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The Best Cotton Underwear for Women, From Boy Shorts to Bikinis

Best Cotton Underwear for Women
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Updated October 30, 2023

For everyday comfort and wear, nothing beats a good pair of cotton underwear. Despite all the performance fabrics available, for many of us, the feel of cotton is what we want next to our skin. One of the biggest differences between cotton and synthetic underwear is how they’re manufactured. Synthetics don’t come from natural ingredients but instead, are produced from chemicals—which means our skin may have adverse reactions to them. If you haven’t already, it may be time to jump on the cotton underwear bandwagon. To help you do that, we’ve rounded up the best cotton underwear available in a variety of styles to compliment your every mood and outfit.

Our top picks for the best cotton underwear for women

Best budget cotton underwear for women: Hanes Original Women’s Hipster Cotton Underwear

At a great price and available in bright colors like tango orange and fun prints like floral garden party, the Hanes Original Hipster is a tried and true, everyday cotton panty pick. Hipster style with full back coverage, they have a classic fit with a wide waistband with Hanes branding. And they don’t shrink after washing. Hanes has been making underwear for a long time and they’re hard to beat when looking for a basic, budget minded option. Shopping tip: You can also count on Hanes for the best no-show socks for women, sports bras, and the best pajamas for men

Specifications:

  • Material: 100% cotton (heathered colors are 75% cotton, 25% polyester)
  • Size Range: S–2XL
  • Colors: Black, gray, and more
  • Price on publish: 6 for $15.00

What we like:

  • Excellent price
  • Tag-free
  • Mix and match with bras

What we don’t like:

  • Fabric may be a bit thick for some
Best budget
Hanes Women's Panties Pack, Soft Cotton Hipsters, Underwear 6-Pack May Vary, Fashion Color Mix, 8

Hanes Women's Panties Pack, Soft Cotton Hipsters, Underwear 6-Pack May Vary, Fashion Color Mix, 8

Best cotton thong underwear for women: Everlane The Cotton Thong

If you want a true no-show option to wear under tight clothes like leggings, opt for a thong—and the Everlane Cotton Thong may just be the perfect one. Made from a double layer of Supima cotton with flat seams and a smooth waistband, they’re super comfortable and smooth. As with all thongs, they provide minimal bum coverage. But unlike many other thongs, these don’t pinch. They run large, so you may want to consider sizing down.

Specifications:

  • Material: 92% cotton, 8% elastane
  • Size Range: XXS-XXL
  • Colors: Black, beige
  • Price on publish: $15.00

What we like:

  • Smooth waistband
  • Comfortable

What we don’t like:

  • A bit too much fabric on front for a thong
Best cotton thong
Everlane The Cotton Thong

Everlane The Cotton Thong

Best boxer-style cotton underwear for women: Skims Cotton Rib Boxer

The Skims Cotton Rib Boxer is just like your boyfriend’s, but better. They have a soft, wide elastic waistband and are made with a no-cut design (meaning, no seams to irritate) with top stitching. The fabric is a soft, breathable, stretch cotton. These are great to wear under short dresses and skirts—or while lounging around the house. 

Specifications:

  • Material: Cotton rib jersey; 95% cotton, 5% spandex
  • Size Range: XXS–4X
  • Colors: various
  • Price on publish: $34.00

What we like:

  • Excellent size range
  • Good color selection
  • Super-soft fabric

What we don’t like:

  • A bit expensive
Best boxer-style
SKIMS Boxer | White | 2XL | Cotton Rib

SKIMS Boxer | White | 2XL | Cotton Rib

Best cotton brief underwear for women: Thirdlove Organic Cloud Cotton Brief

One of the best things about Thirdlove briefs is the absence of any bulky, binding elastic—and the incredibly soft cotton from which they’re made. These offer full coverage with a high rise: A perfect everyday panty option that doesn’t roll. The organic cotton also means they’re great for anybody with skin issues. Good to know: Thirdlove also made our list of the best pajamas for women.

