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Why we chose silk for our Viteve™ Silk Exfoliating Cloth

Why we chose silk for our Viteve™ Silk Exfoliating Cloth

At Corbin Rd. we adhere to four key principles of clean beauty: beauty and wellbeing; transparency and ethics; environmental impact; and hygiene and safety.

It's important to us to be able to deliver high-performance quality products that are, sustainable, ethically sourced and hygienic and safe to use.

It’s for these reasons that we chose to use natural fibre silk in our Corbin Rd. Viteve™ Silk Exfoliating Cloth.

This report breaks down our rationale for using silk, and considers all the current research that informed our choice. We briefly address: environmental impact and performance and efficacy, and delve deeper into sericulture to understand the question of whether invertebrates like silkworms have the capacity to feel pain. 


1. Microfibre cloths

Microfibre cloths are made from plastic, usually derived from oil, and are typically a blend of polyester and polyamide, or nylon. This combination caused the fibre to split into very small, microfibres ideal for polishing and buffing the skin. The fibres work by hooking onto the debris and even bacteria to remove it, and by binding with oil to lift it off the skin without needing a cleanser.

When using microfibre cloths, tiny fibres break off with every use and wash down the drain. When they are washed in the washing machine, more fibres shed, and more microplastics enter the waterways. Containing them in a wash bag merely defers the problem as the shedded microfibres still eventually find their way into the environment. Because microfibre cloths are made from plastic they do not biodegrade, they only break down over many hundreds of years into smaller and smaller plastic.


Photo above: Fibres captured on a 20 micron filter. A micron (or micrometer) equals one millionth of a meter (a centimetre is one hundredth of a meter). The fibres were captured by filtering washing machine effluent after washing a Patagonia jacket. The scale in the photo indicates the length of 1,000 microns. [Photo: Shreya Sonar, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UCSB]

2. Cotton cloths

Cotton is cited as one of the “dirtiest” crops on the planet. More than 25 million tonnes of cotton is produced each year, with 95 percent made from GMO crops. Cotton farming routinely uses the planet’s most environmentally harmful toxic synthetic pesticides, insecticides and herbicides, the majority of which are banned by the EU.

Monsanto’s Roundup, which contains glyphosate, is popularly used by cotton farmers. Glyphosate is classified by WHO as “probably carcinogenic to humans”, and has shown to cause long term harm to local waterways and the health of cotton farmers, cotton manufacture workers and local communities.

Additionally, while GMO cotton farming uses 25 percent of the planet’s insecticides, it accounts for just 2.5 percent of all global crops. Farmers who use GMO seeds also lose the option of buying non-GMO cotton seed. And while pesticides kill one pest, another pest can rise in its place, wiping out crops and causing extraordinary stress to farmers.

3. Bamboo cloths

While bamboo textiles are touted as being sustainable the truth may be far from pretty. Bamboo grows quickly, regenerates naturally, requires no fertilizers or pesticides, uses minimal water and absorbs more carbon dioxide than most other plants. But that’s where its good story ends. Its manufacture from bamboo harvest to fabrication is often a chemical intensive process.

Of the three types of bamboo textiles - bamboo linen, conventional viscose rayon made from bamboo and lyocell process rayon made from bamboo known as “vegan silk” - only bamboo linen is created into fibre with machinery, the other two are chemically processed.

Viscose rayon made from bamboo is one of the dirtiest textiles on the planet - worse than polyester and other synthetic fabrics, and even fabric dyeing - using a xanthation regeneration process with listed toxic substance sodium hydroxide, which is extremely corrosive. Added to its environmental harm, bamboo viscose cannot be recycled, so the contaminated fabric ends up in landfill polluting the soil and leaching into water tables.

The “vegan silk” is the less damaging product but some contains bleached wood pulp.


4. Sustainability of the silk cloth

Our Corbin Rd. Viteve™ Silk Exfoliating Cloth is designed to be extremely durable and has been tested to be used for many, many, many years. As well as not containing harmful microplastic fibres that are washed down the drain, just one silk exfoliation cloth prevents the need to purchase up to ten exfoliation products each year, the excess of which is washed down the drain and could compromise natural ecosystems not used to containing contaminants that don’t belong in the ecology.

In addition, in New Zealand alone, plastic packaging used for beauty products contributes to more than 250,000 tonnes of plastic waste going to landfill every year. The average New Zealander buys around 31 kg of plastic packaging per year, yet less than one-third of them recycle their plastic waste. Using a reusable silk cloth prevents the need to buy up to ten exfoliation products each year.


