Why apply sunscreen lotion on the skin for protection from the harmful rays of the Sun when just wearing clothes with natural dyes is enough?
Clothes made of natural fabric with natural dyes are natural sunscreens and most of the people are not aware of it, says Dr A Sarada Devi, Emeritus Scientist (ICAR) at College of Home Science, ANGRAU, Hyderabad.
She says natural dyes extracted from various natural sources, mainly from different parts of plants like bark, seeds, flowers, roots and leaves, have an ability to protect the body from harmful rays of the Sun.
Sarada Devi, who is heading the National Agricultural Innovation Project: A Value Chain in Natural Dyes, says there are two types of ultraviolet rays--A and B.
Both of them are harmful; ultraviolet B rays are more dangerous. Several of the natural dyes in combination with different types of mordant act as an effective sunscreen.
According to her, Annatto derived from the seeds of Achiote, which is locally known as Jafra seeds, when mixed with different mordant (which is required for binding the dye to the fabric), give different levels of protect from ultraviolet B rays. Also, FeSo4 (Ferrous Sulfate or Iron (II) Sulfate) on a thick fabric gives 91.03 percent protection from ultraviolet B rays, she said.
“All the natural dyes are anti-microbial and do good to the skin,” she says. In other words, wearing clothes made of fabric with natural dyes is healthy.
Further, many of the natural elements from which natural dyes are derived are extensively used in Ayurveda as herbs of remedy. For example, Flame of the Forest, known as Moduga Puvvu in local parlance, is consider to be a good remedy for many aliments. Herbal medicine derived Amaltas, commonly known as Golden Shower Tree, is said to have the capacity to give relief from upper respiratory problems.
“Wearing clothes with natural dyes extracted from such medicinal plants is good for health. They might not be directly giving relief from an aliment, but they can act as anti-microbial screens,” Sarada Devi said.
By using fabrics coloured with natural dyes, one would also be helping the environment as natural dyes are environmental friendly, unlike artificial dyes, which pollute groundwater at the textile manufacturing centres.