Better Goods Fashion

We Found The Best Period Underwear (Without Toxic Chemicals)

Better Goods

Nov 9, 2021

period panties

We reached out to 16 brands that sell menstrual underwear to ask them for details on their materials, certifications, whether they use antimicrobial treatments, and whether or not they test for PFAs.

Thinx was the first brand of period underwear launched in 2014, and in doing so became the household name when people think about menstrual panties.

In March of 2020, Jessian Choy, a journalist for Sierra Magazine, released a report stating that independent lab testing of period panties had some alarming findings.

The testing, which took place at Notre Dame University, found that Thinx panties contained per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs), a class of toxic chemicals linked to significant health impacts like cancer, reproductive problems, and endocrine disruption.

The tests looked for the presence of fluorine, a very strong indication of PFAs.

PFAs are known as "forever chemicals", and are often found in non-stick pans, fast food packaging, firefighting foams, and more. PFAs are called forever chemicals because their chemistry keeps them from degrading in normal environmental conditions.

The danger of PFAs is greater if ingested, but because these chemicals are in the underwear itself—in the "moisture wicking" layer—and are directly against the vagina, there is a major concern about the health impact these panties might have.

This is a major concern. So, how did this happen?

How Did PFAS Get In The Period Panties?

Since PFAs can be used to create a waterproof layer, it's safe to say that manufacturers added these chemicals intentionally in many cases.

The study found Thinx panties to have large amounts of the chemical (3,264 parts per million), making it clear that this was intentional.

In other cases, some brands like Saalt had 10 ppm of fluorine, which is a minimal amount. This might indicate that the PFAs are in the panties due to contamination somewhere during the production process.

In either case, any amount of PFAs is unacceptable in a menstrual product, and we would not recommend any pair of period underwear that contains any amount of PFAs.

Are PFAs In Period Panties Actually Unsafe?

It's not clear how many PFAs in period panties might be dangerous. Some brands were found to have trace amounts (Saalt with 10ppm) while others had large amounts (Thinx with 3,264 ppm).

Because we don't know the possible impact that these chemicals might have, our stance is that any level of traceable PFAs is unacceptable.

We recommend only those brands that studies found to have no PFAs whatsoever.

You Can't Trust What The Brand Says

No brand would say that they have PFAs in their underwear, and many that you look at will outright say that they don't contain the chemical.

In the case of Thinx, they advertise their products as "nontoxic, harmless, sustainable, organic, and otherwise safe for women and the environment."

Since so many brands claim to be free of PFAs, but only some were independently lab tested, we can only recommend those brands verified through testing to be free of PFAs.

The Lack of Consumer Protection Laws in Menstrual Products

There is a significant lack of consumer protection laws in place in regards to feminine hygiene products. Only two states have any such laws, and they're not even in effect yet.

California has enacted new laws that require expanded ingredient disclosure for feminine hygiene products, including period underwear. However, this law does not come into effect until January 1st, 2023. This law also only focuses on "intentionally added" ingredients and does not cover contaminants.

New York has a similar law coming into effect in October 2021, focusing on "intentionally added" ingredients. The Menstrual Products Right To Know Act, championed by New York State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, forces brands to print a simple list of ingredients on all menstrual products.

It's a fundamental right of women to know what ingredients might be in their menstrual products. We have a long way to go regarding mandated transparency for consumer protection, but these two laws are a good start.

However, because of the lack of laws, it's easy to see how issues like PFAs in period underwear become a problem in the first place.

The Importance of Materials Used

Because panties (whether they're period panties or regular panties) are worn in a very sensitive area, it's important to wear those that are made from natural materials.

We generally only recommend those made with organic cotton, although even non-organic cotton is better than synthetic materials like polyester or nylon.

  • Cotton - The best material for reusable menstrual underwear. Ideally, organic cotton will be used.
  • Bamboo viscose - A good, renewable and natural material. Bamboo cannot be certified as organic on a technicality - it grows in the wild and doesn't need fertilizers.
  • Polyester - Not recommended. Polyester is made from petrochemicals and is not breathable, which is a bad thing for a pair of underwear.
  • Spandex / Elastane - Commonly used in the waistband to make it stretch. While this is a synthetic fiber, it's used in virtually all underwear to make it stretch.

How We Compiled This Guide

We reached out to every brand on the list to ask them about important topics such as:

  • What materials do the panties use?
  • Do the panties have antimicrobial chemicals?
  • What certifications do they have?
  • How long do the panties last?
  • And more

Below, you'll find all of the information we compiled.

Menstrual Underwear Rated: Best

We found a total of 4 brands that tested as having zero PFAs through independent lab testing. We recommend these brands for this reason.

Period (Our Recommendation)

Website / FAQ

Period's menstrual underwear is 95% OEKO-TEX certified organic cotton and 5% polyester, don't contain any antimicrobial chemicals, and are fairly inexpensive. They're also the most affordable brand, at $12 per pair.They we also independently lab tested and found absolutely no PFAs. For these reasons, we highly recommend them.