1. Benefits to skin

Exfoliation is universally agreed by dermatologists to be highly beneficial to skin. This is because the process of exfoliation removes the dead skin cells so newer, younger, revitalised, and more hydrated skin cells come to the surface. And it unclogs pores of dirt, debris and pollution from the products used on skin, through to what is attracted into pores throughout the day from the atmosphere.

Additionally, exfoliation not only reveals rejuvenated, healthy skin, but also, clear skin is able to absorb more of the nutrient-dense toners, moisturisers and serums applied to skin after cleansing.

Our Corbin Rd. Viteve™ Silk Exfoliating Cloth also contain amino acids glycine, alanine and serine. These silk amino acids (SAAs) are a glycoprotein, which help in protecting the skin’s acid mantle skin barrier to lock in the skin’s natural moisture and prevent skin from dehydrating.

2. Noticeable results

The Corbin Rd. silk tuft™ technology contains tiny raised tufts that are woven into the Viteve silk cloth. These tufts, used in combination with the Restorative Cleansing Balm, which softens skin or alone after cleansing, dislodge congestion in the pores and gently slough away dead skin. This process also micro-stimulates the skin by attracting blood flow to the surface of the skin supporting healthy micro-circulation. 

3. Other exfoliation methods

There are three popular methods of exfoliation:

  1. Chemical exfoliation using glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acid or beta hydroxy acid. This effectively removes the glue that binds old cells together without the need for any physical sloughing of the dead skin cells.
  2. Granular scrubs that are gently rubbed over the surface of the skin to slough away dead skin cells. Most comprise ingredients such as ground walnut shells, crushed seeds or crushed rice
  3. Using a purpose-created tool such as a microfibre cloth, a facial brush composed of plastic brush bristles, or a konjac sponge. These rub or brush across the surface of the skin to lift and remove dead skin cells, and dirt and debris such as makeup and pollution


1. The process of silk farming

Silk comes from the Bombyx, or Mulberry silkworm, which isn’t actually a worm at all, rather a mulberry leaf-munching moth pupa. A pupa is an invertebrate, which lacks a backbone or dorsal nerve cord. Invertebrates include insects, crustacea such as shrimp, lobster and crab, and molluscs such as clams, snails, and squid. The pupa spins silk - a thread-like natural fibre - to make a cocoon for its transformation into its adult form as a winged moth, living for 5-10 days.

In the process of making silk for weaving into a textile, keeping the silken cocoon intact makes unwinding the unbroken filament easier, and maintains the integrity and strength of the fabric. To ensure the cocoon remains intact, farmers put pupa out in the sun to dry up before being able to develop.

The silk filament cocoon is then dipped in boiling water to make the silk unravelling process easier. Broken cocoons and broken filament result in weaker fibres that may lead to tears, rips or breaks in the finished textile.


2. Do invertebrates have the capacity to feel pain?

The moral question surrounding silk is do invertebrates have a level of consciousness required to experience pain? The wide-reaching conclusion of the highly researched and published scientific and academic community, is that while it is impossible to know the subjective experience of another living entity with any certainty, the balance of the evidence suggests that most invertebrates do not feel pain (see references below). The evidence is most robust for insects, and the consensus is that pupae lack the neural and emotional capacity to feel pain.

Researchers conclude that just as a plant reacts to stimuli, pupa also do, however this is not a pain response. According to William Winlow and Anna Di Cosmo, the ability of perceiving pain is not only a nociceptive response to potentially harmful stimuli, but works in tandem with self-consciousness of the self.

Self-consciousness incorporates factors such as learning, memory and individual experience. Due to having simplistic and limited neural systems, pupae have little to no ability to have learning, memory or have an individual life experience, and therefore are not regarded as having self-consciousness, a critical factor in the widely held view of the ability to experience pain. Researchers therefore conclude that only animals with advanced neural systems are able to experience self-awareness and therefore pain.

3. Invertebrate neural activity

To understand the nervous system of the pupae means understanding how far neuropeptides control their behavior. The behavior of multicellular organisms is controlled by neuropeptides. Neuropeptides act as neurotransmitters and modulators and control the growth of organisms. According to Schoofs, Liliane, Arnold De Loof, and Matthias Boris Van Hiel, animals need multiple neuropeptides to coordinate their behavior.

As a comparison, Peter Fraser, a marine biologist at the University of Aberdeen, found that crabs and lobsters have around one hundred thousand neurons. This compares to one hundred billion neurons possessed by humans. He found that also the neurons help the invertebrates to react to stimuli, there is no evidence that they feel pain.


