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Everything you never knew about period pads

Did you know that the average woman goes through 12,000 disposable pads, tampons, and pantyliners in her lifetime? Most women menstruate for about 40 years, and considering how delicate the area is where we put all of these hygiene products, you’d think we ought to put a bit more effort into researching the best and safest product for our most intimate parts.

But, sadly, the fact is that most of us just grab the cheapest packet of plastic wrapped pads we can find on the supermarket shelf and make do, suffering through leaks, scratchy discomfort, poor fit, annoyingly loud packaging, and deliberate secrecy by brands about what they use to make their products.

There has been a bit of a trend lately towards something called “Green Menstruation”, where women use reusable period products like reusable pads, period panties (reusable absorbent underwear), and menstrual cups. This is definitely a much “greener”, eco-friendly option to the conventional, fully synthetic, cheap supermarket and drugstore brands, because they definitely reduce the amount of fossil fuels used in manufacturing the products. They also reduce the amount of plastic waste in landfill and the ocean (did you know on average 50% of women sometimes flush their pads/tampons/liners down the toilet?! I mean come on, THERE ARE SIGNS right next to the toilet that say DON’T DO THAT!!).

But let’s face it, not everyone wants to deal with the mess that comes with reusables, so what other options are there?

Luckily, a few great companies have come out with some awesome products that hit that sweet spot for those of us who want better quality, comfortable, eco-friendly and reliable period products but don’t want to go all the way with reusable products because they’re just not as convenient. The best ones will actually list the ingredients or materials they use to make their products, despite it not being mandated by law (which is why it’s so hard to find out what cheap synthetic pads are made of, because the manufacturers don’t want you to know and don’t legally have to tell you!).

Here’s a list of things you should be on the look out for:

  1. ORGANIC

But wait, what does organic even mean? Organic basically means it’s grown without the use of any chemical pesticides, herbicides, growth regulators or feed additives. Usually GMOs are also blacklisted from being able to use the label ‘organic’.

When it comes to pads, a lot of brands will say they use organic cotton, which is great because regular cotton is one of the most sprayed crops in the world. But, the problem is that many of these brands don’t actually say what is and isn’t organic cotton. Oftentimes it’s just the topsheet (the part that touches your skin), and the rest of the product is just synthetic. So, try to find a brand that’s transparent about all of it’s components and exactly what each part is made of.

  1. Natural absorbers

This is actually kind of connected to #1, but check if your pad or pantyliner uses natural absorbers or synthetic ones. The synthetics ones are called Super Absorbent Polymers, or SAP for short, and you know what, they work pretty well, let’s be honest. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been around so long! But, the problem is that they are non-biodegradable, and are a big part of the problem when it comes to the post-use impact of pads and pantyliners on the environment in landfill and our oceans. So, double check that your pad uses natural absorbers. There are some great options out there that work just as well as the synthetic ones, but are way better for the environment.

  1. Chlorine-free bleaching

Umm, what? Did you say “bleaching”? Yes, we did. Because cotton isn’t naturally a pure white color, it needs to be bleached to get to that Snow White look we’re all so used to. For decades, chlorine has been the go-to bleaching method for pad, tampon, and liner manufacturers because it’s cheap and effective. Unfortunately it’s not that great for the environment and can produce nasty emissions like dioxins and furans, and it can also lead to trace amounts of chemicals left over in products that can harm the user (go check out the Korean pad scandal of 2017…horrible stuff). Luckily for us, there are now other ways of bleaching cotton that uses absolutely no chlorine at all, and it’s much better for us and the environment. So, put that on your list when you’re looking for a new pad brand.

There are a lot of brands out there now that tick one or two of these boxes, but only a select few actually go all the way and invest in giving us women the best options for disposable hygiene products possible. Audrey Sun is probably one of the best. They use organic cotton for their topsheet and wings, and they have a natural double core that uses organic cotton for the quick absorbing top layer, and PEFC certified sustainably sourced plant pulp for the long-lasting second layer. They only use TCF (Totally Chlorine Free) bleaching for their products, and they list all of their ingredients clearly on their website and packaging. They also have USDA bio-based certification,  which is really hard to get.

So, if you’re looking for a better alternative to the synthetic pads, tampons and liners you’ve been using, and you SHOULD be, then go check out Audrey Sun.( https://audreysun.life/collections/bundles)

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