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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
24 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
120 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best cotton underwear for women

You might not give much thought to your underwear; after all, for most people, undergarments aren’t on display for anyone else to see, except perhaps for a significant other. But even if no one ever sees them but you, your panties play an important role in your daily comfort level, the smoothness of your side and back views, and even your health.

There are a lot of fabric choices when it comes to underwear, but for a variety of reasons, cotton is the top choice for everyday “unmentionables.” There are lots of styles and colors to consider too.

We’ve created this buying guide to provide the information you need to know when it comes to choosing the right underwear for your body type, why and when to choose cotton over other fabrics, and how to care for your lingerie so it stays in good condition for as long as possible.

cotton underwear for women1
You don’t need to spend a lot of money for comfortable, well-fitting cotton underwear.

Key considerations

Why cotton?

Health: While there are many different fabric options, most gynecologists and dermatologists recommend cotton for women’s underwear, particularly for the crotch. The reason for this is simple: cotton breathes better than most synthetic fabrics, meaning that it won’t keep moisture and heat trapped against your skin, in particular, the very delicate skin in your most private area. For many women, heat plus moisture in this zone, even if only for a short time, equals itchy, burning misery in the form of a yeast infection or skin irritation. Further, warm and moist skin promotes odor thanks to the bacteria that thrive in such conditions.

Cotton is also naturally hypoallergenic, so even if you struggle with sensitive, easily inflamed skin, you aren’t likely to have a reaction to cotton undies.

Care: Another advantage to cotton underwear is that it tolerates frequent washing in hot water, the best option for killing germs and odor. And it also does fine in the dryer on high heat.

Hygiene: And also, because cotton is very absorbent, should you have a minor leak of urine or menstrual blood, the fabric holds onto a couple of drops of fluid, whereas most synthetic fabrics tend to wick the fluid out to your pants.

Style

Knowing that cotton is the best fabric choice is only the first step in choosing the right underwear. There are quite a few styles of women’s undies ranging from barely there thongs to cover-it-all-up briefs, so it’s helpful to know the advantages of each before choosing one — or several — new pairs of knickers.

Briefs: These full-coverage panties come up to or just a little bit below the natural waist and cover the entire rear end. Traditional briefs have a fairly straight cut across the top of the legs, but some briefs have a higher cut to show a bit of hip.

Briefs are perfect for lounging or everyday wear. They can help keep a “muffin top” under control and won’t highlight your belly. However, they aren’t a good choice to wear with low-cut pants or skirts.

Boy cut: These sassy versions of men’s briefs have a somewhat rectangular shape and provide almost full coverage. The waist is lower than the natural waistline: most hit somewhere between the belly button and hips. The legs are cut lower on the thighs. Some boy-cut panties fully cover the booty, but many show just a peek of cheek.

Boy-cut underwear is perfect for lounging or sleeping and works well under any loose-fitting bottom. It’s prone to creating panty lines, so it isn’t the best choice to wear under leggings or fitted pants.

Bikini: This popular style stops well below the waistline and is cut high above the thighs, creating a sexy panty with moderate coverage. G-strings are bikini panties with only a very thin string-like waistband along the sides.

Bikini underwear works well beneath any outfit, but beware: muffin top, panty lines, and the dreaded upward creep are all fairly common with this style of undergarment.

Hipster: Something like a cross between a brief and a boy-cut panty, hipsters encircle the hips a few inches below the belly button but have full coverage over the rear end. Depending on the style, some hipsters have fairly low-cut leg openings that hit at the top of the thigh, while others are cut a little higher to show off some hip.

Hipsters are perfect beneath low-cut pants. Panty lines aren’t a huge problem with this style, and most don’t have a tendency to creep up your rear. But as with all lower-cut underwear, muffin top can be an issue.

Thong: When it comes to thongs, women are divided into two camps: those who hate them and those who love them. These barely there panties are basically a waistband that hits anywhere between the hips and belly button, a triangle of fabric over the pubic area, and a very thin strip of fabric running over the crotch, up the rear end, and connecting to the back of the waistband.

Thongs are a great choice if your main concern is to avoid panty lines. They work well under any form-fitting bottoms, including leggings, tight jeans, and yoga pants. They’re also a top choice if sexiness is your aim, but bear in mind that a thong can irritate the crotch, ride into your rear, and create muffin top.

