What Is the Best Swimsuit Material?

What Is the Best Swimsuit Material?

One of the most important things to consider when you are shopping for swimsuits is what material is best. You want something that will be comfortable, lightweight and durable so you can wear it over and over again with no worry. So which material do you choose? 

A lot of people wonder what the best swimsuit material is. There are many factors to consider when deciding on a swimsuit, but one thing you should keep in mind is how your suit will hold up over time. 

For example, if it's made out of cotton, it may not last as long as other materials like nylon or spandex. This blog post discusses all the different types of swimwear and their pros and cons!

What is the best swimsuit material? There are many different types of materials out there to choose from. The first thing you need to ask yourself before buying a new suit is what type of water activities you plan to do in it? 

If you plan on just going swimming or lounging at the beach, then a basic nylon/polyester mix may be best for you. However, if surfing and diving are involved and other sports like running and biking, then a polyurethane-coated fabric might serve your needs better. 

Regardless of which one you buy, make sure that it has been treated with either chlorine or water-resistant salt properties so that it won't fade after being washed multiple times!

This is a question that many women ask themselves when hitting up their favourite stores, but it's not always an easy answer. This is because there are so many different types of swimsuits out there in terms of colours, styles and fabrics. 

The type of fabric you choose will depend on what your needs are for the suit. For example, if you're looking for something to wear while lounging by the pool or just laying out, then cotton might be a good choice because it will dry quickly and won't cause any rash issues with sunburns.

 However, if you're looking for something more versatile, like, say, one-piece suits, then polyester might be better suited because they tend to last longer than cotton ones do.

When it comes to picking out a swimsuit fabric, there are many options available today- nylon/polyester blends, cotton spandex or elastane, lycra or polyamide microfiber blend fabrics. 

The type of fabric that works best for your needs may depend on where you plan on wearing your suit (at the beach vs poolside), whether this is your first time buying a bikini or if you had one already in mind last season.

Choosing the best swimsuit material can be difficult, but luckily for you, we have come up with a list of high-quality materials to help you make your decision. 

You may want to consider what kind of activities are planned for this summer - if you plan on being in water or wearing the suit all day, then neoprene is probably the best choice. 

If it's just going to be worn at night and during some really hot days, then spandex will do nicely!

Let's get started!

All You Need to Know About Swimsuit Fabric

Most swimsuit fabric is meant to stretch to fit all those gorgeous curves and to allow for a comfortable and safe swim. 

The fabric also needs to be able to hold its shape when wet and dry easily and quickly. For this reason, almost every type of swimwear fabric contains elastane fibres.

Elastane is a synthetic fibre with elastic qualities that revolutionized the fashion industry when it was developed in the 1960s. Elastane is the generic name for Lycra or Spandex. Lycra, Spandex, and elastane are all basically the same thing, so don't get hung up on the branding.

Elastane is blended with other synthetic fibres to provide a comfortable stretch. The blend varies based on the manufacturer and the desired qualities of the fabric, but generally, it is made with around 10%-20% elastane to 80%-90% other fibre (s).

Choosing Swimsuit Fabric

The best swimsuit fabric is a topic of hot debate in the fashion world. But the truth is that there really aren’t a ton of options. 

Swimwear fabrics typically must be quick-drying, colourfast, and have a certain amount of stretch. So first, let's discuss some of the different options for swim fabrics and their various characteristics. Selecting the right swimsuit material for your needs will be easy after this!

Swimming is a great way of getting fit and having fun at the same time. If you haven’t been for a swim lately, now is the perfect time to start thinking about new swimwear. There are so many fabric choices, though. How do you know which one to go for? What is the best fabric for swimwear?

The best fabric for swimwear is a polyester/elastane blend. Elastane is the super stretchy fabric better known by the brand names Spandex or Lycra. 

Polyester is colourfast and resistant to chlorine, making it a perfect choice. Nylon is another good fabric for swimwear, but it is more likely to be pill over time.

Is Swimwear Fabric Important?

Selecting the best swimsuit material for training or competition can be tricky. With all the quality brands on the market today, the choices can be somewhat overwhelming: Kiefer, Speedo, TYR, Arena, and Dolfin

The choices vary between what style, colour or pattern, and fabric. The selection of swimsuit fabric is very important and should reflect your goals as a swimmer: are you looking for the best fit, durability, stretch – or all of the above? Your choice of swimwear is vital to meeting your expectations.

Types of Swimwear Fabric

1. Polyester

Polyester fabric has dominated the competitive swimwear industry for several years. Whether blended with Lycra® or by itself, polyester is the leading fabric for competitive swimwear. 

