Cruelty-Free and Vegan Feminine Hygiene Products: A Breakdown

So, you’ve gone vegan – that’s amazing! For many people, going vegan and cruelty-free isn’t just about the food you eat. Now that you’ve got your vegan diet perfected, it might be a good time to think about taking a more holistic approach to your vegan and cruelty-free lifestyle – starting with your period products!

If you’re thinking about switching to period products that are kind to animals, here’s a round-up of the vegan and cruelty-free period products available, including the pros and cons of each:

Menstrual cups

Menstrual cups are a reusable choice for people who are ready and able to take the zero-waste plunge. These small ‘cups’, often made from medical grade silicone, are to be inserted into your vagina to collect your period blood throughout day before being removed, emptied, cleaned and reinserted. Menstrual cups can be used alongside pads, panty liners or period pants for extra protection.

Pros:

  • Menstrual cups like Mooncup can provide up to twelve hours of protection and you can also go to sleep with one in.
  • They’re reusable, creating little to no waste per use.
  • A single menstrual cup can be used for several years – most brands claim an average lifespan of 2-4 years.

Cons:

  • Silicone isn’t biodegradable, so when the time comes to invest in a new cup the old one will not break down.
  • They can be tricky to insert and remove, especially when you’re just starting out, or if you have a physical disability.
  • The medical grade silicone used to make menstrual cups is likely to have been tested on animals at some stage of its production.

Period underwear

Period underwear is another reusable period protection option, but it works in a way that’s closer to pads than cups. Period underwear is like regular underwear but is made with absorbent materials that soak up your period blood. This absorbent underwear can be washed after each use and reused – they’re great partnered with a tampon for extra protection in case of leaks.

Pros:

  • Period underwear is reusable, which helps to reduce the amount of waste created by periods.
  • They’re great for people with irregular periods, as they can be worn on days you’re not sure whether you’ll get your period or not.
  • Wearing nothing but period underwear might be more comfortable than wearing a pad or a tampon or cup inside your vagina – especially when sleeping.

Cons:

  • You’ll need plenty of pairs to last throughout your period while others are in the wash. Buying multiple can stack up the initial cost, making them an expensive option.
  • The more you wash your period underwear, the less absorbent they’ll become – eventually (often around the two-year mark) you’ll have to replace them.
  • Materials like polyester and PUL are often used in period underwear. These aren’t biodegradable, so your old pairs won’t break down, they’ll sit in landfill like most other thrown away clothes.
  • Some period underwear has been found to have toxic chemicals like PFAS, which could be harmful to your body.

Biodegradable disposables

Natracare period products are all vegan and cruelty-free, as well as biodegradable and compostable. They’re made from natural ingredients like organic cotton and sustainably sourced wood pulp, unlike mainstream pads and tampons which very often contain plastic.

Pros:

  • Chlorine free and perfume free, our period products are gentle on sensitive skin, preventing unnecessary but common irritation.
  • There’s plenty of choice depending on your personal preference – whether that’s pads, panty liners or tampons.
  • Organic cotton production doesn’t involve the use of pesticides or insecticides, making it safer for the planet, farmers and consumers.

Cons:

  • They aren’t reusable products, so do need to be disposed of after use – but they are biodegradable and compostable, so won’t outlive you in landfill!
  • Tampons can’t be worn overnight due to increased risk of TSS.
  • As tampons are considered a medical device, we currently use a plastic wrapping around our non-applicator tampons. The plastic we use is BPA-free and widely recycled, and when we find a safe and sustainable alternative, we will ditch plastic altogether.

Reusable pads

Another reusable option, cloth period pads are worn in your underwear just like disposable pads but can be washed and reused like period underwear. Most come with poppers so they can be securely fastened in place.

Pros:

  • Cloth pads aren’t too far removed from the more traditional disposable pads – perfect for people who are making their move into reusables.
  • You can buy cloth pads in a bunch of different designs, which is a nice way to have fun with your period – you can have love hearts on a good day, or maybe a skull and crossbones if you’re feeling period angst!
  • The clue’s in the name here, they’re reusable. Which means the single-use product waste that period products create is greatly reduced.

Cons:

  • Similar to period underwear, reusable pads need to be washed after every use. This might not be convenient when you’re travelling or strapped for time.
  • Reusable pads are an expensive investment, as you’ll need to buy enough to alternate throughout your period while some are being washed.
  • Some reusable pads have been criticised for feeling bulky. If this is how they feel when you try them, they might not be for you!

 

Whichever of these options you go for, you’ll be able to rest assured that your period products are good for your body, the planet and the animals we share it with. If you like the sound of Natracare’s vegan period and personal care products, take a look!

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