I don’t put much thought into what I’m wearing during a workout. I know I’m pulling on some black leggings, socks, sneakers, and any T-shirt that happens to be lying around, but I’m not going as far as to wear workout-specific underwear. Like, I’ll work out in a thong if that’s what’s already on my body—I don’t particularly care if the underwear I’m wearing is wedgie-proof or not.
But then, I was told about a new sports underwear brand called Quo Active that’s specifically meant to be worn during a workout—it’s sweat-wicking, antimicrobial, and stays put even in the most intense spurt of burpees. Given that, I figured I may as well give them a shot. After all, they’re purported to help prevent bacterial growth that happens during a burpees-then-brunch sequence.
“For everyday use and light exercise, cotton underwear is best because it’s light and breathable,” says Omnia Samra Latif Estefan, MD, a board-certified OB-GYN and brand consultant for Nelly De Vuyst’s BioFemme line. “But add in a heavy workout—with the combo of sweat, heat, and friction—and that’s another story. The vulva and bottom region are filled with sweat glands, so they can sweat too. The cotton then absorbs the sweat, and the remaining moisture can increase the risk in infection.”
By investing in sweat-wicking briefs, which are usually made of fabrics such as nylon and polyester, you’re nixing not only the moisture but the bacteria that comes along with it. Quo’s underwear is actually pretty chic, so it’s not like I’m strapping on granny panties for the cause: They come in a simple thong style, in either black or nude, for $24 a pop. Aside from the nylon spandex that adds hygienic attributes, these undies don’t have a “gusset” that’s always in the pantyliner area. “Most underwear—like, 90 percent of it—is lined with a cotton gusset that traps moisture and breeds bacteria,” says Quo’s founder Stacey Hunter Harrington. “With Quo, that weird little pocket is officially obsolete.”
Quo’s underwear is actually pretty chic, so it’s not like I’m strapping on granny panties for the cause.
When I slide my leggings over the thong, I’m thrilled to not see the underwear lines that typically come as a surprise whenever I catch a sight of my rear end in a mirror mid-workout. Based on looks alone, I’m a fan. During the workout when I put it to the test—which happens to be a 30-minute HIIT run followed by full-body strength training— I don’t notice anything different about my underwear. Like, at all.
However, after I came home from the gym, I didn’t feel like I was sitting in a pool of sweat, as per usual. Also, I didn’t smell anything funky…which can happen if you’re not wearing antimicrobial underwear (hey, I’m being honest). Sure, I had been drenched in sweat, but as it all dried, I didn’t feel that sense of urgency I usually feel about getting out of my sweaty underwear. And I think that’s kind of the point.
So yeah, Quo was actually really game-changing in that they kept me from having to think too much about my underwear, but I wanted to get the expert’s take. Dr. Latif Estefan says that you can avoid those sweat-down-under problems simply by changing. “Once you feel dampness in any type of underwear, it’s best to prevent infections by changing out of sweaty clothing and gently cleanse with a pH-balanced soap or cleanser,” she says.
So despite the clear benefits of sweat-friendly underwear, I can’t say that I’m going to hand-wash my Quo (which claims it doesn’t need to be machine washed—just rinsed) every time I sweat. But on the special days that I do wear them, I know my nether-regions will be all set.
Now that your underwear’s tackled, here are the best high-cut sports bras to keep you supported as you sweat. Or you can opt from one of the most comfortable sports bras we rounded up.