a Period Nirvana resource
Period underwear are leakproof garments with varying levels of absorbency built to hold some or all of your flow.
It started with one brand, Lunapads (now known as Aisle,) which introduced the world to their Lunapanties in the early 2000s. They created absorbent and leakproof underwear for periods. It was a new concept, and years before its time.
In 2011 THINX crowdfunded their version of the “period panty” and soon, thanks to later outside investment funding, made the term a household name with their sweeping advertising campaigns and media coverage. Now there is a lot of competition, with brands like Canada-based Knix, Australia-based Modibodi, and newcomer US-based cup company Saalt Wear, adding new styles, colors, and technologies to this arena.
To help you shop and find the best period underwear for you, Period Nirvana has compiled a chart of top period underwear brands and data on the number of styles, the average price per pair, their size ranges offered, and more.
Scroll inside the chart to view all brands and use the arrows to sort by sizes, price, or the number of styles offered. What this post aims to show is that it’s hard for any ONE brand to be everything to everyone, but amongst all of the brands, you can find what works for you. Scroll past the period underwear chart for more information to help you decide which are worth your money!
*Being listed on this chart should not be taken as an endorsement of the brand or quality. This chart is intended to present you with information on the more widely known brands, regardless of the company’s ethics or product quality.
Here are a few points to consider when choosing the best period underwear for your comfort, budget, and ethics.
Quality and Comfort
I don’t know about you but I’m very picky about my underwear. I like them as comfortable and as breathable as possible. Fabric technology plays a huge role in comfort for me. I like underwear to have some breathability without leaks, which is hard to achieve.
Every company chooses a combination of different fabrics, both for the body of the underwear and for the all-important absorbent zone. Natural fibers are easier to care for and wash, and less prone to holding onto unpleasant odor than synthetics. Natural fibers are also typically more breathable.
The process of making textile fabrics can be less sustainable than we want to believe. Bamboo and Rayon from Bamboo are popular fabrics for absorbencies but the process to make the fabric means the end result is practically synthetic.
Tencel®, which is the fabric used by Aisle, is the best option if you want a more sustainably produced product. A combination of Polyamide and Elastene (Spandex/Lycra) is the basis of the new Saalt Wear design, and this is a durable fabric akin to nylon. ModiBodi uses microfiber as their absorbent layer, a fabric well known for trapping and holding odors without a good wash routine. This is because the fiber itself when seen under a microscope is not a solid rod, it has places for things to hide, unlike cotton fibers. This is what makes microfiber such a popular choice for absorbent fabrics but one that ultimately makes it prone to retaining odors.
I’ve spent a lot of time researching fabric science as a former cloth diapering parent and writer on the subject; the principles of laundering, breathability, and odor retention are the same but we are considering menstrual blood and fluids. I’ll briefly explain laundering advice later in this article.
For the leakproof aspect of period underwear you are mostly seeing two types of materials: PUL and TPU. There is little material difference in these options, though there are some who argue that TPU is slightly more breathable but the same level of waterproof.
Once again my cloth diaper experience is coming in clutch here. PUL stands for Polyurethane Laminate and TPU is short for Thermoplastic Polyurethane. Both adhere an inner layer of laminate to an outer layer of polyester. This layer makes the period underwear leakproof. PUL and TPU are more breathable than the rubber pants of the old days and it likely won’t cause skin irritation, but the core zone where this is layered into the underwear will be less breathable. I prefer a smaller area of coverage for this reason, but I mostly wear mine for backups or light days.
Period Underwear Absorbency and Use
Do you need period underwear for back-up with your cup, your light days, or as your full-time solution? This will definitely affect which brand and style you will want.
Virtually all brands offer options in all absorbency levels, but some go above and beyond in offering fuller coverage options that work well for heavier periods and overnights. Period Co. have a full coverage “sleeper” model.
One brand that is great for full-time wear is ModiBodi, because they offer underwear styles with detachable side hooks. This allows you to remove and replace with a fresh pair midday without fully undressing – brilliant!
