Skins Essentials Compression Socks

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Manufacturer Description

Unlike normal athletic socks, SKINS gradient compression socks are the perfect performance enhancer for any activity where your legs are pushed to the limit. SKINS Engineered Gradient Compression offers targeted calf muscle support and improves circulation, delivering more oxygen to your active muscles. The increased blood flow helps reduce the buildup of blood lactate to keep you going harder for longer and recover faster.


  • Durable high quality yarns
  • Superior moisture management
  • Special anti-chafing yarn
  • Soft fall cushioning
  • Smooth, comfortable toe seams
  • Anatomic left and right construction for a comfortable fit
  • 48% Polyamide Nylon , 29% Polyamide Microlon, 10% Elastane, 9% Polyester, 4% Polyamide
  • Unisex, size based on calf circumference
  • Available in black and white
  • Tested size Medium
  • Retail – $50

YMMV Review

Skins has been making compression gear for upwards of 10 years now. They were making it before it became popular and trendy. They now make several levels of clothing for a variety of sports. They also make an Essentials Collection, and that is where these socks fall. While many other companies have been making compression socks over the last couple of years, Skins has been slower to launch into that category. Waiting until they felt like they had a product worthy of their high standards and superior results. Just this winter Skins finally released their compression socks. I have been fortunate to have gotten a pair from them in August that I tested all fall.

Full View - Click to See Larger
Full View – Click to See Larger


Compression socks are both good for during and after activity. I have therefore used these for both running and recovering. My runs have varied from 3 to 13 miles in both warm and cold temperatures. For recovery, I have worn the socks for the rest of the day after a tough run, in long car rides, and even overnight.

Design ★★★½☆

Appearance (20%) ★★★☆☆

Construction (45%) ★★★★☆

Materials (25%) ★★★★☆

Sustainability (10%) ★½☆☆☆

Skins has been making compression clothing long before it became popular. Strangely enough, it was not until this year that they actually came out with their first pair of compression socks. Skins Compression Socks use gradient compression to offer target calf muscle support and improve circulation, delivering more oxygen to your active muscles. The increased blood flow helps reduce the buildup of blood lactate which in turn keeps you going harder for longer. Compression technology has been around for a long time, mainly being implemented in the medical field. In order to make their compression clothing, Skins has teamed up with a research organization in Australia that can measure the body while in motion. They were then able to put athletes on the machine and measure compression on athletes in motion. This is revolutionary stuff as most are measured just on athletes while they are static.

Outside of the Foot - Click to See Larger
Outside of the Foot – Click to See Larger

The idea behind gradient compression is that it has been engineered to provide the correct level of surface pressure to specific parts of the body. By doing this it enhances circulation by helping guide blood from the extremities back to the heart for redistribution. This enhances circulation and gets more vital oxygen to your active muscles – boosting your power, speed, and stamina. Improved circulation also helps improve lactic acid build up and other metabolic wastes during an intense workout. The quicker blood can circulate the faster it can distribute oxygen and remove waste products, thus helping performance and recovery.

The last important component of any compression is the construction method. Skins are warp knitted using multiple fine quality yarns to give superior performance. Warp knit fabrics have no natural stretch – instead, the spandex mix ensures specific levels of elasticity and perfectly controlled compression. For a compression product this is superior to using circular knit, which has natural stretch, making it hard to maintain the correct level of compression. Circular knit fabrics are also less durable and likely to run if snagged. The compression socks are made of several different yarns depending on the location in the socks.

Warp Knit Construction - Click to See Larger
Warp Knit Construction – Click to See Larger

Essentially the socks can be broken down into two parts, the leg and the foot. The leg section begins at the ankle and progresses up to the top of the sock. This is where the compression lies, it is engineered to be higher at the ankle and gradually becomes lower towards the knee. The sock fits similar to a normal athletic sock but with a host of enhancements for comfort and performance. In the heel and toe, Skins uses special anti-chafing yarn to reduce heat, moisture friction, and the risk of blisters. Over the toe, a smooth and comfortable toe seam also reduces friction. The socks feature soft fall cushioning that helps absorb shock and enhance comfort. Lastly, the socks have been anatomically designed to give the correct fit for each foot. Strategic location of the cushioning and breathability is based on where it will be the most effective on each foot. Skins Essential Compression Socks use high-quality yarns that give a consistent and controlled compression while having superior moisture management. They figured if they were going to make socks they would make sure to do it right.

The one drawback I have had in researching the socks is that there is not much information on the sustainability of the material or any initiative the company has going on. The only things I know that are worth mentioning is that Skins is a big proponent of Pure sports. That is sports without performance-enhancing drugs. This is definitely something I can get behind. The other thing is that the US offices in Portland are big on alternative forms of transportation and what better way to it than in Skins clothing.