While there remain questions regarding the ethics of rearing silkworms, balanced against the severe long term environmental and community harm caused by cotton farming, and the centuries-long damage caused by synthetic microfibres, from manufacture through to use and disposal, it is evident that sericulture is a very ethical method of creating fibre for the textile industry.

When we weighed up the damage to vertebrate animals (mammals, birds and reptiles) and the environment by choosing, microfibre, plastic, polyester, even cotton and bamboo, the knowledge that a silkworm is an invertebrate pupa, and that the Viteve™ silk was a transformative treatment for eczema, dry skin and congested pores, it was clear to us that our Viteve™ silk was the right choice at this time. 

At Corbin Rd. we respect everyone’s choice to be animal-free and we are working on an alternative for our lovely vegan customers. 




References on Silkworm Welfare

Birch, Jonathan. "The Search for Invertebrate Consciousness." (2020).

Boppré, Michael, and Richard I. Vane-Wright. "Welfare dilemmas created by keeping insects in captivity." The Welfare of Invertebrate Animals. Springer, Cham, 2019. 23-67.

Carere, Claudio, and Jennifer A. Mather. "Why Invertebrate Welfare?." The Welfare of Invertebrate Animals. Springer, Cham, 2019. 1-5.

Chen, Liang, et al. "Silver nanoparticle toxicity in silkworms: Omics technologies for a mechanistic understanding." Ecotoxicology and environmental safety 172 (2019): 388-395.

Chu, Kiu-wai. "Worms in the Anthropocene: The Multispecies World in Xu Bing’s Silkworm Series." Chinese Environmental Humanities. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2019. 143-166.

Dar, K. A., et al. "Comparative study of silkworm rearing performance under different agro-climatic zones of Kashmir and Ladakh." Journal of Experimental Zoology, India 23.1 (2020): 249-251.

Drinkwater, Eleanor, Elva JH Robinson, and Adam G. Hart. "Keeping invertebrate research ethical in a landscape of shifting public opinion." Methods in Ecology and Evolution 10.8 (2019): 1265-1273.

Elwood, Robert W. "Assessing the potential for pain in crustaceans and other invertebrates." The Welfare of Invertebrate Animals. Springer, Cham, 2019. 147-177.

Hadley, John. "Does a painless death harm an invertebrate?." Australian Zoologist 40.1 (2019): 151-157.

Hamamoto, Hiroshi, Ryo Horie, and Kazuhisa Sekimizu. "Pharmacokinetics of anti-infectious reagents in silkworms." Scientific reports 9.1 (2019): 1-8.

Howe, Hollis. "Humane Insecticides-Four Month Update." (2019).

Kumar, R. Venkatesh, and Devika Srivastava. "Silkworm: A Unique Creature for Natural Products." Natural Materials and Products from Insects: Chemistry and Applications. Springer, Cham, 2020. 95-109.

Lee, Luna. "Responsible silk-A plan of action for Eileen Fisher." (2019).

Marsh, Ben. Unravelled Dreams: Silk and the Atlantic World, 1500–1840. Cambridge University Press, 2020.

Mather, Jennifer A. "Ethics and Care: For Animals, Not Just Mammals." Animals 9.12 (2019): 1018.

Mather, Jennifer A., and Claudio Carere. "Consider the Individual: Personality and Welfare in Invertebrates." The Welfare of Invertebrate Animals. Springer, Cham, 2019. 229-245.

Pali-Schöll, Isabella, et al. "Edible insects–defining knowledge gaps in biological and ethical considerations of entomophagy." Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 59.17 (2019): 2760-2771.

Pollo, Simone, and Augusto Vitale. "Invertebrates and Humans: Science, Ethics, and Policy." The Welfare of Invertebrate Animals. Springer, Cham, 2019. 7-22.

Rodriguez, Maria, et al. "Fabricating mechanically improved silk-based vascular grafts by solution control of the gel-spinning process." Biomaterials 230 (2020): 119567.

Scarponi, Jake Pierce, et al. "Evaluating Sericulture Feasibility in Himachal Pradesh." (2019).

van Huis, A. "Welfare of farmed insects." (2019): 159-162.

Walters, Edgar T., and Amanda C. de C. Williams. "Evolution of mechanisms and behaviour important for pain." (2019): 20190275.

Winlow, William, and Anna Di Cosmo. "Sentience, Pain and Anesthesia in Advanced Invertebrates." Frontiers in physiology 10 (2019): 1141.

