Never would I think this is still such a hot topic, or that y'all would be so interested in little old me's thoughts on this. So here it is, after a (mostly) thorough reviewing. The post will be long, and very text heavy because I like to be thorough. I won't go into details about the technology, but the rest of it from a real-life user point of view. I apologize if some of it is choppy, I worked on this for over 3 hours and the internet failed me and didn't save my beautiful edits. I tried to rework it while most of the thoughts were fresh in my head, but I don't think it worked out fully.
I first came across period panties 2-3 years ago. Seeing the subway ads for Thinx, and then researching it opened new doors for me. I have a funky history with my period because of PCOS and hormones being on and off the pill. Thinx were my go-to because they were first on the market that I had heard about and seen reviews for. There was a learning curve for me, but I just accepted them for what they were as backups and liked them for the most part. Now 2 years later I’m on the market for new ones, and I was going to just buy more Thinx, but after doing some research and seeing what other brands were out there and the not so nice things I heard about the CEO I decided to see what else was out there. I narrowed it down to Dear Kate and Knixwear's Leakproof line and purchased 1 of each to try. These are the brands that won me out based on looks, absorption, and price. They all claim to hold up to 2 tampons worth for the styles I chose, but are not meant for you to free bleed into them. Keep this in mind and know your cycle! I am trying to wean myself off of pads and tampons, which is why I wanted to stock up on some more. I only had 7 Thinx panties and they do not get me through a full cycle if I want to use these exclusively. I know they aren't for free-flowing and went into this with a grain of salt. For size reference - I wear a medium in Victoria's Secret, Uniqlo, and Gap Body panties, across their styles. With the period panties, you have to follow the size guides. I am a large across all the brands I tried.
Some background on my cycle - the first day of period depending on when I get it, is usually light and barely warrants more than a panty liner. Unless I wake up and it’s already there, but it’s still somewhat light. Days 2-4 are moderate to heavy where I need to change a regular tampon every 2 to 2 and a half hours. By day 5 it tapers off, and day 6 is just the end bits that don't require more than a liner. With PCOS, I have had seriously heavy - as in change a super plus tampon every hour - periods which is what prompted me to look into period panties as a backup for those days. Since I have been back on the pill, my periods have tapered out and become more 'regular' and not as intense. I wore the panties on days 2-5 on my period and they all performed as expected. All 3 brands were at max after 5 hours, which is about 2 tampon changes. With the exception of day 5 where I was able to wear the panties alone for a full work day. They do not smell unless you overload them and leak outside of the panty. In that respect they all performed the same to keep odors in. The feel when you free flow is similar to wearing a pad until you’re getting close to max absorption. When you’re getting close to max, I do not advise anything other than changing out for a new pair. Otherwise, it will feel like putting on a wet bathing suit.
Let's start with my thoughts on Thinx for comparison. I bought the hip hugger style, which at the time was the highest absorbancy. They have a full lining throughout the panty, including the sides. They also only had lace waist across the styles when I purchased, which I HATE. Lace waists are not sturdy and wear out quickly, especially with nails. No matter how careful I am, they end up ripping. True to form, most of my current Thinx do have holes in all the lace. I did notice that they have a cotton line now, which do not have the lace waist, as well as some other styles that do not have the lace waist. Thinx does have a wider style variety, and I do have to give them credit for acknowledging different lifestyles by offering a full coverage boxer-like boy short. At the time of this post, Thinx come in only 3 colors and run up to a 3X, which is fairly inclusive and they don't charge more for the larger sizes. They have a 60-day return policy. I purchased my original set of 7 based on the bundle deal. It was 20% off of a set of 7 or more panties and I ended up spending about $190. This worked out to around $27ish per panty over the $34 per single panty. I had no issues with them leaking when I wore them overnight on my heavier days. For the most part, they are great and I would purchase again, if they had a larger color selection.
