We don’t talk about periods, no, no, no (sorry, couldn’t resist – the Encanto soundtrack still reigns supreme over in our house!). But, seriously…can we talk about periods? And, more specifically, period underwear? I mean, we’re adults…our tolerance for discussing bodily fluids should be pretty darn high, amirite?
I’ll go ahead and start us off! Cuz, guys? I have amassed way too much information about period underwear over the past two years to keep it to myself. And sharing is caring.
I can’t remember when I first started seeing ads for Thinx, but I was immediately curious. Still, it took me several years, a pandemic and my sister to get me to finally try out this whole period underwear concept. And in just the last year or so, it seems like more and more options are popping up all the time. If you haven’t jumped on this bandwagon yet (but maybe are curious), read on.
Spoiler alert – I’m a total convert.
How Does Period Underwear Work?
One of the first questions that I had was a pretty basic one. Like…how the heck does this whole period underwear thing work? Is it meant to protect your clothes against leaks? Are you supposed to wear it along with a pad (or tampon, cup, etc.)? Or do you just flow right…into…your…underwear?
The answer is yes. To all of the above.
I found that it took some experimenting to figure out what I liked best: what pairs of underwear I liked best, which combinations of period products I liked best together…and that answer often depended on factors like what activities I was planning to do, whether I was going to be out all day, if the flow was heavy/light, and then just…style and fabric preferences for underwear.
Like most things, leaning into ‘you do you’ is a good rule of thumb for period underwear.
You Can Wash Period Underwear…Right?
My second major question was around what happens once you’ve used your period underwear. I do not have time in my life for complicated laundry procedures and am pretty terrible at following laundering directions beyond warm vs cold, or wash with like colors. Luckily, this part is easy, and seems to be the same amongst the different brands I’ve tried:
Basically, just rinse out the underwear with cold water, hang to dry, and then throw in with the rest of the laundry. Easy peasy.
My Favorite Period Underwear (After Testing A Bunch)
At this point in my period underwear “research”, I’ve tried the following brands: Thinx, Ruby Love, Cora, The Period Company and Uniqlo. I no longer need to supplement with other disposable menstrual products, I’ve used them on vacation (including an 8-hour road trip), and I’ve got a game plan for when I have to return to the office next month. (Return-to-office wardrobe game plan, on the other hand? Not so much. But I have some ideas. Wrong article, I digress!)
The Period Company – The Period Company has the most affordable options for period underwear and tons of styles (including some that are good for sleeping, good for working out, etc.,), so I think this is an especially good place to start. Fit is TTS. Also available at Amazon.
Ruby Love – Ruby Love features really smooth fabric, tons of cute styles, colors, prints. Seam across the seat takes a little getting used to. I do wish I’d sized down in Ruby Love, which they recommend for a “more secure fit”–something I appreciate when I’m on my period.
Cora Period Underwear – Only 1 style available (black, bikini; super comfy, like basic cotton undies) but can be found at Target.
Uniqlo – Lots of colors, smooth fabric, no bothersome seams, higher rise gives a comforting compression. Runs a little small (not the best option on my most bloated day!).
Thinx – they have a lot of different styles and colors (I’ve tried three different ones), but they just weren’t as comfortable for me and haven’t held up as well to repeated washing. Also available at Amazon.
How To Use Period Underwear
While I don’t follow this exact order every time, below is a rough outline of how I make period underwear work for me. This chart should also give you an idea of the different types, styles, and options of period underwear — there’s a LOT.
And now, to really dig in, here is how my last period went, in table form, because I don’t know how else to share results! (Researcher by day…period underwear evangelist by night? Who am I kidding?! Anyone who’s stayed in research as long as I have is a researcher at heart, 24/7, about ALL THE THINGS.)
|Day/Flow||Brand and Type||Extra Commentary|
|Day 0 – the “I think my period will start today? Maybe?” day. Telltale sign for me is a terrible headache.||Cora Period Underwear |
Only 1 style – black, bikini; super comfy, like basic cotton undies
Wore this until my period actually started, and through the first few hours of we’re-just-getting-started flow.
|Day 1 – heavy flow, with a side of cramps||Uniqlo AIRism Period High-Rise Briefs |
Lots of colors, smooth fabric, no bothersome seams, higher rise gives a comforting compression
The Period Company – The Heavy Period, High-Waisted
Black cotton, kind of bulky – definitely not sexy. But you know what? I do not feel sexy on this day of my period! I want something comfortable that will deliver.
|Wore Uniqlo Period Briefs for ~8 hours, then switched to The Heavy Period. Could also reverse this order.|
|Night between Day 1 and 2 – previously my most likely to leak night||The Period Company – The Sleeper Period |
Kind of like bike shorts with thick padding. It’s gonna get the job done. Trust.
