Tampons & Sanitary Pads

Canstar Blue’s 2021 tampons and sanitary pads review has seen Tena, U by Kotex, Stayfree, Poise, Libra, Carefree and Coles compared on quality, absorbency & effectiveness, packaging appeal, product range, value for money and overall satisfaction.

See Our Ratings Methodology

Most Satisfied Customers | Tena & U by Kotex

Tena and U by Kotex have rated best in Canstar Blue’s 2021 tampons and sanitary pads ratings. Both earned five-star reviews for absorbency & effectiveness, product range and overall satisfaction. Tena also scored full marks for value for money, with U by Kotex achieving the same result for packaging appeal.

Fact Checked Fact Checked

Tena and U by Kotex cycle to #1 in period products review

As women, there are certain products we rely on when it’s that time of the month, for basic hygiene reasons but also to make us feel comfortable and confident. That’s why nearly half of the women we surveyed (47%) generally have a spare tampon or pad in their bag at the ready for when old ‘Aunt Flow’ comes knocking. But while sanitary pads and tampons are a necessity for many people, it’s important to find a brand that’s really got you covered when you have your period.

That’s why we’ve undertaken a survey to ask more than 740 gal pals in Australia to spill the beans on the feminine hygiene and sanitary products that they have purchased and used in the last two months. Respondents compared and rated several leading brands on quality, absorbency, packaging appeal, product range, value for money and overall satisfaction. Those that met the minimum required survey sample size of 30 responses are included in our ratings.

Joint winners Tena and U by Kotex cleaned up best in our latest review, earning five stars for absorbency and effectiveness, product range and overall satisfaction. Tena additionally scored full marks for value for money, similar to U by Kotex for packaging appeal.

Best Tampons & Sanitary Pads

Best tampons and sanitary pads review

Here are the best brands of period care products in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s 2021 review:

  1. Tena & U by Kotex
  2. Stayfree
  3. Poise
  4. Libra
  5. Carefree
  6. Coles

Tena and U by Kotex were joint winners in our latest ratings, each scoring five-star reviews for overall satisfaction. Last year’s winner Poise followed slightly behind on four stars, alongside Stayfree, Libra and Carefree. Coles was the only exception, receiving three stars for overall satisfaction.

It’s worth mentioning that Poise rated best for quality, receiving the only five-star review for the category, in addition to full marks for packaging appeal.

Tampons & Sanitary Pads Compared

Tena 

Tena tampons and sanitary pads review

Tena is another brand of incontinence products, but for both men and women. The brand has a Product Finder on its website to help you find the right product for your needs. It also offers up to three product samples to try for free. Tena pads have a dry fast core that includes a double pulp layer to keep you fresh and dry for longer. The women’s product line features mini, standard and extra-large pads and liners, as well as discreet pants. The men’s range has different guards and pants to choose from, for every stage of bladder weakness.

  • Tena rated best for value for money, receiving the only five-star review for the category, plus extra full marks for absorbency & effectiveness, product range and overall satisfaction. It also scored four stars for quality and packaging appeal.

U by Kotex

U by Kotex tampons and sanitary pads review

Whether you’re wearing skinny jeans, working out or just want a good night’s sleep, U by Kotex has something for every occasion and stage of your menstrual cycle. The brand offers a wide range of pads, tampons, liners, period undies, disposable briefs and maternity pads in different designs to suit different activities, time of day and preferences.

U by Kotex tampons are said to have a slender tip and design for easy use, with 11g absorbency (perfect for medium flow days). They come individually packaged with coloured twist-open wrappers. Alternatively, its pads have a Rapid Dry Core which quickly absorbs fluid into the pad and special grooves that channel moisture into the centre of the pads to prevents leaks. Pads also have anti-leak side guards to keep you fresh and dry for longer. All U by Kotex products come in different absorbency levels and sizes.

  • U by Kotex achieved five-star reviews for absorbency & effectiveness, product range, packaging appeal and overall satisfaction. It also scored four stars for quality and value for money.

Stayfree

Stayfree tampons and sanitary pads review

Stayfree only stocks sanitary and maternity pads. Its products contain a 360° fit feature to offer protection from every angle, and an anti-leak system claimed to direct fluid into the pad to help avoid leakage. Stayfree pads also have a Thermocontrol cover to draw moisture away from the body, plus active odour neutralisers to keep you feeling clean and fresh. Stayfree offers ultra-thin, standard, overnight and maternity pads with light to medium and heavy coverage.

  • Stayfree kept a clean four-star rating across the board, including for factors such as quality, absorbency & effectiveness, value for money and overall satisfaction.

Poise

Poise tampons and sanitary pads review

Poise specialises in creating incontinence products for women. Whether it’s light protection for Pilates or heavier pads for overnight use, Poise has you covered with its range of everyday liners and pads which feature a four-layer design that quickly absorbs and locks away moisture to help eliminate leaks and odours.