Similarly, Aisle offers pockets at each end designed for their reusable boosters that you can place in and switch for a fresh booster. My biggest issue with period underwear for full-time wear is the cold/wet feeling I get after hours of wearing them. It feels much like pulling up a wet bathing suit after you visit the toilet. Some underwear is worse than others for this, with the top layers of Aisle and Knix best for this so far of those I have tried. I prefer a menstrual disc or cup, with period underwear only for light spotty days or as a backup. But if I wore full time being able to easily change out pairs or top layers is a huge selling point.
One thing people don’t discuss about wearing period underwear or cloth pads is that the thickest, globbiest mucousy portions of what makes up your menstrual fluid won’t all absorb into the fabric. I find that when I go to the toilet, which is often on my period (just saying period poops are the worst!) I can wipe any globs that haven’t been absorbed into the fabric off with toilet paper. But this is the same story of disposable pads as well. As much as I’d like to say period underwear is more magical and solved this problem, so far for me they have not. Crotch clots are still a thing.
Inclusive Designs and/or Language
Many period underwear companies go beyond thongs and lace-trimmed bikinis. This allows every person with a period to find a style they feel comfortable in, and most importantly, gives them confident protection with less chance of dysphoria. Leakproof underwear, like briefs or boxer cuts, means that everyone can love their period.
TomboyX, Revol, Aisle, and THINX offer brief styles. In my research, I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusive language used in nearly all of the period underwear listings, even if the brands themselves have not always been fully inclusive in marketing and on social media. I hope all period companies continue to make their educational materials, marketing, product descriptions, and imagery inclusive.
And of course, if you want thongs and feminine styling this is available to you as well! Revol Undies is probably the best at this, with sexy styles across their very size-inclusive range. There are lots of options that cover the full spectrum of underwear styles to make everyone happy and feel their best.
Period Underwear Size Ranges
Does this period underwear brand offer a full range of sizes? That’s what this chart will help you find out in one easy to view page. I chose not to list the teen brands individually at the moment, but you can reference the chart to see which brands have teen sizes available which include Knix, Thinx, Ruby Love, and Period Co.
Period underwear are perfect for tween and teens so to have many options is fantastic. The brands TomboyX, Revol, Modibodi, and Aisle are the most size-inclusive with offerings in the 5XL-6XL ranges. Aisle worked with plus-size lingerie fitting experts and real people to ensure their plus-size ranges were designed to FIT and feel good. The alternative, simply grading up the sizing using a mathematical scale, doesn’t always yield great results.
Overseas manufacturing is not always an indication that manufacturing is unethical and/or low-quality, however, I did want to include the country of manufacture for each brand. Notably, TomboyX has an informational page about their sustainable fabrics and the fashion industry’s dilemma when it comes to manufacturing. Domestic textile manufacturing in the US is a dying industry; most garment manufacturers have no choice but to make their products overseas. Aisle and Revol are manufactured in Canada. Ruby Love and Dear Kate are the only USA manufactured period underwear on this chart.
Price and Set Discounts
Price is almost always the bottom line when it comes to purchasing decisions. We can’t all have unlimited budgets, and the most “bang for the buck” balanced with our personal preferences is usually where the hammer falls. The average price per pair of period underwear is exactly $30 (using the data of the averages I calculated for each brand and taking a total average of all brands in the chart).
This is why the chart includes if brands offer some level of discount on multiple pairs, or offers “cycle sets” or “bundles” at a lower price per pair. It would be my advice to all the savvy shoppers out there to follow your favorite brands on social media and sign up for their newsletters. You’ll be notified about their sales.
Around Black Friday is a great time to stock up, several of the brands had discounted pairs as steep as 50% off, most were at least offering 20% off. How many pairs of period underwear do you need? To calculate how many pairs you would need for your period consider if you’re wearing for full-time or back-up (plan for 2-3 pairs per day if going full-time, 1 per day as back-up) and multiply by 3 (the number of maximum days you should go between washing!)
