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From skincare-infused pyjamas to CBD-spiked activewear, is wearable beauty tech the way forward?

Lets be honest, we all love a multi-tasker. Something easy and practical that doubles up on function to save us time, effort and energy. And it seems that that's where the future of beauty is headed… or, should we say fashion?

The fusion of both could make for a pretty harmonious coupling, and efforts in this arena have been quietly taking off for the past few years.

Take Vitawear's now defunct skincare-infused shapewear. The brand made a splash in 2015 with vitamin E, shea butter and retinol-laced shaping garments that claimed to “effortlessly soothe, tone and revitalise skin” with “smart fabrics, pre-treated with anti-ageing ingredients”. The garments gave 10 washes worth of action before you could re-infuse them with a top-up spray. It was early days for the technology, hence a pretty dedicated commitment on the part of consumers before they could expect notable results. “In a four-week study conducted by the CORE Institute, of Vitawear's patented technology, there was an average improvement in skin firmness after wearing garments eight hours a day or night, six days a week, along with application of the fabric spray to the garment,” the packaging read. But, it opened up our minds to how our fashion choices could benefit our beauty regimes.

Then came collagen-infused loungewear. Luxury technical sportswear brand, Buki, introduced its (still-existing) Collagen Collection back in 2018, with hoodies, lounge pants, camisoles and turtlenecks made with collagen-embedded fibres. “The sustainably-sourced marine collagen relays moisture to your skin, making it feel softer and hydrated. Plus, it provides sun protection of UPF50+ for an extraordinary experience of wearable wellness,” the brand explains on its website.

Experts were divided as to its efficacy. Collagen (the body's main structural protein) is a large molecule that's difficult for skin to absorb, but New York-based dermatologist Amy Wechsler, told Into The Gloss that collagen-infused skincare can have some bonus side-benefits: “there might be some collagen products that are good moisturisers. And if your skin is well-moisturised, it’s going to look great ― it’s going to be healthier, look younger ― but it’s not because you absorb the collagen.”

The brand also explained the fabric keeps skin ventilated, cool and comfortable, allowing skin to breathe, which we're not mad at, as well as improving skin softness. One expert reasoned this made logical sense. Dr. Angela Lamb, director of the Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology Faculty Practice, told HuffPost “if [collagen] is in clothing, it likely keeps moisture from evaporating off of the surface of the skin, hence making your skin feel softer and more supple,” she said, adding, “There are no research studies to back this up, but it does seem plausible.”

And, in 2019, activewear brand, Acabada, sought to ease aching muscles and joints after a workout by lacing its workout gear with pain-relieving CBD. The skincare ingredient and wellness supplement gained notoriety for being one of the components of cannabis, but with THC (the main psychoactive compound removed), it's said to have many health benefits including anti-inflammatory, calming and muscle relieving benefits and pain management.

“Each of our pieces is made using luxury high-performance fabrics that are strategically infused with up to 25 grams of zero-THC, lab-certified, 99.9% pure CBD. That’s more than enough to last through 40 high-intensity, wash-and-wear cycles,” says the brand. “Microscopic CBD droplets are wrapped in a protective polymer coating […] to protect it from being damaged by evaporation, oxidation and contamination until their release is triggered. These microcapsules are then embedded into the […] fibres [and] strategically placed throughout the garments to align with your major muscle groups. As you move and create friction, the micro-capsules gradually open to release CBD,” they explain. “Our ProActiveWear allows you to feel amazing from the moment that you get dressed and throughout your toughest workout - because whoever said ‘no pain, no gain’ clearly wasn’t wearing the right clothes,” they add.

It's a clever concept, but does it work? The answer is, um, we're not sure, because there isn't enough research. The ingredient's rise in popularity has triggered a surge in more probes taking place, and the evidence coming through seems to suggest CBD can aid relaxation and pain management under certain conditions – certainly anecdotal evidence and reviews of the Acabada activewear attest to its ability to relieve soreness during and after workouts.

The problem is, unlike other forms of pain medication, over-the-counter CBD is not regulated. “There’s no way to know if you’re getting too much or too little, or what else is in the product,” board-certified emergency department physician Darria Gillespie told Allure. And, there's also been concerns that numbing pain whilst you're working out can be dangerous, since it makes it difficult to tell whether you're injuring your body or overdoing it. It's why painkillers are a grey-area in sporting events. That's not to say the brand isn't onto something genius. Only that we need more studies to know for sure.

As for the latest in-road into wearable beauty tech, get ready for hyaluronic-infused pyjamas as forward-thinking knitwear brand, PH5 join the beauty tech revolution with “hydraknit” sleepwear . The fabric leans on a similar technology to the ingredient-laced dry sheet masks used in Charlotte Tilbury's Instant Magic Facial Dry Sheet Mask and Huda's Wishful Chin Lift Sculpting Sheet Mask, only this time, it's applied all over your body while you sleep. Plus, it calls on one of the beauty industry's queen bee ingredients, hyaluronic acid, which has countless studies attesting to it's ability to retain and boost moisture in skin.

“The porous […] EcoVero Viscose yarn is fused with hyaluronic acid molecules which delivers unimaginable comfort but also offers your body the same beauty properties as face masks and skin care products,” the brand explains. “Once the pointelle knit pieces touch your skin the hyaluronic acid molecules are released, forming a water-containing film that aides in blocking pollution and locking-in moisture. The collision of large and small molecules naturally forms a water circulation system to moisturise the skin — so when combined with the breathability and stretch that only knit can deliver, the result is revolutionary,” they say.

There are limitations. The skincare benefits only last for 40 washes, after which time you'll just have yourself a regular pair of cosy knit pjs. And granted, it probably won't replace your moisturiser, but it's an extra neck-to-toe bonus top-up of hydration with no extra effort on your part – provided you have the £££ to drop on fancypants sleepwear. The tank top alone will set you back $115 (around £85).

But, if this is just the start of wearable beauty tech, we can only see it getting better, more effective and more affordable from here. So, we're excited to see where it will go next.

This was originally published on Glamour UK.

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