OK, so hemp isn’t the same thing as pot, no. But the opportunity to appropriate “Hot Girl Summer” was irresistible. Besides, we at Head aren’t the least bit opposed to a legit Pot Girl Summer, so go for it: light up and lay out! And while you’re blazing up under the blazing sun, you can up your ganja game by pairing your smooth indica with some sexy sativa in a hemp bikini. Or, if a bikini’s not your style, then a hemp swimsuit, hemp swim trunks or lots of other fun hemp swimwear. By choosing hemp over spandex, polyester and other frequently used swimwear fabrics, you’ll be cleaner, safer, comfier, cooler and doing Mother Earth a solid. To learn more about swimming with cannabis on, read on.
How is hemp not pot but still cannabis?
Hemp is the non-psychoactive version of pot, basically, but both are cannabis plants. However, whereas pot derives from both the indica and sativa cannabis subspecies, hemp derives only from sativa. Beyond that, the difference between pot and hemp is the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that each has: up to 35% THC in pot, but only 0.3% or less THC in hemp. In fact, that low percentage (0.3%) is the only reason why it’s legal to grow and sell hemp throughout the United States – a fairly recent development accomplished through the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 (H.R.5485). (Related to that, for a thought-provoking evaluation of why cannabis with any THC concentration should be legal unconditionally, read our comprehensive analysis here.) Not surprisingly, some people have exploited hemp’s crime exemption to get high on hemp by combining enough of it to bulk up the THC percentage with a variety of chemicals that render Delta-8.
Your hemp swimsuit repels bacteria on its own!
As dictated by nature, hemp absorbs moisture quickly and resists the growth of bacteria, mold, mildew and fungi. (Hidden advantage: If you forget to unpack your beach bag after tossing your wet swimsuit in it, you won’t have a stench-bomb waiting to go off when you open it several days later.) Extensive research conducted for an article published in the periodical “BioResources” enumerates the specific bacteria (e.g., staph) that hemp was proven to kill simply through contact. Another study, published in the periodical “Antibiotics,” proposed that cannabis sativa be used in place of antibiotic drugs when longer periods of treatment are necessary. Unlike those drugs, cannabis does not introduce the danger of toxicity while fighting off infections.
Hemp is also naturally resistant to ultraviolet rays, giving it an ability that no other natural fiber has to protect your skin. Additionally, its texture is remarkably gentle on your body, and hemp fabric becomes softer with each wash. (So does cotton, yes, but hemp fabric won’t disintegrate in the process like cotton does.) In fact, hemp fabric is so safe for skin that it’s actually recommended for people with eczema to protect them from developing textile contact dermatitis. So, choosing hemp over an oil-based, synthetic fabric (nylon, spandex, etc.) will leave you cleaner and safer.
Hemp gives you thermoregulation with no added charge!
If you’re a heavy sweater and not a fan of heat, hemp fabric is better for your fun in the sun than cotton is because it soaks up a lot more moisture. Although both natural fibers are highly breathable, hemp is more effective at reducing perspiration, which is what enables it to keep the body cooler. (That’s also what enables it to make your B.O. less offensive to bystanders, which is an indispensable advantage if you’re trying to be the queen of the pool party.) By trapping a layer of air between your skin and the garment, hemp provides the thermoregulation needed to adapt in real time.
Hemp is more ecofriendly than any other fabric!
The following statistics present some (far from all) of the numerous ways in which hemp’s eco-friendliness is superior to that of all other fabrics. For the full explanations of each detail below, consult the Sources and Suggested Reading list at the end of this article.
- Using the same amount of land, hemp can produce 250% more fiber than cotton can and 600% more fiber than flax can.
- It takes 75% more water to grow cotton than to grow hemp. (Compare needing 10,000 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of cotton with needing 2,123 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of hemp.)
- Hemp returns nutrients to the ground and can restore damaged soil through phytoremediation and bio-accumulation, absorbing heavy metals and chemical waste in contaminated land. (Hemp crops even cleaned up the ground around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.)
