Published Sep 24, 2021 Updated Dec 2, 2021, 6:58 pm CST
In 2019, The New York Times published an article about trans teens who bind their chests, and the possible risks associated with binding. What should have been an insightful article to help trans, gender nonconforming, or non-binary kids experimenting with chest binding turned out to be anything but. In the 207 comments left by readers, an overwhelming majority of thoughts were left by disappointed trans people and scared teens.
While binding does have some risks, the comfort that they can provide for those who feel uncomfortable in their own skin outshines them all. If you’re looking for a commercial binder and need a little help, we’ve got you covered with a guide to binding your chest safely, as well as a roundup of the best chest binders on the market.
WebMd’s definition of chest binding is “the process of flattening or compressing one’s chest to make it more male-presenting”. For people who identify as transgender or non-binary, it’s a common way to feel more comfortable in their own skin.
Commercial binders, like the ones we will be spotlighting in this article, have only been available for about 15 years, but binding was still happening before they came on the market. Binding with ace bandages, duct tape, or simply not binding at all were the only options available.
Ace bandages and duct tape carried their own safety hazards, as the bandages are ultra constricting and the duct tape could cause skin damage when being removed. They could also hinder daily movement and restrict breathing. While these options carry high risks, they pale in comparison to the alternative; not binding at all.
Many transgender and non-binary people have expressed the intense body dysmorphia that comes with living in a body that feels like it’s not their own. Feelings of anxiety, depression and even thoughts of suicide have been associated with having breasts, and binding (any way they can) is just the better option.
The best chest binders help people to achieve a flat-chested look while limiting these dangers. If you don’t have a commercial chest binder, it’s important to try and avoid using harmful alternatives such as ace bandages, duct tape, or any other constrictive aid. If you are able to get hold of a commercial binder, there are still a few things you should keep in mind:
A commercial binder that’s too small can still cause harm to the skin around your chest and restrict your breathing. The best chest binder to choose is always the one that’s designed for your body size.
You’ll need to take a breather from even the best chest binders on the market. Binding for long hours every day over time breaks down tissue and can cause breathing problems, back pain, and skin irritation. Therefore, the more breaks you take in between, the better!
If you couple this with binding for eight hours a day or less, you’re setting your body up for daily restorative success!
Even the best chest binder can still be restrictive to your breathing, and a wet, sweaty binder is a breeding ground for bacteria build-up and fungus.
Not everyone who needs a chest binder has the resources to buy one. Thankfully, there are two companies that help get chest binders to transgender and non-binary people, whatever their circumstances.
Point of Pride provides free chest binders (specially-designed chest compression garments) to any trans person who needs one but either can’t afford or safely obtain one. Sponsored by acclaimed binder brand GC2B, this foundation has donated thousands of chest binders to trans youth and adults across all 50 states and 50+ countries. The only requirements needed to receive one of these binders is to identify as transgender (FTM, genderqueer, non-binary, genderfluid, gender non-conforming, and every other non-cis identity within the trans umbrella), and to ensure that you don’t have the means to obtain one on your own.
From the renowned binder brand GC2B comes 2b.care. This is the company’s own initiative to reach its community in need. Over the past three years the brand has donated over 6,000 chest binders and raised over $115,000 for partner organizations and artists. If you need a binder, you can take a look at the interactive map view of the brands partners to find out the closest resource to you.
If you’ve done a bit of research on chest binders already, you might have come across the holy grail of binders from gc2b. This tank binder really does fit like a long tank top. It also provides an extra flattening effect with the brand’s patented deign. This double-panel binder made with a nylon-spandex blend and cotton does not go below the chest, so it does not bind your stomach. There’s a reason gc2b is renowned as one of the best chest binder suppliers on the market.
The material is breathable and can be tucked into pants or left to its own devices. The gc2b site provides images of the binder solo, and fitted on two models of varying build, as well as their measurements for reference. This tank binder comes in some of the most flattering skin tones, as well as colors and pride patterns.
