• author
    • Debra DeAngelo

    • October 24, 2014 in Columnists

    Is formaldehyde Victoria’s biggest Secret?

    October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s the perfect time to talk about boobies, or more specifically, things that harm them. Like our bras.

    In May 2013, I wrote about a horrific rash I kept getting on my breasts, and over time realized that it reoccurred every time I wore a particular Victoria’s Secret bra. I googled around and discovered other women reporting the same thing, as far back as 2008. The culprit? Formaldehyde in the fabric. The problem began when Victoria’s Secret switched from an Indian manufacturer to a Chinese one. Women who wore their product for years suddenly started having reactions. Like myself, they didn’t initially suspect a product they’d been wearing for years without incident.

    But, little by little, I figured it out: Stop wearing the bra, and the rash gradually subsides. Put it back on, and it comes screaming back.

    It’s the bra.

    As for the rash, it’s not just any rash. It itches like poison oak or chicken pox. You can’t NOT scratch it, which causes welts, bruises, broken skin, and even then… you can’t stop scratching.

    A lawsuit was filed over the issue (Roberta Ritter v, Victoria’s Secret Stores, Inc., et al, Case No: CV 08 659494) but Victoria’s Secret and its parent company, L Brands, having deep pockets for legal protection, and convinced the plaintiff to drop the lawsuit. Their lawyer’s statement is posted on the L Brands website (follow the links under “Our Bras Are Safe”). The lawyer states that formaldehyde at less that 20 parts per million (ppm) means a product is legally “formaldehyde-free,” therefore declaring that VS products are “formaldehyde-free” because they’re within the legal range.

    The remainder of the statement focuses on denigrating Roberta Ritter. Blame the victim, blame the plaintiff — same diff.

    On the L Brands website, under “Do your bras contain formaldehyde,” is this statement: “Victoria’s Secret does not add formaldehyde to its bras…”

    But: It doesn’t say that formaldehyde isn’t already in the fabric before being purchased to make the bras.

    “… and multiple, independent tests confirm that Victoria’s Secret bras are formaldehyde-free or contain only traces which are significantly lower than allowed by the most stringent textile guidelines in the world…”

    “Or.” Or! Is formaldehyde there or not? It can’t be both. Unless you’re a lawyer.

    “…Dermatologists and various authorities all confirm that even those individuals who are allergic to formaldehyde would not have a reaction at this low level.”


    I have a few “various authorities” who beg to differ.

    Since I began blogging about VS bra rashes (www.debradeangelo.com), women came out of the woodwork reporting the same horrific rash associated with VS bras exclusively. Most disturbing — their complaints are current. The bras are still on the shelves. Even though Victoria’s Secret knows their products may cause excruciating discomfort to some of their customers — they’re still selling them. And of course they are! Removing ALL the formaldehyde from their products now would be acknowledging the problem!

    As for the reliability of the lab results on the formaldehyde content of VS bras, I’m skeptical. Not all the bras cause a rash. I still wear some of my VS bras with no problems. The only one that caused the rash was the 100 percent cotton bra in heather gray. Beige or black — no problem. Only the gray. Others also report that the rash only occurs with a particular style of VS bra. With hundreds of bra styles in hundreds of colors, unless they’re all tested, as far as I’m concerned, the lab results are meaningless.

    On my blog, I advise women to put those bras in a ziplock bag for evidence, to see their doctors and get the diagnosis of “allergic contact dermatitis” documented, and to take photos of the rashes. Since no lawyers seem to be interested in this case, I’m hoping a government agency will take notice. The issue of formaldehyde in fabric is much larger than simple breast rashes. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, recognized by both the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. Could formaldehyde in bras, to which our breasts are regularly exposed, contribute to breast cancer? Don’t you think it’s time someone found out? Maybe those of us who react to formaldehyde are lucky. We take the bras off. Those who keep wearing them are being exposed to formaldehyde every day.

    So far, I’ve contacted the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which was no help. They said the bra itself didn’t cause the injury, the chemical did, and referred me to the Environmental Protection Agency. Both phone numbers they gave me connected elsewhere. One was some unidentified entity offering Walmart gift cards for only $1.99, and to “have your credit card ready.”

    Great. Our federal government at work. But who else is there to turn to?

    Yes, I hit some dead ends, but I’ll keep searching for the needle in the governmental haystack responsible for monitoring chemicals in fabrics. I’ll lobby for another look at “acceptable” amounts of formaldehyde in fabrics. If you’re allergic to formaldehyde, the “acceptable” amount is zero. If the product contains formaldehyde, it should have a warning label, just like products containing eggs, peanuts or dairy.

    There’s the real irony — despite the misery their product has caused, VS customers would come running back if the products containing formaldehyde were labeled so we could purchase something else. We can’t find another product we like as much.

