on the laptop

If you have been dealing with skin care issues that you just can’t quite seem to get to the bottom of, the answer could lie in your clothes.

Did you know that there are actually several ways in which your clothes could be ruining your skin?

Read on to find out more…

New Clothes

Many people love wearing new clothes for the first time, putting it straight on as soon as it is out of the bag.

However, this can actually lead to skin allergies.


Because of the way in which so many clothing companies coat their clothing in formaldehyde resins before sending them out to be sold.

Why do they do this?

Because this helps to keep the clothing wrinkle-free.

However, the clothing then ends up releasing this formaldehyde, meaning that it then comes into contact with your skin.

Fortunately, formaldehyde is easily water-soluble, meaning that washing any new clothes before wearing them will help to prevent the skin irritations that they may cause.

With formaldehyde being the method used to make clothing resistant to wrinkles, it goes without saying that you should also be avoiding any items of clothing, as well as bed linen, that claim to be wrinkle-free.

Dry Cleaning

Do you often have your clothes dry cleaned?

If your answer is yes…

Do you actually know what this process involves?

You are likely aware that clothes you send in for dry cleaning are not washed in water.

What many people don’t realize is that clothes are instead soaked in a liquid solvent, which dissolves dirt and stains without damaging the fabrics.

While this may be effective, the solvent that is usually used is actually considered to be an environmental hazard.

Not only that, but it has also been determined a hazard to human health, since it is a likely human carcinogen.

While measures are in place to ensure that dry cleaners start using different solvents, this issue will likely still be around for quite a few years more.

These chemicals are most harmful when they are breathed in, but they can also be absorbed by the skin, especially since the chemicals are exacerbated by the plastic used to wrap dry cleaned clothes.

This can then lead to contact dermatitis, which will manifest as an itchy red rash.

The best way to avoid this is by cutting back on your dry cleaning.

Really need to have something dry cleaned?

Make sure that you remove the plastic wrap as soon as you receive your clothes, as this will allow the chemicals from the solvent to be released. You should also avoid being in close proximity of your freshly dry cleaned clothes for a while, to prevent you from breathing in these chemicals.

Harsh Laundry Detergents

Let’s begin with the products you use to wash your clothes…

While your laundry detergent may smell pure and fresh, chances are that it’s packed with a number of harsh chemicals.

Everything from the preservatives to the fragrances to the dyes used in detergents can trigger a reaction in your skin.

This reaction is known as contact dermatitis.

What does it look like?

A red rash that will usually be quite itchy. This rash can appear anywhere, but will frequently show up in areas where your clothing gets damp with sweat, such as the groin and armpits.

Since this reaction can sometimes occur after you have already used the detergent several times, it can sometimes take a while to make the connection between your skin problems and your laundry detergent.

Wondering if there are any skin-friendly laundry detergents out there?

Of course! It may take a little more time tracking them down, but there are an increasing number of options available these days.

Look for a laundry detergent that is:

  • Fragrance or perfume-free
  • Dye-free

You will often see the phrase ‘free and clear’ on the label, which is an indication that this detergent will be gentle on your skin.

Tight Clothing

From leggings to skinny jeans, tight clothing styles have been extremely trendy lately, with more and more people giving them a try.

But did you know that tight clothing can actually lead to a number of different skin problems?

Here are a few of the ways in which tight clothing could be ruining your skin:

  • Body Acne – tight clothing is a common cause of body acne, with this generally occurring wherever your clothing is tightest. Tight clothing leads to sweat and increased sebum production, which clogs up the pores and results in breakouts. The excessive heat that is experienced by the skin when covered in tight clothing doesn’t help with the inflammation either
  • Heat Rash – the sweating and heat caused by wearing tight clothing can result in the skin’s sweat ducts becoming clogged, leading to tiny and uncomfortable red bumps known as heat rash
  • Chafing – tight clothing causes friction against the skin each time it comes into contact with your skin, resulting in chafing. This can then cause cracks to appear on the skin’s outer layer, resulting in a loss of moisture, as well as increased inflammation and redness
  • Folliculitis – this condition refers to hair follicles becoming inflamed. Again, this is due to the friction created when tight clothing rubs against the skin. This can then lead to bacteria or fungi entering the hair follicles, resulting in a folliculitis infection
  • Ringworm – rather than actually being a worm, ringworm is a fungal infection. It turns your skin red and scaly, and sometimes itchy too, and is caused by excessive sweating in tight clothing

Many people wear tight clothing when working out, and this can really increase your chances of developing one of the above skin issues.

As you can imagine, the solution to all of this is simple…

It is time to revamp your wardrobe!

Start wearing looser clothing styles instead, especially if you are regularly experiencing one of the above skin problems.