The black tank binder received 160 reviews with a five-star average. Here’s a review from a customer who has purchased the Tank Binder.
Tieran, Five stars, Size 5XL, Color Black:
Despite ordering a binder 1-2 sizes larger than my measurements, as I need a binder that’s easy to put on and take off (joint/arthritis issues), the binding effect is still a lot better than expected. Plus, it’s more comfortable than most of my bras were.
The last in this line-up is another binder from gc2b, but this time it’s the Half Binder. This Half fits and looks like a tank crop, and provides an extra flattening effect with the brand’s patented deign. The minds at gc2b have created a double panel binder. Made with a nylon spandex blend and cotton that does not go below the chest, it does not bind your stomach.
The material is breathable and smooths all the way down. The gc2b site provides images of the binder solo, and fitted on one model, though the model’s measurements are not provided for reference. This half binder comes in some of the most flattering skin tones, as well as colors and pride patterns. This is one of the best chest binder options available for hotter summer weather.
It’s important to note that this particular Pride pattern is a limited edition run. If you’re interested, you should hurry while supplies last! The pride half binder received 11 reviews with a five-star average. Here’s a review from a customer who has purchased the Half Binder:
Sterling, Five stars, Size 3X, Color Pride:
After having 2 of the full length binders I decided to try out the half length for the summer. The colors are vibrant and the binder stops just long enough to keep everything in place. This might just wind up replacing my full ones for most favorite.
This Econo Power Chest Binder from Underworks is a great option for those searching for a comfortable fit and strong compression. Priced at $22.99, it’s a quality entry-level option that comes in three different colors: nude, black, and white. The preview images show a model wearing the binder, and the delivery packaging is discreet.
The garment itself is see-through in the back and lined with 100% cotton in the front, for a seamless look and feel. Out of 1,624 global ratings on Amazon, over 70% gave it a four-star rating or higher, making it one of the best chest binders available on Amazon. Here’s a review from a customer who purchased the Econo Power Chest binder.
E.E., Five stars, Size XL, Color Black:
Been wearing Underworks since 2005. This style of garment has gotten an inch shorter over the years and I don’t like that. When I was really fat, the shorter length made my gut stick out even more and it would bunch up and cut into my mid section because it wanted to roll up but couldn’t actually roll because there wasn’t enough material. The extra inch made it more comfortable. It would roll but I could tuck it under. However, this is a great binder. It works just as well as the tri-top which has 3 layers. This only has one layer….
This Chest Binder from Idtswch features a double panel for tissue distribution and comfortable compression. Made from a mix of nylon and spandex, the fabric is moisture wicking, skin-friendly, and breathable. The prices for this binder range from $19.99 to $20.99, and it comes in five different colors, nude, black, grey, white, and one striped pattern.
The preview and description images do not show a model wearing the product, but there are some helpful user-submitted images available, which can be helpful when you’re deciding on the best chest binder for you. Out of 476 global ratings on Amazon, 49% gave it a four-star rating or higher. Here’s a review from a customer who purchased the Chest Binder from Idtswch:
Kindle Customer, Five stars, Size 6-XL, Color Nude:
Due to some drug interactions I have developed Gynecomastia, unfortunately it is also not even and is obviously larger on one side. And while I am a pretty big and intimidating man, so no one says anything directly to me, I can still hear them talking to others or just staring.
So, this binder was exactly what I needed. It is stiff enough in the front panel that it nearly completely smooths out my chest, and for that I am forever grateful.
Two things I would change, the lower edge needs to have some elastic to hold it against your skin, otherwise, due to its stiffness, it kind of shows under your shirt. And second is the top edges need to be taken back about an inch. This might not be an issue with what others wear, but I wear t-shirts at work and the beige collar of the binder shows past the t-shirt collar, making it obvious that you are wearing something.
I am having my wife surge the collar back an inch, and possibly adding some elastic to the bottom edge, but those are really just personal preferences about the binder (and probably a little nitpicky considering how great the overall effect has been in my esteem when I am out in public now).