    The simple solution would be for Victoria’s Secret to use truly — not legally — formaldehyde-free fabric. Sadly, Victoria’s Secret would rather lose our business than admit there’s a problem. But, that doesn’t mean they don’t take it seriously. Since I began blogging about this, and googling “Victoria’s Secret bra rash” shows a link to my blogs with many women reporting the same problem, Victoria’s Secret started paying attention. They follow me on Twitter. And I rather doubt it’s because they love tweets about my cats.



    • Debra, I would contact the Environmental Working Group. They study all sorts of chemicals in fabric and might be interested in working on this with you. Go right to Ken Cook, President and a personal friend of mine. See if they are or know of someone who is working on this. Might get you somewhere. I know pajamas and flame retardants are on their lists. Let me know if you need an introduction otherwise just mention my name. ken@ewg.org.

      • Thanks Madge! I will follow up on that!

        • OK They are itchy but could they also be deadly? Formaldehyde against your skin? Especially next to your sensitive breast glands!!!???

        • Well, it makes you wonder, right? Skin is actually an organ, and it does absorb chemicals that can enter the bloodstream. It makes you wonder if the rise in breast cancer has something to do with the toxic load of chemicals we’re exposed to in very small amounts that add up over time. :/

        • Ellie

        • June 20, 2015 at 7:43 am
        • Reply

        I have this same problem with VS bras. I won’t wear them any longer. I threw them away when I realized it was the bras causing my rash.

        • Pity you didn’t save them! They are evidence! You can read a lot more about this topic on my blog: http://www.debradeangelo.com

          • Ellie

          • June 26, 2015 at 10:16 am

          I still have 2 of them even tho I never wear them because of the rash. I threw the worse 3 away.

        • Tina hall

        • December 12, 2016 at 8:37 am
        • Reply

        I’ve also had severe itching for 3 years. I’ve had a mammogram and have tried every prescription and OTC cream you could try! It was my husband who said “it has to be your bra” so I googled and wallah, lots of complaints from other woman! Mine was severe intense itch leaving me not able to even wear a bra! What do we do?

        • Hello Tina – your husband was right! The proof is when you stop wearing the bra and the rash and itching stop. Put it back on and it flares up immediately. Sadly, since VS will neither acknowledge the issue nor take any responsibility for it whatsoever, there’s not much any of us can do but stop wearing their product. That’s a huge drag, because finding an acceptable substitute has been disappointing so far. VS will let you return the bras and give you your money back, however, I feel we should save the bras because maybe there will be a way to test them for chemicals some day. Just put them in a ziplock and go bra-shopping for something else. :/

    • All this time I thought it was my laundry detergent that was making me itch.

      • I thought that too… my detergent… fabric softener… lotion… perfume…. it was my bra! And, my favorite one, too! It took me a couple of years to finally have the “aha!” moment.

    • I left Ken a message telling him you were going to contact him. I will see him Wednesday night and if I remember I will ask him or one of his people.

      • Maya North

      • October 26, 2014 at 7:47 pm
      • Reply

      That blessed well sounds miserable and it’s unconscionable, to boot. For shame, VS — harming your customers is a stupid business practice and bargain basic ethics.

      • Well, the REALLY frustrating thing is that formaldehyde isn’t even necessary. There’s every reason to take it out, and none to leave it in – except that they can use the cheapest Chinese fabric and still charge upwards of $30 apiece for their bras.

      • AJ

      • January 15, 2015 at 7:14 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you for this! I too experienced this rash beginning in 2010-2011 after many. many years of exclusively wearing Victorias Secret bras. This is also around the time that it noticed their quality was getting worse & worse and the price was being jacked up higher and higher. I just purchased a ton these past few weeks and first noticed they are now shipping them in bags stamped”MADE IN CHINA!!” Bc of my abhorrence to things that have sickened people in the past from the orient, as well as being a chronic autoimmune patient, I am very careful not to purchase items made in China, if at all possible. I was horrified, a bra I just paid $70 for sounds and feels like plastic wrap when I put it on. I’m only keeping 2 out of the 6 bras, turning the others & after several decades as a loyal VS customer will be finding another vendor! I’m also looking in to starting a petition, insisting that they return to a better manufacturer and keeping China out of our intimate affairs!!!

      • Hello AJ! Please let me know about your petition! I will definitely sign it! For what VS charges, surely they can find a formaldehyde-free fabric manufacturer!

      • Rachel Nichols

      • February 1, 2015 at 6:28 pm
      • Reply

      I am suffering at this moment with this problem was in since last nite stayed in jammies because not feeling well no bra all day had to go out for a few hrs sure enough i’m very itchy and inflamed with welt type areas! This is horride!!

