Are you preparing to overhaul your underwear drawer with more comfortable, natural options? Great choice! We cannot stress this enough - but the clothes you wear are far more important than you may realize. This is especially true of underwear, as it comes in direct contact with your most sensitive areas.
Chances are, you already recognize that to some extent. But what is the best fabric for women's underwear? You'll discover the answer in this detailed article.
We'll weigh all the options - cotton, polyester, nylon, spandex, bamboo, silk, mesh, wool, and more. In our opinion, cotton is the premier choice - and you'll soon know why. Before we start comparing and contrasting these different underwear materials, let's quickly touch on why finding the best fabric for women's underwear is of the utmost importance.
Why Finding the Best Material for Women's Underwear isn't Something You Should Take Lightly
If you have a skin condition like eczema, the materials you select are even more important. You need materials that are gentle and won't agitate the condition further (which is why we created our socks for eczema).
And, beyond just taking care of your own well-being, the materials you purchase directly correlate to the health of our planet. Many of the fabrics you find in stores today are made from unsustainable, petroleum-based materials that wreak havoc on our environment.
Now, with all that said, what is the best fabric for women's underwear? Let's take a look at how all your options stack up against each other.
So, What is the Best Fabric for Women's Underwear? Weighing Different Materials to Help You Make the Right Choice
We may have buried the lead a bit in the introduction, but we believe cotton to be the best material for women's underwear. There are a few reasons why - but we'll save that for the end. First, let's start with materials we recommend you avoid at all costs for the reasons we discussed above. Starting with one of the worst offenders in the world: polyester.
The Problem With Polyester
Polyester is the world's most popular fabric for a reason - but what is that reason? Affordability. And that's really where the benefits of this material end - and the problems begin. Polyester is low-cost to produce and low-cost to purchase in stores, which explains why it's so widely used in clothing.
But what makes it a bad choice for underwear? Three things: breathability, comfort, and sustainability. To start with breathability: as we mentioned earlier, this fabric does not breathe well at all. In fact, studies have shown that some synthetic fabrics like polyester can actually trap viruses and bacteria against your skin due to a lack of airflow (yikes!).
In terms of comfort - let's just say you won't be as relaxed wearing polyester underwear as other materials. It tends to be itchy and uncomfortable against your skin, leading to rashes, irritation, and chafing throughout the day. And what about sustainability? As you may already know from our earlier discussion - polyester is a petroleum-based fabric that's far from eco-friendly.
Nylon is Not Much Better
Another popular choice for women's underwear is nylon - but frankly, this material isn't much better than polyester. In fact, some claim it can be more harmful and uncomfortable! Nylon is another synthetic fabric that's manufactured from petroleum-based plastic - which means it's just as bad for the environment.
In terms of comfort, nylon can be slightly more breathable than polyester - but only marginally so. It isn't enough to make up for the lack of airflow in comparison to natural materials like cotton. And what about skin irritation? Nylon may be a bit less irritating than polyester - but if you have sensitive skin, this material still isn't your best choice. Even those with tough skin take issue with this material.
Spandex isn't a Great Choice, Either
You may have come to know and love spandex for its ability to suck things in and add a more appealing shape to your body. It's generally found in more athletic types of clothing like leggings for women or compression shorts for men.
But, just like polyester and nylon, the main ingredient in this material is petroleum-based polyurethane. Yet another plastic pair of underwear - who wants that? Not us, and chances are, you don't either. It traps moisture and odors in against your skin, leading to rashes and in some cases, skin infections.
And in looking at the long-term consequences of wearing polyurethane, there are serious risks. Studies have linked this material to liver, kidney, brain, and bone marrow damage. Just imagine what it's doing to your skin - the biggest organ in your body! When wearing spandex, you are letting that material seep into your skin, and then your bloodstream, and then be distributed throughout your body.
Furthermore, some of the compounds used to treat and create this material include formaldehyde, toluene diisocyanates, and toxic dyes. Next, please!
Mesh: a Combo of Natural & Synthetic Materials That Doesn't Quite Cut it
Many women love the sexy nature of mesh undergarments. And because this material has tiny holes throughout it, the breathability is far superior to the other three materials we've discussed above. It's well-ventilated. Unfortunately, it's still not a great choice. Here's why...
While mesh does contain some degree of cotton - an organic, healthy material - it also contains polyester and nylon. So while it's a step in the right direction, it's still not good enough to be referred to as the best material for women's underwear.
Silk is Certainly a Viable Choice for Those Not Concerned With the Price
We're now moving into some of the most natural, viable options for anyone seeking the best women's underwear material. Silk is spun from moths - finally, something that isn't made from petroleum! This natural material has a soft, luxurious feel and anti-mold properties.