Fabric Dyes

Synthetic fabric dyes are formulated with a variety of different chemicals, with the most common one being para-phenylenediamine, also known as PPD.

Contact with this dye can lead to contact dermatitis, that red itchy rash discussed above.

You will usually be able to tell if a fabric has been dyed. All dye colors will contain PPD, although it is believed that black dyes contain more of the ingredient than other colors.

Try to stick to natural colors as much as possible when it comes to picking your clothing, especially if you are already susceptible to skin allergies and sensitivities.

Textile Fibers

When it comes to purchasing new clothing, many people end up being swayed by style and color, not giving too much thought to the textiles used in creating that item.

However, if you have sensitive skin, then this is something that you really do need to pay attention to.

Certain fabrics can irritate your skin, resulting in itching and redness.

These are some fabrics that you should try to avoid:

  • Wool – can be quite rough on the skin, causing a high amount of friction
  • Polyester – derived from plastic, polyester is an occlusive, meaning that it triggers a rise in skin temperature, leading to inflammation. It also causes quite a bit of friction when rubbing against the skin
  • Cotton – many think cotton is a great fabric to wear, but cotton actually absorbs moisture and then stays quite damp, leading to skin irritations and infections
  • Nylon – repels water, meaning that any moisture ends up trapped between your skin and the fabric
  • Rayon and Viscose – these can sometimes mimic denim, but, unlike denim, they are not breathable, and also repel water

So, which fabrics should you be wearing?

The very best one for your skin would be silk.

This is an ancient natural fiber that actually has a number of skin benefits, such as:

  • It is extremely breathable
  • It will be warm in the winter but cool in the summer
  • It can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water, without feeling damp
  • It is naturally hypoallergenic, meaning that it is resistant to dust mites, mold, fungus and many other allergens
  • It does not create any friction when rubbing across your skin
  • It is made with very little chemical exposure

In addition to silk, linen and soft acrylic will also be gentle on your skin.


Many people do not realize that some of the most popular items of clothing out there contain nickel, which is a common allergen.

From the underwire in your bra to the rivet clasp on your jeans, nickel can be found in a wide range of clothes.

How do you know if you are allergic to nickel?

You will likely experience some of the following symptoms:

  • A red rash
  • Red bumps
  • Itching
  • Dry patches
  • Blisters, in severe cases

These symptoms will tend to show up on the part of your skin that has come into contact with the nickel, although they can sometimes appear anywhere on the body.

Fortunately, over-the-counter allergy remedies will help to clear these symptoms, while ensuring that you no longer wear anything containing nickel will help to prevent them from occurring again.


Sweatbands are such a useful accessory to wear when working out.

Forehead sweatbands directly absorb any perspiration that comes from your head, while those worn on the wrist work just like a built-in towel.

Not only that, but sweatbands have also been in the fashion spotlight lately, thanks to the athleisure trend, making them quite a trendy accessory too.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, while sweatbands do their job of absorbing sweat extremely well, they also collect bacteria.

Once your sweatband has dried off, this bacteria hangs about.

Unless you wash your sweatbands after each use, the bacteria then ends up being transferred back onto your skin the next time you wear it.

If your skin is already acne-prone, all of this extra bacteria will only lead to acne flare-ups.

To prevent this, make sure that you wash your sweatbands after each use, even if they may not appear to be dirty.

If you sweat quite a bit, it would be worth bringing along an extra towel or two to your workout, so that you are not solely relying on your sweatbands.

Wet Bathing Suits

Although you likely don’t wear a wet bathing suit on purpose, it is common practice to exit the water and allow a bathing suit to dry naturally.

However, sitting around in a wet bathing suit can actually harm your skin.


By increasing the chances of you developing jock itch, which is a fungal infection that affects the skin around the inner thighs, buttocks and genitals.

What does it look like?

A red, itchy rash, which is commonly in the shape of a ring. Skin may also appear scaly, and can ooze a liquid.

Jock itch can sometimes be painful, and it can often spread to other parts of the skin, making prevention absolutely vital.

Wondering how to prevent this from occurring if you have no way of fully drying off after exiting the water?

Simply bring along a spare bathing suit and then change into this once you are done swimming.

In the meantime, you can turn to an over-the-counter anti-fungal powder or cream to apply onto your rash to calm the symptoms. If your rash is especially severe, you may want to speak to your doctor and ask about prescription anti-fungal treatments.

Your clothes can affect your skin in so many different ways, and it is important to at least be aware of all of this, so that you can quickly recognize any symptoms that may arise. Fortunately, with so much choice and variety out there when it comes to fashion, it doesn’t take too much to make a few wardrobe changes, incorporating more skin-friendly clothing into your life.