      • The itching is UNBEARABLE. I literally scratched myself raw, and couldn’t stop. I suggest to everyone that they go see their doctors to get their conditions documented. Also, put the bra in a baggie in case it needs to be tested. Gold Bond powder helps a little, but it takes time. SO UNCOMFORTABLE! Sorry you are suffering.

      • Rachel Nichols

      • February 1, 2015 at 6:36 pm
      • Reply

      I don’t understand why wearing exclusivly for yrs now I am having a reaction like this ? , all my bras say made in China or Sri Lanka!

      • The same thing happened for me. I wore VS bras exclusively for years, and that particular style for years, and all of a sudden… a violent reaction to them. The only solution is, sadly… to not wear the bras. 🙁

      • JD

      • April 28, 2015 at 8:04 pm
      • Reply

      I feel relieved that I possibly have an answer! I have been wearing VS undergarments for over a decade. But the past six months I started developing a rash all over my breasts. Initially I thought it was dry skin, thanks to winter. But it just kept getting worse. Itching like crazy till they bled! Went to see my Dr. and she did diagnose contact dermatitis but to WHAT? She asked me to stop using scented lotion. I thought it might be the detergent but then why would it be restricted to a specific area? I can’t believe I will just have to throw away all the bras I purchased just a few months back. Too bad the company won’t do anything about it.

      • Hello JD, so sorry to hear that you are another woman who has an allergy to formaldehyde. I suspect that is the culprit. If you take your bras back to Victoria’s Secret, they should give you your money back. This won’t be a new story to them. It is a pity they don’t care enough to do anything about it. As for your rash, the only solution is not to wear the bras and you skin should heal in time. Also, check out my personal blog at http://www.debradeangelo.com, where you will find a whole bunch of women who are suffering from the same thing. And, good that you went to the doctor! Please tell her about my blog and the VS issue!

      • Jodie B

      • May 4, 2015 at 10:59 pm
      • Reply

      I am having the same issue and all I wear are VS bras! What bras can I switch too? I can’t go braless and am so bummed bc I love their bras and they have 32DDD in their stores! Let me know what to do! 😉

      • Hi Jodie, welcome to our unhappy club. No one has come up with an acceptable alternative for VS. You can find comfort – but not the style. But… if you have that rash, you will settle for comfort. Some women report that they love Soma bras. I have been just fine wearing Vanity Fair. The main thing is to look at the label and see where it was manufactured. If it says “China” – don’t buy it. You have a very unusual size, so you might start with Soma. You can purchase online if you can’t find a store near you:

        • My bra from Soma is made in China. It is the Enhancing Shape and since I started wearing it I have had lesions the resolved with antibiotics and then have returned. I have seen a breast surgeon and now will be seeing a dermatologist. Can, I join the law suit?

        • There is no lawsuit – there was one against VS a few years back, but it failed. VS still admits zero culpability. In fact, VS won’t even acknowledge the problem. The thing is – all women don’t react with a rash. Those of us who do have an allergy to something in the fabric. So, it’s like those with peanut allergies – it’s not the product’s fault that we have an allergy. That said – VS COULD choose to create an allergen-free product or at least put warning labels on the one they have, but they will do neither. :/

      • B.L.

      • May 14, 2015 at 7:00 am
      • Reply

      I worked for Victoria Secret so i was convincing my self that it was anything but the bra!! The fabulous bra! But i would complain to my mom about how unbearablely itchy i was! I would come home after i took my bra off is when it itches the most. I would scratch until i had bleeding scratches & my breast would be flakey. I kept wearing the bra for almost a year until i finally said ok! I love the way this bra makes me look! But not the way it makes me feel! The only problem is thats the only place i can get good bras in my size 38DDD. So i switched to their. Unlined bras with only lace! & viola just like that the itching slowly started to subside. I still have some itching but not nearly as bad. I worried about my breast now that i know its formaldehyde!! They should be sued for ignoring us! I left the company because they are very dishonest & corrupt do i am not actually supprised! But i still liked their products! Something needs to be ddone! Class action suite?

      • Hi B.L., a class action suit would be great, but so far no lawyer has stepped up to take the case. I have a blog, http://www.debradeangelo.com, and there are scores of women (and the horror stories keep coming in) who report severe breast rashes, like yours – and yet, VS looks the other way. Have you tried Soma? They carry those sizes, I believe. Also Avenue – I have tried their bras, and they are marginal. Poorly made. But… no itching. If you are a VS customer, nothing else compares – but the discomfort of the rash isn’t worth it.
        Thanks for letting me know about your unfortunate experience, and hope it’s all cleared up! What a nightmare!

