For such intimate products, tampons get no love, from the FDA, which regulates feminine care but doesn’t require companies to list the ingredients because tampons are classified as medical devices, to the same humdinger brands that have dominated the aisles for decades but rarely disclose the ratio of ingredients in their product. Which makes us wonder: What is in a tampon?
“The typical tampon is made of viscose rayon, a highly absorbent synthetic created through a chemical-heavy process and then bleached to achieve a bright white cotton appearance,” says Molly Hayward, co-founder of Cora, a privately owned company waking up the feminine care market by providing all-natural and convenient options. Cora, a subscription-based company launched in 2016, positions itself as a design-led experience that is fully aligned with a woman’s lifestyle and values. “We’ve considered every aspect of the period management experience and its pain points and solved them in our offering,” Hayward says. This means an organic cotton tampon in a compact BPA-free applicator packaged in a soft and silent wrapper, plus a little black box for storing tampons in your home and a little black clutch for carrying them throughout the day. “We believe this is how period management should be treated—as integral to women’s lives instead of an afterthought,” she says.
Founded by Alex Friedman and Jordana Kier, LOLA products are hypoallergenic and contain no synthetics, additives or dyes. In 2015 Friedman and Kier were the first to launch a customizable subscription service offering 100-percent organic tampons. LOLA offers a compact BPA-free plastic applicator or a non-applicator option. The construction of the tampon expands widthwise in- stead of lengthwise, and it’s available in industry standard sizes: light, regular, super and super plus. “The feminine care industry was stale for a long time, so innovation was overdue,” Kier and Friedman say. “Until recently, women weren’t thinking about or discussing their feminine care habits or products with other women. We’ve seen a huge shift and believe we’ve started a national conversation around the importance of brand transparency as well as destigmatizing the topic of menstruation.”
The organic tampon and pad subscription box Kali includes 10 individual Kali wipes, 10 organic cotton panty liners and a rotating period pampering product in every box of 100-percent certified organic cotton tampons. “We’re seeing women pay a lot more attention to what goes in their bodies in general, and tampons are no exception—especially if you’re having issues like endome- triosis, vaginitis, consistent infections, uterine broids or fertility issues,” says Sara Shake, who cofounded Kali with Jonna Piira. “Many women are finding out after the fact that the chemicals in their feminine care products could have contributed to these problems.”
Did you know?
- In 2015, women spent $3.1 billion on tampons, pads and sanitary panty liners, according to Euromonitor.
- Feminine care products are not food- stamp eligible.
- The average woman throws away up to 300 pounds of tampons, pads and liners in her lifetime.
- The average woman uses about 12,000 tampons in her lifetime.
- In 2016, President Barack Obama was the first president to discuss menstruation when interviewed by YouTube star Ingrid Nilsen, who asked him why tampons and pads are taxed anywhere from 4 to 10 percent as luxury items in 40 states. His response: “I suspect it’s because men were making these laws when those taxes were passed.”
- New York recently passed legislation to eliminate the tampon tax.
- The Story of Menstruation was released by Disney in 1946 for sex education classes and is rumored to be the first film to use the word vagina.
- The FDA does not test tampons and relies on—not requires—manufacturers to report to them and disclose the ingredients in tampons and pads.
- Dr. Earle Cleveland Haas of Denver invented the modern tampon and cardboard applicator in 1931.