In fact, I revel in it.
However, aside from uncovering this unexpected passion, I’ve also enjoyed exploring another side of our bodily functions; most specifically the problematic products we use to manage them.
From single use plastic tampon applicators to harmful aerosols, many of the products we use to improve and clean ourselves with harm our planet. With landfill sites overflowing with used sanitary towels and with aerosol particles appearing in our deserts, mountains and oceans, it is widely acknowledged that with each spritz and wipe, we are slowly – but surely – harming the world around us.
Thankfully, a wave of innovative companies are attempting to rectify this; creating sustainable, eco-friendly and safe alternatives to these plastic-hungry products. From the brilliant Wuka Period Pants, to the elixir-like Nuud deodorant, I’ve discovered some fantastic sustainable solutions this year.
And my most recent find? The DAME reusable tampon applicator.
Introducing the DAME Sustainable Tampon Applicator
We were contacted by DAME and asked whether we might be interested in writing a review of the DAME reusable tampon applicator.
The innovative creation of Celia and Alec – a dynamic duo concerned not only by the sheer amount of plastic waste created by tampons, but by the harmful toxins found within them – these ethical entrepreneurs decided to turn periods green.
What is the DAME Reusable Tampon Applicator?
Celia and Alec’s green revolution began with their creation of the award-winning ‘D’: the world’s first reusable tampon applicator.
Made entirely from BPA free Mediprene, the DAME reusable tampon applicator can be used not only for one period – but for hundreds of them; month after month, cycle after cycle.
With the applicator proving an enormous success, DAME next introduced its own brand of organic (and 100% biodegradable) tampons, made from GOTS certified organic cotton.
Featuring none of the nasties found in regular brands of tampons, DAME’s organic heroes are free from chlorine, bleach, polyester, dyes, plastics, deodorant and pesticides.
Together, this loyal applicator and its merry men (the tampons) ensure that every woman’s period is both waste and risk free; providing sustainable, long lasting and biodegradable solutions.
Having already ditched sanitary towels for WUKA period pants, I was intrigued to trial DAME’s greener than green products. Although my period pants were incredibly useful, on the heavier days of my period, I often miss tampons.
I’d like to be able to go to the gym, swim, or go out for dinner without having to feel my period’s comings and goings; something that the tampon excels at.
However, unaware that there were sustainably made tampons out there that came without plastic accessories, I resigned myself to tampon free periods.
Until now, that is.
Why Should You Buy the DAME Reusable Tampon Applicator?
Prior to writing this review of the DAME reusable tampon applicator, I decided to have a quick browse of the brand’s website – noticing immediately their somewhat niche ‘Tampon Calculator’.
Perhaps it was a slow news day, but it was a tool that I found incredibly compelling.
Reading a little more, the calculator described how 100 billion period products were used and discarded each year; with the majority of these proving non-recyclable. Beneath this uncomfortable fact was a photo of a sandy beach and a pair of gloved hands; both cupping a gruesome gang of used tampon applicators.
Skipping to the next step, I began my own calculations – inputting how many products I thought I used during each period. It seemed that even as a Wuka Period Pants devotee, I was still likely to use and discard 5,000 plastic tampon applicators in my lifetime; the majority of which would be washed up on our beaches.
Additionally, and whilst I know not to flush plastic applicators, I’ll admit that I have flushed used tampons in the past. I (ignorantly) assumed that these cotton products would simply biodegrade along with toilet paper; something that only made the calculations even more depressing.
Indeed, with most tampons comprising of a mix of plastics and rayon, the majority of these sanitary products will end up exactly like the plastic applicators: as tiny particles in our oceans and food chain.
A Review of the DAME Reusable Tampon Applicator
Using the DAME Applicator for the First Time
Having done my obligatory research and now satisfied that DAME’s products were safely sterilised and organically made, it was time to trial them.
I began by unpacking DAME’s reusable tampon applicator – which comes in beautiful (and sustainable) packaging.
Presented within a small bathroom tin, I soon discovered that the applicator comes with its own little storage pouch (to avoid it rolling about in the bottom of your handbag) and a selection of 6 of DAME’s organic tampons.
My first impression when looking at this alluring forest green applicator was that it looked a lot like a lip balm: complete with a little lid you can pop on and off to keep things nice and clean.
