The 12 Best Period Underwear For Every Kind of Flow

From the ever-popular Thinx Super Hiphugger and beyond.

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Best Period Underwear
Photo: Puma/ Saalt/ InStyle

We're all quick to talk about the lacy thongs and supersoft cotton briefs we recently bought. But something about the phrase "period underwear" often causes blank stares. Well, they're literally a pair of absorbent panties that do the job of a pad or a tampon, but at the end of the day, you just throw them in the wash, instead of the trash.

However, finding the right pair of period underwear can be a feat. But we're here to help with that. After a deep dive into new and emerging brands, editor trials, and chats with experts in the field, we've amassed a selection of the best options for every need. Overall, we decided the Thinx Super Hiphugger checked all of the necessary boxes, going above and beyond with fabric, fit, and flow capacity.

But for those who would like to shop around, ahead, find the best period underwear.

Our Picks

Best Overall: Period. The Heavy Period Bikini

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What We Love: It offers a huge amount of absorbency without extra bulk.

What We Don't Love: They run large.

This pair of period panties is made for the heaviest of flow days, absorbing up to 9 tampons worth of flow at a time, which is by far the most absorption power of any period panties we came across in our research. Even though they're extra-padded, they remain soft and sleek without any bulk. InStyle Senior Fashion Editor, Samantha Sutton, swears by the Period. brand bikinis. "I never feel like I'm risking it when I slip them on, even on super heavy days, and they're also extremely comfy — like normal underwear just with extra padding," she shares. "The fact that they're functional and easy to wear makes sense, since the company was co-founded by celebrity stylist, Karla Welch," she adds. Welch, a powerhouse Hollywood stylist who has called Karlie Kloss, Lorde, Justin Bieber, and more her clients, knows how to dress a body on your best and your worst days. Periods don't stop for the paparazzi. And her knowledge of the body and fit clearly shows. And a pro tip from Sutton? "When you're done, you're technically supposed to rinse them out in the sink, but I often just throw them in the washing machine, and they come out brand new."

Sizes: XS-6X | Colors: Black, Light Tan, Medium Tan, Brown, Pink | Absorbency: Heavy | Materials: 95% Organic Cotton, 5% Spandex Jersey

Best Value: Bambody Absorbent Bikini

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What We Love: The lace waistline on these panties is not only ultra-comfortable, but makes them feel a bit sexier as well.

What We Don't Love: These are not great for heavier flow days, as the absorbency level is roughly two tampons-worth.

InStyle Assistant Commerce Editor, Emily Cieslak, calls Bambody's absorbent bikini "the sexiest pair of period panties I own." Not only does it feature a high-cut leg, but also a comfortable and sultry lace waistband that you likely attribute to your favorite thongs, too. To that, she adds, "they are cheaper than your typical period underwear, but they are just as effective." In fact, they retail for an average of $5-$10 less than their competitors. The material is made of bamboo, which is a great option when it comes to moisture-wicking material. According to The Bamboo Factory, "Bamboo fibers give you the best of both worlds. They suck up sweat so it does not stay on your skin for any lengthy period, and they also release it onto the surface of the fabric so that it can evaporate."

Sizes: XS-4XL | Colors: Black, Red, Blue + Red, Blue + Violet, Black + Beige | Absorbency: Medium | Materials: Bamboo, Cotton, and Spandex blend

Also available at Amazon

Best Splurge: Proof. Leak Proof High Waisted Lace Brief

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What We Love: The high-waisted vintage feel.

What We Don't Love: They only come in black.

With a vintage-inspired high-waisted look, side lace panels, and — of course — powerful absorbency that equals roughly three regular tampons, you'll forget this pair is even period underwear. These panties from Proof. were made for those who love the beauty of Agent Provocateur and dream about that barely-there thong from Kiki De Montparnasse. This design also boasts the most full-coverage option of the bunch with its high-waist and full brief bottom. What's more, the panties have an extended lining to keep you covered as you move, stretch, and go about your day. And while there are dramatic side panels of sheer stretch lace, the nylon and spandex blend will wick away moisture and remain soft on your skin. As for the gusset, the brand has patented their Leak-Loc technology to ensure maximum absorption with minimal bulk. Each pair of has four unique levels of protection: the Quick-Wick (wicks away moisture), the Drop-Stop, (outfitted with antimicrobial fibers to prevent bacterial growth), the Seep-Shield Liner (offers the full absorption power of the pairs), and No-Flo later (soft, waterproof fabric that will sit on the exterior).

