It’s time to talk (period).
When I first moved to Hong Kong, I remember feeling overwhelmed by the selection of feminine products available here. Many of the brands had packaging that was only written in Chinese, and some were just different than ones I was familiar with in my home country. So, whether you’re a newcomer to HK, you’ve got a tween who’s just gotten her period, or you just need to know where to find the right products, here’s everything you need to know about where to get what you need, when you need it!
The Pad Basics:
Always, Whisper, Laurier and Kotex are carried at most mainstream shops. Whisper is owned by the same company as Always and Tampax (Proctor & Gamble) so many of its products are similar. Laurier is a widely used Asian brand, and you can get a breakdown of each of its products in English off its website. While some product websites are not in English, you can find product descriptions on Watsons, ParknShop or Ztore.
You can also checkout HKTV Mall online or at one of its retail locations. HKTVMall carries all basic brands as well as additional Asian brands from Korea, like Yejimiin, or the Japanese brand Center-In which is a nice and pretty compact option for around $30 for 12-17 pads.
One helpful tip that I learned is that the measurements on the packaging are indicative of the length of the pad. For instance, 20 to 25 cm is the size of many regular length pads, panty liners are around 15 to 19 cm, and night or long branded pads range around 27 to 30+ cm. Long and night-sized pads are also usually a bit wider, around 7 to 8 cm wide.
Recommendations: Laurier Slim Guard (18 pads for around $30) or Always Infinity or Radiant (10 pads for around $30 to $60)
These pads contain Asian herbs or essential oils that are advertised as anti-bacterial to help reduce odour and maintain freshness and often have a light fragrance. Think of these as the ones in the US called “lightly scented,” but with herbs and oils instead of perfumes. Kotex Herbal ($30 for 18) and Yejimiin ($30 to $40) are the most prominent brands.
Organic products are worth looking into, especially if you are conscious of the materials that are often contained within many disposable products, such as cotton (grown with pesticides that is then often bleached and whitened), rayon, synthetic fibres, fragrances, colourants, dyes and preservatives. As our sensitive vaginas are mucus membranes, there is a possibility that we are absorbing these chemicals into our blood stream, though the facts on how much, and what is safe is still up for debate.
Organic products are made with organic cotton that is free of pesticides, chemicals, fragrance and dyes. Seventh Generation and Natra Care can be found on Ztore, iHerb or HKTV Mall and selectively found at some Marketplace and Wellcome shops for around $40 for 14 to 18 pads. While Whisper Organic ($25 for 10 pads) and Kotex Organic liners ($30 for 40 liners) can be found at most shops.
Recommendation: NatraCare has been around since 1989. It is transparent with its ingredients and even offers tampons, wipes, incontinence and maternity products. What is even better is that the majority of its products are compostable and/or biodegradable!
If you prefer using tampons, be prepared to pay a bit more for them. OB (no applicator) and Playtex Gentle Glide 360 are common products and you can find them at Wellcome, Marketplace, Watsons and Mannings (plus, all online outlets) for around $32 to $57 for 16 or 18 mini, regular, super and super-plus sized tampons. NatraCare also offers tampons for around $60 for 16. However, if you are accustomed to Tampax, you may have to look a little bit harder.
Most Wellcome and Marketplace shops carry Tampax Regular, Super, and Super-Plus (cardboard applicators) for around $72 to $76 for 40 tampons. Tampax is also available online on iHerb. iHerb is one of only two places I have found that carry Tampax Pearl and Tampax Pearl Pocket for around $60-$118 depending on quantity. A&M in Central has them, too, but be prepared to pay above market price for them.
Did you know that the average woman uses between 11,000 to 16,000 feminine hygiene products in her lifetime? That number is HUGE! With all the options now available, switching to environmentally-friendly products is now an easy and hassle-free way to make an impact and save money!
Cloth pads – Stylish, comfortable, reusable and washable cloth material pads that are made of high quality ingredients such as organic cotton. You can get an Eco Femme full starter kit from Ztore as well as the brands EcoBibi, MOMIJI natural, and HedgieLittle. You can also purchase cloth pads locally from LivelyLife and Tree Children. LunaPads (it carries teen sizes) ships internationally to Hong Kong from Canada.
Menstrual cups – These are the most widely available environmentally-friendly products available in Hong Kong. Ztore has a ton of brands and has the most selection online while iHerb carries the Diva Cup and Lunette for around $300. Locally, you can get the Lunette brand at ParknShop and Tree Children for around $350. Now No Waste offers the Mooncup brand for $290, while Sally’s Toys offers a few brands and starter kits such as Fun Factory (which has teen sizes) Lily Cup and FemmyCycle from around $350 to $400.
Menstrual underwear – These are a newest addition to the market but are quickly taking off. Menstrual underwear looks and feels like your regular underwear but will contain materials or liners that you can wash and reuse. You can order online from THINX or, if you would like to have a look locally, LunaUndies are available at Sally’s Toys. One of the Sassy Mamas’ tweens uses the THINX brand exclusively and is a huge fan. Another daughter says these are the perfect ‘back up’ plan with tampons because you don’t have to worry about leaks when you wear them.