The polyester problem; what plastic fabrics are doing to your skin, hair and body

Whether you suffer from acne or are concerned with how much hair you always seem to be losing, or perhaps you've been trying for a baby for several months and years now; polyester and plastic toxicity could be the root of it all.

We live in the age of petroleum, or plastic, to be more accurate.

From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, we touch, use, wear, and even ingest plastic; polyester bedding, skincare containing petroleum-based ingredients,  polyester and other synthetic hijabs, microplastics in our food and water (from plastic pollution itself), polyester clothing, plastic homeware and supplies.

Plastic is everywhere. Polyester is essentially plastic, derived from oil. It is a non-biodegradable synthetic fabric that can be recycled. Thus a lot of it is also produced from recycled plastic bottles.

It is capable of emitting 300 times more greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide and it also has high levels of toxic chemicals such as stain resistance, fire retardants, formaldehyde, moth repellents, and so on.

Clothing, including hijabs made from such harmful synthetic fabrics and chemicals, are bound to have negative effects on our skin, hair and hormones. 


Unlike natural fabrics, polyester doesn't allow the skin to breathe, and therefore the heat and moisture get trapped, causing skin irritations. It also makes one sweat more, meaning the heat stimulates oil production, which in turn causes acne and seborrheic dermatitis (red, scaly patches, and dandruff on scalp).

As a consequence, you'll find more and more experts advising pure cotton or silk pillowcases if concerned with skin issues, including aging.

The skin not only eliminates, it also absorbs substances; anything it encounters in fact, will be going into the bloodstream. This is where the lymphatic system gets into trouble. 

Instead of ridding the body of waste products, one of its many functions, the lymphatic system gets overwhelmed when encountering the toxic polyester fabrics; therefore it backfires, and rather than pushing toxins out, it slows down and becomes sluggish, leading to inflammation and disease.


Few people are aware that it is our reproductive system and our hormones, that are at a higher risk when exposed to polyester, in close contact and for long periods. A 1993 study by Shafik, A. showed that by wearing loose fit polyester underwear, the sperm count, as well as motile sperms in tested subjects, significantly decreased. The study also has found an increase in abnormal sperm forms and degenerative changes.

The group wearing cotton or nothing at all had no health problems.

In another study done in 2007 by the same researcher, the electrostatic potential from polyester garments was found to have an 'injurious effect on the ovarian and placental function,' which in turn caused low serum progesterone and spontaneous abortions.

Several other studies have also been done on textile-skin interactions. Correlations were found between skin injuries, blisters, pressure ulcers, and the use of synthetic textiles.

When looking at the strong dyes used on synthetic fabrics, subjects tested contracted lymphomatoid dermatitis and different other cutaneous reactions.

Polyester Hijabs

Writing all this, I cannot help but wonder, what does this all mean for us; Muslim women wearing synthetic and mainly polyester hijabs daily sometimes 12, or even more, hours in a row?

What is this material doing to our hair, skin and health?

In the same year, 1993, Shafik, A. from Cairo University, Egypt, did another study looking at correlations between hair growth and different types of textile fabrics; the results were pretty scary.

The group wearing polyester for two months on top of their skin, showed 'thinning of the epidermis of the skin, with fragmentation and vacuolation of the hair follicle pulp,' a slower hair growth, as well as lower hair density.

It is no wonder, therefore, that after a long day with such hijabs on, we come home and experience headaches, dandruff, hair breakage, hair loss and thinning, as well as 'painful scalp,' and seborrheic dermatitis.

Opt for hijabs made using natural and bio-based fibres, especially those from sustainable sources and those made using sustainable technologies. Cotton, silk cashmere and our sustainably sourced modal hijabs are some of our favourites, owing to their breathability, light weight and softness. 

Transitioning away from synthetics is a gradual journey. Through informed and conscious choices you will eventually reduce your exposure to harmful toxins. As a result, you will not only be taking care of yourself, but also workers, communities and our precious environment. 

By Olesea Pozdneacov, IIN Health Coach

Olesea Pozdneacov is an Integrative Nutrition Heath Coach and a loving mother. She became a health coach to fulfil her desire to work with women to improve their health and personal life as well as their families'. Thus she offers individual health and nutrition coaching. Olesea received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she received in-depth training in nutrition, health and wellness, coaching skills, and business development. 


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