David Gordon, Founder and owner of BAM, talks us through the benefits of natural fabrics
Q: I have quite sensitive skin which can be easily irritated when I’m training. I’ve found synthetic fabrics uncomfortable. Do you have any suggestions?
A: It’s a bit of a double-edged sword as you probably know that exercise is actually good for the skin. It increases blood flow, and blood carries oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, helping nourish skin cells. And, of course, it has been shown to ease stress which can exacerbate some conditions such as acne and eczema. So, the thing to do is find exercise kit that is right for the job. The layer that goes next to your skin has two fundamental objectives – temperature control and moisture control. It will need to work with your body’s function of sweating and temperature regulation, so it’s important to get this spot on. The choice of baselayer used to be either synthetic materials or wool. Both have advantages: for instance synthetics, usually polyester or polyester blend, will wick sweat away from the skin and dry quickly so you don’t feel clammy, but it’s not particularly warm and isn’t antibacterial so can get smelly. Meanwhile wool baselayers, usually merino wool, don’t wick as well as synthetics but they have great thermal properties and are also naturally antibacterial. But there is an alternative: bamboo fabric, which provides the best of both worlds, whether or not you have sensitive skin. The natural properties of bamboo have significant benefits for performance clothing: it is warm and breathable thanks to smooth hollow microfibres; it has fantastic moisture wicking so absorbs moisture away from the skin keeping you drier; it has antibacterial properties as bacteria doesn’t live well in bamboo fabric so it resists the buildup of body odour; it is close fitting and keeps its shape but is anti-static so won’t cling to your skin; it also cuts out 97.5% of harmful UV rays. To top it all, bamboo fabric is soft, without the itchiness of wool. Bamboo fabric really comes into its own if you have sensitive or allergy-prone skin, and many people say it’s the only exercise solution if they have a problem skin.
BAM is a recommended brand by the National Eczema Society, but it’s great for all skin types: Bambooclothing.co.uk