Those of us who depend on a brassiere to hold our boobs close and prevent chaffing know that with great bras comes great responsibility. As in, finding the right bra, washing that bra, wearing that bra during the right time of day or night, and treating that bra like it deserves to be treated.
But what if everything we know about bras is wrong? Or at least, kind of wrong? Here are some super popular bra myths that we’ve learned from our parents, our grandparents, Victoria’s Secret sale associates, and friends:
1. Sleeping in your bra causes cancer and stops your boobs from growing
Do you sleep in your bra? I slept in my bra when I was a tween and very new to this whole bra thing. After admitting to a friend that I didn’t take my bra off before going to bed, she whispered that sleeping with your bra on was DANGEROUS and causes CANCER. But. According to Dr. Amber Guth, who works at Breast Cancer Surgery Multidisciplinary Fellowship, there’s no way to say sleeping in a bra is bad for you. “There is certainly no evidence that sleeping in bras is either helpful or harmful,” Dr. Guth states.
2. But also, sleeping in your bra keeps your breasts firm
NOPE. Sleeping in your bra will not mutate cells, nor will it deter your boobs from eventually sagging. “A bra will hold up your breasts to give you the shape and look you want, but it can’t prevent further sagging, which is caused by age and gravity,” says Dr. Dan Mills, VP of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
3. Underwire bras = cancer
This idea might have come from the book Dressed to Kill, published in 1995. In it, writers Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer claim that wearing tight bras every day would eventually lead to cancer (which is, apparently a prevalent theme when it comes to boobs and bras). But according to The Scientific American, there is no evidence whatsoever that backs this claim. “It just really is not logical in terms of what would increase your risk of breast cancer,” states Louise Brinton, who is the chief of hormonal and reproductive epidemiology branch of the National Cancer Institute.
4. If you strategically exercise, you can keep your breasts perkier
We must, we must, we must increase our bust!
Even if you did one-trillion push-ups and pull-ups and lifted all the weights, your boobs would remain as they are. And that’s because breasts are made of fat, and you can’t really shape or form fat. What you CAN do, is work out your chest. Some exercises do “help improve the appearance of your pectoral area by strengthening surrounding ligaments,” according to Anne Taylor, MD, a clinical assistant professor of plastic surgery at Ohio State University.
5. Only wash your bra once a month or less
Maybe you’ve heard you need to wash your bra once a week. Or twice a month. Or almost never. And maybe this confused and rattled you, so you just avoided all of it by purchasing MORE bras, but then you ended up running into the same problem with your mounting pile of new bras: When do you wash them? And how often?
This seems to be a conflicting subject. An eBay lingerie “expert” says that it really depends on your lifestyle. “Depending on a woman’s personal hygiene and lifestyle, a standard bra may be worn a couple of times before it needs to be washed. Some women who sweat more may wish to wash their bras more often but for everyday wear, washing after every wear isn’t necessary,” the expert says.
Lexie Sachs, a product analyst at Good Housekeeping, says that washing your bra after three or four wears should be fine. But don’t wait until your bra is stinky. “Washing gets rid of the oils and germs that accumulate, so the more oil you’re producing, the more frequently you’ll need to launder your bra,” Sachs states.
6. You should use a gentle detergent like Woolite to wash your bras
Supposedly, Woolite gently washes your bras and prevents them from tearing or wearing down. BUT, Bobbie Smith, a bra-fitting specialist who works at Freshpair, says Woolite is a brassiere no-no. “It was actually designed to soften wool, so you shouldn’t use that on elastic, because you want the elastic to stay firm,” Smith says. Noted.
7. If you throw your bra in the washer, it will destroy it
If you learned anything about bras, it was probably this: DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES THROW YOUR BRA IN THE WASHER BECAUSE BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN.
But how annoying is washing a bra by hand? Really. Annoying. According to Cosmopolitan, as long as you’re CAREFUL and use the right equipment (gentle detergent, a bag to put your bras in before you chuck ’em in with the rest of your load) and hang your bras to dry (sorry, no escaping this one), your undergarments should be hunky dory and un-destroyed.
8. Bras have uniform sizing
If you’ve purchased bras from Target and Victoria’s Secret and anywhere else, really, then you’ll know you cannot walk into a story and say “size 32 C please.” A C cup at GAP is not a C cup at Victoria’s Secret. It’s just not. “Each brand has their own ‘fit model’. Plus, you can be a different size for several styles within the same brand,” says Jene Luciani, author of The Bra Book.
So, make sure to get your bra-size measured wherever you go.
9. If you’re a bustier gal, just prepare to wear ugly bras for the rest of eternity
NOT TRUE, LADIES. NOT TRUE. If you have big boobz, you can definitely find a cute, sexy, fun bra. You might just have to cough up more $$$. According to fellow HG editors who face such predicaments, Fig Leaves is a good place to start (AND there’s a 60 percent off sale right now, so GET. ON. THAT.) Journelle is another one (and they also have a 70 percent off sale, so, byeeeeeee).
10. There is only one *right* way to put on a bra
There’s a lot of discussion in regards to how to put a bra on the correct way. In fact, there’s a giant debate on it on reddit. You can clasp in the front and spin it around. Or place one boob in at a time. You can reach behind and hook your bra that way if you want. The options are infinite.
But there is no correct way to put on a bra. As always, you do you, boo.