Period underwear is gaining in popularity. Made to look and feel just like regular underwear, its layers of special fabric work to wick wetness away from your body and prevent blood from leaking onto your clothes. It makes a great backup for a tampon or menstrual cup on your heaviest days, and can be worn on your lighter days all by itself.
But because it’s designed to last just as long as any other pair of underwear, period underwear can be pricey, so you’ll probably want to do a bit of research before committing to an entire cycle’s worth. This brief (no pun intended!) guide will introduce you to a few of the leading brands, comparing aspects like price, capacity, washability, and style.
Here are just a few of the options available:
- Knix: This company makes all kinds of comfortable undergarments, but its “leakproof” line of underwear is what we’ll be discussing here. Available in basic bikini, boyshort, and thong styles (all in either black or beige), these range in price from $22-$24 per pair. The bikini and boyshort styles absorb up to two tampons (or 3 teaspoons) of blood, while the thongs absorb up to one tampon’s worth. They can be machine-washed and dried, no problem. Plus, the Knixteen line of “Oh No” Proof Underwear is exactly the same, but significantly cheaper at $17/pair (with additional discounts for bundles of 2 or 5)—making it a good option for girls who have just begun menstruating, or for petite women (hint: the Knixteen size large fits the same as a women’s small).
- Dear Kate: Dear Kate’s period underwear come in hipsters, briefs, and thongs, in a range of colors that includes purples and blues in addition to the usual basics. Each style is available with a “mini” or “full” lining; the “mini” holds up to 1.5 tampons’ worth of blood, while the “full” holds up to two. One thing that sets Dear Kate apart from other brands is that its underwear is advertised as “leak resistant” as opposed to “leakproof”; this is because it’s made of 100% fabric, without the plastic or latex that is usually found in other period underwear’s leakproof layers. This makes it more breathable and less hospitable to bacteria. Dear Kate recommends machine washing its underwear with gentle detergents on the delicate cycle, and hanging to dry. They are on the pricier side, ranging from $32-$44 per pair.
- Luna Undies: This company, which has been around since 1993, also makes the DivaCup menstrual cup as well as Lunapads, which are washable cloth menstrual pads that can be worn inside your regular underwear. Their line of Luna Undies, which range in price from $32-$38 per pair, provide some protection on their own but also feature removable inserts (like special Lunapads that fit inside the underwear) that can be changed throughout the day—so you really can wear them for all-day protection, not just as backup for a tampon or menstrual cup. In addition to hipsters, bikinis, and briefs, Luna Undies also come in a boxer brief style, which are an especially great option for trans or gender non-conforming menstruators. They recommend rinsing in cool water after use, then machine washing on cold and hanging to dry.
- Thinx: Available in a variety of styles—including hip-hugger, high-waist, boyshort, thong, and “cheeky”—which are helpfully labeled from “heavy” (two tampons’ worth) to “light” (half a tampon’s worth) days, Thinx come in black, beige, and forest green. In addition to their “original” line, Thinx offers a “cotton” line as well; this is somewhat confusing as both lines actually contain cotton, but the “cotton” line is made with organic cotton. Both lines, however, also contain a layer of PUL (or polyurethane laminate—one of the “leakproof” materials that Dear Kate avoids). They range in price from $24-$38 per pair, and can be machine washed on cold and hung up to dry.
While these are some of the better known brands of period underwear, a quick online search will reveal dozens more. This guide will give you a sense of what features to look for as you consider any additional options, until you find the pair that perfectly matches your needs. Whichever period underwear you decide to try, remember to use them in conjunction with a tampon or menstrual cup, at least at first, until you get a sense of how well they can handle your flow.