When it comes to choosing period panties, comfort and absorbency are key. We’ll look at what period underwear is, how it works, and some of the best brands.
Menstruation has been around since the dawn of time, and historically, it wasn’t the easiest thing to deal with. During the Middle Ages, women either used rags to soak up the blood or simply bled right into their clothes. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that sanitary belts came into fashion, paving the way for today’s menstrual products, including period panties.
Depending on which state you live in, there might be a “tampon tax” on your menstruation products. It is estimated that 70 percent of all menstruating people in the US use tampons, which is not only bad for the environment, your health, but also your wallet. Period products aren’t cheap — especially if you have to shell out every month for 40+ years. Period panties require a bit of an upfront investment, but they can be used over and over again.
How Period Panties Work
Period panties work the same way as regular underwear, with the added bonus that they also replace (or at least limit) conventional single-use menstruation products. Some companies say their product is best used alongside pads or tampons for extra protection, while others claim to completely replace the need for single-use products.
Period undies are designed using several layers of fabric, each with its own role. Depending on the brand, some have three layers, others have four.
- First Layer: an anti-odor, moisture wicking layer to help keep things feeling dry.
- Second Layer: absorbs and locks moisture, just like a regular pad.
- Third Layer: the leakproof layer.
- Fourth Layer: a breathable outer fabric that feels comfortable against skin.
Washing period underwear requires a bit more work than just tossing them in the washing machine — but not much. To properly care for them, use the following instructions:
- Rinse/Soak: after you remove your period panties, soak or rinse them in cold water.
- Treat Stains (optional): use a spot treatment bar like Ethique’s Laundry Stain Stick (available on Amazon**) to help keep your undies looking brand new.
- Wash: wash them with cold water, delicate cycle in a mesh washing bag using mild or homemade detergent. You can also hand wash them.
- Dry: most period underwear is hang to dry only. That usually only takes a few hours.
Sustain’s Eco Friendly Period Panties
Sustain is a certified B Corporation focused on natural sexual wellness essentials. Their product range includes condoms and lubricants, body wash, massage oils and period care. Sustain’s bikini style period panties come in black, ranging in size from XS – XL, and can absorb one tampon’s worth of liquid — wear them alone on lighter days, or as backup on heavier days.
The outside consists of 95 pecent organic cotton and 5 percent spandex, to move with you as you go about your day. The polyurethane laminate lining is covered with absorbent organic cotton fleece so you don’t have to worry about leaks. Sustain donates one percent of all sales to support women’s healthcare organizations throughout the US.
Where to buy? You can purchase Sustain’s period underwear through their partner Grove Collaborative. One pair will set you back $29.95.
Canadian Owned & Operated: Knix
Knix, a Toronto-based company, set out to nix single-use period products with the launch of their leakproof underwear in 2013. Their period underwear has only improved in style and function since then. They come in a variety of absorbencies (light, medium, high and super), styles (bikini, cheeky, boy short, high rise, thong and dream shorts), sizes (teen to XXXXL) and with plenty of color choices to boot.
Many of their period panties are made of nylon and spandex, however they also recently created a pair made of cotton modal blend fabric. It’s worth noting that all the fabrics used in the leakproof protection are OEKO-TEX® certified and don’t contain any PFAs (polyfluoroalkyl substances), which may have negative effects on your health and the environment.
Where to buy? Knix period underwear is available to purchase on the Knix website. Prices range from $23-$36 per pair, though you can save 25 percent when you buy three or more.
Period Underwear Worth Its Saalt
Idaho based Saalt is Certified B Corporation focused on sustainably sourced and ethically made menstrual care. While the focus was originally on the Saalt Menstrual Cup (available on Amazon**), they have now branched out with a complementary Saalt Wear line. Their period panties come in three absorbancy levels (light, regular, and high), four styles (thong, high waist, hipster, and bikini), and several different colors.
All of Saalt’s underwear is made of a combination of recycled polyester, elastane, spandex and polyamide. Their fabrics are certified PFAs free and OEKO-TEX® approved. These period panties are known to run small, so order up a size to ensure a great fit. Saalt commits two percent of revenues to donate period care to regions in need.
Where to buy? You can purchase Saalt products on the Saalt website, where you can also bundle and save. Depending on your style preference, a pair of these period panties will run you $29-$39.
Shopping Aisle for Period Panties
Vancouver-based Aisle is a Certified B Corporation committed to offering sustainable and ethically-made period products. They were ahead of the game when they began developing reusable cotton pads known as LunaPads in 1999. They’ve since rebranded (March 2020) and have expanded their offerings to include period panties.
Aisle keeps it simple: four styles (boxer, brief, hipster, bikini), four colors (black, green, rust, blue), and ten sizes (XS – 5X). A nice surprise is the absorbency booster which can be added in for heavier days, and doubles the absorbency of their period panties to four tampons worth.
Where to buy? That extra absorbency comes with a price. Aisle’s period underwear ranges from $40-$46, with small discounts when you purchase multiples. You can purchase directly through the Aisle website.
If you’re not convinced you want to give period panties a go, that’s okay! There are several other environmentally friendly ways to deal with your period, most of which are available through the same companies as period panties. How about trying:
- Reusable Pads (eg. by Glad Rags, available on Amazon**)
- Menstrual Cups (eg. by Sustain, available on Amazon**)
- Reusable Tampon Applicators ( eg. by Dame, available on the Dame website)
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