Finally, evidence about chemicals in fabrics

Dear Boob Blog followers and fellow breast rash sufferers,

Despite the women who come streaming to this website reporting rashes from Victoria’s Secret bras, and now other brands as well, Limited Brands (parent company of Victoria’s Secret) has refused to acknowledge anything awry with their product other than to say that the level of formaldehyde in their products is at such a low level that people will not react to it.

Unless you have an allergy to formaldehyde, or whatever else is in that Chinese-made fabric. (No, they didn’t admit that — you have to read between the lines of the “explanation” on Limited Brands’ website.)

Check out this research done by Greenpeace, investigating the chemical content of several clothing manufacturers, and guess what: Victoria’s Secret is on the list, and the results are not squeaky clean.

In a test for phthalates and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), all the products tested contain phthalates, and 50 percent of the products tested contained NPEs. Phtalates are a known carcinogen and linked to breast cancer.  NPEs are hazardous to marine life, and ultimately to human life.

Read the entire study here:

Click to access ToxicThreads01.pdf

Greenpeace takes the issue of chemical-infused fabric one step further: the waste products from the use of these chemicals, as well as chemicals washed out of the clothing and into the water system carries the chemicals into the food chain. We eat the fish that live in chemically contaminated water, and on and on the toxic cocktail goes.

I don’t know about you, but in my personal experience, I know what seems like too many women with breast cancer, lung cancer, lupus, autoimmune disease… why the spike? All these children with autism — maybe it’s not vaccines, maybe it’s the cumulative chemical load that begins in the womb and continues on into childhood. There are hazardous chemicals in the air, water, ground, most every product, and even organic products can be truly chemical free if they’re exposed to air, water or ground. The human body didn’t evolve carrying such a massive accumulation of chemicals. Of course it results in a physiological collapse: disease and death.

Once again, I must reemphasize that the solutions to this chemical fabric contamination are simple. The easiest solution is just — stop it. These products were made elsewhere without the chemicals that are causing these reactions. They can be made again without those chemicals, but maybe not in China. Hey, here’s a wild idea: Make the products in the U.S., where there will be some oversight and control! Would I pay more for an American-made, chemical-free product? Oh, you bet!! Shut up and take my money!!

The other remedy, that should be as simple as a simple label would be to notify consumers of the trace chemicals in the fabrics, so that those of us who are allergic can avoid them. There should also be instructions on how to “detox” the product, and maybe special laundry detergents that will perform this. Great for the bras and our breasts, but then comes the issue raised by Greenpeace in their study: what do the chemicals do when the go down the drain? (Short answer: nothing good.)

In their report, Greenpeace says this:

The need for leadership and transparency

As global players, fashion brands have the opportunity to work on global solutions to eliminate the use of hazardous substances throughout their product lines and to drive a change in practices throughout their supply chains. As part of this leadership, it is vital for brands to commit to Zero Discharge of hazardous chemicals by 1 January 2020. This commitment must include ambitious programmes that match the urgency of the situation, and that will lead to the swift elimination of all hazardous substances. It must also include transparent information about the chemicals that the brands are currently using and discharging as they move towards zero elimination. While these brands continue to use our public waterways like their own private sewers, threatening people’s livelihoods and health, we have a right to know which chemicals they are releasing.

The role of governments

Greenpeace is calling on governments to adopt a
political commitment to “zero discharge” of all hazardous chemicals within one generation, based on the precautionary principle and including a preventative approach by avoiding production and use and, therefore, exposure to hazardous chemicals. This approach must have at its core the principle of substitution, such that hazardous chemicals are progressively replaced with safer alternatives, and include producer responsibility in order to drive innovation and elimination of such chemicals. As a vital first step to this process, a dynamic list of hazardous chemicals should be established and include chemicals like NPEs and phthalates for priority action, and have a publicly available register of data on discharge emissions and losses of hazardous substances.