Next up - Knixwear Leakproof panties. I remember seeing a lacy pair of Knix Leakproof that I was curious about, but they seem to be discontinued. They have a few different styles of a seamless Leakproof panty in beige and black (pretty basic.) I’m not a huge fan of seamless undies because they never stay still, regardless of the claims. I thought it was still worth a shot in case I needed it for those days I have to dress up while on my period. I got the athletic style over the everyday style because the athletic have a looser fit. They only have lining in the crotch and I felt it was short IMO and could stand to be a little longer for more coverage, but it still works for what it is. I wouldn't wear these to sleep or on really active days where I would need more coverage. These stretched as the day went on and shifted all over the place despite their claims, so that also affected crotch placement and leakage. These were hands down the nicest looking period panties and the closest to looking like normal underwear. I would still purchase for those days where I need to be fancy and not want to worry about panty lines. However, I don’t like that they bundle the teen Leakproof, but not the adult ones. Please fix that! Even if it is just to add a Leakproof panty to one of the workout/bra sets. Otherwise, they are priced fairly at $25-$30, where others are $30+. Another downside for me - they do not accept returns, so if your sizing is off, you are screwed. And they only go up to XXL currently. If they offered exchanges for size, I'd be able to give them higher recommendations.
EDIT: It’s only been a few months since this post and I haven’t worn the Knix regularly, but the seams are coming apart and it is looking pretty shabby. It still does the job, however it shows poor quality. I have been taking care of and washing them according to instructions, but to no avail. I also have been waiting for the “everyday” fit to come back into stock, but it looks like they are not making a comeback. With the quality as it is though, it probably would not be a good purchase.
Dear Kate panties are supposed to be close to the Thinx and they are for the most part. They have similar thickness and material on the style I chose - Nellie hipster in full lining. The full lining is for heavier flows and the panties are lined throughout, except for the sides, but that doesn’t bother me. They fit nicely and I would say on par with the Thinx sizing. I love that I can choose lace or no lace styles, as well as some sexier mesh options. Dear Kate also has a wider color variety and matching bras. Who says period undies have to be boring? They have a Curve collection for most of their panty styles for sizes 16-26 (up to 3X) without higher prices. Dear Kate has a 60-day return policy and bundle deals. I will probably choose to do a set of 7 for 30% off. If I stick to the full lining hipster styles, they are $38 each. With the bundle, it would be around $186 for 7, roughly $26ish per pair. Dear Kate also offers lined leggings and dancewear for all your lifestyle needs. I am not that bold to go freely in leggings without panties, but if that's your thing, then all the more power to you.
Now for cleaning your period panties. The instructions for all of the brands say to wash in cold water and on delicate cycle with NO fabric softener and hang dry. Thinx recommends rinsing by hand before washing. There were a few styles of Dear Kates that said you could dry in the dryer, which is a plus. I would probably stick to those styles because the hang dry did annoy me with my Thinx. But I can see why they say not to toss in the dryer after I accidentally tossed my Thinx in the dryer with my other clothes and they shrank down a size. My XL fit like large and my large fit like I guessed what would be a medium. I was disappointed and mad at myself. They have managed to stretch a bit, but are still not near the original sizes. Anyway, when you hand wash these, you don’t see goblets of blood washing out, the water isn’t even the least bit red or pink. It boggles my mind. Seriously. It isn’t something that everyone will be accustomed to, but YMMV. It really depends how comfortable you are with yourself/your body. I will not lie to you, there are times I don’t hand wash them and just toss them in my mesh bag and use my portable washer at the end of the week. Is that gross? Yes. Do they still come out clean without pre-washing? Yes. I occasionally rebel against the rules. Sue me.
Bottom line, period panties are awesome. These come close to it for me and I’m willing to settle until we get the next gen models that can hold more or for longer periods of time. I think it goes without saying that we need something to get us through a work day without needing to change. frequently. I will use these with my menstrual cup as a backup during the day, and free flow into them when I get home. While it would be nice to dash out and pick period panties up at your local store, I didn't see that as an option. If there is, hook a sistah up and let me know!
Out of the 3 brands I tested, Dear Kates are the winners based on performance, choice of styles/colors, and price. While the Knix didn't blow me away, there is a niche for them. I would try the everyday style to see if the snugger fit would help when it stretches with wear (see edit above.) There is a variety of brands out there compared to these, but looks did play an important factor to me.
Hope this helps!