      • rosa liborio

      • June 25, 2015 at 10:23 pm
      • Reply

      Same thing happened to me about three weeks ago. It was so itchy, hot, and painful that I couldn’t help but to worry and went to my doctor. I took pics just in case to show my doctor. She ran lab tests and nothing came up. I kept wearing it, on and off, not knowing it was the bra until last week when it got so hot it looked like it was blistering. I did some research and sure enough I saw others had the same problems. I emailed them to let them know what happened, and now they want to speak with me through the phone. So far I am still healing, or i don’t know if It’s going to leave a scar. It’s great you are doing this to informs others :).

      • I spoke with a VS representative on the phone yesterday. It actually went very well. This is my advice: Hang on to that bra, and put it in a baggie, in the event that you need to test it. Also, ask your doctor for a patch allergy test to see what you are reacting to. And… don’t wear that bra again! I found that washing the bra had no effect… I became so allergic I would start to itch immediately when I put it on and that was the clue that tipped me off… it’s the bra.

      • Ellie

      • July 1, 2015 at 8:57 am
      • Reply

      I spoke with VS (the corporate office) a couple days ago and they promised my money back for the bras if I return them. Can’t take them to the store b/c Managers will not give you the money back. So don’t throw your bras away ladies! I’m waiting to see if I actually get the money.

      • VS seems to be receptive to solving this issue quietly. I spoke with some of their reps last week, and they were actually quite nice. We discussed a “win-win” angle to take on this issue, so I’ll be writing about it again. I unfortunately threw my bra away before I started googling the issue. Wish I’d saved it!

      • Gillian

      • October 2, 2015 at 11:00 am
      • Reply

      I have never had a rash like this before! Burning, itching, red patches, raised slightly all around the bra cup area. I bought bras at Soma and wore them occasionally. No problem at first. Rash appeared after wearing one while on vacation. No problem up until then. I stopped wearing the bras at that point. After about 4 weeks the rash was practically gone. Did not go to the doctor but used Burt’s Bees Baby Bee lotion (Helped some). I had stopped wearing the bras thinking they could be the culprit. Just wasn’t sure. Then I wore one the other evening out to dinner and the next day found the same horrible rash again. Really bad today. Worse than the first time. I’m sure it has to be the Soma bras now.

      • Wow, I haven’t heard of this in Soma bras. I guess it is the bra industry that’s using fabric with chemicals in it! How many women have to suffer before the government takes textile/chemical allergies seriously? I hope you save the bra and have it tested for chemicals, and please let me know how you’re doing and what the results say!

      • Kristina

      • October 17, 2015 at 11:44 am
      • Reply

      Gotta love the internet! Here I was looking for a solution to my recurring boob rash/itch and stumbled upon this website along with others related to VS formaldehyde bras. I’m so disgusted with how the USA allows its citizens to be poisoned from every angle. 🙁

      My VS bra is the lined, racerback bra with the lace band. I have a couple and don’t wear them every day, but now that my eyes have opened, I realize every time I do wear them I get the rash/itch that lasts for days and days. I will now always check clothing labels and never buy anything made in f’ing China again!

      • Hello Kristina! It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? VS will not admit that there is a problem, but so many women come to my blog (www.debradeangelo.com) STILL reporting they’re getting rashes… at some point, it seems like they will need to address the problem. Please see my current column on the breast rash issue on iPinion’s main page. Just click on “home”. And – you’ve stumbled upon the key indicator: every time you put the bra on, the rash comes roaring back. And – nothing cures the rash but about 2-3 weeks of not wearing the bra. And yes – avoid anything made in China whenever you can! (And it’s not easy!)

      • Colette Llorens

      • December 13, 2015 at 11:25 am
      • Reply

      Wow!! I have the same problem. Thought I had ringworm. It only happens with my newer bras, though. I wish there was something we could do. I have spent way too much money for bras I can never wear again.

      • Hi Colette – same with me. I wore the same style of bra for years without any issues. Then suddenly… BIG issues. I also thought maybe it was ringworm. But no… it was the bra. And you’re right – you can never wear them again. But I would put them in a baggie and save them as evidence.

      • Pam Lintz

      • December 14, 2015 at 9:22 am
      • Reply

      Debra, thank you and I’m glad I came across this. For 8 weeks now I have had a rash that no one can explain. My boyfriend found some reports about VS bras from 2008, but I thought “no it can’t be that”. However, when I wear them I feel worse, run a 101 fever, itch uncontrollably and forget sleeping. I have bagged them all, just in case and the panties too. I just bought them in August, so I’m wondering whether this is the cause. My doctor just did a topical biopsy and I should have the results this week (hopefully). What’s so frustrating is the money I spent not only on the bras, but now 4 doctors visits and tests to find out what’s going on. It’s painful and I haven’t slept much. Very concerned that the company would let this keep happening to people.