The role of “People Power”

As global citizens and consumers we can also use our influence to make this change. Together we can demand that governments and brands act NOW to detox our rivers, detox our clothing and ultimately, detox our futures. Last year, thanks to global people power, six international brands – Puma, Nike, Adidas, H&M, Li Ning, and C&A, signed up to the “Detox Challenge” and committed to work with their suppliers to cut their toxic abuse.

This is just the beginning.

A post-toxic world is not only desirable, it’s possible. Together we can create it.

“People power.” We do have some, you and me both: It’s in our wallets. Look at the list of clothing manufacturers in the Greenpeace study and simply: Do not buy their products. Yes, it’s tough. There is just nothing in the world like a Victoria’s Secret bra. There is also nothing in the world like the discomfort the rash from their bras will cause, except maybe rolling naked in poison oak.

26 thoughts on “Finally, evidence about chemicals in fabrics

  1. Im so hurt and upset…I purschased new bras in April last year. May I came home itching and just uncomfortable. I removed my bra and discovered a horriable rash under my breast both and it was bruising…I applied aloe vera gel and got some relief..I thought perhaps a perfume had given me a reaction..It got better until Oct I had a reaction frOM HELL under both breast blood red bruising the size of a tea cup…Id worn the bras on vacation and to my dismay I have discoloration. Im a perfect 36 c I dont have huge breast at all..Ive discoverd the tea cup shape is the foam padding in the exspensive bras…Im going to contact VS this is horrible just read your blog.


    • Dear Elizabeth, so sorry to hear you’re one of the Itchy Sisters. 😦
      The rash is horrible and so ugly and itchy, and it takes weeks to go away.
      Please let me know what VS says. Thus far, they’ve been very casual with me, and just keep insisting there’s nothing wrong with their product and that the problem is with me. :/


      • I cried writting that original email. VS is going to be accountable for the discomfort caused by those bras. Im going to stay on them I got a email stating id here from them within 48 hours…my scaring is so ugly…Thankd for your blog..I will stay in touch

        Best Regards


  2. Elizabeth, I’m so sorry you are having this discomfort. Please be sure to get photos of the scarring and the rash, and see your doctor so it’s documented. The suggested diagnosis is “allergic contact dermatitis.” Also, hold on to those bras. because they are evidence.
    Good luck with your healing… my marks eventually disappeared, so I hope yours will to. Unfortunately, I threw my bras away before I realized the magnitude of the problem. So, although I threw my evidence away, at least the rash never returned.
    It was the bras. It was definitely the bras.


  3. Hi Mrs Debra please get in touch with me kindly I m a victim of Victoria secret toxic bra.I was also told by Victoria secret to destroy the I suffers Victoria secret hastle me to send the bra back to them. They sent me postage packages to send the ra back.but I placed it into a zipped locked bag because it was dripping when I removed it and I wanted to know what was going on because,had I not got injured by this bra I would have never know that their was a problem with these bras .I had sergury already & has Mercury coming up in a few days .cause I’m told if I do not drain this toxic stuff out of my breast.every 3 to 6 mths I can get cancer. I’m still suffering day by day as the horrible pain of itching .unbearable burning sleepless nights.of this demon of a bra caused ,victoria secret still fly they flag high with no concerns,humaur,are no sign of to address to the public that there’s a problem with these bras.apart how can it be ok for you to buy a bra a found out you get injuries at your own expense .not only to find out you can get cancer from these toxic substance.please respond.thank you.


  4. I’ve been buying VS bras forever. I love them. But I started having a very itchy rash on my breast in the same place and wondered if it was something in my nude colored racer back bra was irritating me. It was an older bra. I decided to buy a few new ones all the same style. While waiting for the shipment to get to me I was wearing other colored ones but not the nude one. The rash went away. I received my new order with two new ones. One was nude with lace the other just nude. Guess what…rash has returned!! I just found this blog and I will be adding these two nude colored bras to the ziplocI bag and see if the nude colored ones are the possible issue. Thank you for informing people like me!