Once the lid is removed, the DAME reusable tampon applicator looks fairly similar to most standard applicators, with a plunger (sounds more dramatic than it is) and the applicator itself.
Whilst traditional applicators come with the tampon ‘pre-loaded’, this requires you insert a new tampon each time you use it. Popping a tampon inside, however, is easy and you’ll notice that there’s a small ‘string lock hole’ to secure the tampon string through (this just stops it snagging or catching when you remove the plunger).
As with a normal applicator, you then just pop the applicator in, push the plunger (stopping just before it clicks), then remove both parts.
Et voila – your newly ‘green’ period is underway.
Is the DAME Reusable Tampon Applicator Comfortable?
Initially, I thought that the DAME reusable tampon applicator looked a little larger than the usual tampon applicators I’m used to.
Perhaps it’s just its design – but it did seem wider and more ‘domed’ than those that I’ve tried in the past.
As such, I approached ‘deploying’ the applicator with slight trepidation. Whilst I would say that it did feel initially a bit uncomfortable – and I had to ‘faff’ about for a while to successfully insert it – I did get used to its design fairly quickly and any initial discomfort disappeared. As with all things, it takes a little practice at first, but quickly becomes second nature.
As I mention below, the organic tampons also feel a little different (perhaps slightly uncomfortable at times) so it’s wise to set aside a few days with them to find your grove.
How Do I Clean the DAME Reusable Tampon Applicator?
I’ve considered using a menstrual cup for a long time now, but I’ve always been put off by the fact that it requires washing.
Call me sensitive, but the idea of rinsing my uteruses’ lining down the sink makes me come over a little funny.
I was therefore a little apprehensive about washing the DAME reusable tampon applicator for the first time (as you must after every use).
However, I needn’t have worried: as with a normal applicator, there isn’t too much ‘residue’ on the applicator once you’ve used it (particularly on lighter days). As such, DAME advise that you simply give your applicator a quick wash in the sink, or wipe it down with some toilet roll.
It really is that easy.
Made from medical grade Mediprene, the DAME reusable tampon applicator also contains inbuilt antimicrobial properties to keep it nice clean. As DAME are keen to point out, this means that a quick rinse of the applicator will suffice and you needn’t pop it in the dishwasher.
(As a side note: I can only imagine my partner’s face if I committed such an atrocity).
The Safety of Regular Tampons
Something I wanted to touch upon in this review of the DAME reusable tampon applicator was the composition and safety of more traditional tampons (e.g. Tampax).
Alongside the fact that most tampons contain plastic (and are therefore non-biodegradable), there are also suggestions that our monthly saviours contain a whole host of unwanted chemicals.
Indeed, it seems that as tampons are classed as ‘consumer’ products, rather than ‘medical’ products, there are alarmingly few regulations surrounding their production.
(Bizarrely, hairdryers are more stringently monitored than your average tampon).
Given this lack of governance, you might discover that your tampon contains more unwanted elements than you thought. Often made from a mix of plastic fibres, synthetics and rayon (fibres which, DAME claim, can break up and remain inside our bodies after removal), more traditional tampons have recently come under fire for their liberal use of chemicals and dyes, including bleach.
Whilst it seems that there is no definitive answer as to how harmful these products might be to a woman’s overall health, it is certainly worryingly how unregulated and heavily chemicalised the tampon industry is.
The DAME Organic Tampons
Whilst you can use any non-applicator tampons with the applicator, DAME do encourage that you use their own organic tampons. Not only are they a perfect fit, but they are reassuringly free from nasties.
Coming in 3 sizes: regular, super and super plus, you’ll handily find a selection of their tampons in your D applicator kit when it arrives.
Absorbency and Effectiveness
I’ve never used organic tampons before so ‘popped one in’ (I can’t think of any other term) and set about my day.
What I should have read, however, was DAME’s warning that organic tampons may not absorb in the same way that others do: e.g. those that rely on synthetics and rayon to enhance their absorbency.
As a result, I did get a little caught short and found the tampon was ready to call it a day sooner than I’d anticipated. DAME therefore advise that anyone making the switch to organic tampons check their tampon a little more often than they normally would.
Another thing I noticed was that organic tampons can be a bit more difficult to insert and remove.
This is purely due to their organic nature, meaning they feature no shiny silicone coating to increase their ‘glide-ability’. Their texture might therefore be a little rougher than you’re used to, so do take your time when removing them (particularly on lighter days).
