What's In Your Bra? Sizing Up the Intimate Apparel Environment

  |   By Elisabeth Dale

What kind of bra are you wearing right now? Today, I’m in a lacy underwire Wacoal number, made of undetermined elastic, lace mesh fabric. It has lost its original fit thanks to repeated use.

The tag tells me the size and that it was made in Thailand. But I don’t have a clue as to what went into creating this piece or the origin of its many sub parts, like hooks, wires, and clasps. I know even less about other styles and brands stuffed into the top drawer of my bedroom dresser.

Molded, foam filled, and padded bras are a particular mystery to me. Some have cotton padding, but others can be silicone or gel filled. Lingerie can be intricately constructed or simply designed. One company might use multiple seams and delicate embellishments. They might feature technologically advanced synthetic fabrics---or not. The surest way for me to find out if my bra contains any metal is to head to the airport. If I set off the TSA machine, I know what not to where when flying.

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I’m intrigued by the contents of this everyday appliance that is so close to my skin. The materials might be new or recycled, or the dyes irritating or chemical-free. I know more about my lip-gloss and blush thanks to the research available from or the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database. I can chat with lingerie company representatives or visit their websites to gain more insight into textiles and materials. And when a woman claimed her Victoria’s Secret bra made her sick, Limited Brands presented customers with a list of how they assure product safety. But I won’t find much information about the workers who cut and sew the pieces together. Does the higher price of one bra signify greater quality? Is there a hidden price to what I’m wearing?

I continued my search by visiting There you can compare products to see if they are healthy, safe, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible.  GoodGuide has analyzed hundreds of brands, from cosmetics and household cleaners to electronics. There’s even a section devoted to babies and kids. Many clothing manufacturers have been rated, but none that produce foundations. So I submitted a request for GoodGuide to take a closer look at my intimate apparel.

If you’d like to learn more about what’s in you bra, vote here to ask GoodGuide to make lingerie a top priority. Check out their website and discover their mission.

Will you use this information to make different choices about what bras you buy? Why or why not?

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