What to wear during workouts - cotton or polyester?

What to wear during workouts - cotton or polyester?

21.05.2021 3 minutes

We intuitively choose natural materials when buying clothes. At the same time, we call polyester and other synthetic fabrics “artificial”. However, emotions should be pushed aside when buying sportswear. Even though cotton shirts are a timeless classic, they may not always be the best thing for you. Learn when to choose the functional attributes of polyester and when to go for the pleasant cotton.

Sports material is important

When you work out and/or are in a warm environment, your body heats up. In order to not overheat, you have a perfect thermo-regulation system which changes your body temperature according to the difference from the natural state. In other words, as you heat up, your body will try to lower the temperature by removing heat from the body to cool down. How? By vapourising sweat from your skin.

Because of this, the material should allow the body to drain away sweat in order to not overheat. If you were exercising in a cold environment in a sweaty shirt, you may catch a cold. The proper material should also be flexible, permeable, durable while not being itchy or irritating to the skin. Ideally, you should not even know about it while enjoying the luxury of complete focus on your training.

When to wear cotton

Cotton pieces provide you with comfort and enough range of motion. They are hypoallergenic, which means it is also suitable for people with sensitive skin. Cotton clothes are also durable, lasting, low-maintenance and do not smell when wet. Another advantage is its lower cost compared to other natural materials, such as wool. It is the right choice for warm, dry environments, low-intensity training and short exercises which allow you to change into dry clothes afterwards.

Even though cotton enables your skin to breathe, it does not mean that the sweat can evaporate. Cotton is pleasant and permeable, but not permeable enough to sweat your soul out in it. Cotton gets wet during intense training and only dries very slowly. A good alternative is cotton with additions of linen or polyester.

  • Pros: durability, softness, permeability, long life, price, natural origin, does not smell, good for all-year wear
  • Cons: absorbs moisture, gains weight when sweating, prevents the evaporation of sweat, less elastic than synthetics

When to wear polyester

Synthetic materials, such as polyester polyamide, elastane or combinations thereof share similar qualities. Their main upside for sports fans is their ability to drain away moisture, which does not prevent heat regulation like cotton. They are elastic, do not crumple, are durable and dry quickly. A good combination of synthetic materials allows manufacturers to create a soft and pleasant piece with functional attributes for any sport.

Unlike cotton, it is a synthetic material, which means it may smell after several times you wear it. However, with right laundry detergents, you can avoid this scenario easily. However, unknown manufacturers of cheap synthetic clothes may increase the risk of allergic reactions to the amount of chemicals used during the manufacturing process.

  • Pros: elasticity, durability, does not crumple, long life, price, drives away sweat, functional attributes
  • Cons: synthetic origin, risk of allergic reactions, may smell

Environmental impact

The majority of people may choose cotton over polyester, as it is a natural, plant-based product, but the two materials are surprisingly similar when it comes to environmental impact. In regions that produce cotton, a large amount of soil and water is needed. Polyester fibres, on the other hand, are made from fossil fuels. Cotton can be biologically dismantled. However, polyester may be produced by recycling plastic bottles.

  • How to be more eco-friendly? We care about our planet. That is why we care about the long life of our sportswear. You too can invest into clothes which will last long and produce less waste. As our material is EU-sourced, it falls under strict regulations. That secures the fairness of the NEBBIA brand. On top of that, we offer you the SEAQUAL™️, collection, which is made from plastic removed from the ocean floor.