Programs & Policy
Women are constantly bombarded with marketing shaming us into thinking our vaginas are dirty and in order to feel clean, healthy, and attractive we need to use heavily scented wipes, douches, sprays, and yes, even fragranced tampons and pads. This toxic marketing leads women to use more fragranced products, which could increase our exposure to harmful ingredients in fragrance. This type of marketing also feeds the myth that menstruation is dirty, and can increase shame around this very normal body function. Even more disturbing, companies aggressively market “feminine care” products to people of color.
Many gynecologists actually recommend using non-fragranced products on your vag and recommend against douching. In fact, the French Agency for Food, Environmental & Occupational Health and Safety released an opinion that recommended against using fragranced menstrual products.
What’s especially concerning around these products in particular is that they come into contact with mucous membranes and in some cases are actually inserted INTO your body—which may increase absorption of harmful chemicals. Some of the most prominent brands selling scented menstrual products include Playtex, Stayfree, Tampax and Always. Last year we tested Playtex tampons and Stayfree pads and found hidden carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and irritants.
And the kicker? There are no federal regulations that require companies to disclose the ingredients in fragrance, so you have no way of knowing what chemicals you are being exposed to. That’s about to change in NY, where we worked with WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Sierra Club, and Clean and Healthy New York to pass legislation requiring ingredient disclosure for menstrual products. When Governor Cuomo signs the bill into law it will be the first in the nation to require such disclosure. On the federal level, Congresswoman Meng has introduced the Menstrual Product Right to Know Act, which would give every menstruator, no matter what state you live in, the right to this information.
The bottom line: It is simply outrageous that there are scented menstrual products. Companies should eliminate the use of fragrance in these products all together and STOP marketing campaigns that shame women and perpetuate the stigma around menstruation. Manufacturers should also stop keeping secrets of what ingredients are in these products, including fragrance. Everyone who menstruates has a right to this information.
Feeling fired up? You can take action by:
- Tell Playtex and Stayfree to #DetoxtheBox and put health first!
- Call the customer service number listed on the box of Tampax, Always, Playtex and Stayfree and ask them to stop putting fragrance in their products
- To reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals, opt for fragrance-free products and use 100% cotton menstrual products.
- Support the Menstrual Product Right to Know Act
- Spread with word! Share this blog on Facebook and Twitter.
PS: Speaking of fragrance … Summer’s Eve recently launched a series of “fragrance-free” products. But turns out nearly 1/2 the ingredients in these products are actually fragrance ingredients. #WTFragrance?! Learn more.