The 7 Best Period Underwear Styles of 2021

Feel good and reduce waste with these period panties

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The Rundown
"With their lacy waistband, these panties are just as pretty as your regulars but hold one pad’s worth of flow."
"Made from bamboo, these affordable panties provide greater breathability than their cotton counterparts."
"Coming in five fun patterns, these panties are designed to fit teens and tweens."
"Insert the included booster into the panties for another two tampons worth of leak coverage."
"Dear Kate makes working out on your period as easy as slipping on a pair of yoga pants."
"Holding up to a record eight tampon's worth of flow, these panties are a lifesaver."
"Roomy and comfy, these boxers easily transition from daytime to bedtime."

The environmental impact of monthly periods can be staggering. Over 5.8 billion tampons were sold in the United States in 2018 alone, and estimates suggest one person can use between five and 15 thousand pads and tampons in a lifetime. All of that plastic and packaging is ultimately destined for landfills, or worse. The plastic applicator that is a staple of many tampon brands is the fifth most common item to be found washed up on beaches across Europe.

Beyond this, some people find that plastic can cause health problems too. Yeast infections and other vaginal irritations can be caused by dampness and heat being trapped in the most delicate part of your body. Both plastic-based pads and tampons can exacerbate this, creating a moisture-rich environment where infections thrive.

How you deal with your period is a deeply personal choice, and here at Treehugger, we respect that for some people, going zero-waste when it comes to periods isn't the right option. But if you are looking to use fewer disposable products, there are a number of great alternatives, from menstrual cups to DIY pads, and of course, period underwear.

Many people choose to switch away from conventional products to reusable period underwear to cut down on or replace single-use period products. Period panties both look and feel almost identical to your normal ones but can absorb several tampons’ worth of blood, depending on the style you choose. Organic cotton and other sustainable fabrics can offer better breathability.

We surveyed the market to bring you our top recommendations for sustainable period underwear, to help you feel more comfortable and confident, whatever the time of the month.

Best Overall: Thinx Hiphugger

Thinx Hiphugger Panty

If there’s one company that brought period underwear into the mainstream, it’s undeniably Thinx. The company was founded with the mission of empowering people to feel proud of their bodies, and their range of comfortable and reliably absorbent period panties achieves just that. 

The Hiphugger is one of Thinx's most popular lines. It's available in seven different colors, offers a full fit and a lacy waistband. They’re indistinguishable from your regular underpants and just as comfy, but hold one regular pad’s worth of flow—or double that if you opt for the Super Hiphugger. They’re also certified according to Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX, meaning there’s nothing toxic in this underwear.

Good to Know

A big part of the problem with disposable pads and tampons lies in the sheer quantity of plastic found in each period hygiene product. Not only is plastic a by-product of the dirty fossil fuel industry, but the average pad contains the equivalent of four plastic shopping bags. These materials can take hundreds of years to break down.

Best Budget: Bambody Period Panties

Bambody Period Panties - Hipster for Tweens & Women

Bambody has achieved stylish, leak-proof underwear at an affordable price-point. The main body of the underwear is made from bamboo fabric, which provides greater breathability than cotton. The material can help keep you dry and comfortable while lowering the risk of unpleasant infections. We also love the bikini with the hip-level elastic lace waistband (especially when combined with one of Bambody’s soft, non-underwired lounge bralettes).

Best for Teens: Thinx Super Shorty

Thinx Super Shorty

Starting menses can be a stressful time for teens, particularly for young people who have irregular cycles that can be unpredictable. Thinx BTWN period panties can help make it a little easier. They're available in five fun patterns and colors. Made from organic cotton—which produces up to 46 percent less greenhouse gases than regular cotton—they’re also incredibly kind to the environment and certified as toxic-free by OEKO-TEX. 

These panties aren’t just a way for your teen to feel more confident and comfortable while menstruating. Every purchase of a Thinx product is a donation towards a range of important social causes, including campaigning to end period poverty for students unable to afford pads or tampons. Thinx also partners with schools to provide inclusive and medically-accurate curricula to young people across the United States.

Best Leakproof: Aisle Bikini

Aisle Bikini

Not only do these panties look super cute (there’s no need to feel frumpy even if it is your time of the month), but they hold four tampons’ worth of flow and over their lifetime can replace an impressive 85 regular pads. To achieve this, these panties use a clever network of quick-wicking mesh, OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Certified fibers and breathable organic cotton to produce a leak proof panty.

What’s more, they even have booster washable pads that you can insert directly into the underwear for added protection, increasing the absorbency by a further two tampons’ worth.

Earth-friendly products are the name of the game with these period underwear, which come from a company that first started making reusable period products back in the early 90s. They’ve learned a lot, and been B CORP certified, meaning they give back to the community at every possible step of the way.

Best for Sport: Dear Kate Go Commando Yoga Pants

Dear Kate Yoga Pants

Doing exercise while on your period can be a bloody nightmare—literally. Luckily, we have Dear Kate to thank for their inspired range of period underwear that doubles up as yoga pants.

Calf-length and in a range of universe-inspired patterns, these nylon, three-layer, silky-soft, and 100 percent plastic-free yoga pants are designed to be as moisture-wicking as they are flexible. Whether you’re out running or inside practicing your downward-facing dog, there’s no doubt you’ll be able to manage the same moves as normal in this cute addition to your menstruation routine. 

Dear Kate isn’t just helping people with periods fight unwelcome stains, odors, and leaks and rid us of panty liners for good, though. By spending over $100 in their store, you’re helping to donate one of their range to those around the world who don’t have access to intimate hygiene products.

Best for Heavy Flow: Knix Super Leakproof Cheeky

Knix Super Leakproof Cheeky

Anyone with a heavy flow, raise your hand. These plain yet super absorbent panties from Knix should take pride of place in your underwear drawer. When we’re talking heavy, we’re really are talking heavy: These will hold a record eight tampons’ worth, despite having an ultra-thin gusset. They’re a lifesaver if you’ve ever tried and failed to find period products that can keep up with your body and they look fantastic (and cheeky!) on. 

But it doesn’t end here. Their use of both moisture-wicking and antimicrobial materials in the gusset liner will prevent yeast infections and other such unwelcome visitors. An extra leak-proof layer also guarantees there will be no spotting: just confident and comfortable wear. 

The best thing about this brand, however, is the fact that practically all of their period underwear can be bought as part of a matching lingerie set—which is a win for anyone who still wants to feel sexy (and coordinated!) regardless of what’s going on with their body.

Best for Comfort: Aisle Boxer Brief

Aisle Boxer Brief

When it’s the time of the month and those stomach cramps kick in, there’s probably little you want to do except stretch out on the sofa with a blanket in front of the TV. If this sounds like your vibe, these boxer briefs may be what you’ve been searching for.

To put it bluntly, these are the underwear equivalent of a massive hug. They’re roomy and comfy and will work as bedtime period underwear, for day-to-day wear and for humans with periods who prefer not to wear panties.

As with all Aisle products, you can find out how many disposable pads you’ve replaced with your purchase (77 in this case), and combine them with a booster for an extra two tampons’ worth if it’s that kind of day. Finally, wear them safe in the knowledge that they’re OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Certified, meaning your undergarment has been made without any toxic chemicals.

Final Verdict

Period underwear is a great way to cut down on disposable plastic in your life. Our all-around recommendation is the Thinx Hiphugger. If you’re looking for a lower-cost option, then check out Bambody's Period Panties

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Here at Treehugger, we’re dedicated to helping our readers cut waste from their day-to-day lives. We’ve reviewed dozens of low-waste period products to help you find the best choice for your body and lifestyle.