Another binder from Idtswch, the Chest Compression Bra, looks strikingly similar to a racerback sports bra. Made from a mix of nylon and spandex, the fabric is moisture wicking, skin-friendly, and breathable. It also features an inside cotton lining for comfortable compression.
Priced at $19.97, it’s one of the best chest binder options for those on a budget. This affordable and discreet-looking option comes in three different colors: nude, black, and grey. The preview and description images do not show a model wearing the product, but again, there are some helpful user submitted images available. Out of 293 global ratings on Amazon, over 55% gave it a four-star rating or higher.
It’s important to note that the majority of low-star reviews all had something to do with size and fit. This particular binder goes by women’s sizes, which adds to the confusion. Here’s a review from a customer who has purchased the Chest Compression Bra:
Jordyn, Five stars, Size XL, Color Black:
I was on a budget trying to find my first binder. I wanted one that looked discreet and wasn’t too noticeable by my parents. I’m around 5’2” right now and ranging from 175-180 lbs. My bra size varies but I usually wear a 38C. My body shape is kind of like a rectangle but I am a little overweight for my age.
I got an extra large racer back one based on their measurement chart. It fits so well. I wore it for about 5-7 hours the first day and I never felt any pain. It flattens my chest almost entirely!
This is a perfect option for people looking to buy their first binder! I’m hoping to get more soon!
Jarazin has entered the chat with an interesting take on its Stripe Mesh Chest Binder. Unlike most binders that come in solid fabrics with skin tone colors, this binder resembles a striped tank top. Its white colorway is paired with pastel purple lining, while its grey colorway stays neutral throughout. This is one of the best chest binders for wearing as a top.
Made from a viscose filament and ultra-thin breathable mesh fabric, this binder is perfect for those hot and humid summer days. This chest binder has a built-in bandage on the front, and the design of stripes aren’t just for show. They can support and strengthen the effect of the binder. As well, its best feature is the front zipper, which allows for easy in-and-out transitions.
It is priced between $17.99 and $19.99, and, while there are no user-made images provided, the brand does show a profile on-model image. Out of 25 global ratings on Amazon, 77% gave it a four-star rating or higher. Here’s a review from a customer who has purchased the Stripe Mesh Chest Binder:
An, Five stars, Size XL, Color Nude:
I love the fabric, especially wearing this in the summer. Lightweight and comfortable. I’ll give this 5 star.
As the number-one best seller in “women’s fashion vests”, the Cotton Elastic Band binder from XUJI is clearly one of the best chest binders on Amazon, despite its terrible categorization. Made with a mix of yoga-quality cotton, polyester fiber, and spandex, this binder provides comfort, durability, support, and flexibility all in one go.
For easy wear, this binder features a three row adjustable hook seam on one side. It comes in six different colors, ranging from striped patterns, to standard solid colors. It is priced between $20.99 and $21.99. The brand also provides a convincing user-submitted image in its product descriptions.
Out of 5,744 global ratings on Amazon, 74% gave it a four-star rating or higher. Here’s a review from a customer who has purchased the Stripe Mesh Chest Binder:
The Feral, Five stars, Size M, Color Grey:
I’m about 5’4”, 147lbs, 36D, and I got the Medium and it fits PERFECTLY. FINALLY.
Yea all binders are a wrestling match to get on and yea you’ll never get totally flat- but I was AMAZED when I threw a shirt on I went from a D to an A. And! because the elastic is so wide (It doesn’t look like it but it comes almost to the bottom of my rib cage) it doesn’t cut into my ribs so even though it’s tight I can still take a good full deep breath.
The straps are wide enough to offer good support but thin enough and wide-set so I don’t feel strangled. I have mobility issues so I can’t say how well it stays put if you’re very active, but it feels like it would. I’m definitely buying a few more.
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Beck Diaz is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn New York. With past experience at COOLS magazine and Paper, she specializes in lifestyle and NSFW content.
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