At Naturally Savvy, we've been investigating the ingredients in feminine hygiene products and were surprised to learn that since these items are classified as medical devices, manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients. While we are petitioning a lead manufacturer for full ingredient disclosure, it is important to note that not all feminine hygiene manufacturers feel they have anything to hide.
Maxim Hygiene Products is one of these brands. Maxim is the only 100% cotton-based hygiene line on the market, free from both synthetic fibers and wood fluff pulp. Interestingly enough, Maxim chose to use only 100% cotton for both its gentle nature and to help reduce the impact on the environment – by saving trees that would be used for wood pulp, a common absorbent filler in many sanitary pads. Cotton is renewable and biodegradable, making it one of the most environmentally-friendly fibers; it is also a more efficient crop, as it can be harvested yearly while wood takes from 6-12 years to grow. Once cut down, wood is often subjected to harsh chemical treatments in order to convert it into a fiber somewhat similar to cotton.
Maxim products are great for those that suffer from vulva-vaginal irritation. Thanks to the natural breathability of cotton, these pads and tampons are hypoallergenic, non-irritating and gentle on the skin (a breathable PE adhesive strip keeps the pads in place). Perfumes, plastics, rayon and super-absorbent fibers found in many other brands can promote an environment that may encourage the growth of bacteria, fungi and other irritants, but cotton's natural breathable quality helps prevent an enviroment friendly to these microbes. In addition, Maxim products are bleached using hydrogen peroxide, a safer process than typical chlorine bleaches which can release harmful dioxins.
Maxim's entire line (which includes cotton swabs, balls and rounds) is made with 100% organic cotton, with the exception of their sanitary pads. Cotton is more expensive than wood pulp, and the large amount of cotton required to make a 100% cotton pad inhibits the use of the even more expensive organic variety. Perhaps as the demand for organic products increases, we will see a shift towards to more affordable organic cotton products. While we would love to see the entire line reach organic status, since sanitary pads are not used internally and are made with 100% dioxin-free cotton, there is nonetheless a diminished risk of both exposure to toxins and skin irritation. For their part, Maxim makes the distinction between the use of regular or organic cotton very clear. Products packaged in green are made with organic cotton while products in white packaging are made with non-organic cotton.
For anyone with specific concerns of sensitive, irritated skin or those simply wanting to reduce their environmental impact, Maxim 100% cotton tampons and pads are a great option. A clear commitment to the environment and to providing a gentle, hypoallergenic product makes Maxim worthy of mention. Disclosure of their ingredients means Maxim is helping women become more informed and more empowered when choosing the items that go in and on their bodies.