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When choosing the best pads and tampons for you, it’s pertinent to think through the pros and cons of various types of natural sanitary products. Pads and tampons come in varying shapes, sizes, materials and packaging, all of which should be taken into account when selecting your perfect brand.
First and foremost when choosing a natural tampon or pad, take a look at what the product is made from and stick to ones without man-made synthetics such as rayon and viscose.
Some sanitary towels contain wood pulp – a natural alternative to the synthetics commonly used in pads. This can be an irritant for some skin types so if you’re sensitive, stick to 100% cotton. The use of wood pulp also potentially contributes to deforestation which is worth keeping in mind if you’re choosing natural pads to protect the environment.
All sanitary towels have an absorbent core, which may contain polymers or polymeric foam; generally considered safe and harmless for human skin. Pads also contain adhesive as standard, to help keep them in place in your underwear, so that shouldn’t put you off when choosing a natural sanitary towel.
While many sanitary products will be made from 100% cotton, the cotton itself may not be organic. Look out for towels and tampons which are made from organically grown cotton as this means they’re free from harmful pesticides and chemical fertilisers. Organic cotton is healthier for your body and safer for the environment.
On the other hand, organic cotton means tampons and pads may cost a little bit more, so it’s up to you to decide what suits your body and your budget.
Experts estimate that more than 45 billion sanitary products get chucked away annually. According to the non-profit environmental charity Ocean Conservancy, almost 28,000 tampons and applicators were collected in 2015 across the world on just one day. Flushing tampons away means they usually end up in a sewer system or waterway.
Choose tampons and pads which are clearly labelled as biodegradable or even compostable, meaning you can dispose of them neatly wrapped with your normal waste or even add them to a compost pile which – along with banana peel and other food waste – will break down and can be used to fertilise gardens and allotments.
Your skin is the biggest and most porous organ in your body, making it highly absorbent. This is why it’s best to know which chemicals to avoid when buying a sanitary product which comes very close to your skin or – in the case of tampons – actually goes inside your body.
Chlorine gas is sometimes used in tampon production, to purify the wood pulp used to make rayon, which is then formed into the tampon shape we recognise. When rayon is bleached, it can then release the chemical dioxin, which is toxic to humans in high quantities.
It’s important to note than any tampon on the market in the UK will have been approved as having extremely low-levels of dioxin – below the detectable level – before being sold for use. However, if you want to avoid these chemicals entirely just in case, check the packaging to be sure they are chlorine and rayon-free.
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1. TOTM Organic Tampons
At the Cutting Edge of Natural Feminine Care
Grace and Green
2. Grace and Green Premium Non-Applicator Tampons
Eco-Effective Tampons Made in the UK
3. Rael 100% Organic Cotton Cover
Comfier Than Mainstream Brands
4. Flower Organic Cotton Pads with Wings
Eco-Friendly Care for Sensitive Skin
6. Veeda Natural Cotton Liners
Pure Cotton for a Healthy Period
7. Flo Get Set Pack of 100% Cotton Tampons
More Than Just Pretty Packaging
5. Organyc Pads
Organic and Compostable Protection
8. Natracare Organic Cotton Tampons
Perfect for a Lighter Flow or the Beginning or End of Your Period
9. Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free Pads
Secure and Comfortable for a Heavier Flow
10. Natracare Healthier by Nature Organic Cotton Curved Pantyliners
Certified by Cotton Inc
Taking the number one spot on our list we have the Regular Organic Cotton Tampons by DAME. This emerging brand is creating the best feminine care product out there, being both eco-friendly and kind to your bod. They produce not only organic tampons but also a revolutionary reusable applicator and reusable pads, to help you really cut down on waste and packaging.
Made from organically grown cotton, packaged in recyclable cardboard and totally biodegradable, these tampons tick all the boxes. DAME also offer an organic tampon subscription and accessories like a bathroom tin and travel wallet for super organisation. It truly is time for a new level of period positivity!
These extremely absorbent pads come with an organic cotton top layer so they’re soft and comfortable against even sensitive skin. The cotton used is grown in Texas with none of the usual pesticides, synthetic chemicals or potentially damaging toxins.