Sizes: XS-XL | Colors: Black | Absorbency: Medium | Materials: 75% Nylon, 25% Spandex

Best Plus-Size Style: Aisle Boost Brief

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What We Love: The size-inclusive range that pays special attention to the fit of plus-size options.

What We Don't Love: They are a bit pricey.

While many of the brands on this list boast a size-inclusive range, few do it quite as well as Aisle, which offers sizes XS–5X for each product. Because plus-size and straight-size bodies have different needs, the brand went the extra mile by partnering with Exit 21, an apparel solutions company, to ensure all pairs fit every customer well, regardless of size. We spoke to Aisle co-founder and CEO Suzanne Siemens, who explained that the partnership came about because she believes, "it is a fundamental value of our brand that everyone should feel included when they come to Aisle [...] whether it's in the style that they choose, in the specific cut that they're looking for, or in their gender expression, or in their size." The grading process that many companies use is "just adding percentages equally amongst the sizes," but Siemens cautions, "in doing that, you give a plus customer one of those graded products, it just won't fit their body the way that their body is personally fitting them." To that, she adds, "in particular, because we have been doing this for so long, when you get your period, you have a lot of emotions around your period […] we want to make sure that people have a really positive experience with the brand at a time where it really matters."

Sizes: XS-5X | Colors: Black, Maroon, Gold, Camo | Absorbency: Heavy | Materials: Tencel, Organic Cotton, and Spandex blend

Best For Light Flow Days: Knix Leakproof Thong

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What We Love: Even with minimal coverage, it still prevents leakage.

What We Don't Love: These run small.

A thong…that is also leak-proof? You got it. Knix crafted a high-waisted barely-there bottom that makes all those tight miniskirts and silk dresses totally wearable during your period. Designed with a triple-layer leak-proof weave, it's perfect flying solo on a light day, or as additional protection on a heavier flow evening. Knix uses a specially designed super leakproof technology that is all the more appreciated with a barely-there thong than any other style, though it runs throughout the line. The fabric features three layers: a top moisture-wicking HoneyKomb layer, a second super absorbent Liquid-Lock layer, and finally, a third liquid-resistant outer layer to wick away any unwanted sweat or additional moisture.

Sizes: XS-4XL︱Colors: Black, 5 Nude Tones, Purple, Green, Light Blue, Azure, Pink, Red, Leopard, Camo, Floral, Butterfly-Print, Multi Abstract︱Absorbency: Light︱Materials: 77% Nylon, 23% Lucra Xtra Life

Best Multi-Pack for Light Flow Days: Victoria's Secret Pink 3 Pack Period Panty Thong

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What We Love: The same classic fit you loved from your youth.

What We Don't Love: They don't have any neutral shades.

If you're on the hunt for a pair of underwear to wear at the beginning and end of your cycle — or just need a little bit of extra help — we love these. The notorious lingerie brand not only became more inclusive with advertising, but it also has branched out into period underwear, offering a three-pack of thongs that have the same great fit as their regular pairs but with a little extra protection. Even though they feature more padding than an everyday thong, they still fit just as effortlessly. But we only recommend them for light-flow days because they only hold about as much liquid as half of a tampon. Absorbency aside, we also appreciate that thanks to antimicrobial technology, less odorous bacteria will gather around the gusset, and the gusset itself happens to be moisture-wicking, too.

Sizes: XXS-XXL | Colors: Black, Pink Swirl | Absorbency: Light | Materials: 76% Polyamide, 24% Elastane

Best Brief for Light Flow Days: Modibodi Classic Bikini

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What We Love: It's a high-hip brief style with little bulk.

What We Don't Love: The classic thin waistband style can feel unflattering on your most bloated of days.

If you swear by Calvin Klein briefs, we think Modibodi will be just what you're looking for. This classic bikini is for light to moderate days, offering absorbency of roughly two tampons (though the brand sells the same style for heavier flow days). Cieslak loves that "they offer so many styles that come in fun prints and colors, so you still feel cute when on your period." What's more, "the fabric is SO soft and durable, holding up well after many washes," she adds. And, in keeping with their wash-and-wear quality, the brand recommends washing them before use. The website instructs, "Wash your Modibodi before wearing them for the first time. This will activate the technology in the gusset for maximum absorbency."

