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Best Tampons

Updated August 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 20 Models Considered
  • 5 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 589 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best tampons

    Last Updated August 2018

    Discreet and comfortable, tampons provide convenient monthly protection that won’t slow you down. Whether you lead an active lifestyle or simply want to get through your periods with as little hassle as possible, tampons are an option well worth considering.

    But with shelves upon shelves of brightly colored boxes to choose from, just figuring out where to start can be overwhelming. If you need help finding the right tampons for your period, you’re in good hands.

    Here at BestReviews, we strive to take the guesswork out of shopping with our in-depth shopping guides. If you’re new to the world of tampons or think you could use a refresher course, read on.

    One of the greatest perks of using tampons is being able to swim while you have your period, but don’t forget to change your tampon when you’re done. Chlorine or bacteria retained in the string may cause irritation or even infection.

    Advantages of using tampons

    In terms of sheer convenience, tampons are hard to beat when it comes to feminine care. Unlike pads, which may be visible under tight-fitting jeans or thin materials, tampons are completely unnoticeable and can be worn with any outfit. Most tampons are compact and can easily be carried in a handbag, purse, or even a pocket for inconspicuous bathroom breaks.

    When inserted correctly, you won’t know your tampon is there. And because tampons are used internally, there’s no sensation of wetness or stickiness. Tampons don’t slip or slide out of place, making them ideal for all forms of physical activity. When using tampons, there’s no need to put your lifestyle on hold. Whether you enjoy dancing, working out, swimming, or long soaks in the tub, tampons keep you protected while you get on with life.

    Plus, if you’re squeamish or simply don’t relish the thought of being reminded of your period every time you use the bathroom, tampons do their job well out of sight. Many tampons are designed to expand and mold to your unique shape, leaving no gaps for leaks. Provided you choose the correct size for your flow and remember to change the tampon on time, you won’t have to deal with any messy overflow.

    If you don’t like the thought of getting up in the middle of the night to change your tampon, pads might be a better alternative for nighttime use.

    Types of tampons

    Tampons are often marketed to appeal to certain lifestyles or preferences, which can make choosing between them a little confusing. Most tampons are made of cotton, rayon, or a blend of both. The easiest way to choose a tampon is to look beyond packaging descriptions like “sport,” “silk,” or “compact,” and identify the applicator type you prefer.

    Cardboard applicator tampons

    Traditional cardboard applicators have been around for decades. Although their popularity has waned with the advent of sturdier plastic applicators, they still have a loyal following. Most cardboard applicators are biodegradable, making them a good option if you’re environmentally conscious. While they’re not quite as smooth as plastic varieties, most cardboard applicators are just as easy to use, provided you handle them with care. Organic tampons often come with cardboard applicators.

    Plastic applicator tampons

    Hands down the most popular applicator type, plastic applicators are stronger than their cardboard counterparts. That means they’re less likely to get squashed in a handbag or bent out of shape during insertion. Plastic applicators also have a smooth, streamlined exterior that many women find gentler and easier to handle.

    Extendable applicator tampons

    These innovative applicators are designed to bridge the gap between easy insertion and the utmost discretion. Most extendable applicators are made out of plastic and are typically half the size of regular applicators. A telescopic applicator that needs to be pulled back and clicked into place before use, these tampons can have a slight learning curve. However, extendable applicators are worth the effort if compact packaging is a priority for you.

    Digital tampons

    These tampons are the most basic type as they come with no applicator whatsoever. Digital tampons must be inserted with a finger. Although not as widely available in the U.S., digital tampons are popular in Europe for their minimalistic design that’s both ultra-compact and eco-friendly. Some organic tampons are available in digital form.

    CAUTION

    Though tampons are available in various scents, scented tampons can cause yeast infections. To be safe, always use unscented tampons.

    Selecting the right size for your flow

    Tampon size refers to the level of absorbency a tampon provides. Finding the right size for your flow is key. Tampons that are too small may not offer adequate absorbency, leaving you vulnerable to leaks. On the other hand, those that are too large can be uncomfortable to insert and remove.

    Lite tampons

    Also known as slim, junior, or active tampons, these have the lowest absorbency. Because of their smaller size, lite tampons are a good option for beginners. Keeping a few junior tampons on hand can also be helpful for those lighter days at the beginning and end of your period.

    Regular tampons

    Regular tampons come in a fairly compact size that many women find comfortable to use throughout their periods. For an average flow that falls somewhere between light and heavy, regular tampons provide adequate protection.

    Super tampons

    If you find that you soak through regular tampons in less than two to three hours, you might want to move a size up. Super tampons are thicker, and they may work better for heavier flow days.