The extra thin layers allow breathability, and Rael sanitary towels come in an inclusive range of sizes and absorbencies which is another pro! One of the top rated products on Amazon and eBay, these are certainly a standout brand to try.
Organyc offers a great range of sanitary products including liners towels and tampons. These soft winged sanitary pads are a great shout for a medium flow. They are made from cotton grown free from pesticides and chemicals – which, given the name, would be a surprise if they didn’t.
These pads can be disposed of safely and will biodegrade so could be added to compost if you’re really keen to look out for the planet. They contain no wood pulp – an addition that can be irritating to sensitive skin in particular. They also help you avoid coming into contact with dioxin since they’re completely free from rayon.
Veeda is a brand that truly has women’s health as its priority. These hypoallergenic pads have been praised by many users who say they have finally discovered they were having bad reactions to the chemicals used in standard sanitary products.
Designed to improve your period and reduce harmful waste, these soft liners fit comfortably in your underwear. As well as being kind to your body and the planet, they’re comparatively gentle on your wallet too, particularly given they use organic cotton.
The cotton used in Flo tampons is certified organic by GOTS, which stands for the Global Organic Textile Standard. This means the cotton that makes these cheerful little tampons is grown with no pesticides or harmful chemicals.
Add to that the fact these products are totally compostable and you have yourself a pretty winning formula. As if the bright, joyful packaging wasn't enough, these tampons are also free from chlorine and rayon, plus they’re fragrance-free and haven’t been dyed either!
These trusty tampons are easily available on the UK high street and are giving the biggest non-natural brands a real run for their money. They’re made from organically grown cotton, so their soft, fluffy interiors are formed with plants grown entirely GMO and pesticide-free.
They are biodegradable so can be safely disposed of knowing they will disintegrate completely and could even be put on your compost heap! As an added bonus, Natracare tampons are made without the use of chlorine and are fragrance-free, too.
This liners work well for those with a lighter flow, or for the very beginning and end of a period. They are carefully designed to fit your body snugly, so you can minimise the general discomfort that menstruation tends to bring.
These pads are 99 per cent biodegradable, which is good but not ideal as they still won’t break down or compost well. Free from chlorine and made with organically grown cotton, they come in a carton made from recycled cardboard and won’t cause itching or irritation to even the most sensitive skin.
These sanitary pads are made with chlorine-free processed wood pulp which makes up their absorbent core. They also contain polyethylene, the most absorbent plastic in the world – good if you want to feel safe and secure when your flow is heavy, but not the best possible option for the environment.
Polyethylene is actually biodegradable, but the degradation process, unfortunately, takes a very long time. They are fragrance-free though and contain no icky dyes, deodorant or rayon which is good news for your skin. However, all in all, there are better picks on the list in terms of caring about the planet.
This pack of 10 lightweight sanitary pads are made from a 100% organic cotton top sheet, but also have an anti-leak gel core like a standard pad. Free from fragrances, dyes, chlorine and rayon, the layer against your skin is made from organic cotton certified by Cotton Inc.
They’re comfortably shaped, thin and soft with wings to keep the pad in place for long periods of time. However, the pad's back layer and flexible core are made from synthetic materials which means they aren't biodegradable. We consider this option to be somewhere between a standard and a natural pad.
We all love products that not only make your life easier but are a pleasure to use too. Take a look at our related feminine care articles to help you to feel like a queen, inside and out!
What could be simpler? By using our handy guide, you should now be perfectly equipped to select the very best quality natural pads and tampons for your needs. Now you can be sure you’re using products that will be kind to your body as well as the environment, for a happy period every month.
Author: Annie Hopkins
No. 1: DAME | 1. TOTM Organic Tampons
No. 2: Grace and Green | 2. Grace and Green Premium Non-Applicator Tampons | Pack of 3
No. 3: Rael | 3. Rael 100% Organic Cotton Cover
No. 4: Organyc | 4. Flower Organic Cotton Pads with Wings | Pack of 4
No. 5: Veeda | 6. Veeda Natural Cotton Liners | Pack of 3
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