New technologies in polyester have improved the hand and feel of the material, allowing it to surpass other fabrics. In addition, polyester holds its colour and is resistant to chlorine. 

Characteristics of polyester fabric are:

  • Strong, resilient fibres
  • Soft and comfortable fit
  • Durable, resistant to shrinkage
  • Abrasion/pilling resistant
  • Quick-drying
  • Chlorine Resistant
  • UV Protection
  • Holds its shape
  • Exceptional breathability
  • Four-way stretch
  • Launders easily

2. Polyester PBT

PBT or Polybutylene Terephthalate

Combined with polyester yarns, PBT has a natural stretch factor similar to Lycra.

Characteristics of PBT fabric are:

  • Chlorine resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Matte finish
  • Fast Drying
  • Repels water
  • Snag Resistant

3. Nylon

Nylon fabric is an alternative fabric to polyester. Nylon is lightweight and offers a smooth fit. However, nylon fabric has its disadvantages as it is not chlorine resistant and not as long-lasting as polyester.

Characteristics of Nylon fabric are:

  • Abrasion Resistant
  • Lustrous, soft
  • Low in moisture absorbency
  • Excellent elasticity
  • Launders easily

Different Types of Swimsuit Fabrics

1. Natural Swimwear Fabrics

Natural fibres such as cotton and wool easily lose their shape when wet. They dry slowly and often hold a great deal of water. This makes them heavier and less practical than synthetic options. 

Definitely not a great option for swimming suit fabric. Unless you're planning just to hang out and look great on a sun chair!

Fabrics like knits and terrys made from bamboo and cotton are often used for retro-style swimwear. However, they give a distinctly 1950s-1960s or even earlier vibe. 

Why? Because, as we learned, elastane was developed in the 1960s, so anything before that wasn't able to achieve the stretchy quality that came later.

In general, natural fibres are not a great option for swimwear that is meant to be used for swimming. If your particular swimsuit design calls for natural fibres, feel free to contact us directly with any questions.

2. Polyester Swimsuit Fabric Blends

Polyester swimwear fabrics, blended with Lycra (or spandex), have the greatest level of durability. Stretch polyester, however, is a very general category. 

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different blends from various fabric mills. With each type, the blend percentage of poly to spandex will vary to some degree.

The density of the knit and the softness will vary as well. Much of the difference in quality has to do with the quality of the filament used in the textile mill to create the fabric. For that reason, you’ll find a wide range of differences in the way polyesters look and feel

A thick filament (similar to thread) will usually result in a coarser feeling fabric. A thin, smooth filament will result in a smoother, silky feel. It’s important to feel the fabric and stretch for yourself before making a final selection.

When looking at swimwear blends, you’ll often see the terms “Lycra”, “Spandex” and “Elastane”. So, what’s the difference between Lycra and spandex? Easy. Lycra is a brand name, a trademark of the DuPont company

The others are generic terms. They all mean the same thing. So functionally, you won't notice any difference between swimwear made with any of these three or any of the other brand name elastane fibres you might find. 

However, an exception to this is with eco-friendly elastane options that are beginning to come on the market, as you'll read below.

Qualities of Polyester Swimwear Fabric

The qualities of polyester that are most relevant to swimsuit fabrics are:

  • Durability: Polyester is a highly durable fibre. It holds its shape well in and out of the water. In addition, it resists pilling (the little balls of fuzz that can appear in the crotch and armpit areas). This is a common issue in surf swimwear, where the suit constantly contacts the board.
  • Colourfastness: Polyester holds colour very well in both dyes and prints.
  • Cost: Polyester is one of the more reasonably-priced swimwear fabrics available
  • Look/Feel: Polyester gets a bad name for its perceived "roughness" as far as hand feel goes. That notion is a bit outdated, however. Modern poly fabrics have improved dramatically and become quite soft, though not as much as nylon.
  • Digital Print: Polyester can be digitally printed using sublimation. Colours will be bright, saturated, clear & permanent. Sublimation dyes and machines are specifically designed to perform on polyester.

Sustainability in Polyester

Polyester is easily recycled and comes from a variety of sources. "Post-consumer" means polyester that comes from a recycled source, such as plastic bottles, carpets, and other plastic sources.

So, if a fabric claims to be "100% post-consumer" recycled, all of the material used in the fabric filaments has come from waste material. That's the most eco-friendly option.

Some sustainable swimwear fabrics are 100% post-consumer recycled, and some are blended. Check with your supplier, so you know for sure exactly what you're paying for.

Is polyester sustainable? Is it eco-friendly?

