Warning: This post is likely to include TMI for those of you who are squeamish when people talk about not-so-dainty lady things. Especially things that happen to those of us of a certain age. Read at your own peril. Viita does, however, also make products for men.
Absorbent undies have hit the scene with a vengeance in the past few years. New products seem to be introduced regularly, and, behind the closed doors of Facebook groups and Slack channels, are talked about almost as often as menstrual cups. Women use absorbent underwear as a solution for menstrual flow, or for that slight incontinence that happens to a lot of women as they get older, especially when they sneeze or cough.
But are absorbent underwear worth the hype? Are they the solution to every woman’s (or men’s) needs? I had the chance to try out a couple of pairs of Viita Absorbent underwear that are specifically designed for bladder leakage. I also had the chance to interview the founders. Here’s my interview, and then read my review of the undies below it.
GeekMom: Your products claim to hold from 2 tablespoons of liquid to just about half a cup. That is quite a bit. How does the liquid not leak out? If you sit down, will the liquid still be contained, and not squish out the sides, onto your clothes, or back onto your skin?
Viita: Viita’s high-tech design consists of three layers that each have a specific role in providing ultimate absorption, and most importantly, keeping the wearer dry at all times.
The first layer quickly draws the liquid down to the second layer (most intelligent moisture wicking fabrics will draw humidity away from the body, this does the opposite).
The second layer absorbs the liquid and rapidly disperses throughout the textile so the wearer always has an “even feeling” and this also allows for the liquid to not leak through.
The third layer is really only there for emergency situations, in case the second layer gets to full and seeps through. The third layer will prevent it from going through onto the underwear.
Even if you sit down the liquid will still be contained because it is evenly dispersed throughout the second layer. All threading used on the gusset is waterproof and double stitched, preventing you from any accidental leakage.
GM: Do you recommend these for use during one’s menstrual cycle as well, or just for bladder leakage?
V: Although the technology was not invented for one’s menstrual cycle, many of our customers use it during that time of the month. We all know the feeling of being stuck in a business meeting in white pants and fearing the worst! Or the feeling of always looking down at your chair when you get up. Viita offers peace of mind during those times.
GM: And there’s honest to goodness no odor? How well does the antibacterial layer work to neutralize odor?
V: We use a highly efficient antimicrobial, bactericidal, and anti-odor liquid solution based from silver (yes, like the actual metal). It is colorless, economical, ecological, easy to apply, and does not affect the feel of the material. It creates a secure coating, which works double-time against odor-causing bacteria. Most antimicrobial products are bacteriostatic, which means, they inhibit the growth of bacteria. Not only does our treatment completely neutralize the proliferation of bacteria, but it also destroys any existing bacteria practically on contact.
Where most other apparel on the market limit their claims to 20 or 30 home launderings (sometimes 50 under optimal conditions), Viita antibacterial and odor testing readily performs through 100 industrial launderings.
GM: How comfortable are they? Do they ride up, or stay in place?
V: We pride ourselves on the quality and fit of our garments. We use a cotton with a minimum of 10 percent spandex (nothing is worse than when your underwear stretches out and doesn’t come back to its normal shape). Additionally, every Viita garment conceived is fit tested several times on many body types and put through rigorous lab testing.
GM: Assuming you hand wash and air dry them, how many washes will these undies last through?
V: The gusset is efficient for up to 100 washes. The rest of the underwear (cotton and lace) will last for as long as you take good care of them. How long do your normal underwear last? Some people can keep their underwear for 2 months and others for one year.
[Author Note: My underwear lasts much longer than that, but YMMV.]
GM: How much do each of the undies models cost?
V: Women: $19.99, Men: $24.99
When comparing to disposable products, using Viita can save a consumer anywhere from $500 to $1500 yearly.
[Author Note: I’m not sure what these dollar amounts are based on, but my “disposable product” annual cost is only about $50/year, for all types combined, so I find the cost of these undies versus disposable to be comparable, once you’ve stocked up on them.]
GM: What inspired you to create this product, when several other kinds of absorbent underwear are already on the market?
V: It was during Sunday night dinner (we are Italian, so it is a traditional Sunday dinner, I should say). Per usual, my aunt, a gynecologist, spoke to us about some of her patients, but this time she spoke about how she had noticed so many women coming in because of their bladder leakage problems and about how she felt disappointed that she had no real solution for them.
I guess I would say I had an epiphany. I instantly felt connected to every patient she spoke about. I knew I had to find a way to help these women. My background in fashion and textiles helped me develop a technology that could absorb just like a disposable pad and yet, stay ultra-dry. I tested thousands of textiles together, until I fell on the perfect combination of three different textiles, put in a specific order that could ABSORB and STAY DRY at the same time.
