What is Tencel? Is it the same as Lyocell, and where does it come from? I will try to give you some insights into this great material – a favorite of many of us eco-fashion girls.
By Johanne Stenstrup
I am, first of all, very happy with how it feels on the body, how it’s both warm and cool at the same time. This is one of the great things about Tencel, but here are some more details to get you interested:
– Dries quickly
– Is gentler on the skin than cotton
– Is biodegradable because it’s derived from trees
– Is recyclable
– Is of botanic origin and produces in a closed loop system which means no water or air pollution
– Keeps colour way better than cotton
So what is Tencel?
Lyocell and Tencel are essentially the same thing, which may be nice to know when you’re shopping. The name Tencel is only allowed to use when referring to fiber that comes from the European factory Lenzing, and they are also the ones who are furthest along in their environmentally-safe production methods. Tencel is made from wood. The wood is made into a wood pulp, which is then taken through a chemical solvent that extracts the cellulose fibers from the wood's. This is chemically spun into thin fibers, which can then be used for fabrics.
It’s sort of an abstract process, but I recommend this youtube video for the nerdy ones out there.
Is it sustainable?
What makes tencel good, is two things: first is that the wood used is often from more sustainable sources, like fast-growing trees, e.g. eucalyptus. Second is the closed loop system. Lenzing, who produce the most tencel, say that they recycle 99% of all water and chemicals.
Is it better for the skin?
Even though some pretty heavy chemicals are used in the solvent, they are all gone before the fabric reaches your skin.
Some say that tencel has antibacterial qualities and is healthier for your skin, but I personally have no solid proof to back this statement.
What I can say, however, is that tencel does not bleed colour. Ever tried putting on a dark pair of jeans and having it colour your butt? Or your black socks get wet and your toes turn dark? Tencel keeps the colour much longer, which also adds to it’s durability as a material.
Tencel is my new favorite material, and I think it should be yours as well. It moves beautifully, it feels great on the skin and it’s much better for the environment that it’s cousins - viscose and rayon.