You can find women’s cotton underwear in every color of the rainbow and just about any pattern you can think of.

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Features

You know that cotton is best for women’s underwear, and you’ve settled on your favorite style. Here are a few other things to consider as you shop.

Color and pattern

Plain white, super-bright colors, crazy patterns, tiny flowers, or skin tone: there are nearly endless choices of cotton underwear colors and patterns, so go ahead and fill your lingerie drawer with a rainbow, stick with all neutrals, or mix and match. This is entirely a matter of personal preference.

Seamless

While truly seamless underwear is usually made of synthetic fabrics, you can find some cotton panties without prominent seams along the waistband, sides, and crotch. The lack of a heavy seam makes these panties more comfortable and less inclined to show under form-fitting bottoms.

Lace

While there are many cotton panties with a touch of lace along the waistband or over the leg openings, you won’t often find cotton underwear loaded with lace all over. That’s typically the province of synthetic fabrics such as microfiber or polyester. Also, the lace itself is usually polyester, even on otherwise all-cotton panties. Still, while some women find lace itchy, others love the feminine touch.

Control panel

This is another feature mostly found on underwear made of synthetic fabrics, but with some persistence you can find cotton underwear with a built-in control panel that adds extra support over the tummy or hips. Often, control-top underwear extends above the belly button for extra support over the entire abdomen.

High-rise

Referring to the leg openings, high-rise underwear (most often briefs or hipsters) leave quite a bit of the hip exposed. Some openings extend nearly to the waistband.

Organic

One big benefit of choosing cotton is that you have organic options, something you won’t find with synthetic fabrics. Organic cotton women’s underwear is made of cotton grown from non-GMO seeds without the use of chemicals, synthetic pesticides, or fertilizers. Once harvested, organic cotton is woven into fabric without the use of heavy metals, chlorine, or chemical dyes, which are all standard in conventional cotton production.

cotton underwear for women2
DID YOU KNOW?
Cotton is breathable, which helps prevent the buildup of heat and moisture.
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Cotton underwear prices

The price range for women’s cotton underwear is a wide one. To a great extent, the price is based on brand name.

Inexpensive: At the lower end of the range, you can buy a bag of six pairs of basic cotton panties for around $12 at most big-box discount stores.

Mid-range: You’ll find most cotton underwear priced between $10 and $20 per pair, or a pack of three panties for $20 to $22, with organic cotton at the higher end of the range and conventional cotton at the lower.

Expensive: You might spend over $50 for one pair of designer cotton underwear.

There are several styles of underwear to choose from. Many women have a variety of styles to match their mood and outfit.

STAFF
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Tips

  • Choose the right size. This is important. Too small and your underwear will squeeze and bind while creating unflattering panty lines. Too loose and you’ll find your undergarments sagging and creeping. Unfortunately, there is no industry standard to sizing followed by all underwear brands.
  • Know your numbers. Underwear sizes are based mostly on the hip measurement, although some brands also include waist circumference. Measure around your waist at the narrowest point and around your hips at the widest point for the most accurate numbers. If your measurements fall between two sizes, go with the larger size. Generally, women’s underwear sizes run from 4 to 10, corresponding roughly to the following:
size chart
cotton underwear for women3
Underwear with a high waistband, such as briefs, are the best choice for minimizing muffin top.

FAQ

Q. How should I wash cotton underwear?

A. For the most part, cotton underwear is very easy to care for. Simply toss your panties into the washing machine, add your favorite detergent, set the water temperature to warm or hot, and run through the regular cycle. Dry undergarments on high or medium heat.

Q. Is it a good idea to sleep without underwear?

A. Many health practitioners recommend sleeping sans undergarments to allow your nether regions to “breathe” through the night. This can reduce the incidence of yeast infections or skin irritation in this very delicate region.

Q. Is cotton the best fabric for workout panties?

A. While cotton underwear is the best choice for everyday wear and light exercise, such as yoga or walking, it isn’t the best option for vigorous workouts that involve a lot of sweat, such as running, kickboxing, or aerobics. Because cotton tends to absorb and hold onto moisture, sweaty workouts in cotton panties can lead to yeast infections, skin irritations, or odor. Instead, for your toughest exercise sessions, choose a synthetic designed to wick moisture away from your skin.

 

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