What Causes Bra Bulge (And What Bras Fix It)?

Close up of a woman's back wearing a pink bra

When you hear the terms “back bulge” or “bra bulge” do images of sexy curves and comfortably fitting bras come to mind? Probably not. This occurs in the most unfortunate of places: under your arms, at your shoulders, alongside your back, and sometimes even as smaller set of secondary boobs at your bust line. So what causes bra bulge?

​What Causes Bra Bulge?

Bra bulge can be caused by a number of factors, including consuming more calories than you're burning and not exercising. ​

Sadly, most of your search queries to try and remove the bulge point to a myriad of fixes. There are upper body exercises, dieting tips, and constrictive, straight jacket-like pieces reminiscent of stuffing the Michelin Man into a tight leotard. Not cute!

Aren't there any other answers out there to help solve this stress-inducing problem? Well, here's a little secret to share with you that might just change your whole outlook:

Outside of diet and exercise, another main culprit for what causes bra bulge lies within the fit of your bra!

​Glory Hallelujah!! Just the answer you can get behind and fix, pronto! Let's explore some of the factors that cause bra bulge to better understand how to prevent and fix this unwanted look.

Close up of a woman's chest wearing a pink lacy bra with a ribbon in the middle

​Poor Diet

A major cause for that unwanted bra bulge can be if you eat more calories than you burn. When your body has extra calories, they are converted into fat. While this fat does not solely target your upper body, you might easily notice it as you put on a bra and bulge occurs.

Eating too many carbohydrates can often be the culprit behind excess fat. While bread, pasta, and processed sugars may be delicious, be aware of how much you consume if you’re trying to keep the bulge away!

​Lack of Exercise

Even if you don’t eat terribly, if you don’t regularly workout, it’s easy for fat to become more visible on your body. If you have a relatively sedentary lifestyle (such as working long hours sitting at a desk all day), it’s important to make a conscious effort to get up and move!

​Incorrect Bra

Most of the information on the internet pertaining to back fat will point to certain body types and dietary choices as the sole root of the problem. However, this is by no means an exhaustive list. 

In fact, here is a statistic that might shock you. Did you know over 80% of women are actually not wearing the right fitting bra?​ This being true, it is no wonder another, more likely factor for bra bulge occurs because you are simply not wearing the correct bra.

​How to Know You're Wearing the Wrong Bra

This might lead you to the next natural question. How exactly do you know if you are not wearing the right bra? We'll walk through some bra fitting problems and solutions to fix them!

Close up of a woman's back wearing a pink bra

​Check the Band Fit

The elastic band of your bra should fit comfortably against your ribcage and sit on your sternum (the little divot on your chest where your ribs come to a v.) If too tight, the band will cause the skin around your bra to push to the sides.

This can be a common problem especially for strapless bras that completely rely on the band to support your breasts.

When this happens, it creates the appearance of (or accentuates existing) back fat. On the other hand, if the band is too loose, the band will slide up. The friction of the band pulling upwards will tug on the skin and create the same unwanted ripple effect.

​Check the Cup Size

​Another indicator of an ill-fitting bra can occur with an incorrect cup size. If the fabric of the cup pinches or cuts into your boobs, then your cup size is too small.

Alternatively, gapping or creasing bra cups are an indication that your cup size is too large. This occurs with bras like plunge bras that bring your breasts together, pressing in to your chest and eventually causing your back fat to bulge out of the bands.

To over compensate, you might tighten the band or straps to flatten the cup gap, thus compounding the issue.

Take a Look at Your Bra Style

​There are many styles of bras to accommodate the wide variety of women's shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, this is where a lot of confusion occurs. If your bra's underwire cuts into your sides/armpit area, it will cause an unnecessary bra bulge. 

Additionally, if thinner bands and​ or digging into your sides /shoulders and creating bra bulge, you are also likely wearing the wrong style bra for your boob type.

​Check How the Straps Fit

​Your straps should sit comfortably on top of your shoulders, not dig into them. Your bra band is responsible for supporting your boobs, not your straps. Unfortunately, many women get this backwards. 

When you incorrectly tighten bra straps, it causes the bra band to ride up your back. The straps then pull the skin, creating a rippling effect, which is seen as back fat. If they're too loose and the straps keep slipping while the band is on tight, then it's just a matter of incorrect sizing or bra type.

​Related: How to Keep Bra Straps From Showing

​Solutions: How to Fix Bra Bulge?

​Now that we have covered what might be causing the bulge, how do you fix this obnoxious issue? Are there bras that eliminate back bulge and bras that minimize back fat? Are there additional things outside of your bra choices that can help to reduce unwanted bumps, lumps, and ripples?

The good news is, YES! There are a wide variety of ways to help get your confidence back and into whatever outfit you want to wear.

​Related: How to Tape your Breasts for a Deep Dress

Woman with her back to a glass wall wearing a black bra and black underwear

While you may wish that removing bulge could be as simple as Photoshopping it out, this way of thinking is simply not helpful! It is much more effective and helpful to learn how to work with your own individual body type, shape, and size. Here are a few solutions which can help get you back out there strutting your beautiful, curvy self.