Poise products are designed to protect light and heavy bladder leakages and can hold up to half a cup of liquid or more. Plus, they come in various sizes that conform to the natural curves of the body. Poise offers daytime and overnight liners with light, moderate and heavy absorbency, as well as an active range and pads with six varying absorbency levels.

  • Poise achieved five stars for quality and packaging appeal, before ending on four stars for value for money, overall satisfaction and everywhere else.

Libra

Libra tampons and sanitary pads review

Libra offers pads, tampons and liners that are said to be designed by women, for women. Libra pads and liners come with and without wings, as well as regular ‘invisible’ and ultra-thin options, for your daytime, night-time and sport. Libra pads and liners also have a unique BodyFit shape designed to move with and not against your body and anti-bunching technology.

Its tampons range includes Libra Girl, Body Fit and Slim, which offer regular and super absorbency as well as a tapered tip for comfy insertion and an anti-fluff base. Libra offers a monthly package subscription that allows you to pick from any three pre-packaged kits and get it delivered straight to your door with free shipping!

  • Libra received four stars in most research categories, including quality, absorbency and overall satisfaction. The only exception was value for money, where it got three stars.

Carefree

Carefree tampons and sanitary pads review

Carefree is a brand of pads, tampons and pantyliners from Johnson & Johnson. All Carefree products use FreeFit technology to work with your body and provide superior protection anywhere you go. All products feature different absorbency levels and come in various sizes and make. Want to try out Carefree? The brand offers free samples to help you find the right fit.

  • Carefree maintained an easy four stars across all research areas, such as absorbency & effectiveness, product range, value for money and overall satisfaction.

Coles 

Coles tampons and sanitary pads review

Coles homebrand is the supermarket’s budget line of everyday home, kitchen and sanitary essentials. It offers a range of pads, panty liners, and tampons. These are available for a wallet-friendly price, with most products selling for under $2.

  • Coles achieved four stars for value for money and three stars everywhere else, including for overall satisfaction.

How much do women spend on pads and tampons?

Prices for pads and tampons range from $1.50 up to $15, depending on the brand, type, size, absorbency level and so on. Our survey found that Aussies spend on average $17 per month on sanitary products, which equals to $204 per year and about $5,100 over a lifetime. That’s the cost of a holiday!

Women’s behaviour and attitudes towards sanitary products

It seems most of us who experience menstruation like to be prepared for when ‘tom of month’ rolls into town. Our survey found that just under half of respondents (47%) keep a spare tampon or pad in their bag as a precaution, while 29% keep a schedule of their menstrual cycle to stay ahead of the, ahem, ‘flow’.

Also, here are some interesting facts on buying behaviour.

  • Almost half (47%) have tried multiple sanitary product brands
  • One in four (27%) generally buy the largest packs available
  • A third (30%) have tried multiple products of the same brand
  • One in five (21%) generally buy the cheapest sanitary product available

Pads vs tampons ─ which is best?

Ahh, that’s an age-old question and the answer is not so simple. Every woman has different habits and needs. Your choice will depend on your menstrual flow, what you tend to get up to during the day and what makes you more comfortable and confident. Both pads and tampons come with their pros and cons.

Tampons

Here are a few key things to consider about wearing tampons:

Pros Cons
Completely sensationless Associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)
You can swim with them Sometimes uncomfortable to insert
More discreet to carry and wear under clothing Can’t wear them overnight

Pads

Here are some important things you should know about pads:

Pros Cons
More options to suit all flows and activities Can bunch up with certain body movements
Can wear them overnight Can’t swim in them
Less risk of leaks and no inserting Harder to dispose

What about menstrual cups?

Menstrual cups are small, flexible, reusable funnel-shaped cups made of rubber or silicone designed for insertion (like a tampon) to collect menstrual blood. They’ve been on the market for years now, as a more environmentally friendly and convenient alternative to traditional sanitary products. Generally speaking, menstrual cups have a higher capacity than other methods and don’t contain nasties like bleach or dioxin commonly found in tampons and pads. It’s no wonder almost a fifth of our respondents (18%) have considered switching to reusable menstrual cups or period underwear (which is exactly what the name suggests).

What sanitary product should I buy?

Our survey found that quality, absorbency and value for money were the most important factors of consideration for consumers. There isn’t much else to it, although demand for eco-friendly sanitary products is on the rise which suggests sustainability is also important. But to keep it simple, you want to find tampons or pads that are:

  • Gentle on the skin
  • Offer superior protection against leaks and odours
  • Comfortable to feel and wear (day and night)
  • Comparably affordable

Sometimes, the only way to find the right fit is to try a few options. Some brands offer free trials and samples, so you can find a trusty period pal without bleeding money. Alternatively, give our review a go to see how different brands compared on quality, absorbency, packaging appeal, product range, value for money and overall satisfaction.

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.

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Picture credit: matka_Wariatka / Shutterstock.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

Canstar Blue surveyed more than 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased and used feminine hygiene or sanitary products (i.e. pads, tampons) in the last two months – in this case, 745 people.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.