Dear Kate Wants You to Ditch Panty Liners for Good

This pretty underwear is another reusable option for waste-free periods.

Woman wearing Dear Kate period underwear

Image Courtesy of Dear Kate

Here at TreeHugger, we’re big fans of re-usable options for dealing with periods. For some people, that means a cool DIY pad and for others it means a menstrual cup like the Ruby Cup or the Diva Cup.

Here’s another option to add to the arsenal: Dear Kate underwear. These panties are manufactured in New York City, from fabrics made in the U.S. They’re extra absorbent, which makes them an alternative to panty liners. The absorbent lining is a micro-polyester and the outer fabric is a nylon/lycra blend.

So, you’re probably wonder how absorbent we're talking. The company's website claimed the Ada brief could hold three teaspoons of liquid or the equivalent of two tampons. Back in 2014, Dear Kate offered to send me a pair to test for myself. As I'm perhaps too willing to make myself a Guinea pig for sustainable ideas, I accepted (opinions are still my own).

The panties are designed for use in combination with a cup (you could use tampons) or on light days. First, I wore the panties on a light day, and it was pretty great. There are always moments when pads/tampons/cups can be uncomfortable, but Dear Kate feels just like regular underwear. The exterior material is silky soft, and the lining is a lightly textured fabric that's breaths. I also tried wearing them on a heavy day with nothing else, and discovered they're pretty impressive but definitely not a full replacement for all other menstrual products for me.

More recently, we tested a lineup of over 40 different styles of period underwear in our New York City product testing lab. We compared the Dear Kate Ada Full Brief and Nellie Full Brief to pairs from other popular period underwear brands like Knix and Thinx. Our testers were impressed to see that both styles easily absorbed the promised 3 teaspoons of liquid (we used a solution of vinegar and dye in our test) while remaining completely dry on the outside. In fact, the Ada Brief was able to hold 5 teaspoons without leaking. The absorbent layer reaches fully up to the waistband in both these styles, something that sets them apart from many of the other panties in our test.

Testing the absorbency of the Ada Full Brief period panty in our New York lab.
Testing the absorbency of the Ada Full Brief in our New York lab.

Leticia Almeida / Treehugger

The underwear is attractive and comes in a bunch of different styles and cuts—there’s even a thong option. I’m happy to have an alternative the embarrassingly old pair that I save for days when I think I’ll get my period. They're also a great backup for a tampon or cup, and could even be combined with a reusable menstrual pad.

One of the only downsides to this underwear is that it shouldn't be put in a cloths dryer, so you'll want to plan for extra air-drying time. They're also considerably more expensive than most conventional underwear, however, they could pay for themselves in time if you're using them to replace disposable period products.

No two people with periods have the same body, so everyone is going to feel differently about choosing period products. It’s great to have another trash-free choice.

This review was originally published in May 2014.