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    • Debra DeAngelo

    • July 10, 2015 in Columnists

    Victoria’s Secret responds to breast rash issue

    Those of you who’ve been following my sad saga of breast rashes triggered by Victoria’s Secret bras will be pleased to know that VS is apparently, finally, listening. One of their reps contacted me recently, requesting a phone conference. Sure. Let’s chat.

    When the conference started, I was crouched in tiger-by-the-tail mode, but turns out, I never had to flash my claws. It was a pleasant, civil conversation that ended on a note of “let’s find a win-win for everybody.”

    People. How often in life does that happen? Like… never? Maybe the VS rep and I should head for the U.N. and take on world peace.

    For those of you arriving late to this party, I’ve been writing for a couple years about a severe breast rash that was triggered by a particular VS bra. That makes the investigation into the cause very tricky because it’s not all the bras. Only certain ones. One random day, I googled “Victoria’s Secret breast rash.” Bingo: an ABC report on formaldehyde detected in VS bras made in China.

    Since my first “Boob Blog,” as I’ve come to call it, testaments streamed in from women who had the exact same experience: nipples turning rough like sandpaper and tissue-like, and horrific breast rashes that itch irresistibly like poison oak. We scratch furiously, helplessly, and the skin gets bruised and broken. And then… not realizing the cause… we put the bra back on over broken skin. The result is hideous. Let’s just say ain’t nobody gonna motorboat that.

    Although these affected women are angry and dismayed over what happened to them, most say the same thing: They still want their VS bras back. None, including myself, have found an acceptable substitute. You can find comfortable bras that are ugly and matronly, or sexy bras that are uncomfortable and flimsy, but nothing that compares to VS. That’s product loyalty, people.

    Some of the women got fired up and wanted a class action lawsuit against VS. I entertained that thought myself, but ultimately realized that this approach won’t make anyone happy, except for the lawyers, the perpetually ravenous bottom-feeders of humanity. They’re essentially prostitutes with law degrees — they’ll blow anybody for anything for a buck. Well, lots and lots of bucks.

    Even if a lawsuit against VS was successful, what would my sister VS loyalists and I gain from a settlement? About $11.75 apiece, maybe. Meanwhile, the bottom-feeders are fat and happy, their bellies full of the barracuda’s share of the settlement. All us gals would get out of it would be a little pocket change that wouldn’t even buy a pizza. And: We still wouldn’t have bras we like.

    But here’s the other overarching issue that turned me off to a lawsuit: Those of us who react so violently to whatever is in those bras are like those with severe peanut allergies, who could die from eating a drop of peanut butter. From kissing someone who ate a drop of peanut butter, even. It’s not VS’s fault that we’re highly allergic. Nor is it ours, but we must take responsibility for being vigilant about things that trigger the allergy. That said, it would be awesome if garment manufacturers labeled products containing trace amounts of chemicals (like formaldehyde) that are known allergens, just like they do with products containing nuts or eggs. But, until someone dies from a breast rash, it probably won’t happen.

    So, what can we do. While maintaining innocence about trace chemicals in their bras, the VS rep recommended getting a skin patch test to find out what I react to, report back, and then they’ll guide me toward a product that won’t make my breasts so angry. OK, sure. I’ll play along, because ultimately, that’s what I want: a VS bra I can wear without agony.

    That was her pitch to me, and this was my pitch her: This breast rash issue is a golden gift in disguise. It’s an opportunity to corner the market in an untapped field and make a gazillion dollars. Let’s face it, I told her, VS has played out “sexy.” They’re at the end of the line. There’s nowhere to go, no possible skimpier lingerie, except maybe rhinestone encrusted buttplugs and matching nipple caps. VS sales are reportedly sagging, so why keep pounding on that dead horse. There’s a nice fresh horse under your nose, and its name is Comfy.


    Seriously. Who would put their boobs in this hideous thing? It’s an insult to boobage everywhere. This hypoallergenic bra sells for $55.75 at herroom.com. For the same price, I’m certain Victoria’s Secret can do better.

    Comfort is the new sexy. (As long as it still looks sexy, of course.) VS should develop a new line of sexy, comfy hypoallergenic bras. It’s an open market. Google “hypoallergenic bras” and you’ll see bras so heinous, an Amish girl wouldn’t wear them. VS should design some all-cotton (or all-hemp!) 100 percent organic bras, and better yet, make them in the good old USofA. There’s even a built-in test group — all the women commenting on my blog. If they don’t react to the product line, you’re golden.

    VS, trust me, you’ll make billions off this new “Barely Me” (trademark: me) line. Take a stroll through a Whole Foods and observe how much more money consumers are willing to pay for organic anything. Slap on a green and white USDA symbol and it’s an instant 10 percent markup. You could even be really cheeky and recreate the symbol: VSDA.