      • Hi Pam,
        It’s an exasperating thing, isn’t it. Good that you bagged all the items – that was my mistake. I threw them away, and THEN found out what the issue was. VS has taken the position that it’s not their fault if some people have allergies to trace chemicals in their fabric, and that since the vast majority don’t react, it’s not their problem. That said – I wonder how many women, like yourself, don’t report the problem to VS because they think they have a skin disease or ringworm or something and don’t make the connection. It took me several years to figure it out, because I have many bras.. and then I realized there was a pattern: the problem occurred with only two bras, and one in particular. The rash would come roaring back, and those two bras were the new ones.
        You can find a lot more comments on my personal blog: http://www.debradeangelo.com

      • Shannon

      • January 25, 2016 at 7:13 pm
      • Reply

      I need help filing a lawsuit against Victoria secret!!! This rash is nasty!!!

      • Hello Shannon, well, unfortunately, this isn’t a legal advice website! You really need to approach a lawyer if you want to sue. That said, I can tell you that VS will take the stance that they don’t put chemicals in their products (the fabric comes to them that way), and that the trace amounts that are there don’t cause a reaction in MOST people. I think the only angle you could take would be in their negligence to label their products as having trace amounts of chemicals. In other products that cause allergic reactions, such as peanuts or eggs, they are labeled and it is up to the consumer to be wary. So far, VS has refused to acknowledge this issue, and already defeated it once in court.
        So, the best thing I can tell you is to find a lawyer that specializes in consumer safety, and talk to him/her. Show him this blog, and also the ones on my personal website: http://www.debradeangelo.com.
        And PLEASE report back with what you find out!
        Good luck!

      • Rebecca

      • January 26, 2016 at 9:16 pm
      • Reply

      My daughter has had constant flaking and extremely itchy skin on her breasts for two years. We looked up allergies to bras today and found all this information. We’ll keep the evidence but I think a lot more people will still be coming forward with these problems.
      This reminds me of the recent Canadian story of the store chain called Ardene here that has decided to keep selling their necklaces made entirely of cadmium, a very toxic element. They don’t seem concerned that toddlers or children may put the necklaces in their mouths (cadmium is toxic when ingested and very harmful to young children). China has high internal controls for selling necklaces made of cadmium for their own people, but not for selling them to other countries.
      VS lacks a corporate conscience by not making any effort to even warn people — corporate greed. We used to shop there quite a bit but that’s not on anymore. I am concerned about the chemical load as more and more people have allergies and medical research is
      now looking at depression being a consequence of high allergy sensitivities for people who have had them since youth. Particularly those with hay fever/rhinitus.

      • “VS lacks a corporate conscience” – you hit the nail right on the head! They don’t CARE! And women just keep pouring in with this problem! Sadly, because no one dies from this, it’s unlikely that anything will be done about it. But – at least I can keep writing so women can rest at ease knowing they don’t have some horrible disease. All they need to do is stop wearing the bras.

      • Christina Garcia

      • February 13, 2016 at 5:24 am
      • Reply

      Hello. I just recently discovered it was my bra as well. Ive had it for over a month now. For a week its started to get better. Only because i didnt wear a particular bra. All my other bras are target brands. But i just recently bought a new bra from pink. And its only this one that when i wear it…. Its an unbearable itch . I went to the doctor last week on friday and they gave me hydrocortisone. They asked me if i switched laundry detergent , tried new body wash, lotion or a new bra. I couldve sworn it was none of these. I started taking in consideration of the “new bra” question. So i didnt wear that “one bra” for a week and the rash was still there…drying but no longer itchy. I wore the bra two days ago and it came back aggressively with an unbearable itch. Btw i always wash new undergarments before i use them. Im more at ease when i saw your post and that i wasnt the only one. Any luck finding out more info on this? Is it even worth to bring it up to my doctor? Thank you.

      • Hi Christina, I update information on this website and also my personal blog: debradeangelo.com. On my blog, there are lots of women reporting their problems with bras and rashes! Please feel free to join the conversation!

      • Britt

      • February 29, 2016 at 11:40 pm
      • Reply

      Is it possible to be allergic to other products they sell? I started getting skin issues a few years ago. It started with a small red patch on my face back in 2012. This followed my normally lush/smooth skin to become dryer, I started losing hair, the red patch on my face now is bigger and dry, I have chicken skin on my legs, butt, and arms, and my scalp is always flaking at dry. I tried several things and can’t figure anything out. I googled clothing allergy and seen this. I am curious now. I stopped wearing jeans basically all together around 2012. i wear almost nothing but yoga pants made by Victoria’s secret. The only other thing I did around this time was switch to paraben free body washes, lotions, and shampoos. I can’t imagine it being that.

