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It's Been 89 Years Coming: Innovation in the Feminine Hygiene Industry

May 16 | By Harit Sohal and Nadia Ladak

Take a moment to think about your skincare routine.

You start by using your favourite cleanser, apply a toner, use your moisturizer and end with some rosehip oil. It’s a four step process, if not more, that you’ve perfected over the years because you want what’s best for your skin.

We put this level of care into our faces, hair, and nails, but how come we never put this much thought and care into our vaginas?

In fact, think of the tampon brand you’re currently using. How did you decide to pick that kind? Have you ever really thought about why you buy the brand that you do? Do you just buy whatever is on sale? These are products going into our bodies, yet we spend little to no time deciding what to use. You might not have realized that tampons, which we put inside one of the most absorbent cavities of our bodies, contain bleach, toxins and other synthetic materials - we sure didn’t!

We notice ourselves rushing through the menstrual product aisle, hoping to grab our tampons and get out as soon as possible. But why do we feel so uncomfortable buying these products?

We shove tampons in our sleeves as we sneak to the bathroom. There’s so much taboo and stigma surrounding these products that we’ve come to accept the bare minimum because we’re so uncomfortable asking for anything more.

Because we settle for less, the design of tampons has remained the same for the last 89 years. The last major change we found was the shift from cardboard to plastic applicators. In the last ten years, Apple has launched 10 different iPhones, but there has only been one tampon.

We wanted to understand why so little progress has been made. Was it the taboo surrounding the products? Or the lack of female entrepreneurs? Or that most menstrual product companies are run by men?

Surprisingly, even the people making these products share this uneasiness. Ruggli - a European tampon machine manufacturer - has a virtual monopoly in the tampon industry, and their head of sales and marketing admitted most decisions are made by men who will never use the product. “In the end we are not very interested in these products, we just do the machines.

It’s time to introduce innovative products as the bare minimum just doesn’t cut it anymore!