    How cute is that.

    Next, I rattled off several potential product slogans to the VS rep: “How sexy feels”… “Sexy is as sexy feels”… “Contents 100% organic.”

    I can spray this stuff out like a sprinkler set on “genius.” (For the love of God, somebody give me a marketing job.)

    The rep chucked and said, “Stop! Don’t tell me anything more! If we use them, you’ll say we stole your idea and sue us!”

    And I replied, “Oh, I totally will!”

    But not for the rash issue. Maybe if I keep my claws retracted, we’ll see a new line of comfy, sexy hypoallergenic VS bras. And, I’ll get a lot farther on that fat compensation check than I would on $11.75.

      • Madgew

      • July 10, 2015 at 2:46 pm
      • Reply

      Suggest they pay for your patch test and them free bras for life.

      • Maya Spier Stiles North

      • July 10, 2015 at 5:43 pm
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      I actually liked the bra you so thoroughly despised 😉 But then, I’m about as sexy as a grape — my boobs gave up years ago. They crouch and lurk inside of sexy bras as if to say “this is our fortress and nobody will ever know twe are here. Desolating about the formaldehyde — what the hell process would use that anyway??? Makes me itch in sympathy!!! 🙁

      • Egads… I would rather go naked than wear that horrible rag!!!! My breasts would walk off my chest in protest! The formaldehyde… the fabric is manufactured in China. God knows what else is in there, up to and including ground up girl babies thrown from cliffs. Everything that comes from China seems to have some poison or another.

      • Jesse Loren

      • July 16, 2015 at 5:05 pm
      • Reply

      I like the bra more than ground up baby girls from China. I did order 2 bras from VS recently. One fits like a glove and my boobs look served up high and tight. Also, not very comfortable. I got used to the uglier, not as much support, cheaper department store bras. Getting my big boobs back into hoist mode is like training yourself to wear a corset after 40 years without it. Ugh. Anyway, I think the bra should have a label of what chemicals were used in the process and what trace chemicals it could still contain. Who knows if cancer is fed by these things? No thanks.

      • EXACTLY. Who knows what sort of carcinogens may or may be in there? China has absolutely ZERO interest in making products that won’t harm people or animals. They merely want to churn out mountains of stuff quickly and rake in the cash.
        Good luck training those puppies!

      • Jennifer

      • January 1, 2018 at 4:52 pm
      • Reply

      I purchased 4 new bras from VS and developed a rash on my back that drove me crazy. Then a few days later my nipples are sore I’m in so much pain. On a whim I googled allergeric reaction from VS and I found you. It’s 10 years since the company knows what is my next step. This should of never happened to me

      • It shouldn’t happen to ANYONE! But VS refuses to acknowledge the problem (however, will quite willingly take the bras back) AND they are aware that the problem exists. They just don’t care because, relative to their overall sales, those of us with the allergy are very few in number. We aren’t WORTH the effort to fix the problem. That right there should be enough to persuade you never to buy their products again.

      • Nony Mouse

      • March 11, 2018 at 9:26 pm
      • Reply

      My wife has been having a major itching and irritation on her nipples for a few weeks now. I said let me see one of your Victorias Secret bras (Bombshell style) – first thing I did was smell the bra. I could immediately smell strong chemicals, like the ones that I always smell on Chinese plastics like on cheap tools or things that come shipped in a box made of various unknown foreign components. I cannot believe that any company would put dangerous products out there to put directly on a woman’s skin. This is not an allergy, certain chemicals are hazardous to humans. This is like saying, “Oh, I’m sorry customer, it looks like you have a rare allergy to cyanide.” Give me a break – formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. A class action suit would at least bring some awareness up and protect women & punish VS in their wallet. The only thing that companies seem to care about in this day and age anymore is MONEY. We have to hurt them in the pocket book these days because they don’t look out for us anymore do they? You would think they’d want to put out a quality product, not endanger peoples health.
      This needs to stop, its March 2018 and they’re still doing it. Time to SUE THEM

      • Hello Nony, it is an allergy in the sense that not everyone reacts to the harmful chemicals. However, those who don’t react are going to expose themselves even more.
        A lawsuit was attempted in years past, but it was only one woman, and the VS lawyers crushed her. VS has VERY deep pockets. However, if enough women were involved and the situation attracted the right lawyers, there might be something there. With all the times I’ve written about this, no lawyers have ever shown any interest.
        If you visit my blog, http://www.debradeangelo.com, and search “Victoria’s Secret” you will find scores of women who are STILL having reactions to VS products. So, there is no shortage of women to speak up.

