Is Alpaca Fibre Hypoallergenic?

Is Alpaca Fibre Hypoallergenic?
We get asked this question a lot. In short, yes, Alpaca is one of the best hypoallergenic fibres out there. For all the eco-conscious enthusiasts who value sustainable fashion, we thought it would be useful to do a deep dive into the realm of hypoallergenic fibres and conduct a thorough comparison across various natural fibre options.

What exactly does it mean for a fibre to be hypoallergenic?

'Hypoallergenic' is a term that signifies a product or material is less likely to cause allergic reactions in individuals compared to non-hypoallergenic alternatives. It implies that the substance has a reduced potential to trigger allergic responses, making it a preferred choice for those with sensitivities or allergies.

Do you have sensitive skin or suffer from allergies? For those who suffer from allergies, the term 'hypoallergenic' becomes especially relevant when considering which type of fibre to choose.

Are all natural fibres hypoallergenic?

In short, No. While natural fibres are generally considered more hypoallergenic than synthetic alternatives, not all natural fibres are inherently hypoallergenic. Different factors are taken into consideration when testing allergenic properties of fibres.

In order to get a better understanding, let’s explore and compare the hypoallergenic qualities across various natural fibres to help you understand their differences and benefits, particularly focusing on their suitability for individuals with sensitivities or allergies.

Categories for hypoallergenic qualities

  1. Non-irritating to skin
  2. Resistance to dust mites
  3. Chemical-free production
  4. Anti-microbial properties
  5. Low lanolin content
  6. Odour resistance

Table:  Hypoallergenic Qualities of Natural Fibres 

Going deeper into why these boxes are crossed  

Sheep's wool

Non-irritating to skin: Wool can be irritating to some people's skin, largely depending on the type of wool and individual sensitivity. While fine wools like Merino are typically softer and less irritating, coarser varieties and untreated wool can cause discomfort due to their thicker fibers and lanolin content. For sensitive skin, high-quality, fine wool or specially treated options like superwashed wool can offer more comfort.

Chemical-free production: Wool can be chemical-free in its natural state, but the production and processing methods can introduce various chemicals. While wool is a natural, biodegradable fibre, conventional wool production often involves chemical treatments for cleaning, dyeing, and softening, as well as pesticide use. Choosing organic wool and eco-friendly processing methods can help reduce chemical exposure and environmental impact.

Low lanolin content: Sheep's wool generally has a high lanolin content. Lanolin is a natural oil produced by sheep that helps protect their wool and skin. While lanolin has beneficial properties, it can cause irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals.

Cotton

Resistant to dust mites: Cotton is not inherently resistant to dust mites. Dust mites thrive in fabrics that can retain moisture and provide a hospitable environment for them to live and breed. Cotton's ability to absorb and hold moisture can make it a suitable environment for dust mites, particularly in items like bedding and upholstered furniture where moisture from sweat or ambient humidity is common.

Chemical-free production: Conventional cotton production involves heavy use of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, and processing chemicals.

Anti-microbial properties: Cotton does not naturally possess antimicrobial properties. Unlike some fibres like wool or bamboo which have inherent antimicrobial qualities due to their natural composition, cotton is more susceptible to bacterial growth, especially when it becomes damp or is not frequently washed. In its untreated state, cotton's lack of antimicrobial properties means it needs to be regularly washed and dried properly to prevent a build-up of bacteria and other microbes.

Odour resistant: Cotton is not inherently odour-resistant. While it is breathable and has good moisture absorption properties, these characteristics can lead to the retention of sweat and bacteria, which can cause odours to develop if the fabric is not washed frequently.

To enhance odour resistance, some cotton fabrics are treated with antimicrobial finishes, which help to reduce bacterial growth and associated odours. However, untreated cotton does not possess strong natural odour-resistant properties compared to some other fibers like wool or bamboo.

Silk

Chemical-free production: Conventional silk production may involve the use of pesticides and fertilisers in mulberry tree cultivation, chemical treatments during degumming and processing, and synthetic dyes and mordants in dyeing, impacting its environmental sustainability.

Cashmere

Chemical-free production: Standard cashmere production often involves the use of chemicals at various stages. During the dehairing process, chemicals can be used to separate the fine cashmere fibres from the coarser guard hairs of the goats. During dyeing and finishing, synthetic dyes and chemical treatments are commonly used to achieve the desired colours and textures. Mass production of cashmere, particularly from regions with less stringent environmental regulations, may involve pesticides and herbicides on pastures during the rearing of goats.

Anti-microbial properties: Unlike some fibres such as sheep's wool or alpaca, cashmere does not have strong inherent anti-microbial properties. Wool fibres possess natural anti-microbial characteristics due to their lanolin content and structure, whereas cashmere lacks lanolin; this absence indicates no significant anti-microbial benefits. Cashmere can still be prone to harbouring bacteria and odours over time if not properly cared for, as it doesn't naturally inhibit microbial growth.

Linen

Anti-microbial properties: Linen does have some natural anti-microbial properties, although it is not as inherently anti-microbial as some other fibres like wool or bamboo. However, Linen's breathable and quick drying nature helps prevent the buildup of moisture, creating an environment less conducive to bacterial growth.

Chemical-free production: Linen production typically involves some chemical processes such as retting and finishing, but eco-friendly alternatives like organic linen and low-impact dyes can minimise chemical use. Choosing organic or environmentally friendly linen options can reduce exposure to harmful chemicals and promote more sustainable production practices.

Bamboo

Chemical-free production: Bamboo production often includes chemical treatments during fibre extraction and processing, particularly in the creation of bamboo rayon fabrics like viscose. Eco-friendly practices can help minimise chemical use in bamboo production, promoting a more sustainable approach to bamboo textiles.

 

The allergy-friendly nature of alpacas

Alpaca fibre truly shines as an allergy-friendly option among natural fibres. With its smooth and less prickly fibres, compared to traditional sheep's wool, alpaca offers a soft and comfortable feel against the skin. Its lightweight and breathable qualities further enhance the wearing experience, making alpaca a sought-after fibre for those prioritising comfort, luxury and hypoallergenic properties.

Alpaca emerges as a top contender in the realm of hypoallergenic fibres, outshining many other natural fibres with its gentle, allergy-friendly nature.

Choosing a hypoallergenic natural fibre like Alpaca not only nurtures your skin but also aligns with your commitment to a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.

Want to experience these sorts of products for yourself?

Shop our range of hypoallergenic Alpaca Fashion online now!