To begin, we need to differentiate between ‘wool’ and ‘cashmere.’
Wool comes from sheep. It can be coarse or fine (with gradients in between). Cashmere comes from goats, usually the finer, softer undercoat. It can be coarser or finer as well, but coarse cashmere is the same or slightly finer than fine wool. In other words, where wool hits its finest quality, cashmere is just beginning. Both fibres have tiny, microscopic scales on them too. Even the scales on cashmere are finer than those on wool – and the scales have a lot to do with how itchy a garment feels.
Think of each fibre like a long, thin file. As your body moves against the fibres, the scales can catch, which is the leading cause of skin irritation and a feeling of itchiness. The coarser (larger) the scales, the greater this effect becomes.
To make coarse wool less itchy, some companies treat the wool to remove scales or smooth them out. There are even after-purchase products that claim to do this. Be cautious though, as these treatments – both before and after purchase – can change the properties of the fabric, and are not always an improvement, despite reducing the itchiness factor.
If high-quality (fine fibre) cashmere is processed correctly; it should not feel itchy against the skin (unless the wearer has extremely sensitive or irritable skin). All fibres used in such garments should be the fine undercoat fibres; no course outer-coat fibres should be used.
Wool fibres used in clothing are commonly about 26 microns in diameter, compared to cashmere’s average of 14 microns.
If quality cashmere clothing still makes you itchy, you might want to check if you have an allergy to wool, cashmere, or lanolin (the substance that makes up hair structure).
We only use 100% high-quality cashmere in our clothing, and you will notice the difference.
You can also read our blog for more useful articles about cashmere.