In late September, Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo launched their first-ever line of period-proof underwear, or as they're formally known, the AIRism Absorbent Sanitary Shorts in the Philippines. They serve a double purpose depending on how you use them. They can be worn on their own (i.e. as a direct replacement for a sanitary pad or tampon) or accompanied with a menstrual accessory, like a menstrual cup, to aid in absorbing menstruation or preventing leakage and staining—and yes, they're reusable. The way you use them will depend on your own personal preferences and menstrual cycle—those who typically experience a heavier flow during their cycle may prefer the latter option, for example.
Though the concept of period-proof underwear or any other kind of reusable alternative to pads and tampons is not new at this point, some may be uncomfortable with the idea. After all, single-use options or even eco-friendly alternatives like menstrual cups are meant to be replaced or cleaned throughout the day, giving the wearer assurance of no leaks or stains, whereas one's panties are typically worn from morning to evening with no changes in between. We had the same concerns and apprehensions, so we gave Uniqlo's period-proof undies a try. Here's what went down.
SPOT.ph Roadtest: A Full-Day Trial and Review of Uniqlo's New Period Panties
Fast Facts and First Impressions
The Absorbent Sanitary Shorts are predominantly made with Uniqlo's famous AIRism fabric—the same material you would see on most of their current underwear garments as well as many of their T-shirts and outerwear. It's known for being a lightweight, breathable fabric that's smooth to the touch and gentle on the skin. In the crotch area, the undies are built with three layers of fabric that's quick-drying, odor-controlling, and ultra-absorent. More specifically, it can hold up to 30 to 40 ml of liquid.
Upon first inspection, you'll notice that the crotch area is built with a thicker material than the rest of the garment—don't worry, you'll still get the same light feel around the pelvis, hips, and upper thighs that Uniqlo's usual line of undies provides. According to Healthline, the average person can lose up to 60 ml of blood during the menstruation cycle, though other sources like menstrual tracking app Clue note that the amount can go as high as 80 ml. If your period runs for about five days each month, that's an average of about 12 to 16 ml of liquid per day. Either way, the 40 ml maximum capacity of the Uniqlo undies should be a pretty safe bet for one day of use. Of course, it's commonplace for some days in the cycle—particularly the first two or three—
to have a heavier flow than others, so take those estimates with a grain of salt.
Wear Time and Experience
I wore the Uniqlo period-proof undies for a total of 12 hours, give or take. The wear time was from about 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the third day of my menstrual cycle—in my case, not the heaviest day in the cycle, but definitely one with a fairly strong flow where leakage and staining are still major concerns. On first wear, the undies were comfy, flexible, and lightweight, much like Uniqlo's other undergarments. The seamless design fits snugly without digging into the skin and looked undetectable under basic bottoms like jeans and trousers. In terms of cut, the undies provide full coverage up front and around the rear and extend to about mid-waist just below the belly button, though this may vary depending on your exact proportions. If you've ever worn Uniqlo's seamless underwear before, expect pretty much the same feel on the skin. Sure, this piece features a thick layer on the crotch area, but honestly, I didn't even feel it.
What really stuck out in the experience of wearing the undies was how dry they felt all day. Those who regularly wear sanitary napkins know that after a few hours—especially if you've got a particularly heavy flow that day—they tend to leave a somewhat moist feeling down there, which can quickly lead to worries of overflow. With Uniqlo's Absorbent Sanitary Shorts, I experienced no such anxieties and for a moment even wondered if I had been menstruating at all that day. The dry feeling persisted until the very end of the day and I effortlessly made it through the work day (and beyond) with no issues. The crotch area of the underwear is also totally black no matter what color you buy, and in my experience, I didn't see a trace of red on my undies at all.
Now, an important point of concern may be menstrual clots. Normally, you'll be switching out your pad, tampon, or menstrual cup throughout the day, so those blobs can quickly be disposed of. In this case, they may tend to sit on top of the absorbent fabric if you've got the undies on all day, so you may want to wipe the clots off with a tissue in the middle of wear time if they bother you. But other than that, they shouldn't be much of an issue.
Uniqlo recommends soaking the Sanitary Shorts in warm water before hand- or machine-washing. You wouldn't want to mix all that blood with your laundry, after all. The method works just fine if you ask us, though a lot of squeezing and wringing was involved before the garment was thrown in with the rest of the laundry—think of it like getting all the excess soap or dirt out of a sponge after washing the dishes. It's definitely an extra step to take compared to just tossing out your sanitary napkin, but nothing too tedious.
The AIRism Absorbent Sanitary Shorts go for P990 a piece—a few hundred bucks above Uniqlo's usual panties, which are usually in the P300 to P400 range. But unlike your everyday undies, you'll only be needing these a few days each month and unlike pads or tampons, you'll be able to use them for months or even years, so it's not a bad price to pay if it means ridding yourself of the inconvenience of purchasing new sanitary napkins every 30 days or so.
Healthline notes that using four or five pads per day of the menstrual cycle is about the average amount, though this is a very rough estimate and many of you may use more or less depending on your flow. But let's say you use five pads a day. If one pad goes for about P20, then that's about P100 worth of pads a day and could add up to well over P500 of napkins for one cycle. For a whole year, that's about P6,000 worth of sanitary napkins, give or take. Now, if you purchase, say, nine of Uniqlo's Sanitary Shorts (for five days and four nights), that would cost you P8,910 and if you take good care of them, you may be able to use them for a year if not more. So in the long term, the price difference won't be too significant so long as you take good care of the panties and use them for a long time.
They're also a more eco-friendly option that involves far less waste, so they're well worth the consideration if you're looking to cultivate a more sustainable lifestyle. Take note, however, that "absorption properties may decline over time," according to Uniqlo's website, so keep that in mind when weighing out the investment.
You can get the panties in four colors. Check them out:
TRY: AIRism Absorbent Sanitary Shorts in Brown, UNIQLO, P990
TRY: AIRism Absorbent Sanitary Shorts in Black, UNIQLO, P990
TRY: AIRism Absorbent Sanitary Shorts in Dark Green, UNIQLO, P990
TRY: AIRism Absorbent Sanitary Shorts in Purple, UNIQLO, P990
Conclusion and Recommendations
Overall, we'd say the Uniqlo AIRism Absorbent Sanitary Shorts are a great reusable alternative to pads and tampons—and definitely one easier to immediately incorporate into your monthly routine compared to menstrual cups, which some may struggle to insert on the first few tries. You need not immediately stop using single-use menstrual products if you're considering getting the undies—try to play it by ear. You can couple the panties with a pad on heavier days and use them on their own towards the end of your cycle. You can also use them while sleeping, so that you're extra comfortable before bed or just to prevent pesky stains on the sheets. We recommend a slow transition and an at-home trial when starting out, just to be sure if they're the right option for you and if they work for your own personal menstruation patterns. But all in all, we'd say they're well worth a try. In my case, I'll definitely be using them again.
The Uniqlo AIRism Absorbent Sanitary Shorts are available online and at Uniqlo stores nationwide.
For more information, log on to Uniqlo Philippines' Facebook page.