In a world where sustainability and comfort reign supreme, the team at Beauticate are swapping traditional tampons and pads for revolutionary period-absorption alternatives. The modern period underwear and cups are embedded with innovative technology to eliminate pesky period stains. Get ready to discover the beauty writer-approved products that are changing the game for that time of the month. Gone are the days of bulky pads and awkward leaks. Read on, as the Beauticate team unearth the challenges and benefits of alternative period products, and reveal tried-and-trusted tips that help maximise their effectiveness.

DIVA CUP

Diva Cup was my first period cup experience and it certainly was… an experience. I was going on a houseboat with friends for three days smack bam in the middle of high flow period and I knew that normal tampon disposal would be tricky. This gave me the push I needed to try period cups. I read the instructions carefully and sterilized my cup by boiling it in a saucepan of water for five minutes. Once cooled, I washed my hands and got into position for insertion (similar to tampon insertion). You have to fold it in on itself to make it fit. After several bungled attempts I got it in and managed to twist it to make it pop open. This also takes practice. Once it was in I couldn’t feel a thing and I loved that it lasts a full day – up to 12 hours. The removal, however, was a bit messy. I read a funny article where the author described her first removal as resembling the shower scene out of Psycho, which indeed, wasn’t too far from the truth. Like the author, I also lost my grip while pulling it out and dropped the contents all over the shower floor. Aha. So THIS is why your first removal is better in the shower. (Also better than dropping your precious cup in the toilet!) Thankfully my slip-up washed away swiftly and after a few days, I started to get the hang of it. By month three I was an old hat. I just didn’t like that the Diva Cup is clear and after a few uses doesn’t look as fresh and clean as I’d like, which led me to be being tempted to buy a new one. – Sigourney

Tom’s Menstrual Cup

I was drawn to the organic shape and friendly flesh toned design of the Toms Menstrual Cup so picked one up in Priceline. I was heartened to see that it’s getting easier to purchase these products. (When I first tried the Diva I had to research high and low to find one). I loved the little sterilizer cup which made the initial use much more user-friendly than with the Diva Cup. I also like the “intuitive grips” finger-indents on each side and longer, thinner stem for easier removal. I found that if I depressed one side it would break the “seal” and made it easier to pull out. I also found that the surface is slightly textured which I found easier to grip than the Diva Cup. After several months of using this little guy I realized that I’d never go back to tampons, which is really saying something. The waste of tampons and environmental impact is impossible to ignore, not to mention having to carry extras around with you and change them more often!  I often sing the praises of the menstrual cup to my skeptical friends and can’t believe it took me so long to make the switch. -Sigourney

AWWA Skye High Period Undies

Like the rest of the Beauticate testing team, I had great experiences with period undies made by TOMs and Modibodi. Yet I was also interested in whether there existed a pair that would do what I most needed period undies to do (be reliable and comfortable) but could still make one feel a little bit fashion-forward. I don’t have difficult periods, thankfully, but I still can’t say I feel my best when I do have them, so I wondered if there existed something that could make me feel comfy and secure, but also a little bit cute. Happily, AWWA’s Skye High Period Brief does just that. The high waisted cut and sheer side panels gives the whole look a fun, vintage, Bettie Page sort of feel which I have come to really enjoy, and, honestly, are more glamorous than some of my non-period underwear. Sheer fabric may not sound like what you’re after with period undies, but rest assured that the well-designed central (yes, opaque) panel is as trustworthy as it is in fully opaque pairs. -Zoe

Modi Bodi

I first started using period undies a few years ago when Modi Bodi first launched and sent me some to try. I loved them so much that I’ve since purchased several pairs. I used to have quite heavy periods (prior to getting the Mirena IUD), so I mostly used them as a back up with my tampons. I found the undies super comfy and suitably absorbent. I have just discovered in researching this piece that I’ve been washing them incorrectly for years… so, er, you’re supposed to rinse them first in cold water then use the cold wash cycle. (Insert face smack emoji). So heed that advice. I like that they are offering more and more designs and cool collabs. They are very utilitarian in style, and I’d love a couple of sexier, lacier styles for days when I want my underwear to lift my mood, but no complaints apart from that. Depending on your flow, they’re a fantastic back up to tampons or period cups but I never felt safe to rely on them solely. However, having said that, my period is nearly non existent since getting the Mirena, so they’ll probably be more than adequate now! -Sigourney

Tom Organic Period Brief

Confession: I almost gave up on all period undies after countless failed trials left my white office chair repeatedly saturated with blood. But I lusted after the freedom of simply slipping on some undies, instead of wearing bulky period pads, so I continued to experiment with different brands in the hopes of finding “the one”. My searched ended after I discovered TOM Organic Period Briefs! The briefs are made from organic cotton, and feel smooth and weightless on my skin. Bonus: the material is virtually undetectable under clothes (no embarrassing lines peeking through). The brand claims the underwear’s 4-layer design can absorb up to 3 tampons’ worth of blood and can withstand even heavy flows. So did it live up to the hype? The briefs were 100% foolproof for at least 15 hours when I had a light to medium flow. There was zero leakage and I never felt any lingering wet discomfort. When I had significantly heavier flows, it provided a leak-resistant barrier for approximately 8.5 hours (a full day at work) – however, any longer and I definitely noticed blood dripping through.

At night, I would highly recommend wearing a thin period pad in combination with the briefs for double security. Why? We often twist and turn in our sleep and this makes our periods more susceptible to leakage. Remember to change these period briefs if you wear them overnight, because it most likely can’t withstand another full day’s worth of period flows. I have owned the same pair of Toms organic briefs for 6 months now, and the leak-proof design still performs to the exact same standard, as when they were brand new. So these briefs definitely stand the test of time – both in terms of functionality and appearance. -Kristina

U by Kotex x Thinx

When I first became aware of reusable period options about a decade ago, they were a fairly niche option. I think it’s fair to say that they were generally seen as the preserve of those who could fit all the plastic they generated in a year in a (reused) jam jar: totally admirable, of course, but most people I know would have been a little confused or even frankly somewhat put off by the idea. Happily though, times and opinions have changed, and the vast sweep of sustainable period options available have now become comfortably mainstream – so much so that category giants U by Kotex have teamed up with Thinx to create their first range of reusable period underwear. When I tried them, I was pleasantly surprised: I couldn’t really get my head around how they were supposed to work  – or if they’d work – but I need not have worried. They were entirely comfortable and I quickly forgot I wasn’t wearing normal underwear; I’d definitely recommend if you’re after a fuss-free, set-and-forget option.

As they’re a very recent launch it’s not wholly surprising that the offering is relatively limited compared to some other brands (they come in just one colour and a choice of bikini or briefs), but the fact that  you can now pick up period underwear while doing your weekly supermarket shop is pretty exciting: both in terms of lightening our environmental footprint, both also – so importantly – for normalising the conversation around our cycles. – Tess de Vivie de Regie

Story by Sigourney Cantelo; Tess de Vivie de Regie; Zoe Briggs; and Kristina Zhou.

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