    • Dear Tammie, excellent detective work! Isn’t it wild how the exact same product, but in a different color, causes the reaction! That was my experience too! Heather gray – boom – instant inflammation. Any other color – no problem.

      I am encouraged that you found this blog and knew what to do – put those bras in a ziploc as evidence. If you are able to see a dermatologist and get a diagnosis, and have the bras analyzed for chemical content, that would be fantastic!

      Welcome to the Boob Blog! 🙂


  5. Well, sure, you could do that. But Victoria’s Secret is a multi-billion dollar corporation with stables of lawyers. It would take a very talented attorney to topple that. But yes, save the bra, have it tested, and give it a go if you like. And I would certainly be interested in the outcome!
    I guess I am pessimistic because having spoken with a VS representative, I see the angle they are taking and it may be hard to defend legally: YOU, the consumer have a peculiar, rare allergy and that is YOUR fault.
    Personally, I disagree with that position, but I don’t have the funds to battle it legally. But if you do – go for it and be sure to report back!
    And yes, you MUST have the bras. They are your only evidence. And also, be sure to photograph or videotape the rash, and see your doctor so it is documented and has been diagnosed.
    Good luck!


  6. Oh my goodness, I’m not crazy! The VS bras really are the culprit!! Thank you, ladies, for sharing; otherwise my suspicions would not have been validated. Nude Demi bra is the most problematic for me


    • Dear Jeannie, you are not crazy. You can even test the “bra theory” yourself: Simply stop wearing the bra until the rash and itching are completely gone. It will take 2-3 weeks, and you may find that Gold Bond powder gives you some comfort (it’s kind of stinky, though). Then, if you dare – wear the bra again. If the rash comes roaring back – you have pretty good evidence that it’s the bra.
      If you take that bra to an allergist to have it tested, that may tell you for certain what exactly you are reacting to.
      Good luck!


  7. That report is scary. In addition to be allergic to VS bras, I got a red tshirt from work recently and wound up in emergency care over the weekend after I wore it on a Friday. It looked like I’d had a bikini top on and gotten a horrible sunburn. It was so bad I would not even try washing the shirt with my other clothes and gave it away to a coworker and told them they needed to wash it, lol. I’m wondering if whatever chemical is in the bras was also in that shirt.


    • Well, there is the bigger issue, Kristin: there will be more and more products causing these allergic reactions as more and more clothing companies use Chinese fabric. And, until someone actually dies from this, it seems that the government doesn’t care. But, as anyone with the allergic reaction can attest, it is EXTREMELY uncomfortable.


  8. Hi. I would like to ad Soma, Balconet bra, to your list of infected bras. I recently switched to just wearing Bras from Soma since i have a hard time finding size G bras. I have a horrible rash that is so painful and outlines the area my bra covers!!! I called Soma to inform them and they completely ignored my report. The 2nd supervisor i spoke with said, after my insistance, that maybe my skin is just sensitive and that bc I wore the bra I can’t return the bras!!!


    • Hi Paula,
      Wow, that is disappointing. I’ve heard several people recommend Soma bras. I knew the problem would spread to other brands because it’s the fabric itself that is the issue – and fabric can be sold to any company.
      Any chance you could take the bra to a dermatologist and have it tested, and also have yourself tested for contact allergies?


  9. I have an HMO and need to see my PCP to see if she’ll refer me to one.
    I bought all new bras from Lane Bryant today and washed them first to see if that works better as I can’t wear my gym bra to work.


    • Hi Paula,
      Please come back and let us know how it went with the dermatologist. I’ve tried Lane Bryant bras… they don’t cause a rash, but they’re sort of… HUGE. It feels like you’re wearing a bulletproof vest! But – that’s better than itching!
      You might look into Ambrielle bras by JC Penney. I am wearing them without issue, other than that they aren’t cute and sexy like VS bras.


