Are you allergic to your bra? If you’re getting skin rashes or other types of irritation from your bra, it can be difficult to nail down what exactly is actually causing the problem. It could be:
- The fabric itself. Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon are more likely to cause textile contact dermatitis, but technically you can be allergic to anything, including cotton.
- The chemicals that have been added to the fabric. This can include dyes or chemicals like PFAS or formaldehyde, which are often added to give fabrics “performance” features like wrinkle- or stain-resistance. Clothing manufacturers aren’t required to tell you what chemicals are used in their garments. We dove deep into this issue right here.
- The “extras” like the elastics or hooks. These are often made out of things like latex and nickel, which can cause irritation for some people.
- Extra rubbing from an ill-fitted bra. If you’re wearing a bra that just doesn’t fit right, you might experience chafing, especially if you are prone to skin irritation.
In this article, you’ll learn about what to be aware of as you shop for hypoallergenic bras that actually work for you and your skin. And you can learn even more about underwear allergies here, and/or find the best allergy-friendly underwear brands (for both adults and kids) right here.
Table of Contents
- What to Look for in Allergy-Friendly Bras for Sensitive Skin
- 1. Natural Fibers
- 2. No (or minimal) Chemical Treatments
- 3. Wrapped Elastics and Padded Straps
- 4. Wireless or Metal-Free Wires
- 5. No Tags
- 6. Proper Fit
- Should You Use a Bra Liner for Your Sensitive Skin?
- These Are the Best Brands for Sensitive Skin Bras in 2023
This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.
Featured Image Credit: JulieMay
What to Look for in Allergy-Friendly Bras for Sensitive Skin
1. Natural Fibers
Although you can be allergic to anything (even cotton, although that’s very rare), negative reactions to synthetic materials like polyester and lycra are more common. That’s why choosing natural, breathable fabrics like cotton and hemp can usually help alleviate symptoms for people with textile dermatitis, eczema, sensitive skin, or other skin allergies.
Natural materials also tend to allow for more air flow, which can help prevent sweaty situations that can exacerbate things like rashes and psoriasis.
At the very least, you can try giving up synthetic bras and underwear for a month or so and see if that makes a difference for you.
2. No (or minimal) Chemical Treatments
A lot of times, it’s not the fabric itself that causes problems for people, but rather what’s added to those fabrics. There are a LOT of things that can be added to underwear and clothing—from formaldehyde to azo dyes to PFAS and more.
What’s more, manufactures don’t have to tell you what they’ve added to textiles, so it’s often impossible to know for sure. Obviously, this can make it extremely difficult to nail down what’s actually causing your skin reactions!
That’s why when you’re shopping for bras for your sensitive skin, it can be helpful to look for brands that use as minimal processing as possible. Look for unbleached, undyed, and un-treated garments whenever you can.
Or, at least look for brands that are more transparent about what they put on their fabrics. For example, AYA (listed below) does add a treatment to their sports bras to make them more durable and anti-pilling, but they tell you what they use (it’s silicone).
3. Wrapped Elastics and Padded Straps
The elastic straps on bras may also be irritating for some people. These straps may be made out of synthetic materials (such as spandex) or something natural (like rubber). Regardless, most allergy-friendly bra brands will wrap the elastic straps in organic cotton or another skin-friendly fabric so that none of it is actually touching your skin.
Padded straps can also help provide a less-irritating bra fit in general. Because sometimes it may not be the actual material that’s causing skin irritation, but simply the fact that the straps are digging into your skin. That’s why many brands provide padded wide straps to provide some more cushion against this problem.
4. Wireless or Metal-Free Wires
Let’s be honest: many women don’t prefer wired bras these days—they’re just not comfortable! So, many organic bra brands are eliminating wires completely. If you go for a pullover bralette, you don’t have to worry about wires or clasps of any kind.
That being said, if you have a nickel or metal sensitivity and you do want a wired option, then you may want to look for metal-free wires. JulieMay, for example, uses plastic for their underwires and clasps so that you don’t have to worry about reacting to the metal.
5. No Tags
Tags can be irritating for folks with sensitive skin, so look for tag-less bra brands!
6. Proper Fit
An ill-fitting bra can cause irritation no matter what it’s made out of. You don’t want too much friction and rubbing to happen, and you don’t want straps and bands digging into your body. So no matter what bras you choose, make sure you measure yourself and follow the brand’s sizing chart accordingly so that you can get the perfect fit.
Should You Use a Bra Liner for Your Sensitive Skin?
A bra liner is a layer of fabric that goes in between your skin and the bra. Bra liners can help absorb sweat that might be causing a rash. They can also be a more affordable way to figure out if you current bras are causing allergic reactions.
These Are the Best Brands for Sensitive Skin Bras in 2023
Here are the best bras that won’t irritate sensitive skin or cause allergic reactions.
(P.S. The brands below are almost completely free from synthetics of any kind. But if you want some more options, these brands use mostly organic fabrics, but with small amounts of spandex for stretch.)
Materials: GOTS certified organic cotton, pure silk
Price Range: $61-$97
Sizes: 32B – 42G
This UK-based brand is one of the best brands for hypoallergenic bras and underwear. Not only are they great for sensitive skin, but they’re also pretty!
JulieMay has lots of bra options, and they’ve got them sorted into different collections so you can more easily find the perfect bra for you. For example:
- Their Comfort Bra Collection includes non-wired bralettes, padded options, bras with removable padding, and more.
- The Post-Surgery Collection are suitable for those fighting breast cancer, cosmetic breast, and cardiothoracic surgeries. They’re meant to keep scar tissue cool and comfortable, while also making sure you still feel beautiful.
- Their Back Support Collection has the best options for sports bras and for people with larger chests.
