Do you know that wearing a wrongly-chosen bra can lead to diseases like fibrocystic breasts or breast cancer? Some scientists insist that tight bras compress the breasts and adjoining areas – this prevents your natural lymph drainage, which results in toxic substances deposition in the breast tissues. One of Japanese studies claims that there is a link between wearing bras and decreased melatonin production. What’s that to you? Since melatonin is a powerful antioxidant having anti-aging, stress-relieving, immune stimulating and antitumor effects, its deficiency can affect the development of breast cancer. Besides, wearing ill-fitted bras can be associated with pain in the back, shoulders and chest, postural disorder, difficulty in breathing and skin injuries. What a go!
In fact, while there are still many controversies about the link between bras and breast cancer (a comprehensive 2014 American study showed that no aspect of bra-wearing was associated with breast cancer risk), experts concur that women should choose their bras correctly to avoid both discomfort and health problems. The right size is a key point, but there are also other considerations related to choosing a bra for specific needs. Make a note of them and keep healthy, while staying beautiful!
Bras for fitness and sports
Since female breasts can’t be supported by the bones or muscles, they are especially sensitive to stretching under rigorous exercises. Thus, if you are engaged in active sports, ballet, yoga and other activities, you need better support for your breasts in order to avoid loss of the skin elasticity, as well as discomfort and even pain that many females experience when exercising. Sports bra is specially designed to minimize breasts movement either by compressing or by supporting them.
Compressing? But we know that compressing is bad for our breasts, isn’t it? That’s right and thus seamless compression bra is acceptable only for light to medium impact activities (pilates, yoga, dance classes, skating, etc.) and only for women with smaller bust sizes (A or B cups). And even then you should limit wearing a compression bra to time of your exercising in order to avoid congestion.
For high impact activities (aerobics, running, riding, combat sport and so on) and for larger busts choose encapsulation bras with double layers cups. Encapsulating bras provide support for each of your breasts separately. They come in un-stretchy fabric with soft or underwire cups (the latter give better support, but can rub and compress your breast skin heavier). Unlike compressing bras, encapsulating design can be worn for a long time (you can put it on at the beginning of your workout day).
Also, look closely at design details. A sports bra features narrow straps and underband? This can be very pretty, but has nothing to do with your breast health and support. To avoid pain in the back and chest, choose bras with the wide straps and underbands, giving preference to a reliable racerback style, unless your bust is really small.
Bras for breastfeeding
A nursing mother needs a special bra featuring soft and elastic fabric that allows stretching, since the breasts change in size throughout the day. At the same time, the bra has to ensure a good level of support and allow fast access for breastfeeding.
The support is usually provided by wide elastic straps and band, both of which can be adjustable, while underwire designs are not your best choice, since they tend to violate blood circulation and to create too much pressure on the tender breast tissues. Do you think that bras with wide straps, bridges, wings and underbands look non-sexy and old-fashioned? Well, you can buy a fancier option, but how do you like those ugly stretch marks on your breasts?
As for the bra opening, it can be realized in multiple ways:
- There is across-over design having no fastened flaps or other kinds of clasp – you just need to pull back one side of this bra and to slip the breast out. These bras are mostly made of seamless soft cotton and thus it is smart to have a couple of them for comfortable night sleep, though they provide little breasts support during a day.
- Some maternity bras feature zippers between cups or under each cup, which allow opening a cup for latching a baby on. The zipper designs can be convenient, but you need to take care of safety – make sure that the zipper is hidden into a special flap to prevent pinching.
- The most popular and comfortable nursing bra design is a cup with a flap that fastens to the strap. There are many fastening options and you can choose among clasps, snaps and hooks at your discretion. Just make sure that the bra cups have no seams inside and their lining is not made of synthetic materials.
Bras for a lower cleavage and bare-shoulder garments
It is rather irritating to have those straps traitorously peeking out of your beautiful evening gown. But properly selected bra style can be easily hidden under any bizarre necklines, while supporting and accentuating breasts. Depending on neckline, you can choose a suitable bra design:
- For low U or square neckline choose a balconette or demi-cup design featuring a partial-cup, underwire and widely spaced straps to allow both deep and wide cuts.