      • Hello Britt – I imagine it’s possible to be allergic to most anything, particularly if you are highly sensitive. See if you notice a pattern in your reactions, and check the labels – are they all made in the same place? If possible, collect the things you react the most too, and see a dermatologist. Because you have a mix of symptoms, I’d definitely suggest seeing a dermatologist, and talk with him/her about allergies related to fabrics. Good luck, and please report back!

      • gelina

      • March 4, 2016 at 6:12 pm
      • Reply

      WHOA! i cant believe at the feedback im getting on my google search. I have been super red and blotchy on my breast for the last week. My cousin and I purchased our bras around the same time and we noticed the first time they were washed there was some kind of chemical smell but I didn’t think much of it. my cousin actually exchanged hers because the smell was much stronger and she couldn’t stand it. I’m just really concerned because i put on a non-vs bra and the itching subsided. a how do we look into a class action lawsuit because VS can keep getting away with this.

      • Well – welcome to the Itchy Sisters club. Sadly, until someone dies from this, I don’t think the government will do anything about it. A class action suit is difficult, because VS’s perspective is that WE are the ones with the chemical sensitivities, and that is not their problem. However, I feel that they should label their products for those of us who are sensitive, just as the note when things have peanuts or eggs for people who are allergic to those things. In the meantime, we can only fight back with our wallets and not buy the products.
        You will find many more comments on this issue on my personal blog, http://www.debradeangelo.com, and may be shocked to find out that you are not alone. VS also monitors my blog, and I’ve spoken with one of their reps, and they are well aware of the issue too. Sadly, they simply don’t care. They’re making a ton of money selling highly overpriced bras made from cheap Chinese chemical-infused fabric. So, unless someone dies – they just don’t care.

      • Kim Agostinacci

      • March 17, 2016 at 8:51 am
      • Reply

      I also have a problem with a horrible rash around my bra line. I have worn VS bras for a couple of years and this rash broke out late last year. I started wearing a sports bra until the rash cleared up. Once I went back to VS bras it started in again. My husband is the one that brought up the idea of the bra itself causing an issue. I switched to Soma and the rash is disappearing again! Unbelievable! And I have a lot invested in VS bras…. very sad! Please let me know what I can do!

      • Hello Kim,
        Sadly there isn’t much you can do but stop wearing the bra. Like you, I had scores of them, but I can’t wear my favorite staple, and can’t find an acceptable alternative. So… you are already doing what you can by not wearing the bra. It would help to contact Victoria’s Secret and tell them about your circumstances. They continue to deny and ignore, but it can’t hurt to keep the topic active. I’ll have to try Soma!

      • Michele

      • May 22, 2016 at 10:39 am
      • Reply

      Please add me to the list! I have had the unbearable itch also. At one time I had three circles under each breast that looked like ringworm. I stopped wearing the bra for a couple of months once I realized that it was coming from the bra. I recently washed it a few times thinking that that would clear it of whatever (because I love the way it fits/looks), but as soon as I took it off, the itching started up again! I was about to throw it out but thought that I would Google it. So glad that I did!! Thanks for making others aware of this problem.

      • Hello Michele, yes, welcome to the unfortunate club of itchy sisters! Glad you figured out what the problem is – now you’ll spot it immediately. Such a pity that VS won’t address this issue!

          • Michele

          • May 22, 2016 at 12:24 pm

          What should I do? Bag it and keep it or return it the store for a refund?

        • I would bag it and see if you can find a dermatologist who will analyze what chemicals are in it,and if you do – please report back!

      • Margelet

      • May 25, 2016 at 7:23 pm
      • Reply

      I too got a horrible rash! Tested for formadelhyde and my skin test came back positive. Now what!

      • Margelet

      • May 25, 2016 at 7:26 pm
      • Reply

      Have lots of photos of rash, bra, and allergy test stating I had reaction to formadelhyde. Where can I get bra tested?

      • Margelet

      • May 28, 2016 at 11:07 am
      • Reply

      Hi Debra I am going to check into that! This is awful.

      • Lennie

      • June 7, 2016 at 7:54 pm
      • Reply

      I believe I have been another unlucky customer to this whole allergic reaction. However I just bought underwear a couple of weeks ago and now I have a rash that is bumpy, peeling, bright red and almost a purple color on my bikini line. When I started googling it took me straight to textile contact dermatitis. I will be going to the doc in the next couple of weeks. I see military docs so not sure if they will be willing to do the allergy test patch. Any idea where I can get the undies tested? I definitely won’t be buying underwear there anymore. This rash is a nuisance especially with it being hot and humid.

      • Hi Lennie, I’m not sure where you can get the clothing tested. Get a referral to a dermatologist and start there. And yes – the rash is a nightmare!!

