Test: Unwanted perfume hides behind ’fresh’ and ’anti odour’ in tampons and sanitary napkins

8. nov 2016

Test of sanitary napkins and tampons did not show significant findings of unwanted chemicals. However, you should be aware of a few products which contain perfume.

Should sanitary napkins contain perfume? This question gave rise to a heated debate on the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals Facebook page. The users were asked about their opinion of a sanitary napkin, which contained perfume. Quite recently a perfumed napkin had been placed on the market by Always, and many women had unknowingly bought the perfumed ones.

A user wrote: “By mistake I bought some, and two days later I was bothered by an itching sensation. I went back to the shop to buy a package without [perfume], but I had to buy the cheapest brand, because all of the other had a stench of perfume.”

There was a broad consensus among the users that perfume did not belong in sanitary napkins. Later Always phased out the perfumed sanitary napkins from the Danish market.

In the aftermath of discussions about sanitary napkins and tampons the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals tested 24 products for unwanted chemicals.

“Our test shows that most tampons and sanitary napkins are without perfume and other problematic chemicals in amounts to be concerned about. The majority of the products receive our best assessment ‘green ’. In a few cases you have to be aware of added perfume. It hides behind wording like ‘scent’, ‘fresh’ or ‘anti odour’. The use is problematic, because perfume does not belong in products that are in close contact with the very delicate parts of the body,” says project manager in the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals, Christel Søgaard Kirkeby.

One tampon and one sanitary napkin contained perfume. All products in the test were bought in Danish shops or online shops. The perfumed products could be bought even though they are not directly marketed in Denmark. They are introduced by others who import them from different countries.

Small amounts of unwanted chemicals

Besides perfume the test shows that one tampon contained small amounts of the pesticide glyphosate and the metabolite AMPA. Also among the sanitary napkins there were several with small amounts of the pesticide, others contained for example chlorine residues or lotion. These only receive an average mark in the test.

“It is substances which should not be in sanitary napkins. With that said, the amounts were so small that they do not constitute a real problem for the consumer,” says Christel Søgaard Kirkeby.

Even though the amounts are small the test gives the consumer the opportunity to avoid problematic substances if they wish to do so.

Green products in the test:

Tampons:

  • COOP normal tampons
  • Ginger Organic tampons
  • Natracare tampons
  • O.b. Compact applicator
  • O.b. ProComfort
  • Satessa Tampon  w. applicator
  • TAMPAX Compak
  • TAMPAX Regular Tampon
  • Vores compact tampon w. applicator

Sanitary napkins:

  • Always Ultra Fragrance Free
  • Bind Normal
  • Budget Bind
  • Ginger Organic Levevis
  • Änglamark Ultra Thin Natracare Ultrapads

Yellow products in the test:

Tampon:

  • TAMPAX Pearl

Sanitary napkins:

  • Libresse Ultra Thin
  • Pretty intimate sanitary towels
  • Satessa Ultra
  • Siempre Ultra Sanitary napkin
  • Siempre Ultra sanitary napkinw. Aloe Vera

Red products in the test:

Tampon:

  • TAMPAX Compact Active Fresh (with perfume)

Sanitary napkin:

  • Always Ultra (with perfume)

The testsresults (in Danish) can be found here:

Test of tampons.

Test of sanitary napkins.

Tested Chemicals:

  • Perfume
  • Glyphosate/AMPA
  • Fiberloss (tampons only)
  • Release of heavy metals from coloured parts (sanitary napkins only)
  • Chlorine residue
  • Formaldehyde
  • Nonylphenol/nonylphenol ethoxylates