- Our top picks:
- 1) Pure Organic Tampons
- Pearl Plastic Tampons
- Organic Cotton Tampons
- 4) Radiant Plastic Tampons
- Sport Tampons
- 6) Organic Tampons with Plant-Based Applicator
- Simply Gentle Glide Tampons
- Plastic Applicator Tampons
- 9) Pro Comfort Original Non-Applicator Tampons
- What to consider when shopping for cold press juicers
- Absorbency testing
- Retention testing
- Construction testing
- How we test sunscreens
- 14) Which roller skates are best for beginners?
- How we test luggage
- How we test sunscreens
We updated this guide in October 2022 to add more information about our testing protocols designed by the pros in the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab. We also updated shopping links to ensure every product is in stock.
With such a large variety of tampons available in your pharmacy aisle, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with too many choices. While tampons may all look the same at first glance, there are key differences in the tampon’s shape, applicator and features that can make it more or less comfortable to wear during your cycle.
In the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab, fiber scientists worked with Dr. Jian Jenny Tang, M.D., OBGYN at Mount Sinai Hospital and Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to learn more about tampon safety. GH analysts test menstrual products such as tampons, pads, menstrual cups and period underwear in the Lab. Our wellness experts test tampons for absorbency, retention (i.e. ability to prevent leaks) and shedding, while more than 150 consumer testers provided feedback on ease of use and comfort. We only tested tampons that passed FDA evaluations to ensure they are safe for use and labeled correctly.
Our top picks:
After shopping Good Housekeeping’s top tested tampon picks, keep reading to learn more about testing protocols, how to find the right tampon for you and more information about tampons in general.
1) Pure Organic Tampons
These tampons were the overall winners in our test — plus, they’re the best organic tampon, too! Tampax organic tampons got high scores for absorbing fluid, producing minimal shedding and being comfortable inserting and removing, according to our testers. Testers liked the ease of use features such as the tabs on the wrapper, making it easier to open and the grips on the applicator for easy insertion. Tampax Pure tampons are less widely accessible compared to Tampax Pearl, according to our testers.
Pearl Plastic Tampons
These affordable tampons clinched the second place spot and cost only $0.22 a tampon. In Lab testing, these tampons were absorbent and shed minimally. Testers especially liked that these tampons were super comfortable and the packaging was quiet when opening — a huge complaint with other brands. Plus, this is one of the few styles with an excellent range of sizes available — this kit has three different absorbencies as your cycle changes.
Organic Cotton Tampons
These organic tampons were top performers and are made by Seventh Generation, which is a B Corp company with an ethical ethos. They use no fragrances, dyes or chlorine bleach when producing these tampons. Our testers gave these tampons high scores for comfort, while our Lab tests found them absorbent too. We love that this brand focuses on doing good by using recyclable packaging and donates to nonprofits providing period care for low-income communities. Some testers had trouble finding them in certain reatilers.
4) Radiant Plastic Tampons
If you have never used a tampon before, Tampax Radiant is the perfect place to start. These tampons feature a plastic applicator with a grip that our testers said made for easier insertion. GH analysts found that they had a lower absorbency than other styles. These were the only style of tampons tested to feature resealable wrappers for discreet disposal, which was a favorite feature among our testers!
When it came to tampons to wear when exercising or swimming, our panel highly recommended Playtex Sport tampons. Testers liked the contoured plastic applicator and the grip for a more comfortable insertion. Some testers wish the packaging was more discreet. Note that these have a longer string, so make sure it’s tucked away when at the beach.
6) Organic Tampons with Plant-Based Applicator
In our Lab tests, these o.b. Organic tampons received high scores for holding onto fluid to prevent leaks. Our testers found these 100% organic cotton tampons comfy to remove, ideal when changing your tampon frequently. They didn’t absorb as much as other styles, so they are great if you have a lighter flow. Tampax Pearl and Lola offer “light” absorbencies for those with very light flows.
Simply Gentle Glide Tampons
Playtex Simply Gentle Glide tampons are one of the few styles with a plastic applicator available in ultra size. Our testers gave them high scores for being comfortable to wear and easy to use. When GH analysts removed the tampon from the applicator, we did notice some shedding. Keep in mind that ultra tampons should only be used when you know you have a heavier flow and need maximum protection. There is limited online stock for this style, so GH pros also recommend Tampax Pearl in size ultra.
Plastic Applicator Tampons
Subscription boxes make it easy to always have the products you need once your period arrives — never be caught off guard without your favorite tampon. Lola subscription boxes let you choose a variety of tampons and pads to be included in each shipment. This tampon brand offers light tampons (not common in many brands), which our testers found comfortable to wear and remove. In Lab testing, this style did show more leaks than other tampons tested.
