Bra: Common Misconceptions

Published on 18 Jan 2016 / by: Tan

Bras and breasts are not things we talk about regularly and openly. There are some things you should know about bras, especially if you wear them daily. Below are some common misconceptions about bras:

1. Good bras can last a lifetime.

How we wish it were true, right? I am forever guilty of not bothering to toss out my old bras. We buy expensive bras, hoping they will serve us for longer period of time, but nah.. A bra can only last through about 200 to 240 washes. If you wash them after each wear everyday, it means that it will last for only less than a year! Most bra experts agree that bras have a relatively short shelf life of around six to nine months.

At first I thought, this is just a marketing scheme for women to buy more bras. But after collecting my older bras and comparing them to my newer ones, I could not agree more. Some of the older ones are not even in the right shape anymore. And when I cut through one of the cups, the foam was icky yellow. That was actually due to the absorption of detergents and other dirty stuffs.

There is a reason as to why we have adjustable straps and more than one hook on our bras. It is because the straps and the band are elastic. They will stretch over time. When you first buy a bra, it should be clasped on the first (loosest) hook. You know it is time to let your bra go soon when you wear your bra on the tightest hook. It shows that the band has been stretched out. If the bra straps keep slipping off your shoulders even on the last setting, it is about time too. Same goes if the wires have started to bend or poke through the cup.

2. Bras can be worn two days in a row.

This is not for hygiene purposes. Wearing a bra two days in a row could overstretch the elasticity of the band and straps thus further decreasing its already-short shelf life. Bras need a 24-hour “rest” in between wears for the elastic to “recover”. It is suggested that you switch them out daily. A rule of thumb: have at least three to five good bras to rotate.

As for how often you should wash them, it is probably best to do it after three to four wears unless you sweat a lot during the day. Washing your bras in the washing machine is totally acceptable. Just remember to use a lingerie laundry bag. However, hand-washing and air-drying is still the best when it comes to preserving your lovelies.

3. Regular bras can be worn for sports.

I bet there is a good reason why sports bra exists. Different levels of physical activities require different kinds of support. Sports bras are capable of providing the necessary support. I have tried wearing a regular bra to the gym and it was super uncomfortable. Sports bras are designed to minimize movements, therefore avoid people staring at your "jugs". They are also made of different kinds of fabric to regulate sweat and temperature control. Thanks to technology. Since there are tons of different kinds of sports bra available out there, the guys at REI (click here) may help in choosing just what you need for your particular needs.

4. Bras can trap toxins which leads to cancer.

As irrational as it sounds, some people do promote it. If this were true, every women I know would have cancer (since all of them wear bras). There has been no research or whatsoever that explains this. According to some resources, this myth came up in the mid-90s after some medical anthropologists claimed that “by inhibiting lymphatic drainage, bras somehow trapped toxins in the breast tissue, which led to cancer”. The University of Arkansas for Medical Science explains on its website that “the overall consensus among doctors is that neither the type of bra worn nor the tightness of undergarments has any connection to the risk of breast cancer”. Case closed.

5. Sleeping in bras maintains perkiness.

Not only it is uncomfortable, wearing a bra while sleeping serves you nothing. I do not know where this notion came from but either way, sleeping with your bra or not, does not really matter anyway. I have not found the science behind this myth.

6. Light-colored bras are the least visible.

I used to think that wearing white bras underneath white clothing is the least visible. Truth is, you should be wearing bras that are closest to your skin tone if you want them to be incognito under your clothing. This means that nude-tone bras are your best match if you have fair skin. However, women with darker skin tones should look for darker-colored nude bras according to their skin tones.

7. Not wearing bras cause breasts to sag.

While it seems like not wearing a bra is not an option, it actually is. I have always been told that women have to wear bras to prevent gravity from pulling down your breasts. Being bra-less, in fact, does not cause your breasts to sag. It only brings your breasts to their original shape and does not initiate sagging even though it seems like it.

Some French researchers even “published a study claiming that bras provide no benefits to women's breasts and, in fact, may actually cause them to sag more over time. They looked at the breasts of more than 300 women, age 18 to 35, over the course of 15 years”. I am not entirely sure about this but I would stick to my bras, just because I feel naked without them. Besides, bras make your breasts look better under your clothing. But if you don’t mind showing them off, go for it. The choice is all yours.

It is important to have good-fitting bras. When a bra fits you, you should feel that your babies are sufficiently supported. More importantly, it needs to be comfortable. The right bra for you should not ride up your back. While it is normal to have marks on your skin after wearing bras, they should not be too tight that you feel suffocated. Get the bra experts in store to help you find the right size for you. All the straps, cups, and band should work together in holding up your breasts. The perfect band size is the one you are comfortable wearing on first hook. The perfect cup size is the one that covers your breasts without any “spilling” or unfilled space. If you have trouble finding the perfect-fitting bras, keep in mind that customized bras are available too at some stores. Good luck hunting for bras!

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