Townsend, Terry. "World natural fibre production and employment." Handbook of Natural Fibres. Woodhead Publishing, 2020. 15-36.


References on Sericulture

Babu, K. Murugesh. "Silk–production and future trends." Handbook of Natural Fibres. Woodhead Publishing, 2020. 121-145.

Dar, K. A., et al. "Comparative study of silkworm rearing performance under different agro-climatic zones of Kashmir and Ladakh." Journal of Experimental Zoology, India 23.1 (2020): 249-251.

Dong, Hui, et al. "Safety evaluation of four entomopathogenic nematode species against two silkworm species." Entomological Research (2020).

Eom, Su Jin, et al. "Silk peptide production from whole silkworm cocoon using ultrasound and enzymatic treatment and its suppression of solar ultraviolet-induced skin inflammation." Ultrasonics sonochemistry 61 (2020): 104803.

Gámez, A. Matías, and Samuel P. León. "Preimaginal conditioning affects oviposition choices in the silkworm moth (Bombyx mori)." Behavioural Processes (2020): 104121.

González‐Tokman, Daniel, et al. "Insect responses to heat: physiological mechanisms, evolution and ecological implications in a warming world." Biological Reviews (2020).

Jiang, Li, et al. "Effect of Dietary Selenium Supplementation on Growth and Reproduction of Silkworm Bombyx mori L." Biological trace element research 193.1 (2020): 271-281.

Khamenei-Tabrizi, Ali Sadeghi, et al. "Can Feeding of Silkworm on Different Mulberry Variety Affect Its Performance?." Journal of Economic Entomology 113.1 (2020): 281-287.

Long, Wei, et al. "Estrogen‐related receptor participates in regulating glycolysis and influences embryonic development in silkworm Bombyx mori." Insect Molecular Biology 29.2 (2020): 160-169.

Matsumoto, Yasuhiko, and Kazuhisa Sekimizu. "Silkworm Infection Model for Evaluating Pathogen Virulence." Immunity in Insects. Humana, New York, NY, 2020. 233-240.

Powell, Thomas HQ, et al. "A rapidly evolved shift in life history timing during ecological speciation is driven by the transition between developmental phases." bioRxiv (2020).

Qi, Qiaoyun, et al. "Transient bioelectrical devices inspired by a silkworm moth breaking out of its cocoon." RSC advances 9.25 (2019): 14254-14259.

Ram, Ram Lakhan. "Chapter-11 Nutrient Management through Organic Manures for Sustainable Mulberry Sericulture." Chief Editor Dr. RK Naresh 91 (2020): 217.

Sahoo, Alpana, Jagneshwar Dandapat, and Luna Samanta. "Oxidative Damaged Products, Level of Hydrogen Peroxide, and Antioxidant Protection in Diapausing Pupa of Tasar Silk Worm, Antheraea mylitta: A Comparative Study in Two Voltine Groups." International Journal of Insect Science 7.1 (2020).

Sakthivel, n., et al. "mulberry pests." (2019).

Scarponi, Jake Pierce, et al. "Evaluating Sericulture Feasibility in Himachal Pradesh." (2019).

Shou-Min, Fang, et al. "Genetic and genomic analysis for cocoon yield traits in silkworm." Scientific Reports (Nature Publisher Group) 10.1 (2020).

Tuigong, D. R., T. K. Kipkurgat, and D. S. Madara. "Mulberry and silk production in Kenya." Journal of Textile Science & Engineering 5.6 (2015): 1.

Tulachan, Brindan, et al. "The role of photo-electric properties of silk cocoon membrane in pupal metamorphosis: A natural solar cell." Scientific reports 6 (2016): 21915.

Zhang, Zhong-Jie, et al. "A determining factor for insect feeding preference in the silkworm, Bombyx mori." PLoS biology 17.2 (2019): e3000162.


References for the Effects of Cotton Farming to the Environment

Angelova, Radostina A. "Cotton Textiles and Human Health Challenges." Environmental Exposures and Human Health Challenges. IGI Global, 2019. 199-222.

Djagni, Kokou Koumagli, and Michel Fok. "Dangers potentiels de l'utilisation des insecticides dans la culture cotonnière au Togo de 1990 à 2010." (2019).

Fong, Bryant N., et al. "Eddy covariance measurements of carbon dioxide and water fluxes in US mid-south cotton production." Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 292 (2020): 106813.

Hedayati, Mehdi, et al. "Farm-level strategies to reduce the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of cotton production: An Australian perspective." Journal of cleaner production 212 (2019): 974-985.