    Super plus tampons

    If your periods are particularly heavy, these high-absorbency tampons should do the trick. However, due to their bulky size, it’s a good idea to have a smaller option on hand for lighter days.

    Ultra tampons

    While most women rarely require ultra-absorbency tampons, an abnormally heavy flow might make it necessary to bring out the big guns.

    EXPERT TIP

    An incorrect angle or not pushing a tampon in far enough can cause discomfort. If you can feel your tampon after inserting it, relax, remove it, and try again with a new tampon.


    Additional features to consider for tampons

    Ease of use vs. size

    The compact size of digital and extendable tampons can be appealing. But while added discretion is a bonus anyone can appreciate, using these types of tampons for the first time might require some trial and error. If you don’t mind the possibility of a couple wasted tampons, these ultra-compact tampons are worth a try. However, for those times when quick and easy insertion is essential, tampons with full-sized applicators are a better option.

    Quantity

    Although tampons are available in smaller packages of 18, purchasing a larger quantity is a good idea. Boxes containing 36 to 50 tampons are generally enough to see you through your period and prevent a mid-cycle emergency. If you’ve already found a tampon that meets all your needs, buying in bulk will cut costs, and you’ll be ready for your next cycle.

    Price

    A box of 36 tampons can cost anywhere from just under $4 to a little over $15, depending on the applicator type, brand, and whether or not the tampons are organic.

    Cardboard applicator tampons typically cost between $0.12 and $0.14 per tampon. You can expect to pay around $0.13 to $0.20 per tampon for a plastic applicator. If you’re willing to pay a little extra for convenience, extendable tampons will set you back between $0.19 and $0.23 per tampon. Whether you prefer having complete control or just like the idea of less waste, digital tampons generally cost around $0.17 per tampon. The most expensive by far, organic tampons can cost anywhere from $0.35 to $0.75 per tampon.

    To reduce your risk of TSS, never leave a tampon in for more than 6 hours, choose the lightest absorbency you can, and use pads or liners for very light flow or spotting.

    Tips

    By now you’ve probably realized that tampons are one of the most convenient and stress-free feminine hygiene products around. However, they still need to be used correctly. For a healthy and happy experience, don’t forget these important safety tips.

    • Choose a smaller size if possible. Opting for a high-absorbency tampon so you won’t need to change it as frequently may seem like a good idea, but this can be dangerous. Leaving your tampon in for too long can cause bacterial infections and leave you vulnerable to developing TSS (toxic shock syndrome), a rare but serious condition associated with improper tampon use.

    • Remember to change on time. Tampons need to be changed every four to eight hours or sooner if saturated. Changing your tampon on time is essential, even if you have a light flow.

    • Set an alarm if you sleep for more than eight hours. A tampon should never be left in for more than eight hours. Doing so increases the risk of bacterial infection and TSS. If you plan to sleep in, be sure to set your alarm before the eight-hour mark so that you can get up for a quick tampon change.

    • Only use tampons when you have your period. Tampons should only ever be used to absorb menstrual blood. For normal vaginal discharge, panty liners are best. If you experience excessive or abnormal discharge between periods, consult a gynecologist.

    • Wash your hands before inserting or removing a tampon. While you’re unlikely to forget to wash up after using a tampon, many women overlook the importance of doing so beforehand. Our hands are constantly exposed to bacteria. Taking the time to wash them before inserting or removing a tampon will help prevent infections.
    Flow can vary from day to day. Multipacks of tampons offer different sizes, ensuring you always have the right absorbency on hand.

    FAQ

    Q. How do sports tampons differ from other types?

    A. While any good tampon can provide full protection during physical activity, sports tampons do have a few minor differences. Features vary from brand to brand, but for the most part, sports tampons offer higher levels of absorption in a smaller package. For those who frequently engage in strenuous physical activity, this can translate to increased comfort. Because exercise can heighten menstrual flow, many sports tampons also have extra features like 360° expansion or skirting to further help prevent leaks.

    Q. Are organic tampons worth paying extra for?

    A. That boils down to personal preference. All tampons are regulated by the FDA as a medical device, and most medical professionals agree that regular tampons are completely safe to use. However, certain chemicals, including pesticides and bleaches, are used to manufacture regular tampons. While studies show that the trace amounts of chemicals left behind in the finished product are highly unlikely to have any side effects, some women feel more comfortable avoiding them completely. Organic tampons offer a chemical-free alternative that can provide added peace of mind.

    Q. What’s the best tampon for beginners?

    A. For first-time tampon users, we recommend starting out with a slender tampon that’s easy to insert. Most beginners can quickly gain confidence by using a lite tampon with a regular plastic applicator.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Enid
      Enid
      Editor
    • Erica
      Erica
      Writer
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer