When you gear up for a workout, you check all the essentials off your list: headphones, sneakers, a water bottle, and a killer playlist. As for underwear? You probably just throw any pair on without a second thought. However, that second thought can make a huge difference when it comes to your health, not to mention the quality of your exercise, too.
Whether you’re hitting a PR on the treadmill or stretching on a pilates reformer, the materials and construction of undergarments you choose to wear while sweating play an imperative role in your hygiene. Below, we’ve rounded up a variety of workout underwear designed with gynecologist-approved fabrics that stay light and airy and specialized fits that ensure comfort and allow for free flexibility.
Lululemon Underease High-Rise Thong
Lululemon is beloved for its ultra-comfortable leggings and compressive scuba jackets, but its underwear deserves just as much spotlight. The silky-yet-supportive material features four-way stretch and wicks away sweat, so you stay dry in the right places. And the flat seams prevent chafing even during the toughest of workouts. Plus the high-rise cut supports the lower stomach and pairs perfectly with your favorite pair of high-waisted leggings. And if thongs aren’t your favorite, check out the bikini-style counterpart.
Price at time of publish: $18
Material: 88% modal, 12% Lycra® elastane | Color: Pale Linen, Java, Dusty Clay |
Size Range: XS–XXL
Negative Underwear Sieve Brief
The Negative Underwear Sieve Brief prioritizes comfort and functionality rather than frills and adornments. The soft but sturdy micromesh material moves with you and provides maximum breathability for the sweatiest of workouts. The sleek silhouette is also accompanied by a supportive waistband, so no constant wedgie adjustments are needed.
Price at time of publish: $35
Material: 74% polyamide, 26% elastane; 100% cotton gusset | Color: Black, Navy, Slate, Peach +more | Size Range: XS–XXL
Aerie Ribbed Cotton High Cut Thong Underwear
At just $9, this affordable pair of undies sit nicely on the hips without riding up or down—no uncomfortable wedgies here. Available in a variety of colors and prints, you are sure to find one that fits your style (but won’t show through your leggings). The material is on the thin side, which makes them super breathable, but be sure to wash them with your other delicates.
Price at time of publish: $9
Material: 89% cotton, 11% elastane | Color: True Black, Astro Dream, Sandalwood, Medium Heather Gray +more | Size Range: XXS–XXL
Knix Cotton Modal Essential Bikini
Crafted from plant-based materials, modal is considered one of the more sustainable synthetic fabrics. While being gentler on the earth, this fabric is also easy on your skin, thanks to its silky texture. And the cotton modal blend of Knix’s Essential Bikini underwear keeps moisture and stench at bay even after a strenuous spin class, and the specially designed gusset (or the extra fabric sewn in the crotch area) is super gentle on your most sensitive areas.
Price at time of publish: $20 or 3 for $45
Material: 47% cotton, 27% modal, 6% spandex; 84% modal, 8% seaweed fiber, 8% spandex gusset | Color: Cranberry, Endless Sky, Vintage Plum +more | Size Range: XS–4XL
SKIMS Cotton Jersey Dipped Thong
SKIMS underwear and shapewear are blasted all over social feeds but trust us, the undergarments truly deserve the hype. The cotton jersey thong is a worthy addition to your underwear drawer whether you work out or not, apropos of its soft-yet-compressive fabric. The feather-light material tricks you into thinking you went commando, and the waistband is designed to sit exactly where you want to on your hips, so you can adjust based on your body type. Say goodbye to pesky panty lines with this barely-there thong.
Price at time of publish: $18
Material: 90% cotton, 10% spandex; 100% cotton jersey gusset | Color: Ruby, Sangria, Mykonos +more | Size Range: XXS–4X
Harper Wilde Supersoft Seamless Brief
Briefs can get a bad rap for bunching, but this quality pair from Harper Wilde is constructed with a signature stretchy and smooth fabric blend that helps hold your underwear up. The knit design coupled with seamless edges makes for a workout-friendly undergarment that prevents harsh panty lines and chafing. Plus, the gusset is billed to have antibacterial properties for optimal protection as you sweat.
Price at time of publish: $12
Material: 88% polyamide, 21% elastane, 18% polyester; 61% polyamide, 21% elastane, 18% polyester waistband | Color: Black, Succulent, True Blue | Size Range: XS–XL
Hanky Panky BreatheSoft Boyshort
Hanky Panky is an editor favorite for comfortable undergarments, and the BreatheSoft Boyshorts are no exception. You may be familiar with their best-selling signature lace thong, but their workout-friendly boy shorts are crafted specifically for ultimate comfort. The supple blend of nylon and lycra allows these panties to move with you instead of against you. We love the striking prism of colorways that the style offers, but be warned: these are a bit pricey, so to get the most bang for your buck, we recommend buying a pack of three for $48.