Material95% organic cotton, 5% polyester
Lining Material5% polyester
Antimicrobial chemicalsNo
Absorbency10 tampons worth
Lifetime2-10 years
CertificationsOEKO-TEX
StylesHigh waisted ($12), Bikini ($12), Sleeper ($14), Teen Boyshort ($12), Teen Bikini ($12), Adaptive Bikini ($12), Teen Adaptive Bikini ($12), Boxer ($12)
SizesXS-6XL

Luna Pads

Luna was found to have zero PFAs in the independent lab study, and since they offer panties that are certified organic cotton and have no antimicrobial chemicals, we recommend them.

Website / FAQ

MaterialDepends on the underwear: Tencel™, Truetex™, recycled polyester, organic cotton, technical cotton, thermoplastic polyurethane
Lining MaterialTruetex™ which is a blend of hydrophilic and hydrophobic fibers
Antimicrobial chemicalsNone
Absorbency1-4 tampons worth
Lifetime3 years
CertificationsOEKO-TEX Standard 100
StylesBoxer Brief ($46), Brief ($46), Bikini ($40), Hispter ($42), Thong ($32)
SizesXS - 5XL

Modibodi

Website / FAQ

These period panties are made from 95% bamboo viscose and were independently lab tested where no PFAs were found.

Material95% bamboo viscose, 5% spandex
Lining MaterialMerino wool, polyester, polyamide
Antimicrobial chemicalsModibodi uses an antimicrobial treatment that does not use nanotechnology. This treatment is registered with the Environmental Protection Authority to eliminate bacteria and odor
Absorbency1-4 tampons worth
LifetimeAt least 2 years
CertificationsNot specified
StylesBrief ($24-25), Boyshort ($30-34), Boyleg ($23-28), Bikini ($22-30), Full Brief ($25-33.50), Hi Waist Bikini ($26-33)
SizesXS - 6XL

Bambody

An independent lab study of Bambody's underwear found no traceable amounts of PFAs. Using no antimicrobial chemicals and bamboo, we would prefer if the inner layer was cotton rather than synthetic materials, but we can still recommend them.

Website / FAQ

MaterialBamboo fabric, cotton, spandex
Lining Material80% polyester, 20% nylon
Antimicrobial chemicalsNone
Absorbency6 tampons worth
Lifetime18 months
CertificationsIn the process of getting an OEKO-TEX certification
StylesAbsorbent Bikini ($14.90-26.90), Absorbent Boyshort ($14.90-36.90), Absorbent Hip Hugger ($14.90-34.90), Absorbent Hipster ($14.90-36.90), Absorbent Midi Brief ($14.90-36.90), Absorbent Panty ($14.90-39.90), Leakproof Bikini ($14.90-31.90)
SizesXXS - XXL

Menstrual Underwear Rated: Good

Wuka

Wuka was not analyzed in the study, but they report in their FAQ that they regularly test for additional chemicals, including PFAs. They also don't use any antimicrobial chemicals.

Website / FAQ

MaterialOrganic cotton, Tencel modal which are biodegradable fibers, econyl which is made from plastic waste from our oceans
Lining MaterialCotton/polyester blend, tencel modal or organic cotton. 
Antimicrobial chemicalsNone
Absorbency4 tampons worth
Lifetime2 years
CertificationsOEKO-TEX, GOTS
StylesHigh Waist (£24.99-25.99), Midi Brief (£23.99-24.99), Seamless Midi Brief (£19.99-22.99), Bikini Brief (£17.99-21.99)
SizesXS - 3XL

Menstrual Underwear Rated: Iffy

These brands were not tested in the independent lab study. We recommend purchasing from brands that were verified to have no PFAs.

Love Luna

The independent lab study did not cover Love Luna's underwear, so it's unclear if they have PFAs or not.

Website / FAQ

MaterialDepends on the underwear: cotton, elastane for full brief and the midi; microfibre – nylon, elastane for the bikini
Lining Material100% cotton
Antimicrobial chemicalsNone
Absorbency2-4 tampons worth
LifetimeThe exact lifetime is not specified, but these undies can last several years
CertificationsOEKO-TEX
StylesBamboo Brief (AU$20), Full Brief (AU$15), Midi Brief ($AU15), Bikini Brief ($AU15), Teens Bikini ($AU15), Teens Shortie ($AU15)
SizesS - 2XL

Dear Kate

Website / FAQ

These period panties are made of synthetic materials, contain antimicrobial compounds, and are expensive for panties made of synthetic materials. Not recommended.

Material74% nylon, 26% lycra
Lining Material90% micro-polyester, 10% spandex
Antimicrobial chemicalsSilver salt compound
Absorbency1-4 tampons worth
LifetimeUnspecified
CertificationsNone
StylesHipster ($38-40), Briefs ($46), Thongs ($34)
SizesXS - 3XL

Tom Organic

Tom Organic wasn't included in the study, and they make no claims at all about PFAs. For these reasons, we can't recommend them.

Website / FAQ

Material95% Organic cotton, 5% elastane
Lining MaterialCotton, polyester
Antimicrobial chemicalsNone
Absorbency2 tampons worth
LifetimeApproximately 40 washes
CertificationsGOTS, Australian Organic Standard
StylesPeriod Briefs ($15)
SizesXXS - 3XL

Get Rael

Rael was not included in the independent study. Because we can't verify that they have no PFAs, we can't recommend them.

