Whether you have larger breasts or smaller ones, we will all experience sagging and a reduction in volume as we age. As with all things skin related, prevention is better than cure. The skin on your breasts can be as delicate as your facial skin. Bottom line, the “girls” need to be pampered to keep them in good condition.
Wear bras that fit properly, use SPF when you are out in the sun, massage them with lovely oils and when you give yourself a facial, give them one too! Be as nice to your breasts as you are to your face.
Please note: You should consult your doctor before taking any supplements or using oils and lotions that affect estrogen levels. ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE PREGNANT.
What are breasts made of?
Breasts are a combination of mammary glands, fat and connective tissues (Cooper’s Ligaments) on top of the pectoral muscles on your chest. They don’t have any muscle tissue of their own. This is why it is important to keep those connective tissues that attach to the outer layer of skin as strong and elastic as possible. They are effectively lots of little “muscles” holding our breasts up.
Breasts weigh around 2-4 lbs (approx. 1-2kg) but can be much heavier depending on your weight or genetics. It is a myth that smaller girls can’t have bigger breasts or that bigger girls have to have enormous ones. It depends on what runs in your family or medical factors like hormone levels.
Why do breasts sag?
There are many factors that can cause sagging. If you think about it, breasts are rather heavy and they are only supported by a small area of skin without any muscle support. You have to be extra nice to that skin to keep the girls “perky”.
Here are some of the reasons why they droop:
Ageing: As we age, estrogen levels fall and breast tissues shrink. Some of these tissues can be replaced with fat cells which are heavier and more likely to droop. We also begin to lose skin elasticity as we get older as collagen production slows down. The skin simply doesn’t have the elasticity to “bounce back” as well as it used to.
Weight Fluctuations: Repeatedly gaining and losing weight stretches the skin and connective tissues. Yo-yo dieting is bad for you on many levels but you will see pronounced sagging in your breasts over time if you keep gaining and losing weight.
Smoking: Your boobs will thank you for not smoking by staying PERKY! Toxins in cigarette smoke break down collagen and elastin. It also constricts blood vessels which stops nutrient and oxygen-rich blood from getting to the skin and breast tissues. The skin becomes dry and less elastic and so do the collagen fibres that support them.
Sun Exposure: Being out in the sun without adequate protection against UV rays will damage the collagen and elastin in your skin. It also causes sun spots and discolouration over time. As you get older you will get that wrinkled, “crepey” fold between your breasts.
High Impact Sports or Exercise: It’s definitely good to stay fit and keep your weight under control. Exercise pumps nutrient and oxygen-rich blood all around the body and keeps muscles toned. However, if you play high impact sports, run, jump or do something like Crossfit, you need to give your breasts as much support as possible.
Unsupported breasts will “swing” or “bounce” stretching ligaments and connective tissues in the process. Also, it’s just uncomfortable.
If you struggle to keep your breasts from bouncing excessively you can try sports like swimming, yoga or pilates instead.
Improper Bra Size or Fit: Many women wear the wrong size bra or bras that no longer fit properly because they have stretched. A bra that is too big doesn’t offer adequate support. Breasts that bulge out of cups are usually squashed and don’t get proper blood circulation.
How to prevent sagging
Control your weight: Yes, I know…everybody says that for everything! Your breasts are full of fat cells and when you gain weight, so do they. It stretches the skin and your breasts sag. You can also develop stretch marks if you gain weight too quickly.
Eat your fruit and veg: Again, everybody wants you to do that! Your breasts need the vitamin C in fruit and vegetables to build and repair collagen. You need vitamin A to improve your skin texture. Vitamins E and K help to fight cell damage and to repair that all-important collagen. I’m going to try to be better with this one myself!
Sunscreen: Sunscreen ladies, work with me here! Having a gorgeous tan may look really nice for a while but it’s not good for the girls. It’s easy to forget to put your sunscreen on your chest. Many of us have sunscreen in our makeup or skincare and we forget about the rest. Your chest needs to be protected as much as your face. Your hands take a lot of sun damage too. When you put moisturiser with SPF on your face, use a little extra and apply it to your neck and chest then rub the rest into the tops of your hands.
Posture: Sit and stand up straight. When we “slouch” our breasts hang down and our muscles aren’t engaged. It’s just like your mama always told you: Chin up, back straight, tummy in, shoulders back, tuck your tail in. It’s a lot to think about but stand in front of the mirror and have a good slouch. See how your boobs look terrible? Now stand up straight and push your shoulders back a little. Perfect! It’s good for your back and it’s good for your girls.