- You can also shop by skin tone, wireless, front-fastening, and bralettes
JulieMay’s size-inclusive, allergy-friendly bras are made with super soft organic cotton combined with silk fabrics for the linings, so they literally could not be more gentle on the skin. They are tag-less, latex-free, free from harmful dyes and other chemicals and They are metal-free (they use plastic for the hooks and wires) and all elastics are wrapped in cotton so they don’t touch your skin. They’re AllergyUK accredited, too!
Not only are these bras a great option for people with sensitive skin, eczema, and psoriasis, but they’re also great for menopause, pre-menopause, and post-surgery.
In addition to using certified organic fabrics and ensuring an ethical supply chain, JulieMay also has several extra initiatives in place as well, including tree planting through Eden Reforestation, plastic recycling through Plastic Bank, and carbon offsets through the UN.
My Take: I’ve been wearing JulieMay for a while now and I have to say… They really did find the balance of comfy and sexy! Most of the fabric that’s actually against your skin is super soft—softer than cotton usually feels. (I say most because it depends on the style… As you can see pictured above, there’s a section of the panties that are just lace.)
The bras are lined with that same soft cotton, so even though it looks lacy, it feels more like you’re wearing that go-to, most comfortable set of underwear!
P. S. Make sure you use their sizing chart (with your exact measurements) before placing your purchase!
Use the code JULIEMAY for 10% off your first order.
Materials: GOTS certified organic cotton
Price Range: $27-$50
Sizes: 4-12 / 34B-46DD
Cottonique makes allergy-friendly bras, underwear, and clothing that is suitable for the most sensitive skin. They offer a variety of different styles so that you can get a bra that is functional and actually works for you. For example, they have front-closure bras that have snaps or hooks, ones that pull over your hear, ones that tie in the front, ones with drawstrings, and more.
They have options that are suitable for everyday wear, exercising, nursing, post-mastectomy, and more. You can also sort the options according to different collections: allergic contact dermatitis, sensitive skin, and latex/spandex allergies.
They also offer a bra liner, which is a thinner layer that you can try wearing under your current bras! This might help you save some money while also helping you identify which garments are causing problems for you.
All of their bras are latex-free and spandex-free. The bras that have elastic use natural rubber and are covered with organic cotton fabric so it’s not touching your skin.
Use the code THEFILTERY10 for 10% off your order.
Materials: Organic cotton, hemp, natural rubber elastic
Price Range: $56-$78
Sustain has a small collection of underwear and bras for women that includes bralettes, sports bras, and low-rise and high-rise panties. These bras are completely synthetic free. The fabric is made with 100% organic cotton (even the thread is certified organic!) and then they’re lined with a layer of certified organic hemp to give it some moisture-wicking and anti-microbial properties. (There’s also a hole in the side so you can insert nursing liners or soft cups if you want to.)
The bras are completely undyed, too. Instead of dyes, they use different colored cotton! They use white, brown, and green cotton to create solid-colored and striped bras without the use of any extra colorants or finishes.
Both the sports bra and the bralette use natural rubber elastic which is wrapped in organic fabric so it doesn’t touch your skin. The sports bra is metal-free, but the bralette uses OEKO-TEX certified zinc alloy strap adjusters.
Materials: Organic & conventional cotton, silicone fabric finishing, natural rubber, low-impact or plant-based dyes
Price Range: $30 – $144 (6-pack)
AYA offers a collection of plastic-free sports bras for sensitive skin. The main fabric is made with GOTS organic cotton, and then they use Pima cotton for the thread. The fabric is finished with OEKO-TEX certified silicone to give it durability and make it more resistant to wrinkling and pilling without any toxic chemicals.
You have the option of choosing between low-impact dyes (which are synthetic but still GOTS certified) and 100% plant-based dyes. The only synthetic parts are the low-impact dye (if you choose that option) and the ink on the label (but even that is still GOTS certified).
Materials: Organic cotton, some spandex/elastane/lycra (depending on the specific bra), undyed or low-impact dyes
Price Range: $40-$75
Rawganique has been around since 1997, and they make all of their clothing, home goods, accessories, and underwear with the most chemically-sensitive folks in mind.
They only have one bra at this time that’s 100% cotton and free from spandex. (The straps use elastic but are covered in the organic cotton fabric.) Not only is the bra itself made in the USA, but the cotton is American-grown as well. You can choose between Natural (unbleached and undyed) or Black (which uses a low-impact, biodegradable fiber-reactive dye).
It’s also got adjustable straps and soft cup inserts so that you can customize it based on your needs and preferences.
Rawganique does have other bras as well, but most of the others contain a certain amount of spandex in the fabric. They have bralettes, sports bras, wireless bras, nursing bras, and more.
Materials: Cotton, TENCEL™, spandex
Price Range: $17 (on sale) – $45
Although TomboyX’s bras are not 100% organic, they get an honorable mention from us because of their truly inclusive options. Their sizes go up to 6X, and they have a lot of different styles to choose from—from adjustable triangle bras to compression tops, and more. They also offer a wide range of colors, from your basic black/white/skin tones to playful and colorful patterns.
The two primary types of fabric they use is (conventional) cotton and TENCEL. TENCEL is a plant-based semi-synthetic fabric that is very soft and silky, making it a great option for sensitive skin. Be aware that they do use small amounts of spandex in most of their pieces (usually 5%), but all of the fabrics are OEKO-TEX certified. This means they’re free from a list of toxic chemicals, such as azo dyes.
Make sure you double check the details of the specific bra before purchase, because some of their options are made from more synthetic materials like nylon or polyamide.
I hope this article has helped you find a bra that is comfortable, easy on your skin, and leaves you feeling great… so that you can get back to enjoying your life!
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