Sizes: XS-2XL︱Colors: Marble Black, Black, Spring Pink, Beige︱Absorbency: Light-Medium︱Materials: 95% Bamboo Viscose, 5% Spandex

Best For Heavy Flows: Thinx Super Hiphugger

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What We Love: The low-rise hipster still has a comfortable full-coverage fit.

What We Don't Love: The gusset does not reach as high in front as competitors.

Designed for your heaviest of flow days, this pair of panties is the brand's best-selling option. The comfortable hip-hugger silhouette offers full-coverage to give you confidence in its leak-prevention guarantee. Thinx uses polyamide cotton — fabric engineered to not only repel moisture and dirt but also to feel almost silky on your skin — then topped it off with a mesh waistband to ensure a flattering fit. Not only sitting at the top of the list for period panties brands, but being one of the first of its kind since inception in 2014, We love the hiphugger, but you can mix-and-match a variety of fits in bulk at a discount, too.

Sizes: XS-4X | Colors: Black, Lavender, Red | Absorbency: Heavy | Materials: 84% polyamide, 16% elastane

Also available at Amazon

Best for Working Out: Puma x Modibodi Active Brief

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What We Love: It moves with your body even as you work out.

What We Don't Love: Little color variety.

Whether you're heading to yoga class or running a marathon, moving your body — while it may help with cramps and other side effects from your period — truly puts your period underwear to the test because it's much harder to prevent leaks when you're not stationary. That's why Puma partnered with Modibodi to create an active brief (and a thong!) for that purpose. Thanks to stretchy, moisture-wicking, and anti-odor antimicrobial treatments, the fabric allows you to get through a workout without any leaks, even on a heavy flow day.

Sizes: XS-2XL | Colors: Black, Maroon | Absorbency: Medium-Heavy | Materials: 82% Recycled Polyester, 18% Spandex

Also available at Puma

Best For Overnight: Goat Union Overnight Period Underwear

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What We Love: The high-waisted, full coverage design for 8-hour nights.

What We Don't Love: Based on reviews, these run slightly on the small end, but if you size up you should be good to go.

Preparing for a night of sleeping sans-pads might sound daunting, but Goat Union designed a pair for that very fear. With a breathable material, these overnight panties are ultra-high waisted, full-coverage, and boast front and back extended absorption layers to ensure that you won't leak while you sleep. And, yes, that's for stomach and back sleepers alike. While you won't feel like you're wearing a diaper, there is definitely a noticeably upgraded padding section in these panties. In short, they're definitely designed with performance in mind more than an everyday wear silhouette.

Sizes: XS-3XL | Colors: Black | Absorbency: Heavy | Materials: 95% Bamboo Cellulose Fiber, 5% Spandex

Also available at Amazon

What to Keep in Mind

Absorbency

You know best when it comes to the absorbency level that you need, so make sure to shop accordingly. Whether you're looking for a little extra peace of mind in addition to a tampon or pad, or looking for the full monty maximum absorbency to wear solo (especially overnight) it's the most important quality to nail before making a purchase.

Fit

Fit matters just as much as absorbency. Sure, you could be wearing ultra-absorbent period panties, but if the waist doesn't hold them in place or the leg holes are too big, no amount of liner is going to prevent leakage…especially as you move. Make sure to strike that perfect balance between integrated absorbency level and the perfect fit to ensure that your panties will stay exactly where you want them.

Your Questions, Answered

How do period panties work?

Period panties work just like the underwear you wear every other day of the month, except they're equipped with an extra layer that allows it to absorb moisture like a tampon or pad would, without the risk of leaking. Shop the silhouette you love best — be it a high-waisted, hipster, bikini brief, or thong — and you'll be good to go with no other accouterments Well, as long as you've shopped the correct absorbency level, of course.

How absorbent are period panties?

The absorbency level of period panties totally depends on the brand and style you shop. While all specs are listed above, it's important to do your research. Most absorbency levels are pretty front-and-center when shopping for period panties, so you likely won't have to look very hard to find it. Not to mention that, depending on the absorbency level of your chosen panties, you should be able to wear them solo, as they were intended.

How do you clean period panties?

While it's important to read the instructions before washing pretty much any garment, as each brand will dictate different protocols depending on the material of the underwear, most suggest a hand-wash or rinse before putting them in the wash. That said, many wearers of period underwear, InStyle's own Samantha Sutton included, share that they just toss them in the laundry machine without a pre-wash and have never had a problem.

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