      • Cindy

      • July 10, 2016 at 9:58 am
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      I am writing this comment to say “oh my”. Thank you for writing this artcle Debra. My friend was telling me about some research she did since her daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer. In her research she found the complaint about Victoria Secrets (VS) bras possibly containing Formaldahyde. I then decided to research it myself and ran across your article. To my amazement, the situation wasn’t just for breast cancer, it was for rashes as well. Well, I then realized that a few years ago, I went to the doctors because of a rash on my breasts that itched like crazy. I had them check for cancer, which luckily I was cleared from having…whew. However since reading your article, I thought back and realized I had been wearin VS bras at that time. WOW. I kind of remember the medical technician asking me what brand of bra I wear, but didn’t think anything of it. I have not had that problem for a while but didn’t realize it could be because of the switch in bra manufacturer (Kohl’s had a great deal on bras so I had bought 4 at that time and have been wearing those ever since).

      I even stll have the VS bras I was wearing back then. Hmmmm. I don’t wear them anymore but I do still have them. Don’t ask me why I still have them, but I do…LOL

      • Isn’t it amazing that doctors aren’t even THINKING that these bizarre rashes could be caused by the bras? If you still have yours, you could have it tested to see what chemicals are in it.
        Although this is a frustrating situation, the good news is that you can get rid of the rash by not wearing the bras anymore. But – that is a bummer, when the bra is one you really like!
        Pity that VS neither acknowledges this issue, nor does anything to change it.


      • July 22, 2016 at 1:28 pm
      • Reply

      1 week ago I started to breakout. I have raw rash with hot itchy breast. Saw my MD he thought yeast rash I thought weird don’t eat much sugar but ok, used everything he suggested NO HELP!. Got on line and started seeing these posts and a aha moment bought 4 new bras at Victoria Sec. and 2 are from China! Have bagged the Bra’s and now have a appointment with a Dermatologist. How can this country do this to us? I am so mad!.

      • It’s the bras. 🙁
        Isn’t it frustrating? But the good news is that the cure is easy – just stop wearing them. If you are reacting to the bras, the rash should clear up in 2-3 weeks. Gold Bond powder was the only thing I found that alleviated the itching.
        Please report back with feedback from your dermatologist, and show him this column!

      • Lisa

      • July 31, 2016 at 11:27 am
      • Reply

      Hi Debra – I just developed this issue three days ago. My difference is this is my favourite bra that I have worn WITHOUT ISSUE for about 3 years, and the scathing rash just started suddenly on Friday. It is a clearly defined bra-shaped rash, right down to the small circular metal clasp between the cups. I am saving the bra and going to my doctor Tuesday, but I am wondering if this is an issue of perhaps the material (foam) breaking down over time? I’ve never heard of this rash issue before today, and can’t understand why my favourite bra has all of a sudden turned against me. It is a La Senza bra (same parent company as Victoria Secret) and was made in China. Have you heard of others who have had a sudden reaction to an older bra?

      • Hi Lisa,
        I can’t recall that situation specifically, but before you get the full blown rash – in my case – I got a weird paper-tissue-y texture on my nipples. They were very rough. The rash came later. I have heard people say the reacted immediately, but not so much later on. But – who knows? You make a good point – maybe washing the bra degrades the material and allows chemicals to seep into the skin? Great that you are going to your doctor, and please share my column with him. Very few doctors seem to be aware of this issue. Like… none of them. :/

      • Donna Freezon

      • February 22, 2017 at 10:32 am
      • Reply

      I to have a rash on a breast itches like crazy all I had were VS bras is there a pacific style or is it just all

      • It seems to be particular ones, but the fabric changes with each new batch, so the reactions change. But, you can learn to recognize the symptoms immediately and stop wearing the bra. You can find more comments on my blog: http://www.debradeangelo.com.

      • Deedee

      • March 4, 2017 at 1:58 pm
      • Reply

      Hello, My name is DeeDee, I’ve been wearing the VS Bombshell bra for a few years and was diagnosed with breast lymph nodes. Next Friday I will undergo a needle asprition biopsy. I have no history of cancer, I don’t drink or smoke. I had a mammogram 5 years ago with no signs of any issues!

      • Wow…. will you please return and tell me how you are doing? That is horrific. I am wondering if the fabric chemicals, over time, can cause cancer. 🙁
        I would be interested to know what your biopsy says. So sorry to hear you are going through this. My best wishes for a speedy recovery!

      • JC

      • March 8, 2017 at 7:11 pm
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      Hi. I’ve been diagnose with contact dermatitis aka eczema at 47 yrs old. I was googling rash on breast it ‘s been going on for me for the past 3 years. No previous history of eczema. Coincidentally i’ve been wearing VS bras for about that much length of time. I saw another post by a women with same issue as mine and also claims VS. Interesting. Honestly why the need of chemical!?