9) Pro Comfort Original Non-Applicator Tampons
If you don’t like using an applicator, want to produce less waste or are looking for a plastic-free tampon, o.b. original tampons are the top tested no-applicator style. They feature a pocket at the base to keep your fingers protected when inserting. Plus, these tampons have an extra-long string, making for easy removal. GH analysts found these to absorb less fluid, which was consistent with other non-applicator styles.
What to consider when shopping for cold press juicers
Like all tests at the Good Housekeeping Institute, we tested tampons in our Lab and had testers try each style. Over 150 consumer testers at home tried tampons that match their preferences, giving feedback on comfort, fit, absorbency and more. After completing all in-Lab testing and reviewing tester feedback, our pros analyzed 740 data points before making these picks. Here’s how our fiber scientists tested each tampon in the Lab:
✔️ Absorbency testing: To test absorbency, we placed a tampon without the applicator in a beaker filled with cough syrup (it has a similar viscosity to your period flow!) to determine how much fluid the tampon absorbs in a set amount of time.
✔️ Retention testing: Following the absorbency test, we evaluate retention (i.e. ability to prevent leaks) by taking that tampon and hanging it above an empty beaker to see how much fluid leaked from the tampon.
✔️ Construction testing: Ideally, tampons shouldn’t shed — you don’t want fibers left behind after insertion and removal. That’s why, to evaluate proper construction, we test for shedding by removing the applicator from the tampon above a dark surface to see how many fibers shed from the tampon. Our pros gently pull at the tampon to see if any fibers are released. We give each tampon a construction score based on innovative features such as excellent finger grip, resealable packaging or a braided string.
How we test sunscreens
Tampons are available in so many different varieties, from applicator to size. Whether you’ve had a heavy flow for years or are totally new to periods, we broke down all your tampon options and important considerations:
✔️ Absorbency: Available in sizes light, regular, super, super plus and ultra, each tampon size holds a specific amount of menstrual blood (psst: these absorbency labels are regulated by the FDA!). If you have never used a tampon before, try a light or regular size and then see if that works for your flow. If not, then move up to a higher absorbency, like super or ultra. To avoid Toxic Shock Syndrome (which is rare), you should use the lowest absorbency tampon for your flow and change it every 4-6 hours to minimize your risk.
✔️ Applicator: There are three main styles of applicators: plastic, cardboard or no applicator. Generally, our tester panel preferred tampons with plastic applicators than cardboard or no applicator styles. Although, people who use no-applicator tampons highly recommended them; they found them easier to use while leaving less waste.
✔️ Shape: When filled with fluid, tampons typically take three specific shapes: they either unfold side to side, unfold 360º around or just expand. No-applicator tampons mostly just expand as they don’t have an applicator to help keep their shape. Testers didn’t have a significant preference to any one shape, but our Lab tests found that the styles that expand are less suited for a heavier flow as they don’t hold onto liquid as well.
✔️Dangerous ingredients: Dr. Tang advises her patients to avoid tampons with “BPA (a hormone-disrupting chemical), titanium dioxide or dioxin (an environmental pollutant), perfume, elemental chlorine bleaching and dyes.”
14) Which roller skates are best for beginners?
Commonly known as TSS, “Staphylococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome is a clinical illness characterized by rapid onset of fever, rashes, hypotension and multisystem involvement,” such as vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation or muscular pain, according to Dr. Tang. If you experience these symptoms and are concerned about TSS, contact your physician immediately.
While many only hear about TSS when talking about tampons, it can actually be caused by other non-menstrual related circumstances like surgical wound infections, mastitis, sinusitis, burns or respiratory infections following influenza. Dr. Tang explains that “the incidences were the highest in the 1980’s, but the incidence of TSS declined sharply after the withdrawal of some tampon brands.”
To reduce your risk, use the lightest absorbency for your flow, change your tampon regularly and never leave it in for over 48 hours.
How we test luggage
Dr. Tang advises you to first wash your hands and then “find a comfortable position to relax and reach the vaginal opening.” Make sure to insert the tampon toward your lower back and not straight up. If using an applicator, hold the grip on the bottom of the tampon then push the smaller tube in to insert the tampon. While it may feel a bit awkward at first, this shouldn’t be painful! When removing, “make sure to find the string first, then gently pull the tampon out,” according to Dr. Tang.
How we test sunscreens
Emma Seymour is a senior textiles product analyst who has been at Good Housekeeping for over three years. She has tested tampons in our Lab as well as written multiple stories about menstrual products, including menstrual cups, period underwear and feminine wipes. With a degree in Fiber Science and Apparel Design from Cornell University, she has extensive research experience on product quality assessment.