Don’t do what I did and yank it out – it’s the vaginal equivalent of getting a Chinese Burn.
Can I Flush My DAME Organic Tampons?
DAME ask that you don’t flush their products, but instead wrap them in toilet paper and pop them in the bin. This way they can biodegrade naturally, rather than take an impromptu voyage across our oceans.
Will DAME Products Reduce My Risk of Getting Menstrual TSS?
One thing I wondered before writing this review of the DAME reusable tampon applicator and tampons was whether they might lessen the risk of getting Menstrual Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
Since sitting through a lesson on the topic when I was 12, I’ve lived with a deep seated fear of this infection and have therefore treat tampons like kryptonite – removing them hourly.
Whilst DAME products might be fantastic, however, they are not infallible. As with any tampon, they come with a slightly increased risk of triggering TSS. As such, and to reduce any risk, simply make sure you change your tampon every 4-8 hours and only use tampons with the minimum absorbency needed.
How Much Do the DAME Reusable Tampon Applicator and Organic Tampons Cost?
The DAME reusable tampon applicator (complete with its own bathroom tin, travel pouch and 6 tampons) costs £24.99 plus £3 for (UK) shipping.
Considering that I used to buy two boxes of Tampax Pearl a month, at a cost of £5.88 (£70 a year), this represents a significant saving.
The DAME organic tampons also come as part of a handy subscription service, tailored to your cycle. E.g. one delivery will provide you with 34 tampons (you choose the absorbency) and cost £8.50. You can choose to have these sent monthly, twice a month, or every three months and they are shipped free of charge.
Considering how regularly I use tampons, I would still only need a box every 3 months or so, therefore costing me £32.80 a year. Again, this is a huge saving when compared to regular tampons.
(A quick tip: if you buy a DAME reusable tampon applicator, you get 1 x subscription box free).
New DAME Products for 2020 & 2021
DAME Reusable Period Pads
Aware that not all ladies wish to use tampons (particularly on those lighter days), DAME have recently introduced their revolutionary new DAME reusable period pads.
Featuring the patent-pending ‘DAMEdry’ technology, these thin and fast-wicking pads come complete with wings and poppers; ensuring your pads stay in place without the help of any nasty sticky plastic.
DAME claim they are not only secure and dry, but also entirely odourless – something that traditional sanitary towels cannot always vouch for. Furthermore, they are easy to wash – and can be popped in with your usual cycle on 40 degrees.
For now, the DAME reusable period pads come in two absorbencies: ‘normal’ and ‘night’. They claim the night pad can hold the equivalent of a super plus tampon, which is reassuring, whilst the ‘normal’ absorbency can compete with a regular, or super, size tampon.
To save money, I’d absolutely opt for the DAME reusable period pad set (£32.99), which comes with one liner (for light days), a normal absorbency pad and a night time pad. The set also comes with a lovely changing bag, to ensure discretion and save your blushes.
I’m so excited by this new product that I’m almost looking forward to having periods again, post pregnancy.
A Review of the DAME Reusable Applicator and Organic Tampons: Final Thoughts
As someone who regularly relied on tampons for a comfortable and dry period, I’m over the moon to find DAME.
Having stopped using tampons altogether (in favour of sustainable sanitary products), I definitely missed their convenience; particularly on the heavier days of my cycle. There’s nothing like having to stop suddenly in the street when your period is in full flow – shifting uneasily from side to side – to remember just how downright grim they can be.
However, by discovering DAME’s reusable tampon applicator, I can now not only start using tampons again, but know that in doing so I’m significantly reducing the number of disposable applicators being flushed into our oceans.
Sustainable and green, it’s also reassuring to know that this product is – I hope – much better for women’s health and for our bodies’ most sensitive of areas.
As a frequent traveller, the convenience of this reusable tampon applicator is also a big selling point. Normally, I have to stuff handfuls of tampons into my bag and hope I’ve got enough. Now I can simply pop my applicator and a handful of organic tampons into my travel pouch and head out the door.
Like any new product – particularly organic products – getting used to DAME’s reusable tampon applicator and the DAME organic tampons takes time. But in the scheme of things? Reducing our plastic waste and ensuring that our oceans are free from soiled sanitary products is – my friends – a no brainer.
I only wish that I’d discovered DAME sooner.