That headline promises a lot, so let’s get right into it. The $32 product in the title is underwear, specifically period underwear, and even more specifically Thinx underwear. The brand is not new (it launched in 2014), but I only took the plunge last April and am so freaking fantastically in love with them, I decided it was necessary to spread the good word with a thorough review. I have bought friends pairs (and they’re not exactly cheap) for no other reason other than I wanted to change their lives too like some period panty fairy godmother.
Before we get too far into it, a couple of important notes: This post is not sponsored, and the underwear was purchased, not gifted, by the women quoted in this piece. In fact, even though editors like myself talk to PR people all day, Thinx’s PR does not know about this story—at least they won't until Google Alerts notifies them this was published (hi, Thinx!).
Additionally, last year Thinx founder Miki Agrawal stepped down as CEO amid accusations of sexual harassment, among other HR issues. The company is reportedly working on its company culture, and Vox covered it in depth, if you’d like to know more. I’m choosing to focus this piece on reviewing the product, so let’s get back to the panties.
The journey to period panty land
About six months ago, I started feeling increasingly weird about the chemicals in my previously beloved Tampax Pearl tampons. Organic tampons were becoming more and more mainstream, which for me underscored that, yep, inserting chlorine-bleached cotton into myself is probably not a decision I want to make.
Rather than take this thing slow and test organic tampons or pads, I jumped straight to the Lena cup. I tried it a few times, had some light leaking and found removing it to be a tad more jarring than I wanted to tolerate. At a crossroads, I ordered a $32 pair of Thinx. *Cue clouds parting to reveal a glowing pair of period panties.*
Note: At the time I purchased, a full coverage pair cost $32, and it appears the prices have been raised to $34 since then.
I could wax poetic, but here is the gist: For me, there is something wonderful about free bleeding. It’s just my menstruating self and my panties, taking on the world. Panties that, for the record, feel like regular underwear. I liken wearing them to the freeing feeling of taking your bra off. I’m wearing one less thing and I’m unburdened from toxic tampon concerns or the unfortunate paddieness (don’t spellcheck that) of pads. I would wear them exclusively throughout my period. I just need to buy several more pairs first.
Also, the environmental impact! Yes, I bought them to treat myself better, but I adore coincidentally treating the planet better as well. Let me offer you a crazy fact: It takes regular tampons 500 years to decompose. That means my tampons are still going to be on the planet when my hypothetical great-great-great-great-great grandkids would be around. One site says pads and tampons only make up 0.5% of lifetime personal landfill waste, but I’m all for minimizing the waste I produce, even if it’s not a significant portion.
Meet the board of Thinx users
My period is on the lighter side, so I wanted to tap a group of ladies to make sure all flows were represented. All of us purchased our Thinx underwear (and are not holding back any opinions) and have used them from anywhere from a few months to over a year. Here are our flows:
Kat (that’s me!): Light to medium, emphasis on the light
Sacha: Medium for the first two days, then light for the next two to three
Michelle: Relentless—JK, heavy
Q: How long can you wear them for? Also, tell me about leakage.
How you use Thinx depends a lot on your flow. Even the heaviest of flows found them a welcome and helpful addition to their period routine. If you’re on the lighter side, it’s easier to use them as a complete replacement for pads or tampons.
Light to Medium Flow:
“I can wear the same pair all day! I switch into a fresh pair for nighttime. No leaks ever for me. I also got my period a few days before my wedding (I mean, come on, universe) and was worried about how I’d deal with that and a white dress (see my pic below). Luckily, a pair of the Thinx nude cheeky underwear did the trick all day and night. There were absolutely no leaks and you couldn’t see a panty line, either.” — Lindsey
“I’ve worn a pair all night (with nothing else), and then gone straight into the following day, changing them out by the next evening. I know when to change them when I start feeling a little damp. I’ve never leaked before.” — Kat
“I actually only felt comfortable wearing them on my lighter days or when my flow was spotty. On those days, I didn’t have to change the underwear as much, which I felt better about because I didn’t want to carry the used underwear around with me at work. I also didn’t feel that secure in the underwear. It felt a little loose, or perhaps I had the wrong size, but I didn’t trust that it wouldn’t leak on the heavier days.” — Sacha
Medium to Heavy Flow:
“I normally wear a pad and tampon to bed, so I wear Thinx exclusively as tampon insurance when I sleep during my period.” — Michelle
“I’ve worn Thinx to sleep on a heavy day without a tampon, as well as with a tampon on another night while sleeping at least a solid consecutive six hours. I changed them in the morning with no staining or leaking onto the bed sheets. Because each woman has a different flow to her cycle, you just have to feel it out. I did come close to experiencing a leak once, but that was a very heavy flow corresponding with unusual stress in my life. As we all have lived through, stress can really make a f*cked up period!” — Supriya
Q: What about washing them? Do I have to wash them alone or hand-wash them?