  10. Hi ladies.

    I’ve had that terrible experience, that unfortunately you’re all familiar with, with VS bras back in 2011, and was too afraid to try them ever since…
    Since then I’ve only got a few bras. Non of them were really cute nor sexy.
    I thought of giving VS another chance, and to my disappointment I see, 5 years later, it’s still happening 😦
    So my question is,
    Are there any specific VS bras you ladies know as safe?
    And any other recommendations?


    • Hi Lee,
      Unfortunately, I completely abandoned VS after the rash, and after discovering that VS doesn’t care about customers with fabric/chemical allergies. I don’t believe anyone has posted VS styles that aren’t causing issues, but I invite anyone who knows of some to post them. That said – please only respond if you HAVE the chemical allergy or the recommendations will be useless.
      Post VS, I’ve been able to wear Ambrielle, Vanity Fair and Lane Bryant bras without issue, but they are dumpy and poorly made, and a sad substitute.


  11. I have a sports bra from VS that’s cotton and spandex. I asked happy to find it since I’m allergic to polyester,which most sports bras contain. However, everything is wear it my neck and shoulders break out in a painful rash. I have washed it several times and tried to wear it and make sure it’s the culprit.Yesterday I had my answer, and then found your blog.
    I just wish I could find a sports bra that is polyester AND chemical free!
    Thanks for the useful information to make sense of my dilemma.


  12. I recently bought two different types of Victoria secret bras and I have the worst painful rash, It is extremely painful and looks horrific it itches and burns and I don’t know what to do. I bought the bras May 2017 and I don’t know what to do. If I continue washing the Braswell that help so that I can wear them?


    • Hello Jeri,
      I didn’t find that washing helped at all. There is something in the bras that seems to be an actual part of the fabric that causes the rash. Please have your doctor document your condition. If you stop wearing the bras, the rash goes away in about three weeks. The only solution is not to wear the bras. 😦


  13. I’ve been wearing VS bras for over 10 years and the 2 I wear every day have been bought within the last couple years. Only this last week have I experienced this “mystery boob rash” on my right breast. At first there was no rash, just itching. Now I think the rash that’s there is just from all my scratching. It does considerably subside at night… Just today I have started to feel itchiness in the left breast… I also thought perhaps it was because the bras needed washing (I don’t wash my everyday bras often because I just sit in an office all day, no sweating or anything), but I washed them all the other day and no change. Thank you for creating this blog! I’m glad I’m not alone, but now I, too, face the dilemma of trying to find another brand… I love the look and fit of my VS bras so much. 😦


    • You are definitely not alone, Tawnie. And sadly… our group grows every day. And VS just looks the other way. :/
      Please also have your doc look at your condition and see if s/he agrees that it is “contact dermatitis.” And then… you will have to go hunting for a new brand, as we all have. :/


  14. Greetings – I bought super cute Soma bralettes a few years ago.
    They were fine initially & I loved wearing them & how they looked.
    But as I continued to wear them, wash after wash, the rash on my chest grew more consistent & worse!
    No rash issues on my back – only my chest, which extends under my breasts and actually has spread up my neck!
    What the HECK?!
    Please advise if anyone else has experienced this issue.
    It’s so bad currently, I will be seeing my dermatologist for an emergency visit & probably will need steroids! 😱


    • Hello Gina, I haven’t heard a lot about Soma bras causing a reaction, but given that the fabric itself seems to contain something that is giving women either an allergic or toxic reaction is made in China, and could be used on many different products. I have been wearing Vanity Fair bras without any issue.

      Definitely have your doctor look at it and mention “contact allergic dermatitis” in your conversation.

      The only solution I know of is to stop wearing the bras entirely, and hopefully your skin should calm back down in 2-3 weeks.

      Good luck, and please come back and tell me what your doc had to say! Hope you’re feeling better soon!


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