Specifications:

  • Material: Organic cotton, spandex
  • Size Range: XS–3X
  • Colors: Black, cream, pink, blue
  • Price on publish: $26.00

What we like:

  • Great size range
  • Cotton gusset
  • No bulky elastic

What we don’t like:

  • Not available in many colors
Best cotton brief
Thirdlove Organic Cloud Cotton Brief

Thirdlove Organic Cloud Cotton Brief

Best cotton bikini underwear for women: Calvin Klein Modern Cotton Bikini

Another classic, the Calvin Klein Modern cotton bikini has a super-soft (doesn’t dig in) logo waistband, a high leg, and just the right amount of coverage in the back. Made from a supple cotton, these will likely become one of your favorites. Bikini cut with full back coverage, low waist, high leg. We especially love the red carpet and acid orange colors. According to reviewers, they run small, so consider sizing up. Shopping tip: Calvin Klein also topped our list for the best underwear for men.

Specifications:

  • Material: 53% cotton, 35% modal, 12% elastane
  • Size Range: XS-XL
  • Colors: Black, gray, white, and more
  • Price on publish: $15.40

What we like:

  • Incredibly soft
  • Wide waistband

What we don’t like:

  • Itchy tags that need to be removed
Best cotton bikini
Calvin Klein Modern Cotton Bikini

Calvin Klein Modern Cotton Bikini

Most comfortable women’s cotton underwear: Hanes Ultimate Women’s High Waisted Brief

Buy these Hanes Ultimate panties by the six pack; the price is great and the panties are pretty damn good too.  Made from a moisture-wicking cotton, they’re preshrunk and keep their shape after washing. They feature a full-coverage fit with leg bands to prevent them riding up. If you’re in need of simple, basic underwear, you can’t go wrong with Hanes.

Specifications:

  • Material: Cotton
  • Size Range: 5-9
  • Colors: Various
  • Price on publish: $13.95 for 6

What we like:

  • Tagless
  • Great value
  • Durable

What we don’t like:

  • Waistband not as wide as some others
Most comfortable

Hanes Ultimate Women's High-Waisted Brief Underwear, Moisture-Wicking, 6-Pack

Best high-waist cotton underwear for women: Knickey High-Rise Brief

The Knickey high-rise brief has an ultra-high rise without giving off the air of granny panties (not that granny panties are a bad thing, necessarily). They have minimal leg elastics and a waistband that doesn’t dig in. These particular Knickeys are the ones that inspired a cult following—and it’s easy to see why: They’re comfortable, flattering, and keep their shape after multiple washings.

Specifications:

  • Material: 95% organic cotton, 5% spandex
  • Size Range: XXS–3XL
  • Colors: various
  • Price on publish: $17.00

What we like:

  • Great color selection
  • Super soft
  • Very flattering

What we don’t like:

  • Relatively pricey per pair
Best high-waist
Knickey High-Rise Brief

Knickey High-Rise Brief

Best low-rise cotton underwear for women: Skims Cotton Logo Hipster Underwear

The Skims Cotton Logo Hipster is a low-rise hipster with a flattering waistline in the front and full coverage in the back. There’s a Skims logo on the soft waistband. These are for people who like casual underwear but don’t want something super boring that stays put (doesn’t roll down) and is always comfortable. These run small, so consider ordering a size up. 

Specifications:

  • Material: 90% cotton, 10% spandex
  • Size Range: XXS–-4X
  • Colors: Various
  • Price on publish: $20.00

What we like:

  • Great size range
  • Fun limited-edition colors
  • Matching bras and crop t-shirts available

What we don’t like:

  • Run small
  • Often sells out fast
  • Relatively pricey
Best low-rise
Skims Cotton Logo Hipster Underwear

Skims Cotton Logo Hipster Underwear

Best organic cotton underwear for women: ThirdLove Organic Cotton Hipster

If you have sensitive skin, these cotton hipster panties from ThirdLove are for you. They’re made from a breathable, light organic cotton blend with a 100% cotton gusset, and without any bulky elastic. Featuring a mid-rise with moderate coverage, these are great for everyday wear. Shopping tip: ThirdLove also made our list for the best yoga pants for women.

