Three happy girls sit on bench

Women’s Guide to the Best Tampons with TOP 14 Reviews

What are the best tampons? This guide will give you some insight on how they work and what to look for, so you can determine for yourself what the best tampon for you is.

We will be giving 14 tampon reviews, including the best tampons for heavy bleeding, sports, teenagers and more.

Tampon Design – How Do These Things Work, Exactly?

A tampon consists of a cylinder of cotton, with a sturdy string attached, for removal.

Many tampons come in a plastic wrapper, sealed for sanitary purposes. Also, many brands come with applicators, which are two cylindrical tubes, one nested, telescope style inside the other, that help you put the tampon in.

Three happy girls sit on bench

The “Normal’ Applicator

There are two types of applicators, normal and compact. A normal applicator is longer, as the two tubes are extended inside the plastic wrapper. A normal applicator can be plastic or cardboard.

Women chose this type because it is easy to use and it is how the tampons were designed when they first became popular.

The Compact Applicator

Just to be clear, compact applicators are normal too, they just have a small amount of assembly required before use. Compact applicators are a newer style.

They are nested together inside the plastic wrapper, so once you open the plastic wrapper, you simply pull out the smaller, inner tube until it clicks and the tampon is ready to insert.

Compact applicators are usually made from plastic, while the tampon itself is cotton. The compact tampon applicator takes up less room in your purse, so it is more discreet. The actual tampon is the same size as the tampon in the normal applicator.

The Tampon with NO applicator

There are also a few brands with NO applicator. If you are comfortable with your body, you can easily use this style. You simply unwrap the outer plastic wrap, uncoil the string and pull the string at a right angle to the tampon all around the tampon.

This causes the bottom edge of the tampon to flare, or make a skirt. You then use your finger to push the tampon up inside you.

This type of tampon is sometimes called a ‘digital’ tampon, not because it has a clock radio installed, but because you insert it digitally, or with your fingers (also called digits).

There will be a diagram on the box to illustrate how they should be inserted if this all sounds too strange. Or you can opt for the tampon with applicator until you are more comfortable.

The reason women choose to use tampons with no applicator is because they are the smallest of all, very discreet, plus they don’t waste a lot of natural resources like extra cardboard or plastic from the applicator that just gets thrown away.

Tampon Terminology Explained:

Absorbency rating

In the US, the absorbency ratings tampon makers give their tampons should be the same for each company, so you can buy a regular absorbency in one brand, and that brand will hold as much fluid as a different brand with the same rating.

  • Junior/Light absorbency: 6 g and under – For teens, or very light flow days.
  • Regular absorbency: 6 to 9 g – For an average, but not heavy flow day.
  • Super absorbency: 9 to 12 g – For a heavy flow, or overnight.
  • Super Plus absorbency: 12 to 15 g – For a very heavy flow, or overnight
  • Ultra absorbency: 15 to 18 g – Special very high absorbency tampons for ladies with heavy periods.

How Do I Know If I Am Using the Right Absorbency For Me?

For starters, you should know that it is best to choose the lowest absorbency rating that works for you. In order to do that, you need to know if the tampon you are using is too absorbent, just right, or not absorbent enough.

If this is your first time using a tampon, and your flow is not too heavy, start with a Junior or regular absorbency. You can switch to a higher absorbency later, and may need to change absorbency levels during your period, which is why many boxes have multiple absorbency levels in each box.

If the tampon you are using is not absorbent enough, you simply change it more often, until you can get some higher absorbency tampons.

  • A tampon is TOO absorbent if there is still a large amount of white space on the tampon after 6 hours. If this is the case, use a lower absorbency.
  • A tampon is NOT absorbent enough if you bleed all they way to the string, or your underwear in less than 4 hours. If this is the case, use a higher absorbency.

TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome)

TSS or Toxic Shock Syndrome is a rare but dangerous syndrome that can be caused by leaving a tampon inside you for too long (more than 8 hours).

Tampons were linked to TSS back in the early 80’s when one tampon maker used a synthetic material called carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) and compressed beads of polyester. This special material was the perfect location for the Staphylococcus bacteria, the bacteria that causes TSS, to grow.

They no longer make tampons from this harmful material, so you should not worry too much. Just be aware that all cotton tampons are the safest, and never leave a tampon inside you for longer than 8 hours, and ideally it is better to change it every 4 to 6 hours.

Best Tampon Brands

women and sunset

There are many great brands of Tampons out there. Tampax, OB, Kotex, Playtex, Naturacare, Maxim, Lil-Lets and Veeda are among some of the top brands.

The most popular brand and arguably the best tampon brand in the US, according to statistics is Tampax. In 2011 over 20 million women in America used the Tampax brand. 

Tampax has been in business since 1936, back in the day when tampons were something you heard about from a Doctor. Tampax marketed their tampons to doctors, physicians, Drug Stores and consumers via trade magazines and newspaper ads. The marketing campaign was successful and women began using tampons… a lot.