That's a tricky question. It depends on what we're comparing against. As I've mentioned above, natural fibres do not perform the same way when wet as synthetic fibres. So we can't fairly compare polyester to anything natural. 

Strictly speaking, there is no 100% "sustainable" or environmentally friendly synthetic fibres. All create microplastics; all pollute our water supplies. Bummer, right!? Sadly, that's just the truth of the situation. 

Sustainable swimwear fabrics just don’t have the level of sustainability that we wish they had. However, by using recycled polyesters, you’re certainly making a superior choice to virgin polyester.

3. Nylon Swimwear Fabric Blends

The nylon spandex swimsuit fabrics are some of the most popular. This is mostly due to its super soft feel and its ability to have a glossy or satin sheen. 

Qualities of Nylon Swimwear Fabric

  • Durability: Nylon is a strong fibre in tensile strength, so it is strong enough for use as a swimsuit fabric. However, it degrades more easily under UV (sunlight) and pills much more easily than polyester.
  • Colourfastness: Nylon does not hold colour quite as well as poly.
  • Cost: Prices of Nylon can range widely but is generally just a bit more than poly.
  • Look/Feel: Nylon has a great, soft hand feel, and that is the primary reason for its popularity, in addition to its wider variety of sheens available.
  • NOT Printable at Low Volume: Many printers will print artwork to nylon fabrics, but it is NOT INTENDED for sublimation printing. It can be done, but it is not colourfast, washes out fairly quickly and has a poor definition with vector artwork. Therefore, it is not recommended for a quality product.

Sustainability in Nylon Fabrics

Nylon is most typically recycled using "pre-consumer" material, which is somewhat less eco-friendly than post-consumer. This means that the materials are coming from a stream of waste that the consumer has not yet used. 

Being upstream of the consumer means that this material has not yet been used by the consumer, which means it's closer to "raw" than post-consumer material. The source of this material can sometimes be a bit suspicious, making it easier to "green-wash" this recycled product.

However, Econyl, a recycled nylon swimwear fabric, has gotten enormous press for its use of fishing industry waste in its recycled nylon filament. As a result, other companies have begun producing recycled polyester fabric products as well. 

While there is some debate about the environmental impact of the recycling process itself, there can be no doubt that upcycling plastic waste into the fashion industry is a good thing. 

The Surprising Truth About Chlorine Resistance

Do your swimsuits fall apart after a month or so? If you're regularly wearing your swimsuit in chlorinated water, there are a few things you can do to make your swimsuits last longer.

If your problem is colour fading, you should look for swimsuits with a high polyester content. Swimsuits made of 100% polyester should retain their colour for at least a year of regular use and as much as two years, depending on the frequency of wear. 

100% polyester suits are called chlorine proof for this reason. Chlorine proof swimsuits also tend to keep their shape because polyester isn't destroyed by chlorine-like nylon or Spandex, which is the most common swimsuit material. Contain no elastane fibres.

The only drawback to chlorine proof swimwear is that it has less stretch and thus provides a tighter fit than some women find constricting. To get a looser, more comfortable fit, you may want to order one to two sizes larger than normal. This will give you a few inches of extra room.

Some suits are called chlorine resistant because the Lycra® is specially developed to last longer than conventional swimwear. These fabrics include Xtra Life Lycra®. Unfortunately, they are the least chlorine-resistant suits we offer, and we do not recommend them for frequent pool users.

How about the best of both worlds? Some swimwear manufacturers use a high polyester content but blend in a little bit of Lycra® for an easier fit.

The way you care for your swimsuit can also make it last longer. Gently rinse out your swimsuit in cold water after wearing it to wash out the chlorine. You should never use soap or detergent or put your suits in a washing or drying machine.

Why Chlorine Resistant Swimsuits Are Essential To Water Fitness

What’s so great about a chlorine resistant swimsuit?

Well, if you've started a water fitness class, like water aerobics, in a conventional spandex swimsuit, you probably know how quickly that swimsuit bit the dust. Literally, chlorine eats away at spandex, and Lycra® is found in conventional swimwear, making the swimsuit disintegrate before your eyes. 

We can attest that there is nothing worse than having your friend point out to you that your swimsuit has become see-through, unbeknownst to you, in the middle of class. 

For this reason, we recommend chlorine resistant swimsuits for anyone spending more time than the occasional swim in a chlorinated pool.

You may be thinking, "Okay, Great. So, how can I tell if a swimsuit is chlorine resistant? This is quite easy. Polyester and PBT, or polybutylene terephthalate, have excellent stretch and elasticity. Additionally, PBT is also quick-drying and has low-water absorbency. Therefore, these are both chlorine resistant materials. 