Specifications:

  • Material: Organic cotton/spandex
  • Size Range: XS–3X
  • Colors: Black, ballet, sea salt (off-white)
  • Price on publish: $48.00 for a 3-pack

What we like:

  • Good size range
  • No bulky elastic
  • Super soft

What we don’t like:

  • Not a big color selection
Best organic
ThirdLove Organic Cotton Hipster

ThirdLove Organic Cotton Hipster

Best stretchy cotton underwear for women: Gap Stretch Cotton Hipster

The Gap Stretch Cotton Hipster has a boy-cut leg, sits at your hip, and offers full coverage. They’re an excellent basic, everyday, style choice. Made from a stretchy cotton blend, these feel like a second skin. The soft elastic at legs and waist doesn’t dig in but gives just a bit of structure. These are definitely not your average hipster; they’re a couple steps up from that.

Specifications:

  • Material: 93% cotton, 7% spandex
  • Size Range: XS-XXL
  • Colors: Black, gray, white, beige
  • Price on publish: $10.50

What we like:

  • Great price
  • Super soft
  • Durable

What we don’t like:

  • Not as low rise as some others.
Best stretchy
Stretch Cotton Hipster

Stretch Cotton Hipster

Best high-leg scoop-style cotton underwear for women: Skims Jersey Cheeky Tanga

The Cheeky Tanga from Skims hits just below your natural waist with minimal side coverage for a flattering fit. For such a high leg cut, they stay in place exceptionally well. Plus, they’re breathable and comfortable, making you feel as if you have nothing on; all while also being pretty darn cute.

Specifications:

  • Material: 90% cotton, 10% spandex
  • Size Range: XXS–4X
  • Colors: various
  • Price on publish: $20.00; 3 for $36.00

What we like:

  • Great size range
  • Good color selection
  • Comfortable

What we don’t like:

  • Run a bit big
  • Relatively pricey
Best high-leg scoop-style
SKIMS Cheeky Tanga | White | XS | Cotton Jersey

SKIMS Cheeky Tanga | White | XS | Cotton Jersey

Best “no panty line” cotton underwear for women: Commando Cotton Bikini

With raw-cut edges (no elastic, trim, or tape) this cotton bikini from Commando is completely immune to panty lines, even when you’re wearing thin yoga pants. The four-way stretch lays flat and is pill-resistant, keeping these looking new wash after wash.

Specifications:

  • Material: 71% cotton, 29% elastane
  • Size Range: XS-XL
  • Colors: Black, beige, white, and more
  • Price on publish: $36.00

What we like:

  • No tag
  • Raw-cut edges
  • Resistant to pilling

What we don’t like:

  • Kind of expensive
Best “no panty line”
Commando Cotton Bikini

Commando Cotton Bikini

Best women’s cotton underwear with the best color variety: Natori Bliss Girl Brief

The geometric stretch lace on the legs and waistband of these panties is what sets them apart from all the others on this list. That, and the expansive color selection. One of Natori’s catch phrases is “where life meets art,” and as far as panties go, these are probably pretty close to art. They’re pretty, seamless, offer no panty lines, and are super soft. What more could you ask for?

Specifications:

  • Material: 94% Pima cotton, 6% lycra
  • Size Range: XS-XXL
  • Colors: So many
  • Price on publish: $20.00

What we like:

  • So many colors
  • Lace details

What we don’t like:

  • The tag is difficult to remove and could be itchy
Best color variety
Natori Bliss Girl Brief

Natori Bliss Girl Brief

Best cotton period underwear: Thinx for All Women’s Brief Period Underwear

With a three-layer gusset, Thinx for All Super Absorbency Brief panties hold up to five regular tampons’ worth or 2.5 regular pads’ worth and feature a comfy, full-coverage silhouette with a mid-rise cut. As many reviewers say, these panties are life-changing. Not only do they control odors while preventing leaks but, you’ll also save money on pads and tampons. Thinx are washable and reusable. 