Anti-Friction Heel - Click to See Larger
Anti-Friction Heel – Click to See Larger

Fit ★★★★☆

Comfort (35%) ★★★★☆

Foot Length (20%) ★★★½☆

Foot Volume (10%) ★★★☆☆

Leg Sizing (35%) ★★★★½

Skins Essentials Compression Socks are sized by taking a measurement of the widest point in your calves. By taking a true measurement you can ensure that the compression on the socks will be sized correctly for the ideal amount. I personally have been testing a size medium as I fall right in the middle of a medium size. Skins makes it easy with clear directions and a sizing chart on their website. I have found that in the medium, the amount of compression feels good. It has not been so tight that I want to get them off, rather I really can wear them all day comfortably. In the foot, I have also been really happy. They are not nearly as tight as the leg is but do hug my foot just like a good sock will. Even better the length seems to be right on, with my toes all the way in my heel lands in the pocket. There is some stretch, so I think they can accommodate bigger if needed but as a size 9, I am happy they are not too big, that happens more often than not on socks that are not sized by shoe size.

What has also been impressive with my Skins socks is how comfortable they are. Since they are anatomically created I feel like they have a specific fit that works well with each of my feet. I have really come to appreciate socks that have this anatomic design. It just makes sense. The padding is all in the right locations and strategic areas of increased performance can also be put where they will be most effective. I have also found that the actual fibers and materials used in these socks are very comfortable. I have had no discomfort since I started using them. Even on long runs they have been blister free. One thing I have noticed as I compare these to similar socks I have worn. They are on the longer side, and this is not bad. For me who is 5’10” – 5’ 11” they hit me just below my knee cap. Slightly longer than any of the others I have tested.

Anti-Friction Toe - Click to See Larger
Anti-Friction Toe – Click to See Larger

Performance ★★★★☆

Breathability (20%) ★★★½☆

Compression (20%) ★★★★½

Cushioning (10%) ★★★½☆

Durability (20%) ★★★½☆

Recovery (20%) ★★★★☆

Warmth (10%) ★★★☆☆

I have tested several pairs of compression socks thus far and can honestly say I still find it hard to tell much distinguishable difference with my performance. I think this is because I tend to have more variance from run to run that the amount you may see using compression socks. I also think it is more noticeable the longer you go, and I have not been putting in quite as many long runs over the fall so that may have something to do with it. I can say, however, that I tend to feel fresher and recover faster if I run in and/or wear these afterward for recovery. This has been much more noticeable for me, especially if I am wearing zero drop shoes that tend to work my lower legs more. Compression is king on these socks and to me; they feel really good.

Foot Padding - Click to See Larger
Foot Padding – Click to See Larger

What I also like and mentioned a little above is the added cushioning built in to the foot of the socks. While this may just be a little in the long run I have appreciated it both on the top and bottom of the foot. It is harder to feel it on the bottom for me but on top it relieves a bit of the pressure caused by laces. The socks are nice and tall, which helps them take the chill off if you choose to run in them with shorts. I have even done a run in 15 degree weather with these and a pair of shorts and been, for the most part, comfortable. Not saying I recommend it, but I could not have done it with normal length socks, that is for sure. The socks have also breathed fairly well and moved moisture well. Most of my runs in September and into October were in much warmer temperatures so warmth was not the issue but rather staying cool. I tested the white, and I believe that also helped keep me cooler as it absorbs less heat than black ones do.

I have been testing these since August, which has included countless runs and several nights. The socks thus far have been holding up very well. I do not feel like they have lost any compression, and the integrity of the socks is still great. No unraveling, pulls or marks of any sort. Of course, the socks will have only a certain amount of life until the spandex will eventually by compromised but with appropriate care you should definitely get a long lifespan out of these.

Overall ★★★★☆

Overall, I think Skins has done a great job with their Compression Socks. It really makes me want to try some of their other options. Skins makes over 160 products, so there is a lot to choose from covering most sports. The socks are very comfortable to wear, one of the most comfortable pairs I have worn. I am sure they are also helping my running performance, but it is hard for me to tell without putting in some really long runs. On the other hand, I have noticed a faster recovery time when wearing the socks after a run. If you are looking for a pair of compression socks, these Skins should definitely be on your list. The Skins Essentials Compression Socks retail for $50, which is a good price for what you get. Definitely, one of my favorites. As always, your mileage may vary.

Pros [field name=iFrame]

  • Very comfortable
  • Sizing based on calf circumference
  • Consistent compression from warp knit construction
  • Cushioned foot
  • Anti-Friction toe and heel


  • Compression socks look funny. =)

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About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

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