Over the years, Australian Merino wool has crossed boundaries and reached homes of consumers across the world who understand and appreciate its true value. The very fact that Merino wool makes up just 1.2 per cent of the world’s fibre for apparel, gives it the distinction of true luxury. In addition, a number of scientific studies have found that superfine Merino wool can actually be beneficial to those who suffer from chronic skin conditions.
With health and wellness becoming the top priority amongst consumers across all market segments and countries today, the scope of application for Merino wool continues to evolve.
Historically, wool was looked upon as a fibre that cannot be worn directly against the skin. However, recent expert research challenges these misconceptions and found there is no credible evidence that wool is an allergen. Even groups with highly sensitive skin have been shown to benefit from wearing superfine Merino base-layer garments.
The 2016 study saw a group of medical professionals review research from the past 100 years to critically assess the scientific studies claiming wool causes allergy. This analysis, published as Debunking the Myth of Wool Allergy, concluded there was no credible evidence wool is an allergen.
“This latest review is of high relevance to allergists, dermatologists, and physicians – and also to consumers,” says Angus Ireland, The Woolmark Company’s program manager of fiber advocacy and eco-credentials. “Research is showing superfine wool base-layer garments to be beneficial to people with sensitive skin, such as eczema sufferers, so it’s important to address misperceptions that wool is an allergen or that all wool is itchy when worn directly against the skin.”
In fact, the recent research has not only busted the myth on the benefits of wool as a skin-friendly fibre, but it has also demonstrated that wearing superfine Merino wool next to the skin is beneficial for eczema sufferers. This major medical breakthrough only adds to a growing number of research findings supporting the well-being benefits of superfine Merino wool making it a suitable choice for even the most sensitive category of customers – babies. A medical study involving infants showed that superfine Merino wool clothing reduced the severity of mild-moderate atopic dermatitis in children compared to cotton clothing.
Other medical studies involving adolescent and adult eczema sufferers reported reduced symptoms when wearing superfine Merino wool garments next to the skin. Across the four studies, significant reductions in symptoms were observed including significant improvements in quality of life in both children and adults.
So how is this possible? When worn next to the skin, superfine Merino wool works to buffer the dynamic micro-climate between the fabric and the skin, helping to stabilise the humidity and temperature. Whether it’s hot, cold, humid or dry, garments made from Merino wool are the most breathable compared with garments made from most common apparel fibre types. Wool can absorb and release twice as much moisture vapour as cotton and 30 times as much as polyester.
Ready to try superfine Merino wool for yourself or your loved one? Woolmark has rounded up the best approved products to help reduce your eczema symptoms. Shop here.
So, what makes Merino the toast of those looking for comfort, value, quality and warmth. Without a doubt, it is the fineness of the fibre that makes it incredibly soft, lightweight and breathable. Whilst other breeds of sheep grow wool that measures 23 micron and broader, Merino sheep predominately grow wool below 23 microns. Significantly, superfine Merino wool measures between 16.6 and 18.5 micron. That’s six times finer than the average human hair (100 micron).
Being a natural fibre, Merino wool is grown year-round by Merino sheep on farms across Australia. Due to its unique structure – which is not found in every type of wool – Merino wool has many different natural beneficial qualities that make it an innovative and versatile fibre. These performance properties make the same the most-suited for luxury clothing, high-performance sportswear and next-to-skin apparel.
The pride, with which brands project Merino wool in their collections and the extra edge that superfine Merino enjoys in the high-end market, is not misplaced. Patagonia, a brand that is known for its commitment to quality and sustainability is extensively using merino wool for its products, which speak volumes for the sustainable nature of the wool. On the other hand, Merino products are also a hot favourite at stores of innovative mass market player Uniqlo.