Exercise: Your breasts do not have a muscle structure of their own, so you want to strengthen all the surrounding and underlying muscles. The pectoral muscles under your breasts are the main support structure.
Gym: For strength training, you want to try chest presses and chest fly’s with weights to build and strengthen your pectoral muscles. Pushups and planks are also great and if you prefer yoga you can try cobra pose. Swimming is also wonderful for the chest muscles.
At home: I do a lot of wall “pushups” in the shower while my conditioner is working. Put your hands against the wall at shoulder level and plant your feet about a foot from the wall. Bend your arms and tuck your elbows into your sides. Press yourself away from the wall and back in. It will feel easy at first but keep going. If it’s too easy, plant your feet a little further away. (Don’t slip in the shower please!)
Arm circles are also a good exercise to tone the chest muscles. Simply put your hands out to the side at shoulder level. Make small controlled circles with your hands to the front 20 times and to the back for 20 (repeat). Great one for when you are watching TV.
You can also try the following: Sit up straight. Put your palms together in front of your chest with your elbows out. Now, press your palms together, especially the heels of the hand. Release. Do that 20 more times.
For those Cooper’s Ligaments (the connective tissues in your breasts) here is a video by Lucy Wyndham-Read with a few easy exercises to help strengthen those ligaments and lift the breasts. https://youtu.be/UKFB5mhXjxs
Proper Bra Type and Fit:
Everyday Bra: Get professionally measured. Go to a store that you like when you intend to buy a new bra and ask to be fitted first. It’s usually free and you won’t feel like you are taking advantage because you are there to buy a bra anyway.
Your breast should not spill out or move around in the cup. Straps should not dig into or fall off your shoulder. The clasp should not ride up in the back and the band shouldn’t dig into your back and cause bulges.
Sports Bra: I have heard the term “double bagging” a few times. Some women with larger breasts wear a high impact sports bra AND a tank top with breast support. This is fine if your bra fits properly. You don’t want to cut off the blood supply. If this is too much for you, just make sure that your sports bra fits properly. You generally want something that encapsulates each breast instead of pushing them together. If you have red marks all over your breasts and rib cage, your bra is too tight. Here is a very good COSMO article on how to choose a sports bra.
Hydrotherapy: Stand in a warm shower and make sure that your breasts are properly warmed up. Step away from the water. Turn the shower to the cold setting and step back under the water with your chest. Or use the showerhead to spray the water on your chest instead of stepping back under. Count to 20. Turn the shower back to warm and repeat the whole thing two more times. End on a cold cycle.
This takes a bit of getting used to but it does wonders. The increased blood flow tightens the skin, delivers oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and just improves the overall skin texture of your breasts. Try it, you’ll see what I mean. You will glow afterwards.
Oils, Lotions and Potions:
Here are some very effective oils that you can use to massage your breasts to keep the skin firm and elastic. Olive oil seems to be the standard but many people swear by grapeseed oil.
Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid which stimulates collagen production and improves elasticity.
Rosehip oil contains linoleic and oleic acid as well as Vitamin C and A. It improves skin texture and stimulates collagen production. It also smells amazing!
Coconut oil is full of saturated fats that act as an emollient or natural barrier. It contains lauric and caprylic acid, Vitamin E and several essential amino acids that help protect the skin from moisture loss.
Extra Virgin Olive oil contains Vitamin E and K to help fight cell damage and improve skin texture.
Grapeseed Oil is very well known as a firming and tightening oil. It has astringent properties to tighten and lift the skin as well as Vitamin E to repair damage such as stretch marks or discolouration. It is a light oil that is easily absorbed and acts as a barrier to moisture loss.
Jojoba Oil can be found in many skincare products. It is full of ceramides that deeply moisturise the skin and form a protective barrier. It doesn’t block pores and behaves a little like our own natural skin oils. It contains Vitamin E, linoleic acids and many antioxidants to prevent cell damage and firm the skin.
Aloe Vera: Aloe vera is rich in Vit C, E and Beta-carotene. They are all wonderful antioxidants that fight free radicals and cell damage. Antioxidants protect the skin and help to rebuild damaged cells. It moisturises the skin and increases production of collagen to improve skin elasticity.
Shea Butter is full of Vitamins A, D and E. It contains oleic and stearic acid. It improves elasticity and deeply moisturises the skin. It protects the skin from free radical damage and helps to repair the signs of ageing skin.