- Halter neckline requires a halter bra design or a balconette with convertible straps that can be arranged inover-the-neck style.
- A bandeau (a band of fabric worn across the breasts), bustier (an underwire bra with a short corset) and strapless bra work fine with off-the-shoulder garments, while a balconette with convertible straps can be added to this list to fit the one-shoulder neckline.
- Not only ladies’ tank tops, but also evening gowns can feature a racerback design, which requires a bra with straps of the racerback type or convertible straps arranged in criss-cross style.
- A dress with a cutout back goes well with a backless bra made of silicone or polyurethane and attached to the breasts with the help of safe adhesive.
- For deep V necklinechoose a plunge bra that features angled cups, low center and widely-spaced straps.
Are there any health considerations you should know about? All these narrow straps or strapless bra styles shift the load of bust support to the lower part of the construction – to the underwire, underband, bridge and wings. And this implies heavier load on the tender breast tissues and lymph nodes. So, make sure to wear strapless designs only on special occasions and to choose bras with wide, soft and supportive underbands and wings.
Bras for everyday use – large busts
A large bust needs an enhanced support that can be provided by several bra types:
- Full cup bras feature a closed cup with the lower and upper halves equal in height. Usually, their straps are attached to the center of the cup ensuring better coverage and support, while preventing them from slipping. The cup can be soft (with no underwire, while padding or lining are available for shaping) or feature underwire to improve the bust support. Also, there are seamless options (T-shirt bra) with smooth cups to make them invisible under clothes.
- “Minimizer” is specifically designed to make large-size busts look smaller, while providing an enhanced support. This type of bra features very wide straps forming an arch on the back, which reduces the load upon the spine and helps avoid shoulders rubbing. The cup design aids in spreading the breast tissue within the cup evenly for more comfort and better shaping. The wide two-layer fabric on the sides also provides enhanced support and shaping in the armpits area.
Yes, both of these bra designs don’t allow décolletage and may seem not so sexy as push-ups or plunges, but they are really comfortable for plus sizes in daily use. And they are specially designed to avoid those frequent problems women with plus sizes face like rubbing shoulders, back pain, red marks on the skin from underwire pressure and so on.
Bras for everyday use – smaller busts
Females with small busts usually want more shaping than support from their bras and here are the best options to get the visually enhancing result:
- Molded or contour bra often comes with underwire to improve support and features pre-shaped cups made of some kind of filler (like foam) – this allows the bra to keep its shape and to add some volume to busts. The molded bra is a perfect choice for small-size and asymmetrical breasts, while available in different styles (full- or demi-cup, etc.).
- Padded bra features shaping inserts in the cup lining to make busts look larger, fuller and finer. While the inserts help to support certain breasts areas, they don’t work for pushing the breasts to the cleavage center like push-ups do.
- Push-ups are designed to shape beautiful cleavage, while adding some size to breasts. Usually, they also have inserts, but only in the lower part of the cup, and feature angled cups helping breasts towards the cleavage center. They are capable of creating a really spectacular effect, but there is no shared vision among specialists about the safety of push-ups. Some claims that this style produces too much pressure on the breasts tissue, violates the blood circulation and promotes saggy breast through the atrophy of the natural mechanisms. So, it makes sense to limit push-ups wearing to several hours a day.
- Petite cups are paired and set as close as possible to each other. Though very simple, such a design makes breasts look a little bit fuller, while providing both comfort in daily use and enough support for petite women and teenagers.
Now you know that choosing a bra design is not only about fashion and beauty, but also about your comfort and health. You don’t need to refuse wearing bras at all, but you need to avoid bra styles, which are not suitable for your purpose and bust size. Before purchasing a bra, check your cup and band size, since no design will fit perfectly, until the size is correctly defined. You can go to an off-line store to try on a style and size and then search for the same model through online-stores – this is the best way to ensure that your bra won’t harm your health and will fit perfectly!