It took almost three years to perfect the technology. Once it was approved and passed lab testings (absorbency, antibacterial, and odorless) I decided to raise money through grants and loans. I raised about $70,000, allowing me to create some simple marketing strategies as well as some golden samples, and also, pay off all of the testings I had done. I then applied to be on the Canadian version of Shark Tank, and that is when I met Daniele Henkel, who still today is my mentor, investor, and friend. We have a great synergy and we make a great team.
She then gave me the investment. I manufactured 1,500 underwears and sold them in eight weeks through the website without any marketing strategy, sans the exposure given to the brand by the TV show.
We had ZERO returns, which gave Daniele the green light to pitch to large retailers in Quebec. We started distribution in 500 Quebec pharmacies, before successfully expanding to the rest of Canada and now, the USA.
Although there might be other types of absorbent underwear on the market, there is nothing quite like Viita. Vita is sexy, reliable, fashion-forward, and comfortable. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it can absorb as much as 23 teaspoons of liquid.
GM: Do you give them to all of your female friends as gifts?
V: When I first started my friends would go into pharmacies and buy the underwear and now they are completely hooked! It is also my go-to gift when friends announce they are pregnant. They don’t always understand it at the beginning, but three months in they are SO grateful they have Viita!
So, how did they work in practice? I’m only a data point of one, but let me share my experiences, the pros, and the cons. When I took the underwear out of their packages, my first impressions were mixed. I had the opportunity to test out a pair with Level 1 absorption and Level 3 absorption (there are three levels). They felt very nice, were extremely attractive, but the absorbent area was much thicker than I was expecting, especially for the Level 3 variety. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but after reading GeekMom Ruth’s review of a related (but quite different) product, what I found in the package wasn’t quite it. Well, I thought, I’ll just try them. So, after giving them an initial hand washing and air dry, I gave them a try. (I only tested them for their bladder leakage purpose.)
Pros: The undies fit very well, were quite comfortable, and very attractive. They didn’t shift around or ride up, even by the end of the day. They did absorb… um… what they needed to absorb, though my challenges in that area are minor, so I couldn’t test them to their fullest until I tested their holding capacity with water (see below).
Cons: There was still an odor. Not a strong one, but definitely more than one notices when using disposable products. Also, I didn’t feel like the moisture stayed off of my skin as well as with disposable products, leaving me with that not-so-fresh feeling by the end of the day.
After hand washing them again and letting them dry, I tried a capacity test. The Level 1 undies didn’t quite hold 1/4 cup of water, but since they’re only supposed to hold two tablespoons, I thought they did remarkably well. The Level 3 undies easily held 1/2 cup of water. It took some doing for the undies to absorb the water, though, needing some pressure on the gusset while I was pouring. This didn’t happen when I was wearing them, however, and thus I chock that weirdness up to my procedure. While holding onto all of this water, both pairs of undies were still completely dry on the outside. I was amazed, but they worked, performing admirably in that department. On the other hand, when they were at capacity, the water easily squished back out of the inside, the side that would be against your body. This would end up squishing out the sides and on to your clothes, if you were wearing them at the time. So, while they take in as much liquid as advertised, I don’t think I’d trust them to hold onto it all.
In general, I see some advantages and disadvantages to the Viita undies.
Advantages: There is no need to bring additional disposable supplies with you. You contribute less to the landfills. The ease of reusability while traveling or in a small house. Good for using when you don’t have a lot of leakage and want something a little absorbent “just in case.”
Disadvantages: It’s harder to change them out if they fill up, or know what to do with them if you do change them out and you’re not at home. You can’t arrange the absorbent area where you need it, if you need it somewhere other than where it’s sewn in. They take a long time to dry, since the gusset is so absorbent. Plus, the aforementioned odor issue.
What’s my final assessment? Well, I am glad to have gotten to try them, and think that the two pairs I have will come in very handy. Will I wear these again? Likely, yes. But will I be replacing all of my underwear with these? Not likely. The hand washing requirement alone is enough to keep me from wearing them regularly, and I prefer the experience of the disposable products. Still, some people swear by these types of products, so if you have a need for them, they are definitely worth a try.
The Viita undies come in S, M, L, XL, and XXL, and in black or nude, hipster or full brief. They are made in Canada of 90% cotton and 10% spandex. Check their website to see where you can buy them, as they’re only sold at a few chain stores. They are available at CVS Pharmacy in the U.S., for example.
Note: I received a couple of pairs for review purposes.