What is the best adhesive bra for backless dresses?
The times when dressing up should be most fun can also be when they are most stressful. Proms. Red carpets. Weddings. An Egyptian mummy’s worth of medical tape holding everything together underneath is not a pleasant solution to an impractical bridesmaid dress. There’s got to be something better, right? We examine how to go about picking the best adhesive bra for backless dresses or other challenging clothes.
Choosing the best bra for a backless dress
If you will wear a very low backless dress or need to go for a braless look for another reason, you have several options. We are going to assume you are dealing with a truly dangerous dress where low back converters or other easy hacks won’t cut it.
If you only want nipple coverage for smaller or perkier breasts, high quality pasties or unconnected stick-on bra pads are sufficient. The larger stick-on bras will also provide a bit of smoothing out without really doing any major shaping. As each independent cup is not connected, they cannot help with cleavage.
If you want just a little bit more support or some help shaping cleavage, an adhesive bra is a good choice. As we will discuss below, though, they cannot generally provide adequate support for larger busts. In the absence of any other options, though, they will have to suffice.
If you require more support than a traditional adhesive bra, you may have to go with extensive taping. Again, we will discuss this a bit more later. However, don’t just go out and buy those cheap breast tape sets. Other than providing nipple coverage, those breast tapes generally do not provide support. They simply fall off. They can also cause skin irritation.
This article is focusing on adhesive bras as the happy compromise between pasties and tape, so let’s continue from there.
The best adhesive bra depends on you
Just like for any other bra, the best adhesive bra for you must match your breast size and shape. Unfortunately, adhesive bras have much fewer options in terms of matching shape and support needs. This is because stick-on bras just can’t provide the same amount of lift and separation. However, they can provide some, and getting the correct cup size is still crucial.
Determining your true bust size
Did you know that most women are wearing bras with incorrect cup and band sizes? This is especially prevalent among women with smaller breasts, where many mistakenly wear a 32A when they are closer to a 28D or 28DD. If you know exactly what we mean and have used a five point measurement to determine your bra size, skip ahead to the next section. Otherwise, we strongly recommend that you visit the section on bra sizing in our guide to bras for small breasts. The sizing information is just as relevant for plus size figures as well.
If you know your correct true bust size, you still need to know how to determine the correct adhesive bra cup size. It’s not straight forward, and you first need to understand bra sister sizing. Most adhesive bras will be labeled with a cup size based on a 34 band size. This is where it gets confusing. A 34-band B cup is NOT the same size as a 32-band B cup or a 36-band B cup.
Bra sister sizes guide
Since adhesive bra cup sizes are usually set to a 34 band size, you will need to find your cup size equivalent at 34. You can use the bra sister size chart below to make the conversion.
All cup sizes on the same horizontal row are identical. If you look at the red row in the bra sister size chart, all of these cups, from 28FF to 44AA, are the same same. It is only the band size that is changing. This should also make it clear why a bra size of 28DD for a petite figure is correct and very different from a 36DD. A 28DD cup size is similar to a 36A. You shouldn’t just compare across cup sizes.
To figure out the best adhesive bra size, use the blue column under the 34 band size. Find the size that is on the same level as your bra size. For example, if you are a 30C, your sister size is 34A, and you should buy an A-cup adhesive bra. If you are a 36D, you should buy a C-cup adhesive bra.
Choosing the best adhesive bra
Now that you have figured out your correct bra size, we can start talking about which brands are worth buying. Before we do, though, here is what you should know about finding an adhesive bra that won’t let you down (pun intended, darn it).
Stickiness and sweat-resistance
There are various types of adhesive bras. Some are disposable and use a sticky tape. These cheaper bras will not stay on for long periods of time. If you move around a bit or sweat, the tape will come off.
Some bras also have tape only on the side wings, as a sort of half-strap made of tape. These also do not work very well either.
Instead, you should choose bras made from silicone that are naturally adhesive throughout the whole cup. While all brands do not perform the same, the good silicone material bras will stick for a full day even under sweaty conditions. You do have to follow instructions carefully in terms of cleaning and “installation”, or they will not work as well.
Cleavage or no cleavage
While adhesive bras provide minimal support, you do get one shaping choice. You can decide whether the two cups are connected or not. This will affect your cleavage, as well as pull your breasts away from your arms for comfort reasons. We are categorizing adhesive bras as those having a central connector, and considering separate cups as “pasties”. We’ll review both below but will start with adhesive bras.
Limitations of adhesive bras
The sizing alone should already tell you some of the limitations of adhesive bras. Most manufacturers only make a few cup sizes like B-D. Unless you fit in this narrow range, you will be stuck with a less than ideal fit. Fortunately, some of the bigger brands like NuBra are offering a better selection of sizes these days through online retailers such as Amazon.
