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Can clothing really cool your skin?

Posted by Erum Ilyas on
Can clothing really cool your skin?

Functional textiles have become very popular as we look to clothing to multitask. Cooling textiles generally act by regulating sweat evaporation or absorption. Our body’s natural cooling mechanism or innate ability to cool down is based on the production of sweat that then evaporates off the skin and cools it down. Textiles that function to do so can work in a couple of ways. The first is that the construction of the textile can result in the ability to wick away moisture from our skin to speed the cooling mechanism that sweat plays in bringing our temperature down. There is often a fine layered construction that allows the sweat to move through the fabric through osmotic pressure and the capillary action between the layers. By doing so the moisture is not just absorbed by the fabric, it is actually released to the air. The other way this can be achieved is through producing textiles with crystals embedded in the construction of the textile. These crystals serve a similar role. They absorb sweat to allow the skin to cool quickly.

 

These fabrics are effective and much more comfortable to wear for those that deal with excess body heat, hot flashes, or spend a lot of time outdoors.  Cotton is a commonly sought summer textile but it absorbs sweat and holds it in the fabric.  The fabric is touted to “breathe” when its dry but when its wet with sweat it can start to feel uncomfortable as it holds the moisture in the fabric.

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