Changed into these right before bed and through a few hours the next morning.
|Day 2 – heavy flow but less cramping. Can usually feel my flow starting to lessen by end of the day. |
Also, a good day for laundry, if you can swing it!
|Ruby Love – any style |
Ruby Love – double-sided pad
Layering in the reusable pad is a nice feature, especially when it’s time for a change and you don’t want to have to completely remove and change into fresh period undies.
The Period Company – Sporty Period
Less bulky than their other styles, more of a smooth, stretchy fabric. Comfortable through a workout.
Wore the Ruby Love underwear with their double-sided pad for ~6-8 hours, then removed the pad and continued with just the underwear for another ~6-8 hours. Eventually changed to The Period Company’s Sporty Period underwear for a workout. This combo took me through the night into Day 3.
(Might reverse this order depending on if I’m fitting a workout in before or after the work day.)
|Days 3-5 – The worst is over! For me, this means less, um….liquidy flow, but we’ve still got other properties to deal with!||Ruby Love, Cora, or Uniqlo – any of these should last the whole day.|
The Period Company – reusable pads
These have fasteners that worked surprisingly well for me! Total game changer.
|By days 4 and 5, any period underwear will last the whole day. I can also wear my regular undies with The Period Company’s reusable pads. Would also be a good Day 0 option, now that I think about it!|
This is where the laundry day could be helpful, especially if you are trying to minimize the number of pairs of period underwear you need to buy.
And there you have it! An example of how I make period underwear work for me. Overall, I’m super happy with period underwear, and actually have found it to be way more comfortable.
Thrilling, too, that there are so many good options to help keep pads and tampons out of the landfill!
If you have more questions, most of the company websites I linked above have additional information and tips. The Period Company has an especially good FAQ section, including answers to dealing with clots, how to deal when you’re at work, how to calculate how many pairs of underwear you need, and more.
This article from The Sierra Club is worth a read, as well as the the report they link to from Mamavation, which discusses the presence of toxic PFAS chemicals in different brands of period underwear, and includes the test results of 20 different pairs. Out of the brands in my current rotation, Cora had very low levels of fluorine found and The Period Company had none. Uniqlo and Ruby Love were not amongst the brands they tested.
Thanks for reading, and every day is Earth Day!
Oh hey, Pinners! This one’s for you…
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Thank you for this!! I’ve got both my teen girls on period underwear, ever since I first heard about them 2-3 years ago, but I never quite knew what the brand differences are or what product is best. This is super helpful and I’m going to have my girls read it, too!
I use Knix. More for just in case days. They are also great for hikes and other sweaty days where you are going to be out and about for the whole day. They are great for tight equestrian clothing when want to avoid worrying about sweat show thru or light colored pants.
This is extremely helpful! Thank you so much for such thorough information. My period days are about over (hooray!) but my daughter is going to start literally any second. I think these may be a good option for her.
I love period panties (I’m a Thinx hiphuggers girl — a mix of their normal flow and heavy flow) and really wish they were around when I was a teenager. These would have been so much more comfortable than those phonebook sized pads I used to use!
Super helpful! Glad these exist.
Love period undies too. I was just about to stock up on fresh Thinx but maybe I’ll branch out.
But please, how did you do vacation? I’ve switched back to tampons for travel because I can’t figure it out!
For vacay, I layer a reusable pad-type thing (Ruby Love has a version you can insert and Period Company has one with a snap closure) on top of my period underwear. A lot easier to remove and just stick into a resealable bag or something to wash later. Depending on how long the travel day is or which day it is in my cycle, I can then rely on the period underwear itself or add another reusable pad. Hope that makes sense!
This is one of the best posts I’ve read on here in a long time. Thank you for sharing your helpful and thoughtful research with us!
Recommend diva cup/equivalent for travel (and also normal use). Going on a 5 day hike and got your period – no worries! Super easy to clean (just rinse with a little water) and good to go again. A buddy told me to change it in the shower which is genius advice if you can. Like anything, initially had to buy a couple to find one that I was totally happy with. At the end of my period, I’ve figured out the best way to give it a thorough clean it after a initial hand wash is put it on the top rack of the dishwasher
Check out KT by Knix or Ruby Love for period swimsuits!
I’ve used 3 different styles of Thinx, but I hate them. I’m excited to try these other brands. Thanks!
So glad you mentioned the Mamavation article re PFAS. I wish I had read it before I ordered Ruby Love for my daughter because I cannot return them.
Thanks! That does make sense. The reusable pads weren’t on my radar before. I might have to check it out.