Website / FAQ

MaterialOCS, USDA certified and non-GMO cotton
Lining Material100% cotton absorbency layer
Antimicrobial chemicalsNot specified
Absorbency3 tampons worth
LifetimeThe exact lifetime is not specified, but these undies can last several years
CertificationsNot specified
StylesPeriod Underwear ($20)
SizesS - XL

Menstrual Underwear Rated: Bad

These brands were lab tested and verified to contain PFAs. For this reason, we strongly recommend avoiding them.

Knix

Website

Knix High Rise underwear was lab tested where they found 373 ppm flourine. It's unknown what level of fluorine is safe, but because other brands tested at 0 ppm flourine, we can't recommend this brand.

MaterialDepends on underwear: 77% nylon, 23% lycra for CoreLove and leakproof undies; 47% cotton, 47% modal, 6% spandex for for cotton modal undies
Lining Material86% cotton, 10% spandex, 4% carbon
Antimicrobial chemicalsKnix uses natural moisture-wicking and antimicrobial materials in the gusset liner, which helps prevent yeast infections and inhibits the growth of bacteria
Absorbency1-8 tampons worth
Lifetime8-12 months
CertificationsOEKO-TEX
StylesBikini ($23-30), High Rise ($28-35), Thong ($23-30), Dream Short ($38), Boyshort ($23-30), Cheeky ($23-30), Cotton Modal Super Leakproof High Rise ($35), Cotton Modal Super Leakproof Bikini ($30), Core Love High Rise ($36)
SizesXS - 4XL

Thinx

Website / FAQ

Thinx panties were independently lab tested (Boyshort, High Waist and BTWN) and each of them were found to have 619 ppm, 940 ppm, and 132 ppm fluorine respectively. While it's unknown what amount of fluorine is safe, the fact that they have detectable fluorine makes us unable to recommend them.

MaterialDepends on underwear: 89% nylon, 11% elastane for classic undies; 95% organic cotton, 5% elastane for organic cotton undies; 78% polyamide, 22% elastane for air undies
Lining MaterialDepends on underwear: 100% polyester and middle breathable PUL for classic undies; 95% cotton, 5% elastane, middle breathable PUL for organic cotton and air undies
Antimicrobial chemicalsThe wicking layer has an application of non-migratory silver to control odor and the spread of bacteria
Absorbency3-5 tampons worth
LifetimeNot specified
CertificationsOEKO-TEX Standard 100
StylesSuper Hiphugger ($39), Hiphugger ($32-34), Boyshort ($39), Sport ($23), Hi Waist ($38-42), French Cut ($35), Cheeky ($30), Thong ($24), Brief ($34-39), Bikini ($32), Sleep Shorts ($50), Leggings ($95), Training Shorts ($65), Cycle Shorts ($75), Leotard ($75)
SizesXXS - 3XL

Ruby Love

An independent study of Ruby Love's underwear found 27 ppm of flourine. While this is a small amount compared to other brands, it's enough that we cannot recommend them.

Website

Material80% interlock twisted yarn cotton, 20% spandex
Lining MaterialInterlock twisted yarn cotton
Antimicrobial chemicalsNot specified
Absorbency2-6 tampons worth
Lifetime2-3 years
CertificationsNone
StylesBikini ($19.99), Hipster ($19.99), Brief ($22.99), High Waist ($24.99), Seamless ($24.99)
SizesXS - 3XL

Saalt

The independent study found 10 ppm of fluorine in Saalt's period panties. They're also made from polyester, and for both of these reasons, we cannot recommend them.

Website / FAQ

Material80% recycled polyester, 20% elastane
Lining Material92% recycled polyester, 8% spandex
Antimicrobial chemicalsNot specified
Absorbency1-3 tampons worth
LifetimeThe exact lifetime is not specified, but these undies can last several years
CertificationsOEKO-TEX
StylesHigh Waist Brief ($39), Mesh Hipster (%36), Lace Hipster ($36), Bikini ($34), Thong ($29)
SizesXS - XXL

Sustain

71 ppm & 17 ppm fluorine were found in Sustain panties. This is a small amount, but since some brands were found to have zero PFAs, we can't recommend these.

Website

Material95% organic cotton, 5% spandex
Lining MaterialPolyurethane laminate topped with 100% organic cotton
Antimicrobial chemicalsNone
Absorbency1 tampon worth
Lifetime2-3 years
CertificationsOEKO-TEX Standard 100, GOTS
StylesPeriod Underwear ($29.95)
SizesXS - XL

In Conclusion

Only four brands were verified to not have any PFAs. These brands are: Period, Luna Pads, Modibodi, and Bambody.

Our recommendation is Period - they were 100% PFAs free, use no microbial chemicals, are made from 95% OEKO-TEX certified organic cotton, and are affordable at $12 per pair.

If you prefer the other brands on the list, you can wear them feeling safe that they're free of PFAs.

 
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