- Hemp thrives almost everywhere, so it requires no synthetic fertilizers or GMO seeds, as well as no pesticides because it’s naturally insect- and mold-resistant. (It’s actually used as a natural pesticide for other crops, in fact.)
- Hemp absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) even more than trees do, taking in 24 tons of CO2 in just one 1-hectare crop (roughly 150 plants per square meter), whereas cotton emits 2 to 4 tons of CO2 per hectare.
- Hemp does not pollute bodies of water with plastic microfibers, whereas polyester and other synthetic fabrics do.
Right, so what’s the catch then?
The reason why hemp swimwear isn’t as mainstream as spandex and nylon are isn’t because consumers expect every hemp option to be that vague café latte color. Countering that expectation, in fact, hemp’s versatility for color and style has been recognized by many high-fashion designers. (Read our coverage of this here.)
Dolce & Gabbana
Source: Miu Miu
Source: The RealReal
Yves Saint Laurent
Hemp has a place in haute couture, making a name for itself beyond cannabis connoisseurs.
Actually, the deterrent for swimming with cannabis on is usually the price of hemp swimwear, which is typically far higher than the price of swimwear made of cotton and synthetic materials. The process of converting hemp stalk into conventional fiber is labor intensive, costly and not available in many places. Also, large-scale manufacturing is newer for hemp than it is for cotton. Consequently, the ratio of supply to demand for hemp fabric isn’t currently in consumers’ favor.
That said, you do get what you pay for if you’re willing to splurge a little for hemp swimwear instead of settling for bargain-price cotton or nylon swimwear. Due to how durable hemp fabric is, one purchase will go a long way, saving you the cost of repeat purchases to replace depleted swimwear. Fabrics made from cotton, for example, last for up to 10 years; fabrics made from hemp average 30 years. Also, unlike cotton and other fabrics, hemp fabric won’t stretch or lose its shape over time. As a result, whatever hemp item you buy becomes not merely a bikini, wrap or whatever else, but also an investment. And, not for nothing, ever-rising inflation makes even that somewhat modest return on investment worthwhile. So, paying more for higher quality is sure to pay off – while also helping the planet, no less.
Where can you buy hemp swimwear?
Not all of the following companies sell 100% hemp swimwear, as many of them blend hemp with other natural fibers (usually cotton) that soften more quickly and are more colorfast. (To its credit though, hemp’s color-fastness is 4/5.) The companies that do sell pure hemp, however, give you much better value for your dollar. As stated before, when you buy something that’s pure hemp, it will last far longer because it will retain hemp’s unparalleled tensile strength. Here are four companies whose websites offer hemp swimwear options:
Searches on social media and Etsy will also turn up a wide variety of manufacturers and merchants of hemp swimwear (and other hemp clothing) too, so look there as well.
Make it a Pot Girl Summer!
Honor the herb this summer by springing for higher-quality swimwear that only cannabis can deliver: hemp. In a hemp bikini, a hemp swimsuit, hemp swim trunks or whatever lights your fire, you’ll be cleaner (not gross and stinky), safer (less sun-damaged) and comfier (not tugging at your clothes for relief from swimsuit rash). Plus, you’ll be doing your part – with no action required beyond making a purchase – to leave the Earth better than you found it. Pot Girl Summer, here we come!
Kathleen Hearons is a writer, editor, linguist and voice over actor from Los Angeles. She specializes in creative writing and research-intensive analysis and reporting.
Sources and Suggested Reading
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Ballard, Angela. “Are You Allergic to Your Swimsuit?.” National Eczema Association. Last modified June 28, 2023. Accessed July 14, 2023. https://nationaleczema.org/blog/swimsuit-allergies/.
Cherrett, N., et al. “Ecological footprint and water analysis of cotton, hemp and polyester,” Stockholm Environment Institute. December 13, 2005. Accessed July 22, 2023. https://www.sei.org/publications/ecological-footprint-water-analysis-cotton-hemp-polyester/?ref=blog.signature-products.com.
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