      • I have NO IDEA. Certainly it is cheaper to use a fabric as-is than it is to add a chemical. Glad you found out what the source of your rash is. You can test your theory by not wearing your VS bra until the rash is all clear, then put it back on. If the rash comes roaring back… it’s the bra. Luckily, the good news is that you can be free of this condition by never wearing VS bras again and learning to recognize when your skin is reacting to something in your clothing. Good luck!

      • Melody Starr

      • March 11, 2017 at 9:21 pm
      • Reply

      I have been having itchy breasts for years and even went to my doctor who never tested me and said I must be having a skin reaction to my detergent ::eye roll:: I started wearing VS bras around 2008 so this would explain my years of breast itching. While some itching episodes aren’t as worse as others, there’s always been one present when wearing their bras I am now realizing. As of recent (January 2017) I purchased two lace VS “PINK” brand bras “made in VIETNAM” (emphasizing this because it’s not China this time) and since the purchase I’ve been having the worst itch of my life. I just took the lace bra off because I could not sleep, I already feel less itching. I am very infuriated, I love the look of these bras but I won’t keep wearing them as 1) I’m pregnant and don’t want that exposed to my unborn child and 2) can’t stand the itching! Can I get my money back even though I no longer have the tags or receipt (I did pay with an angel card though)

      I know it may be wise to get the bras and my skin tested for formaldehyde done before returning the bras. Such a shame, what a crooked world we live in.

      • Hello Melody, I’m so sorry to hear you are suffering. This all sounds so familiar. I was also told at first that it myst be the laundry detergent or fabric softener, but – why didn’t ALL my clothes make me react? It took a long time before I could single out the bras. It sounds like although VS is manufacturing elsewhere, the fabric with the chemicals is likely still made in China. And now other women are reporting similar issues with other brands. And yes, this is all so infuriating, and the itching is unbearable. If you have a way to get the bras tested for chemicals, I would be REALLY interested to know the results. And yes, it’s a crooked world, and the only thing that matters is the profit margin. :/

      • Kim Fallon

      • March 24, 2017 at 7:30 pm
      • Reply

      My poor daughter is suffering from a horrible reaction to a bra purchased at Victoria Secret.it is red and raw and is the exact print as the bra.. just returned from doctor who said they have never seen anything this bad. Steroid shots, pills and topical..

      • Hello Kim. So sorry to hear your daughter is suffering. Most doctors don’t know about the contact allergic dermatitis reaction to the VS bras and, more recently, other brands as well. In my experience, shots, pills and topical treatments won’t help. The ONLY way to make the rash go away is to stop wearing the bra. I found Gold Bond Powder to alleviate the itching, but it will take a good 2-3 weeks for it to clear up. I feel so sorry for your daughter – I know exactly what she is going through!
        Going forward, the only way to remedy this situation is to recognize when she is reacting to fabric and then stop wearing that item.
        Good luck and healing to your daughter!

      • Tawnie Barrette

      • May 16, 2017 at 1:50 pm
      • Reply

      I have been experiencing a mystery itchy rash for a week now! It goes away at night and rages during the day (when I’m wearing a bra). Of course ALL my bras are VS. And I checked them, and they are all made in China (oldest ones I have that I rarely wear are maybe 7-8 years old, others were bought in last 2 years)! I’m totally freaked out now.Reference

      • No need to freak out… it’s the bra! But it is a bummer.
        Please see your doctor to confirm a “contact dermatitis” diagnosis and then… you will need to go bra shopping. The only cure is to stop wearing the bras.

    • […] have tried to do something about it – Victoria’s Secret faced a lawsuit after over 600 customers became ‘utterly, utterly sick’ from one of […]

      • Carol Kruger

      • March 6, 2018 at 9:49 am
      • Reply

      Hi, I’m in Canada and I am experiencing the same rash on my breasts from bras bought at La Senza which I believe is a Canadian company. Luckily I figured it out after wearing the bra a few times. I wrote the company and I am waiting a reply.

      • Hello Carol,
        I am not surprised. The chemicals are in the fabric, and I imagine that more companies than just Victoria’s Secret are using Chinese-made fabric. 🙁

      • Teresa

      • October 3, 2018 at 7:34 pm
      • Reply

      I’ve had rashes for years!! No idea that it might be the VS bras! Today, mine exploded! At first, I thought I was sweating for some unexplained reason! I’m worried now about the years of exposure to potentially harmful ingredients and fabrics

        • Debra DeAngelo

        • October 6, 2018 at 9:01 am
        • Reply

        Hello Teresa,
        That is the larger worry… what exactly are we absorbing through our skin? If you react to the chemicals, you are amongst the lucky ones. Those who don’t react continue to absorb all that stuff… I have to wonder about the chemical load… what is the cumulative tipping point before we get cancer???

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