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22 Feb 2022

Primark vs M&S period pants: which high street versions do users rate best?

We asked users to tell us what they thought of the popular period pant brands

In the past year or so, period pants have gone from a relatively niche product to an increasingly popular and widely available option in the UK.

The washable and reusable absorbent pants are a low-waste alternative to disposable pads, towels and tampons, and first made waves online via brands such as ModiBodi, Thinx and Wuka.

These versions can cost upwards of £25 per pair, though cheaper versions are beginning to appear as they become more mainstream.

Modibodi and Wuka recently launched cheaper ranges starting from £12, and high street chains Primark and M&S have got in on the action, launching their own cheap period-proof underwear for £12 or less.

But even at this price, period pants are a bit of an investment, considering you'll need a few pairs on the go.

We surveyed period pant users to find out how Primark and M&S period underwear compares, as well as how pricier pants are rated, to help you decide which ones are worth buying.

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Primark vs M&S period underwear

We asked people who'd tried Primark's period pants, and those who'd tried M&S period underwear (some had used both), whether they thought the brands were good for factors such as comfort, durability, and value for money.

Primark period pants (£6 per pair)

  • Comfort - 64%
  • Leak protection - 34%
  • Appearance - 25%
  • Durability - 30%
  • Value - 77%

M&S period pants (£12 per pair)

  • Comfort - 79%
  • Leak protection - 48%
  • Appearance - 27%
  • Durability - 45%
  • Value - 43%

Based on a December 2021 survey of 563 period pant and menstrual cup users. No. of respondents - Primark (176), M&S (168)

Primark period pants - cheap but not so cheerful

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the low price and the fact that period pants in general are quite expensive, those who'd used Primark's period undies were more likely to praise them for value for money than users of any other brand we reported on.

However, whether they truly represent good value is debatable, as the low price point seems to come at the expense of their overall performance in other areas.

Only a quarter of Primark's customers said they thought the undies looked good, and they were less likely than users of any other brands to say the undies were durable, or were good for leak protection. They had the second-lowest proportion of users rating them as comfortable too.

M&S pants a good fit for those on a budget

For M&S users, the biggest plus was comfort - 79% of users said they found the pants comfortable. But, like Primark's users, fewer of them were impressed with the look of the pants.

Overall, M&S hovered around the middle of the pack in comparison to the seven other period pant brands we got feedback on.

Given that they're more moderately priced than many rivals (£12 per pair / £9 in multi-buy), they're a good option to try if you don't want to spend too much but want to give period pants a go.

Where to buy:

  • M&S period knickers (from £12 - currently on offer, one free pair if you buy three, so £9 per pair) - available in a range of absorbencies and styles from M&S
  • Primark period pants(£6 per pair) - available in Primark stores.

But, with OG period pant brands launching cheaper ranges, it's worth seeing how other options are rated too.

To see how period pants by Intimawear (Bodyform), Flo, ModiBodi, WUKA and more were rated by users, see our full period pants rated guide.

Pros and cons of period pants

Period pants may take some getting used to if you're new to them, but according to our survey, it's certainly worth giving them a try, as the overwhelming majority are converts:

  • 75% of those who've used period pants like or love them
  • 23% think they are ok
  • 2% dislike them

Comfort was the biggest benefit for people, with respondents telling us they felt they could move around more and feel more confident on their period while wearing them.

A few said they wished period pants had been an option when they were younger, and that they've bought them for teenage daughters as an easier option than changing pads at school or remembering to bring spares.

The main drawback for people was that they didn't feel fresh when wearing them - but only 15% of respondents said this was the case.

Reusable period products: the ultimate guide - discover the different options available and how to choose what's right for you

How sustainable are period pants?

After comfort, people's second favourite thing about period pants was that they reduce waste.

With increasing awareness around the toll that disposable - and often plastic-based - sanitary products can take on the environment, a desire to cut down on single-use products has driven the meteoric rise of reusable options like period pants and menstrual cups.

Switching to a reusable product is positive in itself, but just like regular underwear, some period pants may be more sustainable than others.

Look out for:

  • The materials used: certified organic fabrics, or recycled fabrics are better for the environment than synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon (though many period products use these for moisture-wicking).
  • Washing and care instructions: period underwear won't last forever, so make sure you follow the washing and care instructions properly to prolong their usable life.

Many brands give a lifetime estimate of around two years, meaning one pair of period pants could replace approx 360 disposable tampons or towels.**

However, there's an increasing range of alternatives to consider too, including menstrual cups, which can have a longer lifetime, though they may take a bit more getting used to.

See our guide to menstrual cups for insight on what users like and dislike, and which brands - such as Mooncup, Divacup, Tampax Cup and Boots - they rate highly.

**Everyone's flow is different, but this assumes approx three disposable products per day over five days a month for two years.

Prices correct as of 18 February 2022