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The 6 Best Tips for Binding in the Summer

Collage of chest binder in front of beach

In the summer when the air is already hot and sticky, the last thing you might want to do is pull on a chest binder. You might dread the hot, sweaty feeling you know will come – we've been there!

For those of us where binding is necessary for our mental health, or our ability to navigate public spaces more safely and authentically, here are some tips to make binding in the summer a little less uncomfortable.

1. Be smart and safe about binding.

It can't be said enough: make sure you are binding your chest safely, especially in the summer months when your body is already feeling stress from high temperatures, humidity, and the weather. Most importantly, never use duct tape or ace bandages. Binding with these materials can restrict your ability to breathe and move properly. Ace bandages in particular are designed to constrict, so as you breathe, they get tighter and tighter and can really hurt you.

2. Try a mid-length or sports-bra style binder.

You might find that wearing a full-length binder during the summer months makes you overheat easily. If you are able to, try switching to a sports bra or a mid-length style binder, which typically reach your belly button. Many folks find not having compression on their stomach and lower back helps with sweating, and therefore avoiding skin irritation.

3. Wear fabrics designed to stay cool, like cotton or linen.

Most binders are made from elastic materials like nylon and spandex to offer powerful compression, but these types of materials will trap in heat against your body. So, make sure the clothes you wear over your binder are natural fibers that have a reputation for keeping you cool.

Skip the polyester shirts, as polyester in particular can trap heat in against your body, causing you to sweat and overheat more.

Instead, grab a cotton tee – cotton is excellent because it lets your skin breathe, and choosing looser cuts that give you ample space in the armpit area will allow for evaporation and the free flow of air, keeping you as cool as possible.

Linen is another great, breathable fabric as it's very light, absorbs moisture, and dries quickly.

4. Try an undershirt under your binder.

Some folks swear by putting a thin cotton undershirt underneath to add an extra layer between their skin and the binder. This undershirt also helps to absorb sweat from your skin. (For other folks, the undershirt rides up or bunches underneath the binder, making it as uncomfortable as sweating. Experiment to see what's right for you!)

5. Baby powder, baby powder, baby powder.

The worst thing about binding in the summer is the sweat trapped against your skin, so try applying baby powder to your body before you hop into your binder. Baby powder isn't an anti-perspirant, but it can absorb sweat and keep down sweat production.

6. If you can, skip binding here and there (or altogether!)

On those scorching hot summer days, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is skip binding, period. Give your body time to breathe and relax, especially during times where it's less necessary for you to bind (i.e., lounging around home, not going into public.) Plus, there are tons of ways to skip binding completely and still dress how we want while looking great.

If feel like you can't go a whole day without binding, we get it: some folks take breaks during the early afternoon (when the day is at its highest temperature) to cool down and reset.