Price at time of publish: $29
Material: 72% nylon, 28% LYCRA® spandex; 100% Supima® cotton gusset | Color: Black, Taupe, Biscotti, Granite +more | Size Range: XS–L
If you are worried about the fabrics that your undergarments are comprised of, check out Pact, a brand that embodies comfort. All the products are made from organic cotton, and the brand manages to use far less water during production than traditional cotton harvesting. The breathable material prevents sweat and oils from building up, and the soft-yet-supportive waistband sits on your hips without digging into your sides.
Price at time of publish: $14
Material: 95% organic cotton, 5% elastane | Color: Black, White, Charcoal Heather, Apricot +more | Size Range: XS–XXL
CUUP The Bikini
For a comfortable pair of underwear that won’t distract you from your exercise performance, CUUP’s The Bikini style checks all of our boxes. The garment is crafted with a cheeky backside and is made from a super smooth modal material. The hygiene-first underwear also features an antimicrobial bamboo gusset lining for top-tier sweat-wicking. Plus, its expansive size range is a major perk.
Price at time of publish: $20
Material: 88% modal, 12% elastane; 95% bamboo 5% spandex gusset | Color: Salt, Black, Clay, Blush +more | Size Range: XS–XXXL
PINK No-Show Thong Panty
For a seamless option that feels buttery soft against the body throughout your workout of choice, we’re turning to PINK’s No-Show Thong. The smooth, raw-cut edges around the waist and legs create a no-show composition– no pesky panty lines here. And the silhouette boasts a thong coverage that is on the wider side, so it’s ideal for any type of movement.
Price at time of publish: $11
Material: 71% recycled nylon, 29% spandex | Color: Red Pepper, Beige, Blue Glass Shine +more | Size Range: XXS–XXL
For all of our exercise needs we love lululemon’s UnderEase High-Rise Thong. The design’s high waistband, breathable fabric, and skin-like colorways make it our top choice for our favorite workout classes and beyond. For a budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise on comfort, we’re turning to Aerie’s Ribbed High Cut Thong.
What to Look for in Underwear for Working Out
When you exercise opt for a breathable pair of underwear made of absorbent material since your body will produce a lot of moisture while you move, recommends Suzie Welsh, a fertility nurse and the founder of Binto Women’s vitamins. To help avoid the buildup of moisture or discharge, you can try moisture-wicking underwear made from polyester, nylon, or spandex. Ideally, you’ll want to make sure they’re not manufactured with additional chemicals, Welsh notes. “Since your vagina is the most absorbent part of the body, it's critical to choose underwear free of chemicals.”
“Cotton is breathable and highly absorbent,” says Dr. Angela Jones, a board-certified OB-GYN. “That will decrease the risk of contact dermatitis, and vaginitis. Plus, cotton is easy on the wallet.”
For working out, she suggests materials that are comfortable and equipped with the latest wicking technology. “The significance of wicking technology is that it draws moisture away from the skin, keeping it cool and dry,” Jones says. “Vaginitis loves warm, moist environments, so wicking technology helps keep such an environment at bay.”
For a pair of workout panties that feature a moisture-wicking outer and vagina-safe cotton, we recommend a pair that prioritizes hygiene at the gusset such as the CUUP The Bikini Modal or Negative Underwear Sieve Brief.
Despite having quite different silhouettes, one aspect each of the following styles has in common is a certain nip, tuck, or seam that lets your body move friction-free while staying in place (as in, not riding up or down). Additionally, things to avoid include elastic in the groin (think G-strings) or abrasive lace in all the wrong places, which can cause irritation, rashes, itching, and discomfort, particularly with more intense activity.
Do you need to wear underwear while working out?
Prefer to go commando? It’s totally up to you. “I feel better-wearing undies, but it’s a personal choice,” Welsh says.
If you choose to work out sans panties, just make sure your leggings have a gusset (the diamond-shaped area in the crotch of your workout pants), Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a New York City-based gynecologist notes. "The purpose of the gusset is to eliminate a central seam, which can irritate the vagina,” she says.
How often should you replace your workout underwear?
After you exercise and sweat, you should try to change out of your underwear as soon as possible to avoid any irritation or infections. Welsh explains the importance of washing your underwear between each wear “to prevent bacteria build-up and irritation that will lead to uncomfortable yeast infections.”
Why Trust Byrdie
Anneke Knot is a full-time freelance writer. She has over five years of experience reporting on fashion and beauty. Her work has appeared on sites like Instyle, People, and Real Simple.
Jasmine Hyman is a commerce producer and writer for Dotdash Meredith’s beauty and travel publications. Her work has also appeared in publications like InStyle, People, Brides, and more. For this article, she used insight from gynecologists and spent hours researching the best materials for workout underwear.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any workout underwear from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.