Rhassoul Clay is a natural clay found in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. It has a high mineral content including Magnesium, Silica, iron, potassium and calcium. These minerals have been found to increase skin elasticity during clinical trials. It is also known as a great exfoliator and a treatment for blemishes and acne. You can buy it online or from many health stores. Simply mix 1-2 tablespoons of the clay with warm water to make a smooth paste and apply. You can also add essential oils like peppermint, fennel, lavender, carrot or neroli oil for added firming benefits.
Yoghurt Masks are easy to whip up with the food in your kitchen. There are a few variations but I like combining:
2 Vitamin E capsules (cut open and squeeze the oil out)
1 teaspoon honey – seals in moisture
1 Egg white – firming and toning
2 tablespoons yoghurt – gentle peel to remove dead skin cells
Simply mix the ingredients together and apply to your breasts in an upward motion. Leave the mask on for 15 minutes. Rinse off in the shower with a little hydrotherapy.
There are other ingredients that you can add to your mask including:
- Cucumber – known to firm and tone the skin – combine with egg yolk for a vitamin and protein boost
- Pomegranate Peel – Mash up and add to the mask or use with grapeseed oil – The peel is full of antioxidants that help with cell repair, firming and improved circulation.
- Egg White – known for it’s tightening and lifting properties.Contains collagen and protein but can clog pores if your skin is acne prone.
- Ginger is full of antioxidants that have anti-aging benefits. It firms the skin and improves elasticity while also fighting off skin blemishes and acne. It also improves circulation.
How to do a breast massage
Step 1: Your skin needs to be warm and damp so you can do your massage after a bath or shower. You can also use a warm washcloth to gently exfoliate the skin before massaging to help oils penetrate better.
Step 2: Pour the oil into your hands and spread over your breasts. Starting under your breast against the rib cage, gently run your hands upwards towards your collarbones. Take your time, you want to spend at least 5 to 10 minutes massaging your breasts to improve circulation and to help the oils penetrate.
Step 3: Wear a comfortable sports bra and lie down for a little while. You will feel tingling which is just an improvement in circulation.
Step 1: Again, make sure that your breasts are warm and damp. Wet the ice cubes as well or they may stick to your skin.
Step 2: Start under the breast again and rub the ice cube upwards in small circular motions. You can use more than one at a time. You don’t have to apply pressure just work towards your collarbones.
Step 3: Dry your skin very gently and apply a light moisturiser or oil to seal in moisture. Wear a supportive bra or sports bra and rest for a little while.
There have been articles recently that suggest sleeping with a bra to stop sagging. The experts don’t think that it would really help because when we lie down our breasts sag “sideways” and bras offer vertical support not horizontal which is what we would need.
You could try something like a bralette or a tank top with built-in support to keep the girls from sagging to the sides.
Sleeping on your side not only creates big old wrinkles on your face but also between your breasts. The skin on the sides of your breasts may also stretch because one breast is hanging down on top of the other. Some believe that you should sleep on your back to stop sagging, but that could just cause stretching of the skin in the middle because they sag to the sides.
There doesn’t seem to be much you can do while sleeping except wear some sort of support. Tank tops or vests that encapsulate each breast would support them on all sides or bralettes with a little extra support (Not the lacy next to nothing version).
Let’s talk about breast enlargement supplements
There are some remedies purported to help enlarge breasts without surgery. Some of these ingredients include compounds that are similar to estrogen found in our own bodies. Estrogen can be helpful in enlarging breasts but you should be VERY careful before using any of these products. The natural products are generally safe if you consult your doctor but some of the “supplements” sold online can cause hormonal imbalances or be entirely useless and a waste of money.
Here are some of the ingredients you might run into:
Fennel Seeds contain flavonoids that have properties similar to estrogen. This is an old remedy and you may find it in some breast enhancement creams or supplements. It is said to stimulate estrogen production which will help enhance the breasts.
Fenugreek is said to contain phytoestrogens that again mimic the estrogen in our own bodies to enhance the size and firmness of your breasts. It also contains antioxidants that fight cell damage and increase elasticity.
Saw Palmetto is said to lower the male hormones in the female body which suppress breast growth. Again, check with your doctor before taking Saw Palmetto because there is some evidence that it interferes with other medications including contraceptives if taken in large enough doses.
PLEASE consult your doctor before using any supplements that affect hormone levels in your body or could interfere with other medications.
Breasts are a big part of what makes us feel feminine. Some of us love our breasts, others would like them bigger, smaller or perkier. The girls are very personal to us and we all have our own feelings about them. I hope this post helps you to take good care of them.
Above all, they are part of you and they are beautiful no matter what, just like you!