Silk underwear is outrageously expensive - like, over $50 a pair expensive. If you came here looking for undies you can wear daily, it's unlikely that buying 10+ pairs of silk underwear is in your budget. Because this material is so delicate, daily wear will quickly degrade the underwear to the point you need to replace them frequently. That cost will really start to add up.
And while some women will rant and rave about the comfort of silk, some have a very different experience. There have been many cases where women report silk underwear irritating their skin to the point that it cannot be worn. Part of this could be due to a lack of breathability.
Finally, finding 100% silk underwear is very rare - most often, underwear branded as "silk underwear" simply contains some percentage of silk blended with unnatural materials like polyester, nylon, etc.
Wool Works For Those Seeking a Natural Fabric, But Isn’t For Everyone…
One option you may see - although it’s a bit less common than the other styles we’ve mentioned thus far - is wool underwear. It’s a great natural material when sourced correctly (through ZQ standards - the gold standard of certification for wool).
But, many women complain of discomfort when putting wool on their sensitive areas. Moreover, some women are allergic to wool - and thus it isn’t even an option. However, it’s worth looking into if you aren’t allergic and want something particularly warm and cozy during those cold winter months. And while we don’t have wool underwear ourselves yet, we do offer toddler merino wool socks along with merino wool socks for adults.
Bamboo: Better for Your Skin, but Problematic Nonetheless
Bamboo is a great, natural material. There are even studies out there to suggest that bamboo has properties that can help alleviate skin irritations like eczema or psoriasis. However, many women report that bamboo feels a bit like sandpaper on their skin - similar to hemp (which is so uncomfortable we aren't even going to discuss it on the list of best materials for women's underwear).
Bamboo grows fast and can be harvested quickly with the absence of fertilizer - meaning that should be more sustainable than many other materials. However, it's becoming more and more apparent that the surge in bamboo popularity is contributing to deforestation. In order to keep up with the demand for bamboo, manufacturers are forced to use less ethical farming practices: incorporating pesticides and treating the product heavily after harvest.
Really, the problem with bamboo underwear comes down to a lack of comfort and lack of transparency across the entire supply chain. It's too difficult, at this point in time, to consider bamboo a safe material since it's not certified by any governing body.
We recently wrote an article explaining the greenwashing of bamboo if you’d like to learn more about the chemically intensive process that is required for converting bamboo into fabric. But now, let’s introduce the best material for women’s underwear!
Cotton: The Best Material for Women's Underwear
So, what is actually the best material for women's underwear? Good old cotton.
Out of all of these fabric options, nothing compares to cotton. It's not only soft and lightweight but also highly breathable. Long days spent in your cotton underwear won't lead to excess sweating or chafing - but rather a gentle comfort throughout warm, stressful days. You'll stay comfortable all day long.
Most importantly, cotton is safe for your skin when certified through GOTS standards. This ensures the material is free from any of the nasty stuff other materials contain - like carcinogens. And, cotton is one of the most eco-friendly materials out there. What more could you ask for? There are really no drawbacks to wearing cotton underwear.
But - let's take a look below at one final point we want to make along your journey to find the best underwear. Not all cotton underwear is created equal!
Knowing the Best Fabric for Women's Underwear is Only a Piece of the Puzzle...
You now know all about the different material choices you have at your fingertips - and what makes cotton the best fabric for women's underwear. And since you've come this far, we're going to leave you with an important piece of advice: carefully consider the specific type of cotton underwear you buy!
If you really care about what you put on your skin - or your family's skin - you need GOTS-certified organic cotton underwear. This is a type of cotton grown under the strictest standards to ensure purity across the supply chain. When you buy this type of underwear, you can rest assured the material is free from hundreds of harmful chemicals and compounds. And for this type of underwear, in particular, you can look no further than Q for Quinn.
Our organic cotton women's underwear is as gentle and skin-safe as it gets. Better yet, it offers comfortable, full coverage - say goodbye to wedgies once and for all! We're so confident you'll love this underwear that it's backed up by our first-pair guarantee.
So, what are you waiting for? Get yours today and feel the difference firsthand. And while you’re at it, check out our other incredible organic cotton clothing we offer - such as our 100 percent cotton socks or organic cotton toddler underwear.
Final Thoughts on the Best Material For Women's Underwear
In summary, there are quite a few fabrics you can choose from - but there is only one that stands out as the best material for women's underwear: cotton. Specifically, GOTS-certified cotton.
Stay away from materials like polyester, spandex, nylon, mesh, bamboo, and silk - you now recognize the problems these have. You deserve comfortable, skin-safe underwear - and you can find these over at Q for Quinn today!