7 Brands That Are Reinventing The Sanitary Napkin
Let’s dive straight into the statistics then, shall we? On an average, women use 7,000 to 17,000 sanitary napkins in their lifetime which amounts to approximately seven years of wearing a pad. That’s a lot of time to introduce the delicate skin around your vagina to a foreign object and would explain why many women complain of rashes, allergies, skin sensitivity and general irritation while on their period. In fact, close contact with harmful toxins present in synthetic pads over long durations can be a direct cause of cervical cancer, yeast infections, UTIs, miscarriages and even birth defects.
The environment is not a big fan of conventional feminine hygiene products either. According to a research conducted by Carmesi, every year, 9,000 tonnes (432 million pads) of soiled sanitary napkin waste is generated in India and due to poor disposal methods, they get dumped in acres of landfills and stay there forever.
Recently, a number of individuals and start-ups have turned into messiahs for women looking for alternatives to synthetic pads by launching all-natural, biodegradable substitutes. We tell you why you should make the switch, effective immediately.
Why it’s good for you: A brand christened after the duration in a person’s life when he/she is most active, Heyday provides natural sanitary napkins that are made from corn and bamboo fibre — both anti-bacterial and soft — with the pad’s top sheet being designed in a way that does not block air flow to your vagina, unlike its regular counterpart. The pad is also completely free of plastics, perfumes, bleaches, latex and toxins. Best of all, the eco-friendly napkin starts decomposing six months from disposal, making you feel pretty good about your carbon footprint.
The clincher: Each pad comprises seven super-absorbent core sheets that prevent the blood from seeping through even though the napkin itself is wafer-thin.
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Why it’s good for you: The top sheet is made of cornstarch, the middle layer comprises bamboo fibre, and the bottom layer is made with corn-based bioplastic. Customers receive their pads in a beautiful vanity box, unlike the black polythene bags that are designed to provide the kind of anonymity that is associated with shame. Aiming to break away from the one-size-fits-all mentality, Carmesi offers tailor-made solutions and schedules delivery of the napkins as per the user’s menstrual cycle.
The clincher: Every time you buy a box of Carmesi pads, the company donates part of its earnings towards providing sanitary pads to underprivileged women.
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Why it’s good for you: As a company that has been producing natural commodities for nearly three decades, Natrcare strengthened its tryst with Mother Nature by becoming the first-ever brand to provide an alternative to conventional feminine hygiene products. Here’s what their pads are made out of: 100 per cent certified organic cotton in the top layer that goes against the skin, ecologically-certified cellulose pulp in the absorbent core and non-toxic glue in the adhesive layer. The products are completely plastic-free — they even come in biodegradable packaging — and use a cellulose plant material as the backing layer.
The clincher: The cellulose pulp that goes into the absorbent layer is taken from fast-growing trees that improve soil quality.
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Why it’s good for you: Being hailed as India’s first 3-in-1 sanitary napkin brand, Vivanion is trying to discourage women from using pads with the same length and absorbency through their entire cycle. Accordingly, each pack consists of day-use napkins, night-use napkins and first and last-day use. Infusing the napkins with negative ions — also known as anions — which move up the womb through the vagina and improve blood circulation, the pads facilitate smooth discharge of blood clots while repairing the womb. In fact, many women have reported seeing improvements in their physical health within 3-5 days of using the product.
The clincher: The anions in the napkin fortify the nervous system which energises the body, improves sleep quality, eases pain and tension and increases the number of white and red blood cells.
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Why it’s good for you: Jayshree Parwar, with the help of three other women, began manufacturing and selling eco-friendly sanitary pads as part of an initiative spearheaded by Saheli, a Self-Help Group in Goa. The napkins are manufactured at Jayshree’s home with strict adherence to hygiene and sanitation standards. Made from pine wood paper, silicon paper, butter paper, non-woven paper and cotton, the pads decompose within eight days of being buried in mud. An added incentive is that they are UV light-radiated which helps kills any germs that the product may have come in contact with during the manufacturing process.
The clincher: Before Pawar discovered that banana fibre was an excellent alternative to the conventional ingredients found in mainstream pads, farmers would compost the banana trees after each harvest. Now, they can earn extra income by selling the fibre and you get all-natural pads at the same time.
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Why it’s good for you: A revolutionary offering in the feminine hygiene products segment, the menstrual cup is perhaps the most sustainable alternative of all. The SheCup — made of silicone and worn internally to collect menstrual blood — requires very little water to clean and can be used for up to 12 hours. Once full, the contents of the cup can simply be emptied into the toilet, and it can be cleaned and worn again. The apparatus actually collects blood instead of absorbing it like tampons or pads do, hence reducing the risk of infections or rashes. In spite of receiving glowing recommendations from most users, the product is still to take off with Indian women, especially those who are unmarried, because of our patriarchal society’s obsession with intact hymens.
The clincher: Although the SheCup costs slightly more than other feminine hygiene products, it can be used it for three years, if maintained properly. Besides, it’s a completely odourless affair and allows you an entire day out without needing a change.
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Personalisation props: Nua
Why it’s good for you: Although the brand isn’t an eco-friendly option, the fact that it is manufactured in Korea — the gold standard for quality and hygiene in the feminine care industry — is some consolation. The napkin comes with a natural, ink-free surface and you can configure your pack according to your flow in addition to choosing the size. The pad, its cover and the packaging is designed in a way that is practical to store and easy to dispose of.
The clincher: While signing up for a monthly subscription box online, the company asks you to provide details of your menstrual cycle along with the delivery frequency so that you can rid yourself of the hassle of emergency trips to the pharmacist. Like Vivanion, a box of Nua pads comes in three, colour-coded variants depending on how light or heavy your period is.
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