Monday, March 21, 2016

Reviews: Natracare tampons and menstrual pads

Posted by Amanda Villaruel | | |
It is estimated that one woman uses 11,000 tampons in her lifetime.1 Both tampons and sanitary pads can take centuries to break down in the landfills, especially if wrapped in plastic wrapper or bag. What are the eco-friendlier alternatives to feminine hygiene products?
Our test panel reviews feminine hygiene products, including tampons, from Natracare
Our test panel reviews feminine hygiene products, including tampons, from Natracare

Many blogs swear to reusable menstrual pads that can be washed or menstrual cups that can be emptied. You've maybe heard about the DivaCup?

I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to replace the pads and tampons which I've used for years. So, what's the second best thing? I found out that organic cotton tampons work pretty well for me! :-)

In this post, you're going to read about what different women think about the feminine hygiene products from Natracare. I handed out pads and tampons to people I know and I've also added my own review.

Organic cotton tampons without applicator

About the tampons:

The tampon is made from 100% organic cotton, certified by the Soil Association.3 According to Natracare, the tampons are totally chlorine-free (some ordinary tampons are bleached to get a sterile, white look), and are biodegradable and compostable.

On their site, they explain that the use of tampons with 100% cotton reduce the risk of Toxic Shock syndrome, compared with tampons that contain rayon. 
Certified organic cotton tampons from Natracare
Certified organic cotton tampons from Natracare

Astrid and Trine used the Natracare tampons in a blind test (although I suspect that they already knew that the tampons were in some way eco-friendly).

After testing, they were asked questions about the comfort and absorption, when the tampons were used, and if they would recommend it to others. They were later informed that the tampons were made from certified organic cotton.

What the test panel says:

I used the test tampons at the beginning and in the middle of the cycle (where the demand for good absorption is the greatest).

The most important thing I can say about the test tampons compared to the ones I use regularly, is that the material had slightly lower absorption ability than what I'm used to (I switch between Libresse and O.B.) Although the difference was minuscule, I experienced the tampons to be less comfortable because of the hard cotton material.

If I would recommend the tampons? Basically, no. Although, I don't think the differences were very big and if there are other considerations in favor using these, like environmental benefits, I would probably consider it.

I used the test tampons from day 1-3.

Normally I use tampons from First Price, which aren't exactly high-quality. In comparison, the test tampons felt durable and more like a high-quality product. For instance, there was no loose cotton when I unwrapped it, which is good! (because this sometimes happen with my First Price tampons).

I also found the test tampons to be a bit harder than the ones I usually use, which is good as it makes it easier to insert them. The absorbing ability was good and they lasted a long while (I did not bleed through, but this happens rarely to me though). When it comes to comfort I found them to be quite similar to my regular tampons, so no complaints.

If I would use them again? Yes, I think they were good. When you are able to choose a tampon that's better for both your body and nature, I like to think that I would make that choice. Although the fact that I use First Price tampons kind of reveals me as having a tendency to choose price over other factors, so I think it would depend on a lot of factors like: "Are they sold everywhere?" "Do I need to buy them online?" "Visit a health store?"

If I could purchase them in large quantities online with free shipping, I would probably use them again.
Natracare's organic cotton tampons
Natracare's organic cotton tampons

Amanda (editor): 
The first time I used the Natracare tampons was in the middle of my cycle. My first impression was that the tampons were of hard material! So, I kind of agree with Astrid that the tampons could have used a softer material to increase the comfort. But after a while I got used to the feeling.

The Natracare tampons almost feel and behave like conventional tampons. Before switching permanently to Natracare, I used O.B tampons for many years. The tampons from O.B. are already of high-quality, so the differences between the Natracare tampons and the O.B. tampons are minuscule.

The tampons from Natracare are regular absorbent, and like Trine said, they last a while. I didn't bleed through and I changed a tampon every 5-6 hours.

Read: Crash course to eco-labels and certification bodies.

Ultra pads and Ultra Extra pads

Natracare claims that the pads are totally chlorine-free and plastic-free, and don't contain rayon, latex, chemical additives, fragrances or dyes. All of their pads are biodegradable and compostable.

About the pads:

The pads have an organic cotton cover, and contain ecologically-certified cellulose pulp, corn starch and non-toxic glue.2 According to Natracare's site, the wrapper itself is made from compostable cellulose and compostable starch film (Ultra pads). The wrapper for the Ultra Extra pad is made from compostable starch film.  
Organic and natural ultra pads from Natracare
Organic and natural ultra pads from Natracare

What the test panel says:

Anna: (tested the Ultra Pad)
I used the test pads on the first day in my cycle. I like the pad's size and coverage compared to Libresse which has less coverage. It feels like the pad is breathable and it's soft against the skin. With ordinary pads, it feels and sounds like I'm walking around with plastic between my legs.

The pad's ability to absorb was OK, but have in mind though that I used it on my first day with a heavy flow. I might say that the conventional pads have better absorption. These test pads might fit better after a couple of days, because of the lower absorbing ability.
Ultra Extra pads from Natracare - natural and organic
Ultra Extra pads from Natracare - natural and organic

Amanda (editor): (tested the Ultra Pad and the Ultra Extra Pad)
I used the Ultra Pads from day 1 and overall I thought they worked well. They're comfortable to wear and I almost didn't notice that I was wearing pads.

One big minus was the "wing system" as the wing gets stuck to itself while applying and during use.

I actually switched permanently to Ultra Extra pads a couple of months ago, and use them during the first days in a cycle, and then moving on to the organic cotton tampons.

Continue to read:
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A nomad's green moving tips and free checklist.


Have your say about what you just read :)

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