The majority of our reviewers toss their Thinx underwear in the washing machine along with their normal clothes after giving them a pre-rinse under cold water. Confession: Sometimes I don’t get to the pre-rinse part, and I still haven’t had any issues just laundering them like normal underwear.
Supriya, who has been using the product for the longest of the group has it down to a science, “When I remove my Thinx underwear, I run them under cold water so no period stains will set in my underwear. After about a day, when they are dry, I put them in a small lingerie mesh bag and throw them in the wash. It’s not necessary or unsanitary to launder your underwear along with other items. I’ve never seen any stains from the Thinx onto my other laundry.”
If you’re not comfortable with mixing your Thinx in with other laundry, Lindsey recommends hand washing: “To be perfectly honest, it freaks me out to wash my clothes when I know a little bit of period blood is in the mix, so I usually rinse them by hand. Though once, they were washed with other clothes when my husband did a load and I’d forgotten they were in the laundry basket, and I hadn’t noticed any issues afterward.”
Q: Do they develop a smell over time?
“No, I’ve worn my Thinx for almost every period, with the exception of possibly five times, in the past 14 months of having purchased my Thinx period panties, and I’ve got to tell you, these do not develop a smell over time,” says Supriya. None of the other testers have found a lingering smell either, though one time I did wash one pair twice after I smelled them and thought they had a faint odor.
Sometimes I am guilty of overpacking my laundry machine, so that might have been the culprit there. I also use non-toxic unscented laundry detergent, so any scents are not concealed by perfumes used in regular laundry detergent. “It is important to note that as supportive and life-changing as these things are, they are not pure magic. You’ve gotta take care of your Thinx period underwear, in the same way you would any other item in your wardrobe,” Supriya notes.
Q: Which style should I buy?
I’ve worn the cotton bikini, cotton brief, cotton thong, and regular thong. If you’d like to try a thong, which are better for lighter days because they hold up to 1/2 tampon’s worth of blood, I prefer the regular thong. That style feels closer to a Hanky Panky style thong than the cotton version. For heavier days, overnight wear, or days when you prefer full coverage, I find the brief and bikini interchangeable and both lovely. Though the brief holds a bit more blood according to the Thinx website.
On the future of period panties
Two of our reviewers mentioned they want to see even more developments in the feminine care industry. “I think it's high time that the feminine care industry was disrupted and women were presented with other options outside of the regular pads and tampons, which haven't proven entirely safe. I like the idea of period panties, but I still think we could push it a little further,” says Sacha.
Michelle notes, “The heavy days option only holds up to two tampons worth of bleeding. In my opinion, this is like having a line of bras but only going up to a C cup. I LOVE (love!) my Thinx in lieu of a pad for sleeping during my period because I feel secure, the fit is great, and I like that it's a more environmentally friendly option, but there is no way I would wear these without a tampon if I knew I was going to be away from home or unable to change for a few hours (2 tampons = just a segment of the day = would have to change my underwear at work). Maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to try. Or, brands out there, if you're reading this, show us what you've got.”
Thinx has forever changed my life for the better, and as my interviews with other users show, the brand has been a positive addition to all of our lives as well. The innovation and attention to a space that has historically been ignored are encouraging, and we’re ready for even more.
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Next up, check out our review of the best basic white tee.