      • Nony Mouse

      • March 12, 2018 at 11:19 am
      • Reply

      Good to know. I’m so glad that you care enough to have put effort into doing something about it! Just imagine how many women secretly don’t know what is wrong with their boobs and think it’s something else in their diet or that they’ve done or who knows what? So thanks for being an activist in the way that you are. I know a few attorneys and I’m going to talk to them about this. Time for a Victoria’s Secret hashtag me-too movement

      • Oh my gosh… so many women thought they had cancer or Paget’s Disease… never even IMAGINING that… it’s the bra!
        Please let me know if you find an attorney who is interested. On my blog, you will see that there are a LOT of women who would get on board!

      • Kelly Rodriguez

      • March 18, 2018 at 7:33 am
      • Reply

      I have had an itchy, reoccurring boob rash for the last 6 months, exactly like you describe. I have had a skin patch test and it detected I am allergic to Bronopol, which is a formaldehyde releasing chemical. I have put away the bras made in China… but the issue continues… Next step is to try an organic bra washed in water only to see if it works. Please keep me in the loop if you find anything new…

      • Hello Kelly… wow, so there is a chemical that RELEASES formaldehyde! That is really interesting! No wonder VS can get away with saying they don’t have formaldehyde in their products… but there is a chemical that releases it!
        I have had no luck finding an organic bra that isn’t too ugly to wear. Please check my blog, http://www.debradeangelo.com, and you will find a lot of women following this issue! You are not alone!

      • Lilian

      • September 10, 2018 at 10:46 am
      • Reply

      I’ve been having horrible itching for the past three months, visited my GP, a breast surgeon and a dermatologist without detecting the cause. I’ve taken anti-histamine pills and put hydrocortisone cream to soothe the itch. Some days are so bad…And the frustration of not knowing the cause is just so annoying. I have been planning to schedule a skin patch test, and now I came across your blog. I bought two bras from VS around the same time the rush started. I am so UPSET that VS has known about this and has done nothing about it! SHAME on them.

      • Isn’t it CRAZY that this has been going on for years, and the medical community is completely unaware of it, AND VS continues to sell bras made with chemically laced fabric! Yes! Shame on them!
        There are TONS of comments from affected women on my blog – I welcome you to join the conversation!

      • Tiffany Robertson

      • January 17, 2019 at 8:04 pm
      • Reply

      Wow!!! I have notice that every time I put on my VS bra I would get a rash and itch like crazy. Well I switched bras and I decided yesterday to try it again and dang if i didn’t break out again.. I have really bad anxiety and panic attacks, so I automatically googled itching breast. Ha.. I should no better than to google that kind of stuff lol. I was so nervous thinking I had breast cancer or pagets!!! Something told me to look up vs bras making others itch!!! Im beyond glad I found this site. Now i can actually stop my panicking!! Lol.

      • Hello Tiffany… you can relax now! It sounds like you have correctly self-diagnosed your allergy. HOWEVER… it is best to see your doctor and have all this documented. In the meantime, the only solution to the problem is to stop wearing the item that causes the reaction.

        Hope you are feeling better soon!

      • Nikki

      • January 31, 2019 at 10:25 pm
      • Reply

      I am 35 and I have worn VS bras for more than half my life… never had an issue. For the last few years, I was obsessed with the Incredible line that was discontinued, brought back, then ultimately discontinued again. Since I could not replace like for like, I wore the Incredibles until Rhett couldn’t be worn anymore. About 6 months ago, I finally had to suck it up and go into a VS to try on new styles and figure out what I could replace my bras with. I got the Summer Angel and really liked the fit. In fact, I ordered a second one online just a week after the purchase. However, throughout the summer, I developed tiny little blisters on my breasts. Thought nothing of it since it had been so I hot, I assumed they were heat blisters. My nipples would be sore off and on, but I assumed it had to do with hormones. But the worst part was the itching feeling under my breasts, where the underwire rests. Every day, I itch. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night itchy, when I’m not even wearing the bra. Finally, I asked a fellow large chested friend yesterday of she’s ever had such issues, and she mentioned reading an article about it. Hence, I found this site.

      While I’m definitely going to have to reevaluate my loyalty to VS, I will certainly be reaching out to at least get my existing bras replaced with something else. I hope other styles don’t/ won’t have the same chemicals.

      • Hello, Nikki. Well, unfortunately, it sounds as if you have “contact allergic dermatitis” to whatever chemical is in the bra fabric. You should have your doctor check you out to confirm/deny this, and have your condition documented. Now that you know what the symptoms look like, sadly, the only option is to not wear the item that caused it. Washing won’t help, and in my experience, repeated exposure only makes it worse.

      • Lori

      • February 6, 2019 at 2:32 pm
      • Reply

      In August I purchases four Victoria Secret bras and soon after wearing them I developed a rash, or loriamakes since now that the rash is coming from the bras.

      • Hello Lori, it would be best if you see your doctor and have your condition documented. And, sadly, you cannot wear those bras anymore.

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