Still, a stick-on bra will never provide as much lift and support as a full underwire bra with straps. That is unavoidable. For smaller or perkier breasts, this will be less of an issue. However, once you start hitting C or D cups and beyond, the lack of full support will be uncomfortable and problematic. Because using adhesive bras is usually only done once in a while, sometimes you will just have to survive the event or night. We will try to help you make the best of your situation but want you to have realistic expectations.
Best adhesive bra for a backless dress: connected cups
Knowing the limitations of an adhesive bra, we will review our choice for the best adhesive bra. In some of our other guides, we suggest that you try a number of different brands. That is because breast types vary, and different cuts or models will fit different people best. However, the simple and minimal nature of adhesive bras means there’s not much to gain by trying different brands. We’ll instead focus on value and good real-life performance
Review: NuBra Feather-lite Super Adhesive Bra
We recommend the NuBra Feather-lite Super Adhesive Bra (Amazon link) as the best adhesive bra you can buy right now. The NuBra Feather-lite has two lightweight fabric cups held together by an inner clip. The silicone adhesive works extremely well, even in humid weather. Women have reported wearing it for dancing and light exercising, or for the whole day at a long event. This bra actually works as advertised.
There are a few things you should know before buying the NuBra Feather-lite. The NuBra is great in that it comes in a wide variety of cup sizes, from AA to E. This is much better than other brands. However, the actually cups are a bit smaller for any given size. Part of the reason for this is that if you are using a NuBra, you probably have a challenging dress and may want to expose more breast. The smaller coverage will prevent the NuBra from sticking out. The second reason is that the small design is used to help shape the breasts for cleavage adjustment. If you feel like you need greater coverage, some women like to get the NuBra a cup size larger.
As with all bras of this type, you MUST follow instructions carefully (see below) or the NuBra will not stick or shape your breasts properly. While the NuBra can’t actually provide direct support, it can raise your breasts so that the upper part is shaped and not simply sloping down. The main reason to use the NuBra is that is can shape and adjust your cleavage.
Even many D cup women find that the NuBra works surprisingly well. Just make sure you do not buy a cheap knockoff, as there are many copycats that do not have the same stickiness or durability. These will leave you sorely disappointed. Use the Amazon link above or make sure that your Amazon listing is directly from NuBra. If you see a NuBra listing from FashionForms, that is fine too, as FashionForms is a legitimate reseller of NuBra products.
Questions about the NuBra Feather-Lite Adhesive Bra
How do you put on a NuBra?
Make sure you follow the instructions from NuBra. Apply the NuBra, one by one, to clean and dry skin without any lotions, perfumes or other products in the chest area. A tip is to hold the breast where you want it to be before applying the NuBra. Smooth out each cup, and then connect the center. If you do not like the cleavage or shape, you can take the NuBra off and readjust. The main way to readjust is to hold the breast in a different position while you are applying the NuBra. Don’t just let your breast hang in empty air while you apply the NuBra.
Having clean skin is the most important step in putting on a NuBra and having it stay on. If you have extremely oily skin, you may want to clean your breasts with alcohol and quickly dry off, just before you put on the NuBra. This is only for extremely oily skin. Using alcohol on delicate skin can irritate it, so be careful if you try this approach.
This older youtube video from the NuBra manufacturer, Bragel, helps you see exactly how the NuBra can shape and create cleavage.
How should you clean the NuBra?
You should clean the NuBra after each use with mild soap and water. One adventurous lady on Amazon claims that you can machine wash on a gentle cycle in a bra bag, and then air dry. Supposedly the NuBra can last for over a year doing this, but try at your own risk, as the company specifically says not to do this.
If you are the conservative or worried kind, you can buy the NuBra cleanser that was specially made for the adhesive bra. Here is the Amazon link.
How long do NuBras last?
The NuBra is supposed to last for 100 uses, if washed and stored properly. Many women report using their NuBra for long periods of time, even getting a set for daily use.
Best adhesive bra for a backless dress: separate cups
Sometimes you just want to provide nipple coverage and your will rely on your dress or natural support. For a late night Mardi Gras or sorority party where accidents don’t matter, you might as well use $2 pasties.
However, for a classier backless dress at formal occasion, or if you intend to use pasties more regularly, we strongly recommend that you buy quality silicone adhesive pasties. They will provide good coverage and not fall off easily.
Review: The Nippies Reusable Silicone Nipple Cover Pasties
Our suggestion for an adhesive bra with separate cups is the Nippies Silicone Pasties by Bristol Six (Amazon link). These silicone pasties are durable, stay adhesive even when sweating, and don’t irritate the skin. While we don’t put much faith in celebrity endorsements, a bunch of famous women do use Nippies, so at least you know they are not some cheap Chinese knockoff.
Because these are essential just high quality pasties, you will not get any support. In this case, the sizing is not as important, and Nippies only have two sizes, one covering A-D cups, and the other covering DD and above.
Nippies use a hypoallergenic, non-latex, medical-grade adhesive to prevent skin irritation. The adhesive stays on quite well, even in humid conditions, if you follow the direction. While the official recommendation is to only use them for 6 hours, some report wearing them for 12 hours or more without having them fall off.
