Cotton Bras: Pros and Cons

When it comes to natural material for clothing, cotton is an extremely versatile fibre that people have been spinning into fabric for thousands of years. It’s well suited to clothes - and underwear in particular - but are cotton bras the best choice when compared with other, more modern materials?

There are many advantages of cotton, but there are also times when cotton is not the most suitable choice of material. In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of cotton bras to help you decide if they’re the choice for you.

Why Cotton Bras?

Cotton is one of the world’s biggest agricultural crops, thanks to its versatility and wide range of uses. When the cotton plant is picked, its fibres can be spun into thread which, when woven, creates material that is light, breathable and comfortable to wear - which is why it’s a great choice for clothing and undergarments like bras.

Is Cotton Sustainable?

Cotton CAN be sustainable, yes - but it depends on how it is grown and harvested. If sustainability is something you consider when buying clothes, it’s important to pay attention to the origin of the products you select. If you purchase products that are fashioned from certified organic cotton, it’s a much more sustainable option than non-organic cotton.

What Is Organic Cotton?

To classify as organic cotton, the material must be grown in a truly sustainable way. This means protecting the environment the cotton is grown on - for example, no fertilisers or chemical pesticides can be used, and soil erosion must be minimised.

It also means providing a fair wage and good working conditions to the people who harvest and process the cotton. Another key fact is that organic cotton uses far less water to produce than ordinary cotton - this is really important, as one of the main environmental issues with cotton production is the huge volume of water the processes take.

Cotton Bras: What Are The Benefits?

There are lots of reasons why cotton is a frequently used material when it comes to bras. Here are some of the benefits of a cotton bra:


The structure of the fibres makes the finished cotton material very strong and durable, important characteristics for a garment that is used regularly, like underwear. Due to this durability, cotton can not only be worn regularly without deterioration, but also be washed many times while staying in good condition. This resilience makes it perfectly suited to regularly washed garments such as bras.

Easy to Look After

Cotton is a naturally grown material and compared to other fibres that hail from the natural world, like wool or silk, cotton is best suited for bras - as mentioned, it is strong and durable, but along with this, it is easy to look after, is cost-effective and doesn’t need any special maintenance.

Cotton Bras Are Comfortable and Hypoallergenic

Cotton is soft and comfortable to wear directly against the skin and is therefore a natural choice to use for garments worn close to the body, such as bras and knickers.

Cotton Bras Keep You Cool

One of the biggest advantages of cotton is its breathability. The fibres dissipate and wick warmth from the body, meaning that cotton simply feels cooler than most other materials. If you’re wearing a T-shirt over a cotton bra, your skin will easily be able to breathe through both garments and you’ll feel much cooler.

Cotton bras also help you stay fresh for longer by reducing sweat and therefore reducing activity of the odour-causing bacteria that break your sweat down into acids. Cotton is breathable and dries more quickly than synthetic fabric, keeping you fresh and clean all day long.

Cotton Bras: What Are The Drawbacks?

Cotton is Porous

While cotton is breathable and helps you stay cool as described above, it is porous and therefore if there is an excessive amount of sweat that accumulates more quickly than can evaporate, it can be retained in the garment. It’s worth taking into consideration if you suffer from excessive sweating.

Environmental Impact

One of the biggest disadvantages of cotton is that it requires a lot of water to cultivate (even organic cotton, which does use less water) which increases its environmental impact. However, it could also be argued that, conversely, because cotton is so durable, cotton bras last for many years, which reduces consumption and is in turn better for the environment in the longer term.

Lack of Support

Cotton bras may not provide optimal support and shape, especially in bigger cup sizes. It may be more advantageous to have fabrics that can be moulded for better support and shape.

Alternatives To Cotton Bras

There are lots of alternatives to cotton bras. Compared to synthetic fibres, cotton is not very stretchable or elastic (a material’s ability to return to its original shape after being stretched). That’s why pure cotton isn’t used for all the parts of a bra. Non-cotton bras can be extremely soft and comfortable - the underwear industry has advanced a lot in recent decades in terms of material and manufacture.

For example, this underwear collection from Cosabella features a bra crafted from handpicked, delicate lace and mesh which is both beautiful to look at and comfortable to wear.

Modal Fabric

Modal fabric is one of the more recent additions to the women's underwear market. This fabric is made from cellulose that comes from beech trees, making it a natural and sustainable option. Modal fabric is incredibly soft and smooth, making it comfortable to wear all day long. It's also highly absorbent, which means it will keep you dry and fresh. Modal fabric is even highly resistant to shrinkage and fading, which means your bras will look and feel great for a long time.


Another popular synthetic fibre used in bras is polyamide. It is one of the strongest raw textile fibres, even when wet, and is more elastic than natural fibres. It’s easy to look after, rarely creases and doesn’t burl (imperfections created during the spinning process) unlike polyester and cotton. It feels soft against the skin, is breathable and has good resistance against moisture and sebum. It is more resistant to moisture than polyester but takes longer to dry. A mixture of polyamide and elastane is very popular in underwear for its soft and elastic feel.

Bras Made from Mixed Materials

There are many advantages to mixing different textile fibres in one material. Mixing polyester fibres with cotton, for example, creates a material that has better elasticity, holds its shape and colour better and shrinks less than 100% cotton. It is also less prone to burling (fabric imperfections) than pure polyester. A bra needs to have a band that is very elastic and doesn’t lose its shape when it wears out. That’s why there’s elastane in most materials that are used for bands.

100% Cotton Bras For Sensitive Skin

It can be difficult to find a bra that’s made of 100% cotton. When determining the composition of a garment, all the different textiles used to create it are counted, including padding, embroidery, lace, shoulder straps, underwire, etc. However there are primarily cotton bras available, for example this organic cotton underwired bra - it is crafted from 93% OCS-certified organic cotton with 7% elastane for comfort and elasticity.

When it comes to choosing material for bras, it's important to consider the type of fabric you're wearing. Cotton is soft, durable and breathable, but there are other synthetic materials that last even longer. Polyester is strong and easy to care for, but it can be rough against your skin.

Modal fabric is soft, smooth, absorbent, and sustainable. Whatever you decide is right for you, there are plenty of choices available in terms of fabrics and styles.

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