It’s high time tampon brands cleaned up their act

2 min read

We’re willing to bet you read the ingredients list on the side of your food packaging at least once in a while. Maybe you’ve even started doing the same thing with your beauty products. But have you ever thought about what goes into your tampons?

We’re more aware than ever of what we put into our mouths, and now on our skin, but our vagina is the most absorbent part of our body and we’re still regularly inserting tampons without really knowing the details of what goes into them. Standards for femcare sterilisation and cleanliness in the EU aren’t things we discuss with our friends. A lot of us probably assume that tampons must be treated in the same way as sterile medical equipment, dressings and so on. But in fact, that’s not the case.

I was shocked to discover there were so few regulations and quality standards in femcare manufacturing”

In reality, hairdryers are subject to higher production standards than tampons. They, like most electrical consumer products, have a CE Marking that gives you reassurance that item adheres to a standardised set of regulations. Similarly, condoms are subject to the highest possible levels of regulation under WHO and ISO standards – and rightly so. All medical products in the EU are closely controlled to make sure we can expect the highest possible standards from them.

Yet femcare products are classed as consumer, not medical, products, and the rules about this category are less stringent. Yes, there’s a governing body called the AHPMA, but membership is voluntary and there’s no legal requirement for femcare brands to follow its code of practice.

We believe this is simply not good enough.

Many of us at Callaly weren’t aware of how little governance there is until we researched the manufacturing process. Callaly’s co-founder and head of product Ewa Radziwon says: “I was shocked to discover there were so few regulations and quality standards in femcare manufacturing. We decided to have higher standards when it came to making our Tampliners.”

Callaly water drop

What we do differently
We’ve teamed up with some of the world’s leading research institutes to ensure we’re using the highest quality materials, like organic cotton that’s grown without pesticides and is perfume free. We also have rigorous testing and manufacturing standards for our Tampliners (we use special cleanroom environments), and we sterilise our products using the same technique that’s used for medical equipment such as surgical devices and implants. We do all this even though it’s a lot more expensive for us and there’s no legal requirement. It’s simply the right thing to do.

We think that no matter which period products or brands you choose to use, you should know they’ve been treated with the same high standards.

We believe period products should:

  • Contain no potentially harmful substances
  • Be treated with the same standards and care as medical products
  • Be sterilised
  • Get tested regularly 

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?

“Tampon adverts used to make me feel like I was dying inside”
First Person Periods

Tampon adverts used to make me feel like I was dying inside”

Ellamae writes about the experience of MRKH (Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser), what the term ‘invisible period’ means to her, and why she’s passionate about shaking the stigma around periods and health conditions.

Read more 5 min read
“This is a trans thing and it doesn’t make me less of a man”
First Person Periods

This is a trans thing and it doesn’t make me less of a man”

Vic writes about the experience of his gender dysphoria, the connection he made early on with menstruation and his sense of self, and what reprogramming his thoughts around menstruation and societal norms has meant for him as a trans man.

Read more 3 min read
How exactly should you clean your vulva and vagina?

How exactly should you clean your vulva and vagina?

We don't spend enough time talking about vulvas, let alone how to keep them clean. So, in the name of spreading useful information and not harmful bacteria, here's what you need to know.

Read more 3 min read
Why we’re telling The Whole Bloody Truth

Why we’re telling The Whole Bloody Truth

We’re setting out our specific commitments to improve inclusivity and representation, and we’re calling on the rest of the period care industry to join us in making this change.

Read more 2 min read
Would you use a vibrator, razor or tampon that was designed 90 years ago?

Would you use a vibrator, razor or tampon that was designed 90 years ago?

We asked seven women to unbox products from the 1930s and guess what they were used for. Most were unrecognisable, but one had barely changed at all...

Read more 2 min read

Currents is a place where interested people with periods come to get the real lowdown on menstruation and bodies. We explain the things nobody else does, normalising every experience of periods no matter how weird it might feel. We’ll leave you informed, unashamed and ready to expect more for yourself.

Ask an expert! 👇

Like all websites everywhere, we use cookies. Check out our privacy policy to learn more. Got it