By Anna Chan, contributing writer
What it is: Adea SeaCell Loungewear ($86-$154 on www.myadea.com)
What it claims to do: Help promote skin renewal. The garments are made from a blend of cotton, elastane and a patented fiber from seaweed called SeaCell. The manufacturer says your body's natural moisture will help release the vitamins (A and E) and minerals, as well as amino acids, from the seaweed. The garments also help wick sweat and neutralize odors because the fabric contains silver.
My experience: Dry, flaky skin is something I've battled with since childhood, so I was intrigued by the idea of clothes that claim to moisturize.. This SeaCell line is not easy on the wallet, so I ordered the cheapest item – the $86 basic tank top. For that much money, this shirt better work miracles on my skin, I thought. (The cost is equivalent to roughly eight bottles of the lotion that has done a good job of keeping my dryness at bay.)
The tank top arrived, adorned with a tag explaining that the fabric would "promote skin renewal" but didn't have any instructions. Do I wear the shirt as often as I would any other top? Should I hand wash it? I poked around Adea's Web site and couldn't find anything to tell me there either.
So, with no instructions, I plunged in.
Since I had only one garment, I decided that wearing it to bed every night was probably the best way to give it a good test over a short period of time.
The first week, I slathered myself in lotion after my morning shower, like I usually do. And to test the garment's claims of wicking away sweat and neutralizing odors, I put flannel sheets on my bed, piled two thick blankets on top (much to my boyfriend's chagrin) and even threw a hot water bottle under the covers for good measure. That should get my body's natural moisture going while I sleep, I figured.
The result at the end of the first seven days? My skin felt the same, but my nights were less restful. My torso did feel sweat-free on those occasions that the high temps woke me mid slumber, and after several days, the shirt still didn't smell. I even wore it to work out in at the end of the week. After half an hour on the elliptical, I didn't feel sticky, but would it pass the sniff test? After failing to convince my boyfriend to take a deep whiff, I took the plunge myself. No smell!
The second week, after I washed the tank top, I decided to nix my usual lotion regimen. Not a good idea as it turned out. By the end of the seven days, my torso had reverted back to the scaly, flaky dry skin I had years ago.
It seems that the shirt's claim to "promote skin renewal" does not mean "help relieve dry skin." I called Adea to get some clarification.
"Your skin breathes, so as you wear the product, your skin absorbs the vitamins and nutrients contained in the product. … So it hydrates skin and promotes renewal," explained Christina Di Pierro, co-president of Adea. And be sure to keep using your lotion, she told me. "Used in conjunction with SeaCell, it definitely helps."
And apparently, one has to wear the garment daily for two weeks to see results. "I'd say between 12 and 14 hours a day; maybe sleep in it," Di Pierro says.
As for the lack of instructions, the company hadn't thought about the need for them until I called to express my confusion. "We'll start putting something in every package," Di Pierro assured me.
What the experts say: Though seaweed is rich in vitamins and minerals, making it into clothing may not help your dry skin, says Dr. Julie Voss, a Seattle dermatologist. "The architecture of the skin is made to keep things out, especially if it's not soluble, especially in a fiber," she explained. "So you can have the nicest, most wonderful stuff, but it's not getting to the blood supply of where the cells are."
As for the product's claims that it helps neutralize odors and wicks sweat, Voss doesn't doubt it. "Silver kills the bacteria in odors," she said.
Bottom line: The tank top was quite comfy, but seemed to do little for my skin during my albeit flawed trial period. But I can see these being a nice (though spendy) option for the gym.
Instead of shelling out $86 for a tank top, "If you want vitamin E, just put it in your lotion," says Voss. "You don't need a fancy shirt."