​Refine Your Diet

​As we mentioned above, excess carbs are not your friend! While you don’t need to necessarily cut them completely from your diet, be mindful of how many you’re having throughout the day. 

​Also, try to reduce any binge snacking you do throughout the day. Unless you’re being very conscious of how much snacking you’re doing, a “few” chips suddenly turns into a semi-meal replacement. Try planning out your snacks ahead of time and placing the correct proportions into a bag or bowl. This way, you can’t overindulge.

​Get a Bra that Fits Properly

​As identified above, both an incorrect cup and band size are the two biggest culprits for an ill-fitting bra. Remember the statistic shared earlier that over 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra? This definitely means it is time to check-in and see if you fall into the majority.

If it's your first time wearing a bra, try to get yourself professionally fitted to make sure you get the ​perfect size. Whatever you do, here are 2 easy ways to get it right:

​Find the Correct Band Size

​Clasp your bra on its loosest enclosure and then do a bra finger test. If you cannot fit any fingers underneath the band, your band size is too small. If you can fit more than two fingers under your band, it is too loose. Your aim should be for a two-finger fit at max. Additionally, the band should sit horizontally and flush against your skin.

​Get the Correct Cup Size

​Rule of thumb is to ensure that your cup feels supportive and like second skin. Your cups should be cradling your girls and lying flat across your breasts. There should not be any gapping, rippling, or pinching. Additionally, any underwire should be sitting underneath your breast and against your chest, not on top of the breast themselves.

​Bras that Eliminate or Reduce Bra Bulge

After getting the right size bra, there are additional ways to help reduce bra bulge. It's time to learn about choosing the right style of bra for you! This can be done by taking into account not only your breast size and chest circumference, but also by finding your specific boob type.

Simply put, certain styles will be better suited for your unique boob shape. From a bra that closes in the front to the best push up bra to hide back fat, there are some different styles to look for. These styles will work with you, not against you. Here are some top contenders to consider when “fighting the bulge."

Front Closure Bras

​Front closure bras are great for a wide variety of boob types as they have a clasp in the front by your breastplate. This style allows for the smoothest of back profiles since there is an absence of hooks or eye closures in the back.

Additionally, with the clasp in the front, it can reduce any horizontal pulling occurring on your backside. This can minimize the likelihood for bumps or scrunching of bra fabric. Bras that most commonly have front closures are the push up types, but it can also be seen in sticky bras.

Related: ​The Best Front Clasping Sports Bra

​Wide Straps and Wide Band

For my ladies with bigger boobs or for those seeking the style with maximum smoothing effect, these will be among your favorites! Wide straps allow the bra to sit correctly on your ribcage, lending support but not digging into your poor shoulders.

Girl with her back to the camera wearing a green back smoothing bra

​Source: orlinas.com

Wide bands styles will give the best support and offer maximum smoothing features. The wider the band the more built-in support.

Additionally, wider bands feature more supportive, slimming fabric as well as more hook and eye closures to further smooth and flatten.

Lastly, many wide bands also have side boning which helps shape and flatten around your sides and underarms. You can consider getting a minimizer bra for this effect.

A well-made bra with wider straps and bands naturally helps to flatten you out a bit.

​Partial Underwire or Demi Bras

​For those with wider set and/or smaller boobs, look for partial underwire or demi styles. Most demi cup bras have a partial tilt to them which helps guide the breast tissue towards your centerline.

When this happens, it gently pulls from your sides, flattening out any bulge, while giving you the padding you need.

For wider set boobs, full underwire will usually push up, digging into the armpit area and create the appearance of armpit fat. No thank you! Instead, opt for a partial underwire bra (or even a bra with no underwire!) to reduce the digging.

​Remember to Exercise

No matter if you are petite or plus size, young adult or post-menopausal, everyone carries weight differently in their bodies. Additionally, weight and skin elasticity does change over time.

While the above bra solutions will likely be a major help in reducing unwanted back fat, it may not be the cure-all for entire elimination. This is where targeted exercise can help to tone and tighten these specific problem areas.

Woman in a gray sports bra and gray leggingsis standing infront of a white wall

​Types of Exercise to Focus on

​Rowing, lateral raises, tricep presses, and planks are just ​a few targeted exercises that can help with muscle tone and smoothing the underlying fascia. Above all, exercise can do wonders all around for your self-esteem and psyche!

Tip: Exercising and eating a healthy diet are always fool proof ways to boost your body confidence. Just make sure you check with your healthcare provider for the best types of exercises and dietary choices for you and your health before starting any new routines.

​Conclusion

By digger deeper into the root causes for bra bulge, you can see that proper exercise and diet are not the only ways to reduce bra bulge and back fat. Wearing the right size and style of bra is another solution to this pesky bulge issue.

Ladies, do your research on your boob shape. Then, follow the above steps to ensure you are wearing the correct bra for your size and shape. Finally, make sure you try out a wide variety of styles available, ensuring the style bra you are wearing is correct for your boobs.

By doing this, you are taking all the proper steps to eliminate bra bulge. You are now armed with all the knowledge on what causes bra bulge AND the kinds of bras you can wear to help eliminate it! Now, step back into that dressing room, get that tight-fitting dress on!

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