The more polyester and PBT found in a swimsuit and less spandex/Lycra® found, the more chlorine resistant the swimsuit is. 

This does not mean that a polyester/spandex blend swimsuit is not chlorine resistant. However, it's true that a blend like that, depending on the amount of spandex, will degrade over time but will still last longer than an all spandex/Lycra® swimsuit.

Keep in mind that with a conventional swimsuit, spandex/Lycra® only typically lasts 4-6 weeks with exposure to chlorine a couple of times a week. This is why finding the right chlorine-resistant swimsuit is important if you regularly take water fitness classes!

Now, just because a swimsuit is chlorine resistant, it doesn't mean that it has to be boring, unflattering, or lacking in fashion. In fact, there are many different styles of chlorine resistant swimsuits designed to meet varying water fitness needs.

For example, if you are taking water aerobics classes, you plan to do a lot of jumping, twisting, water running, and a wide variety of arm movements. Perhaps a racer backs, active back, keyhole, and pretty much any other athletic back design out there work better for water aerobics activities. 

These back designs are available in chlorine resistant polyester, PBT, or a polyester/spandex blend. Whereas, if you take a stretching water class, where movements are slower, you may want a high scoop back chlorine resistant swimsuit for comfort.

Many of the swimsuits described above are offered in beautiful prints, colours, and textures! As the brands you have grown to love, like Krinkle® and Dolfin®, embrace the world of water fitness, the gaps between boring water exercise gear and fashionable swimsuits diminish.

10 Tips To Make Your Swimsuit Last Longer

There are a few things you can do to make your swimsuits last longer.

Extending the life of your new swimsuit starts before you ever buy it. Finding a bathing suit that fits properly will make it more comfortable to wear and keep your suit from stretching out over time. 

Chlorine resistant swimsuits made with polyester or polyester blends can last up to 10 times longer than conventional swimwear if you follow these tips:

1. Shower with fresh water before entering the pool

If your swimsuit is already saturated with clean water, then it will absorb less chlorinated water.

2. Wash your chlorine resistant swimsuit in cool, clear water

As per the manufacturer's care instructions, you should hand wash your swimsuit in cool, clear water after every use.

3. Do not machine wash your swimsuit

NEVER wash your bathing suit in a washing machine as the agitation and detergent will break down the materials quickly and significantly reduce the life of your bathing suit. 

Avoid washing swimwear in electric washing machines. Although your washing machine may be set to cycle gently, it could still be way too rough. Therefore wash your swimwear by hand in cold water.

4. Roll your suit up in a clean, dry towel and squeeze

Roll your suit in a clean, lint-free, and light-coloured towel and squeeze again. Do not leave your suit rolled up in wet towels or a gym bag. Moisture left in your suit for extended periods will lead to unwanted odour and suit failure.

5. Use Suit Saver™ to extend the life of your swimsuit.

Suit Saver™ neutralizes the chlorine residues that remain in your swimsuit even after washing. 

Suit Saver™ chorine remover is specifically designed to remove 99.9% of residual chlorine after swimming to extend swimwear life and protect colour and elasticity. Guaranteed!

6. Air dry, not sundry 

Drying your wet swimsuit in the sun will bleach and break down the elasticity of the fabric.

7. Do not use a dryer or spinner

Placing your swimsuit in any kind of machine will cause tears and rapid failure of the fabric. Spinners often found in gyms are for towels, not swimsuits. 

A dryer will destroy the elastic/lycra almost as quickly as chlorine and has a negative effect on the fabric.

8. Don't put a wet swimsuit on a hanger to dry

If you dry your suit on a hanger, the chemicals will accumulate at the bottom and increase wear. So instead, lay it flat or hang the suit over a chair, etc.

9. Rotate your polyester swimsuits

Buying two or more suits and rotating them will add additional life to each suit.

10. Cut out your liner when necessary

Liners, especially those with tummy control, tend to have a shorter life than the Krinkle® polyester outer shell of your chlorine-resistant suit

If your liner should fail in a Krinkle® suit, you may carefully cut out the liner and continue to get many more months of wear as the Krinkle® fabric is not transparent when wet. Styles with a modesty panel would not be able to have their liners removed.

So, what’s the best fabric for swimwear?

The best swimsuit fabric is the one that makes the most sense for your needs. For practicality, we like the easy printing capability and durability of polyester. I also believe that the environmental impact of polyester can be better managed than nylon.

However, the feel and finish of nylon are still unmatched by polyester. Polyesters are coming closer and closer every year but still have a little way to go to match the look and feel of nylon.

If you can find a polyester that you love the look and feel of, then you’ll have the best of both worlds!

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