As long as you follow the recommended instructions, Nippies just do their job and work. We’ve tried cheaper pasties before, and while they are okay for a short pinch, we’ve had too many problems with cheap tape falling off or folding up after movement. If you want separate cups for minimal nipple protection only, just get Nippies and save yourself the trouble.
A note of warning again when buying: you may run into some low quality knockoff listings on Amazon. Be sure to use the link we provide above, or make sure the vendor is Bristol Six. The genuine Nippies listing should have hundreds or thousands of user reviews as well. Do not buy from other listings that claim they are Nippies. The cheaper products do not work properly.
Questions about the Bristol Six Silicone Nippies
How do you put on Nippies?
You must wash your skin and remove all lotions or skin products. These will interfere with the adhesive and cause the Nippies to fall off after a short time. Also, make sure you remove all air pockets between the silicone material and your breasts skin. You may have to smooth out the Nippies over your breast. Finally, hold the Nippies in place with your hands for at least a few seconds. The body warmth activates the adhesive.
How do you clean Nippies?
Wash the Nippies with mild soap and water. Then, air dry with the adhesive part point up. This will remove oils that block the stickiness.
However, if you have dust, hair, or dry skin, the soap and water will not completely remove them, and the Nippies will lose their stickiness over time. We’ve found an “off-label” method for cleaning your Nippies in this case.
You need to first clean and dry the Nippies as the company indicates. Then, use a piece of gentle tape, preferrably Scotch tape (avoid strong gummy tapes). You have to lay the Scotch tape onto the Nippies, and then carefully pull the tape off. You risk pulling the adhesive off the Nippies and damaging them. To reduce the risk, try to lay the tape from center to edge of the Nippies, and always hold onto the end of the tape so you don’t have difficulty removing it.
Pull the tape slowly and gently from the center out to the edge. If you pull the tape off in the other direction from edge to center, you may pull off the adhesive layer and ruin the Nippies. If you are careful and try this method, you likely will not damage your Nippies, but will instead thoroughly remove all the bits of dirt. This will greatly enhance the stickiness and improve the lifetime. However, because there is a risk of damage, please only do this if you understand and are willing to take on that risk.
How long do Nippies last? How many times can you wear them before they lose their stickiness?
Many people report that Nippies with proper care can last for months. Some women wear it weekly or even daily. In most cases where the Nippies do not last long, it is because they were not cared for properly. The “tape trick” above should also help to extend their lifetime.
What color Nippies should I get?
The Nippies come in lighter and darker colors to match different skin tones. If you have very dark nipples, you may instead want to match the Nippies color to your nipple color tone, rather than your breast skin tone. Otherwise, the color of the nipples may appear through a thin light top, as the Nippies themselves are semi-translucent.
Alternatives to Adhesive Bras for a Backless Dress
So far, we have covered adhesive bras with connected or separate cups. If you need even more support but will wear a backless dress, the only other option is to tape your breasts. Taping breasts is very much a do-it-yourself kind of task, so we’ll just cover the basics and let you figure it out.
Tips for Taping Breasts
Taping breasts is fairly straightforward and cheap. Just buy the proper kind of tape and you are set. Do not use strong tapes like duct tape or most masking tapes. The harsh chemicals in the glue can cause irritation or allergies. These tapes are also less breathable and can be quite uncomfortable. Of course, after taping breasts, you will want to remove the tape when finished. Strong glues will cause pain or even skin tears.
Instead, when taping breasts, use safe medical grade tapes. The tape mesh is breathable, less irritating, and sticks to skin quite well, since that is the main purpose of medical tape. You can easily find medical tape at CVS, Walgreens, or other local pharmacies. Look for 2″ thick wider strips. Here is an example from Amazon of the type of tape you want.
When applying the tape, tape across your breasts horizontally, similar to the overall shape of an adhesive bra. You will need multiple horizontal strips. Be sure to pre-position the breasts into the shape you want. You can also provide vertical strips or vertical bends to provide some lifting support if necessary. Just try it out. It is usually pretty intuitive.
Even if you use medical tape, you should be careful about skin irritation when wearing for long times or when removing the tape. If you have an important event such as a wedding, we recommend that you practice taping your breasts and wearing the tape for as long as you will need to at the actual event.
Conclusions: best adhesive bras for a backless dress
To summarize, if you want cleavage shaping and support, we recommend the NuBra Feather-lite, which works well across a range of breast sizes. Just know that you have limited support from this type of adhesive bra. If you just want to provide nipple coverage, use high quality pasties such as the Nippies. Finally, if you really need the support or shaping beyond what a NuBra can provide, consider taping your breasts. It will take more work and testing, but you can add more custom support.
Regardless of what method you choose, be sure to follow instructions carefully and go on a practice run if you have an important event coming up. Good luck and have fun sporting your daring outfit! Do share your great successes and entertain us with stories of wardrobe malfunctions in the comments below.