Boob Blog: Are our bras killing us?

Four years ago, I wrote about the horrific breast rash I’d finally pinned to two of my Victoria’s Secret bras. They were the same style and color I’d worn for years, except these two were made in China, whereas the older ones were made in India.

Since then, I’ve written several blog posts on this topic, so many that I’ve nicknamed my blog site the “Boob Blog.” Over the years, women kept coming to me about the same excruciating symptoms I’d had while wearing VS bras. More recently, a couple other brands caused the rash too, which isn’t surprising because the issue isn’t Victoria’s Secret bras, per se, it’s the fabric/materials used in the bra, which aren’t manufactured by Victoria’s Secret — only purchased.

The fabric, as is the case with anything made in China, could contain anything and everything. Harmful? Poisonous? The Chinese don’t care if they’re harmful, and neither do the corporations that sell these cheap products at huge markups. The ka-ching ka-ching ka-ching of corporate profit drowns out the objections of a few itchy, unhappy customers.

The tidal wave of toxic products coming out of China is too huge for our government to track. Only a small percentage of Chinese imports are inspected, unless of course, someone dies. Then the U.S. government is interested. Until someone dies from a breast rash, neither the government nor the company that makes Victoria’s Secret bras — Limited Brands — gives a shit.

While our government may not be aware of the breast rash issue, VS/Limited Brands certainly has been aware since at least 2008, when they were sued for allegedly having formaldehyde in their bras. However, Limited Brands squashed that lawsuit by blaming the plaintiff for her condition. She was defective, not the bras.

I had a chat with VS reps a couple years ago, and they essentially told me the same thing, by offering to guide me “toward a product that will work for you.” That implies that VS knows which bras have chemicals in them if they’re able to guide me away from them.

The reps also suggested that I get an allergy test for formaldehyde, which I did, and lo and behold, I’m not allergic to formaldehyde. But I could still be sensitive to it. Example: Although I’m technically not allergic to perfumes, I’m hypersensitive to them. Too much perfume makse me wheeze and cough, and if you’re one of those gals whose perfume cloud announces your entry 20 feet before you walk through the door… I kind of hate you. Here’s the deal: If I can smell your perfume farther away than I could kiss you, it’s too much. You’re a walking biohazard to someone like me.

So. Maybe it’s not formaldehyde in the bras. But if not… what? It’s something, because women are still getting breast rashes. VS knows it’s something too (for sure since that 2008 lawsuit) — they’re aware of my “Boob Blog” because they contacted me, not vice-versa. They also follow me on Twitter, and it’s not because they think I’m super cool and funny.

They also know about the 2012 Greenpeace International report, “Toxic Threads: The Big Fashion Stitch-up,” which includes Victoria’s Secret amongst the garment manufacturers discovered to have toxic chemicals in their products. NaturalHealth365.com reported in 2015 that “Limited Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, agreed to give in to mounting pressure by Greenpeace over two years ago and halt the use of the deadly chemicals, but since then, little is known about the mammoth lingerie retailer’s progress to ensure that dangerous toxins are no longer a part of their fashions,” and adds, “At that time, Limited Brands made a commitment to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from its supply chain and products by 2020. But unlike the media sought by Greenpeace in releasing its investigative report in late 2012, there has been little public acknowledgement from Victoria’s Secret or Limited Brands regarding its decision to do away with the deadly chemicals.”

Word, that. Victoria’s Secret isn’t about to announce a solution to a problem that they deny exists. And, women have contacted me as recently as last week about breast rashes from new VS bras, so there’s apparently no quiet solution in place either. But the problem’s definitely still there.

One gal, who posts on my blog as “MyBoobsArePissedOff,” theorized that formaldehyde isn’t the problem — it’s spray polyurethane, used to glue layers of fabric together in the bras. Is it that? Formaldehyde? Something else? I don’t know what causes the rash, I only know that it’s still happening, based upon reports from women currently suffering. They often ask me what they can do. I tell them all: Stop wearing the bra. If the rash goes away after a couple weeks and comes roaring back when you put the bra back on… mystery solved. The really sad part is that so many of them have been living in terror of having some horrific disease and have been tested for everything under the sun, and all along, it was their bra.

Some ask about suing, but Limited Brands has very deep pockets (thanks to all those bras we’ve purchased over the years) and the cost of fighting them is prohibitive. And, ultimately, I don’t think lawyers are the answer. I think medical research is the answer. I predict that scientific scrutiny will discover more to this fabric chemical issue than mere itchy breasts, and that may finally get the government’s attention.

