The eco-friendly period conversation continues, this time about the ever-essential panty liner. It’s only natural to consider the environmental costs of a product one uses every single day. When I ran out of liners unexpectedly, I didn’t go to Walgreens due to traffic and roadside construction (for my old go-to for liners, which admittedly were of synthetic material). Instead, I went to my local health foods market, hoping they had the style I liked—lo and behold, they did… but only in this brand! I don’t think I can go back to using synthetic panty liners, and here’s why.
Many conventional panty liners are made of synthetic material. On many of their advertising websites, the product labels are undisclosed—and whenever posed with the question, “What are your panty liners made of?” it’s always met with vague answers. They carefully opt out the word ‘cotton’ because, ultimately, what is used are synthetic fabrics and unnecessary additives.
What’s also alarming is plastic packaging that’s used for panty liners: especially individually-wrapped ones, in which outside plastic wrapping holds it compactly. Users can go through two or more per day, so the amount of plastic waste thrown away adds up very quickly for one person—even in the span of a month.
In contrast to many big-name sanitary napkin brands, Natracare is environmentally-oriented. It has cardboard packaging, and does not have extra wrapping besides the sticky side’s paper backing. Their company slogan, “healthier by nature,” is followed by, “organic cotton cover… plastic free, perfume free, and chlorine free” on the box. Their claims are backed incredible transparency of their product label; it’s all over the box! There’s absolutely no way you can miss it. There’s an illustration, which sports an ingredients list in several languages.
The best news is that they source sustainably: see this page explaining how 100% certified organic cotton is more ethical and eco-friendly than non-organic cotton. Additionally, they explain how their pads are constructed and where the inner material comes from:
We use certified organic cotton for the top sheet [and] ecologically certified wood pulp as the absorbent core because the fibre chemistry is well suited for pads… Natracare uses only fluff pulp made from fast growing, Scandinavian softwood trees sourced from sustainable, managed, natural forests.
Besides its lesser environmental impact, there are also personal benefits to using organic cotton panty liners. Those with skin sensitivities should steer clear of synthetic products meant for this delicate area due to fiber quality and processing. Chlorine bleaching and low fiber breathability, as synthetic materials often have, only encourages the development of uncomfortable skin conditions that produce itchiness and discomfort. It may also exacerbate yeast infections, which thrive on damp environments. I found that Natracare’s organic cotton is significantly more breathable than my old brand; there’s less sweat and heat trapped down there.
One downside to buying organic cotton is the cost. They cost more to produce so they will cost more per liner: while a box of organic cotton panty liners may be priced similarly to the big-name brands, it will have fewer panty liners per box. For example, Natracare’s box has 30 panty-liners while my old brand had a 49-count per box, even though they cost about the same. The quantity difference of natural vs. synthetic liners means going through the organic cotton boxes at a much faster rate.
Another downside of Natracare’s panty liners specifically (but not exclusively—I haven’t tried any other brands yet to see if it’s a consistent feature in organic cotton liners): it rips apart easily when it’s even the slightest bit damp. You have to be careful removing them, because pulling directly on the topmost area splits it easily at the part where the secured wings are.
The good news is that, while very adhesive, Natracare’s backing doesn’t bind strongly to itself. It’s surprisingly easy to separate the wings when they get stuck together (on the underside of your knickers). This contrasts with my old brand which never, ever ripped in two but sported adhesive so strong that I’ve actually torn and ruined a pair of undies trying to remove them.
It may be a bit inconvenient to put some extra care of removing Natracare’s liners, but in actuality this isn’t so bad compared to when I’d have to strong-arm my old brand’s soiled panty liner off my underwear.
4.0 out of 5 stars
I quite like Natracare’s panty liners, despite ripping easily upon removal. I experience less moisture and sweat when wearing them, and their adhesive backing is sticky enough to stay in place without gluing the two wings together for eternity. Both width and lengthwise, it fits perfectly on my size Small underwear at 16cm long (or 6.3 inches), although another online reviewer said these were a bit small for their liking.
Overall, I don’t see why I should stop using Natracare’s panty liners… unless another organic cotton liner brand came along that didn’t easily tear apart. If you have tried out other similar brands, drop a comment below! Thanks for reading, and may your panty liners never get stuck to your underwear.
Originally published on my old blog, The Plant That Never Blooms (on Blogspot)