Specifications:

  • Material: 95% cotton, 5% elastane with polyester gussets
  • Size Range: XS–4X
  • Colors: Black, gray, and others
  • Price on publish: $17.00

What we like:

  • Comfortable
  • Super absorbent
  • Really do work

What we don’t like:

  • While absorbent not quite as absorbent as the company claims
Best cotton period underwear
Thinx for All Women’s Brief Period Underwear

Thinx for All Women’s Brief Period Underwear

Best cotton boy short-style underwear for women: Skims Cotton Jersey Boy Shorts

These are a full-cut boy short with a 100% cotton jersey gusset. They’re great for sleeping, as well as for under dresses and skirts. We also love these for just lounging around the house. Though the coverage and fit are generally excellent some of those with more “ample” behinds may find that these are not totally wedgie-proof.

Specifications:

  • Material: 90% cotton, 10% spandex
  • Size Range: XXS–4X
  • Colors: Various
  • Price on publish: $22.00

What we like:

  • Great size range
  • Super soft
  • Sexy without revealing much

What we don’t like:

  • Roll up at legs at times
Best boy short-style
SKIMS 3 For $36 Boy Short | Black | 2XS | Cotton Jersey

SKIMS 3 For $36 Boy Short | Black | 2XS | Cotton Jersey

What to consider when buying cotton underwear for women 

You may have not given much thought to your underwear before, but there are things to consider when shopping for something new. You’ll probably need to try on multiple pairs to find your favorites, but here are some things to consider.

Proper size

As with the rest of the garment industry, there is no standard sizing across brands when it comes to underwear. To make matters even more confusing, numerical underwear sizing has no correlation with the equivalent in other garments; for instance, a 4 is an XS and a 10 is an XL. With this in mind, it's best to check the measurements on a brand’s size chart to determine which you need. Ill-fitting underwear is what causes panty lines, cutting, bulging, and wedgie issues.

Style

Underwear comes in a variety of styles including hipster, briefs, thongs, “boy” shorts and more. Which you prefer is completely a personal preference and likely depends on what you’re wearing. 

Fabric

Weight, texture, and feel are all important when it comes to fabric. Obviously this is something you sort of have to experience for yourself though we did try to include our observations in the descriptions. A cotton gusset in the crotch area is preferable for breathability and comfort.

How we selected the best cotton underwear for women

The internet is filled with all sorts of fascinating and not so fascinating things including tons of reviews of underwear. While we don’t claim to have read them all, we did spend a ridiculous amount of time doing so (to the point that I felt I needed to shield my screen when working in a public place). As well as writing, I also work as a tailor and pattern maker for film, TV, and fashion so I have vast knowledge when it comes to underwear—and most any garment, honestly.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Are there any benefits of wearing cotton underwear?

Many doctors say cotton underwear is better for vaginal and vulva health, as it keeps moisture away from those sensitive areas. Plus, many people have reactions to elastics and nylon in that area as well; something you rarely get with cotton. Though there are some people allergic to cotton, they seem to be rather rare.

Is cotton better than moisture wicking underwear?

Whether cotton or moisture wicking underwear is better is a personal choice and depends on an individual’s sensitivity and possible allergies. Some people react to nylon, elastic, and other polyesters, especially in the most sensitive areas of their bodies. Cotton provides a breathable alternative. Though cotton does have moisture-wicking properties, it will absorb more wetness over time than synthetic fabrics engineered to repel it. While I personally love cotton and cotton underwear, I only wear it when at home or when I know I won’t be involved in any activity that requires prolonged physical effort, such as running, cycling, hiking, or working outdoors when it’s hot and humid. 

How should you wash cotton underwear?

The best wash to wash cotton underwear is in cold water on the delicate cycle in your machine. For the best results, dry flat, as high temperature dryer cycles can shorten the longevity of the elastic in underwear (and can also cause shrinking). 

What percentage of cotton is good for underwear?

Ideally, if you’re going for cotton underwear, it should be around 90 to 100 percent cotton. Most brands have a small percentage of spandex or elastane for stretch. Make sure the crotch gusset is 100% cotton though, as this helps reduce the risk of yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis

How often should you buy new underwear?

The general consensus seems to be that you should buy new underwear every 6 to 12 months. Perhaps this is another instance where personal preference (and the level of quality of the underwear in question) weighs heavily.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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