Khan, Muhammad Azam, et al. "World Cotton Production and Consumption: An Overview." Cotton Production and Uses. Springer, Singapore, 2020. 1-7.

Kumar, P. Senthil, and P. R. Yaashikaa. "Organic cotton and its environmental impacts." Organic Cotton. Springer, Singapore, 2019. 127-139.

Memon, Qurat Ul Ain, et al. "Health problems from pesticide exposure and personal protective measures among women cotton workers in southern Pakistan." Science of The Total Environment 685 (2019): 659-666.

Paunonen, Sara, et al. "Environmental impact of cellulose carbamate fibers from chemically recycled cotton." Journal of cleaner production 222 (2019): 871-881.

Yadav, Sucheta, and Subroto Dutta. "Evaluation of Organophosphorus Pesticide Residue in Cotton of Tijara Tehsil, Alwar, Rajasthan." Nature Environment & Pollution Technology 18.4 (2019).


Environmental Impacts of Synthetic Fabric

Choudhury, AK Roy. "Environmental impacts of the textile industry and its assessment through life cycle assessment." Roadmap to Sustainable Textiles and Clothing. Springer, Singapore, 2014. 1-39.

Cesa, Flavia Salvador, et al. "Laundering and textile parameters influence fibers release in household washings." Environmental Pollution 257 (2020): 113553.

Dalla Fontana, Giulia, Raffaella Mossotti, and Alessio Montarsolo. "Assessment of microplastics release from polyester fabrics: the impact of different washing conditions." Environmental Pollution (2020): 113960.

Hatch, Kathryn L., Herbert Motschi, and Howard I. Maibach. "Identifying the source of textile dye allergic contact dermatitis–a guideline." Exogenous Dermatology 2.5 (2003): 240-245.

Nayak, Lopamudra, and Siba Prasad Mishra. "Prospect of bamboo as a renewable textile fiber, historical overview, labeling, controversies and regulation." Fashion and Textiles 3.1 (2016): 2.

Periyasamy, Aravin Prince, and Jiri Militky. "LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) on Recycled Polyester." Environmental Footprints of Recycled Polyester. Springer, Singapore, 2020. 1-30.

Uzun, Muhammet, et al. "Interaction of a non-aqueous solvent system on bamboo, cotton, polyester and their blends: the effect on abrasive wear resistance." Wear 322 (2015): 10-16.

Yoo, Jeong-Ju, Lorynn Divita, and Hye-Young Kim. "Environmental awareness on bamboo product purchase intentions: do consumption values impact green consumption?." International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education 6.1 (2013): 27-34.


Environmental Impacts of Textile Industries

Kumaresan, M., P. N. Palanisamy, and P. E. Kumar. "Dyeing of cotton and silk fabrics using stem of Achras sapota extract: effects of mordanting and dyeing process variables on colour yield and colour fastness properties." Asian Journal of Experimental Chemistry 6.1 (2011): 1-7.

Muthu, Subramanian Senthilkannan. Assessing the environmental impact of textiles and the clothing supply chain. Woodhead publishing, 2020.

Biswal, Trinath, and Munmun Priyadarsini. "Dyeing Processing Technology: Waste Effluent Generated From Dyeing and Textile Industries and Its Impact on Sustainable Environment." Impact of Textile Dyes on Public Health and the Environment. IGI Global, 2020. 115-145.

Periyasamy, Aravin Prince, and Jiri Militky. "Sustainability in Regenerated Textile Fibers." Sustainability in the Textile and Apparel Industries: Sourcing Synthetic and Novel Alternative Raw Materials (2020): 63-95.

Jain, Sonika, and Pankaj Kumar Jain. "Classification, Chemistry, and Applications of Chemical Substances That Are Harmful to the Environment: Classification of Dyes." Impact of Textile Dyes on Public Health and the Environment. IGI Global, 2020. 20-49.


References about Silkworm Capacity to Feel Pain

Animal Behaviour Society, Anim. Behav. 2003. 65: 649-65

Berg, H. 1975. Nature. 254: 389-392

Boal. J. et al. 2000. Behaviour Processes. 52: 141-153

Birch, Jonathan. "The Search for Invertebrate Consciousness." 2020.

Brusca, R. and Brusca G. The Invertebrates. 2nd edition. Sinauer, 2002.

Carere, Claudio, and Jennifer A. Mather. "Why Invertebrate Welfare?." The Welfare of Invertebrate Animals. Springer, Cham, 2019. 1-5.

Drickamer, L. et al. 2001.  Animal Behavior:

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