True, the government isn’t interested in hazardous products until someone dies. But what if women have already died from chemicals in their bras? The bras contain chemicals. Some of us react to those chemicals and take the bras off. Vastly more, however, don’t react to the chemicals, and continue wearing the bras, thereby having daily direct skin contact with known carcinogens over many years. Chemicals can be absorbed through the skin and, obviously, our breasts are covered with skin.

One in eight American women gets breast cancer. Could chemicals in our bras be a factor? Shouldn’t we find out?

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16 thoughts on “Boob Blog: Are our bras killing us?

  1. Please, if anyone out there has the ability, resources, or funds to test these bras I saved 3 of them in a zip lock baggie. Suffered for a few years wearing VS. I quit wearing VS almost a year ago and still suffer from scarring and a few lingering spots from the shoulder straps.
    Slow healing process. For a while I thought the new VS bras had bugs or something???

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  2. Hi there, iv been suffering for over a year now I have spots, burning welts and scars on my boobs and shoulders and all in my hair and on my face from the Victoria secret bra I have kept it for evidence and I’m going to my doctors as iv never felt so unwell. Do you think we can stop them I’m happy to open this case up again and see a solicitors. I have pictures and iv have evidence of me attending the doctors over and over . Any help would be appreciated . Lou

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    • Hello Louise,
      I am sorry to hear you are suffering. I don’t think there is much legal action that can be taken. VS has massive amounts of money for lawyers, and they deny that anything is wrong with their product. It will take doctors coming forward and unequivocally declaring that the bras (or what’s in them) is causing the problem. So far, I have collected so many stories – but we have no hard evidence.
      Please let me know what your doctors say, and in the meantime – don’t wear those bras! Nothing is worth that agony!

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  3. I just bought a new bra from VS, had no idea this was going on. I have a rash all over my breast from the bra! I look like I rubed my breast through poison oak! Miserable!

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    • Hello, Laurel!
      Sorry to hear that you are one of us… allergic to whatever is in that VS fabric. Sadly, the only solution is to stop wearing VS bras. I also looked like I had poison oak… and felt like it too. What misery!

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  4. Hey, I would like to get In contact with you about this issue. Now in 2017 I got a new bra for Christmas within hours my back was sore and that night when I took it off I had red rashes on my back and I thought hmm my bra? But I can only find things about actual breast having reactions.

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      • Yeah it was my back though, it was so sore and when I’d be braless it would itch when my shirt rubbed agasint it. Today I wore a sports bra not from VS and it’s not as red and I couldn’t feel it during the day. It’s two red patches of rashes (lol) on each shoulder blade.

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  5. Omg so I’ve had a consistent itch on both my breast for over 2 months now. It has to be the bras. I was heavy for many years and wore big girl bras never Victoria’s Secret. Lost over 40 lbs and with that lost my big breast so I went in to Victoria’s Secret and bought like 5 bras in January. So that’s all I wear and since then my breast hate me . I couldn’t figure out what it was but this of course makes sense .

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    • Hello Esther,
      Sorry to hear you are also reacting to the chemicals in the bra fabric. 😦
      You can test to see if that is what is causing the problem by not wearing the bras until the rash clears… then put them back on and see if it comes back.
      The itching is a misery!
      Please come back and tell me how you are doing.

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  6. I have the same issue for years and was told it was just a rash. I change everything but the VS underwear and bras. It started with just the bra but now i have became so sensitive i can not wear anykind of and underwear or bra that Victoria Secret makes. This must stop and will never buy another item from them again. If we all stop buying then we have a voice.

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    • Dear Angie,
      It definitely sounds like you have the allergy. And you are absolutely right: The only way to deal with it is to stop wearing VS products… and yes, stop buying them entirely!
      Thanks for taking the time to tell me your story.

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  7. My Victoria’s Secret bras have been driving me up the wall with intense itching and stinging all over my breasts, especially by the underwire. I recently bought new ones thinking that maybe the old ones has worn out and I was being exposed to the latex or spandex or whatever they use in these things. The itching hasn’t stopped.

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    • Hello Sondra,
      Well, welcome to the club. You are likely having “contact allergic dermatitis” and are reacting to a chemical that is infused in the fabric itself. In my experience, no amount of washing ever reduced my reaction. The only solution is to stop wearing the bras. I would suggest you wear a different bra (I wore Champion sports bras for awhile while healing) until the rash and itching are completely gone. Then, put the VS bra back on. If the reaction comes roaring back… it’s the bra. And, sadly, the only solution is to stop wearing VS products. SO frustrating!

      Please come back and tell me how you are doing, and if you’ve found an acceptable substitute product!

      Like

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