The desperation to get the bra as far away from your body as possible, the painful red indents, the sweet relief from taking it off… Definitely a universal female experience.
If you find your bra leaving red marks on the side of your body, there’s almost definitely an issue. Don’t panic, I’m going to take you through all the possible bra problems (or at least, all the ones I can think of) with some reasons and quick solutions.
Should a Bra Leave Red Marks?
Firstly, I need to say that if you’re still ‘breaking in’ a new bra, it’s more than likely that it’ll leave a few small red marks. If this happens in a new bra, don’t be too alarmed.
There’s a simple reason behind this. Your body needs time to adjust to the bra, whilst the bra’s fabric stretches out and gains some flexibility. The best way to make this as comfortable as possible is to first of all make sure that you’re wearing the bra on the loosest fastening (and make sure that it fits you properly like this). You need to wear it on the loosest fastening for at least 4-6 months, gradually adjusting it over time.
It’s also always recommended to wash your bra before your first use (I am a big advocate for always following the care instructions and hand washing bras or using bra wash bags on a gentle wash). Not only is this the more hygienic option, but it’ll also help soften the bra, reducing the risk of irritation against the skin.
Is it Normal For Bras to Leave Marks?
Whilst bras leaving red marks on the side is actually quite a common problem (around 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size), it’s not necessarily normal if the bra fits properly and you’ve worn it for long enough.
I want to make it very clear that your bra should never hurt or cause serious painful marks: if it does, then there’s either an issue with the fit or the bra itself. Whilst it could be as simple as something being too loose or too tight (which I’ll cover below), it could also be because of two other reasons.
The first is that you’ve worn your bra for too long (I know, I’m telling you that you need to wear it for a certain amount of time and then telling you that it’s too long - you can’t win). But, too long isn’t the same as the amount of time it takes to break a bra in.
Too long is the bra you’ve worn religiously for years. The bra that’s started to create pressure points (yes, this is a thing). Whilst something moulding to your body and becoming really comfortable might sound like a good thing, it’s possible for this to go too far. In this case, your body is telling you that it’s time for a new bra.
The second reason is your hormonal cycle. Personally, I love tracking my cycle because I always find that it explains EVERYTHING going wrong in my life (the best example is once a month when I wake up with the most horrific headache ever known to man and I get a notification an hour or two later telling me that it’s likely I’ll have a headache all day).
Anyway, it’s actually possible and very common for hormones to make the size of your boobs fluctuate, which is another fantastic reason to track your cycle. Ovulation causes your progesterone levels to change, which in turn can make your boobs look bigger and feel firmer.
This then, understandably, can make your bra feel too tight and even end up leaving red marks on your side. If you find this is a regular occurrence, it might be an idea to measure how big your boobs typically get at this time of the month and invest in a bra this size for this time of the month (find my guide on to How to Measure Your Bra Size here). As I said, this is completely normal and is absolutely nothing to be concerned about!
Bra Leaving Red Marks on Side
Red marks from your bra are also one of the biggest indicators that an area of the bra is too tight. The solution to this is loosening the bra or trying something bigger, but this is dependent on where the red marks are.
If you find your bra leaving red marks on your side or your bra is leaving red marks under your breasts, this probably means that your band is too tight. There’s a few reasons for this... As I mentioned previously, when you first get a new bra, you need to wear it on the loosest hook for at least 4-6 months. This ensures that the band definitely fits you, whilst allowing for the bra to gain more flexibility.
If you’ve always worn it on the tightest hook and it’s leaving red marks, it’s because of this. If you try the same bra on with the loosest hook and there’s no red marks, then you’re safe to continue with that band size.
If you’ve started with the loosest hook fastening and still find your bra leaving red marks on the side, then you need to try a bigger band size. Red marks are one of the most obvious ways that your body can tell you it’s being squeezed too tight! If you’re unsure, always remember and refer back to the fit test (you can find the full guide on How Should a Bra Fit here) - if you can’t get two fingers underneath your band, it doesn’t fit.
Bra Marks on Shoulders
If your bra leaves marks on your shoulders, it’s a very similar problem to your bra leaving marks on your side. Bras leave marks on shoulders when the straps are too tight, so the best way to resolve this is by loosening the straps.
Alternatively, bras can also leave marks on shoulders when the band is too loose. This is because the band is responsible for the majority of the bra’s support, so if it’s too loose, it can’t provide all the support it’s meant to. This then essentially forces the straps to go into overdrive (the straps are only designed to offer around 10% of the bra’s total support), which means that the straps end up doing too much work and leaving marks and dents in the skin.
Bra Fitting Problems
Hopefully that's everything covered, but if not, you can always get in contact with us here. Don't forget, I've put together a whole collection of guides on bra fitting and care, so if you're having any other problems, head straight there!
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