Cleaning and Caring for Period Underwear
You will be provided with washing instructions when you purchase from your brand. My advice is to rinse your heavily soiled period underwear in cold water in your sink after wear and NEVER use any fabric softeners on leakproof underwear (these interfere with the absorbency of fabrics and coat them with chemicals that will ruin them.) Then hang to dry if at all possible.
I have pairs as old as 5+ years that are barely hanging in there; they are workable, but elastic is in sad shape. That’s why I recently stocked up on new pairs from my own personal favorite brand (Aisle) and added a few from new brands I haven’t tried yet to my personal stash. A build-up of detergent can cause odors in period underwear. You can try “stripping” them to remove the odors. Period underwear designs have many layers of various fabrics in the core zone and that can give detergents and other icky things places to hide and build up.
Harsh chemicals can cause that waterproof layer to “delaminate” so it’s best to follow your brand’s washing guidance or risk shortening the lifespan of your pairs. Things with spandex and elastics will always wear out in time, these things are not meant to last a lifetime. Line drying of your underwear (period or regular) is intended to help them last longer. It is an unfeasible ask for most busy people who hardly have time to do laundry, let alone separate and line dry! I mostly tumble dry my underwear (or throw them across the bathtub ledge) and if they wear faster, am ok with the consequences in exchange for ease. Period.Co does say you can tumble dry their underwear, while most say to line dry. But at $14 a pair they probably assume you’re ok with a shorter lifespan, too.
The best period underwear (according to me)
While I haven’t been able to create a comprehensive review (coming soon!) I wanted to add a little about my experience with some of the brands listed in the chart that I can share thus far.
- Aisle: a forever favorite for their forward-thinking, social justice, size and language inclusivity, and quality – they were the FIRST period underwear! Their new colors are gorgeous and I find them the most comfortable brand of them all, not to mention, true to size.
- Knix: lots of styles to choose from and fantastic comfort. I’m not a fan of that “sport” material of spandex/nylon they use (same used by Proof) but they’re trim and do the job and if you’re looking for a trimmer, sleeker, seamless style and don’t need full-time protection this is a good one. These ran small for me in the style I tried. (use code KNIXPARTNER10 for $10 off your order)
- Joyja: I didn’t expect much from this brand but they have a lot of fun prints and the body of their underwear is soft and comfortable. They were true to size in the style I tried. The quality is definitely closer to a “pack of underwear from Wal-Mart” but frankly, I usually like those packaged undies. Admittedly, I do not have fancy taste in undergarments.
- Saalt Wear: The newest brand I’ve tried, these period underwear have are light and airy in a way I didn’t think possible for period underwear. They work as well as my other favorite, but the tailoring, fit, and comfort are impeccable. They don’t have the same size range as other brands and don’t offer inclusive styles like briefs or boxers at this time.
- Period.Co: this is a new brand that is already grabbing a lot of media. They only offer black at this time. I ordered their high-rise and the core was far thicker than any brand I’ve ever tried, somewhat stiff from the bulk, and wore more like a diaper than the trimmer period underwear I am used to. I assumed I’d ordered an overnight level of protection so I looked back at the product description but it doesn’t say it’s meant to be FULL protection. While I liked the cut and the feel of the underwear’s body I don’t see myself ever wearing these by choice when I have other pairs I love more. But, they weren’t exactly torture so for the price it might be worth it if you’re cash strapped. Otherwise, I’d look for another brand.
I haven’t tried every brand listed on this chart. I have tried Knix, Joyja, Proof, Period Co., THINX, and Aisle. All products I purchased myself.
Bottomline (get it…?)
There are so many options out there there it’s possible to find the exact style, color, and absorbency that you need. My advice? Explore websites of the brands you find here that ticks most of your boxes, then decide which brand(s) that call your name. Read reviews of the products on their websites or retailers’ websites. Be sure to follow @PeriodNirvana on IG for updates on when more period underwear reviews are posted!
I provided links in the chart to shop through, most links go to the brands directly and some are to Amazon. A few links are affiliate links and shopping through those provides a commission to Period Nirvana which helps support the work we do here providing free education and support.
Spot a mistake or outdated data? Please email your find to kim @ periodnirvana.com
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