Tampax furthered the popularity of the brand by forming an education department; a team of ladies gave demonstrations in department stores and educated the public and department store employees about the product.

Tampax sponsored several studies on tampons, how they were used and if they caused any health issues.

At the start of WWII Tampax began manufacturing bandages alongside tampons. Tampax continued to grow in popularity and after the war they became even more popular as American incomes rose.

Today Tampax continues its theme of educating young ladies through its website which features articles, a period calendar and other useful resources.

TOP 14 Tampon Reviews

Tampax Tampons

</p> <h4>Tampax Pocket Pearl Compact Plastic Regular Absorbency</h4> <p>

Tampax Pocket Pearl Compact Plastic Regular Absorbency

  • Small compact discreet size.
  • Smooth plastic applicator.
  • Unscented.
  • Backup braid string to capture leaks and direct them to the center of the tampon.
  • Comfortable.
  • Applicator can be a challenge to position and open.

This is Tampax latest and most compact tampon. It has fun colorful packaging that conceals the contents well. It is good for someone who is concerned about being discrete.

Be careful when opening the applicator, make sure it is fully extended and you hear the ‘click’ that tells you the applicator is open properly. This Tampax is a popular and comfortable tampon that has many fans.

</p> <h4>Tampax Cardboard Applicator Tampons, Regular Absorbency</h4> <p>

Tampax Cardboard Applicator Tampons, Regular Absorbency

  • Classic style.
  • Cardboard applicator.
  • Regular style applicator.
  • Wrapper and applicator are flushable, the tampon is not flushable.
  • Not quite as comfortable to insert as the plastic applicator.

This tampon is a classic, the tampon women have depended on through the years. This tampon does not leak and forms to fit your unique shape.

While cardboard is not as comfortable to use as the smooth plastic, it is far better for the environment, since it is biodegradable.

Best Tampons for Beginners

If you are using a tampon for the first time, try not to use it at the very start of your period, when the flow is light. Wait until you flow is medium to heavy, and then insert the tampon. It will be more comfortable this way, and you are less likely to have an unpleasant experience.

First time users should start with a teen or regular size, to get an idea of how much fluid the tampon will absorb. The best tampons for beginners should be tampons with a smooth regular style applicator are also a good bet.

Below are a few we think are great for the first time tampon user.

</p> <h4>Playtex Gentle Glide Tampons</h4> <p>

Playtex Gentle Glide Tampons

  • Tampon expands and opens once inside.
  • Smooth rounded tip for easy insertion.
  • The bottom of the applicator does not lock in, so you need to hold it with your finger.

This smooth regular style tampon and applicator are great for the first time user, especially if she has a heavy flow.

The tampon itself opens up once inside, similar to how a flower opens. This shape blocks leaks and is a huge benefit during heavy flow times as no other tampon opens this way.

</p> <h4>Tampax Radiant Plastic Tampons</h4> <p>

Tampax Radiant Plastic Tampons

  • Regular size applicator.
  • Plastic smooth round tip, easy to insert.
  • Bottom of the applicator stays in place.
  • The wrapper is designed so it won’t make a crinkle noise, very discreet.
  • Wrapper re-seals so you can toss the applicator discreetly and hygienically.
  • Some find they are not as absorbent as other tampons.

These tampons are a great mix of comfort and discreetness. They have a smooth regular size applicator, so no need for the first timer to assemble the applicator, plus the wrapper is designed to be silent, not to crinkle, AND the wrapper doubles as a re-sealable bag you can use to toss the applicator.

This tampon takes some of the stress out of using a tampon for the first time.

Best Tampons for Teenager

Teens have special needs when it comes to tampons. Tampons for teens should be shorter and narrower than tampons made for women in their late 20’s and beyond.

Marketing also makes a big difference in how teens feel about tampons, so teenagers may be more drawn to or comfortable with a brand designed with their needs in mind.

The best tampons for teenagers are often ones with thoughtful marketing and careful design.

</p> <h4>U by Kotex Sleek Tampons, Regular Absorbency, Unscented</h4> <p>

U by Kotex Sleek Tampons, Regular Absorbency, Unscented

  • Slim plastic applicator with smooth tip.
  • Rubber like grip on applicator.
  • Individually wrapped in color coded wrappers.
  • Fun style, attractive marketing.
  • Re-sealable wrappers can be used to dispose of the applicator without being noticed.
  • Good for small hands due to the rubbery grip on the applicator.
  • A bit pricier than other brands.

This band is easy to use has a slim applicator for comfort and fun colors, for, well…fun, or at least it can help momentarily distract you from the un-fun moments that come with a period.

The color tells you what absorbency the tampon is, so it is useful as well.

</p> <h4>Lil-Lets Teens Tampon Applicator</h4> <p>

Lil-Lets Teens Tampon Applicator

  • Expands all the way around for a leak free fit.
  • Compact plastic applicator is smooth and easy to insert.
  • Crinkle free wrapping keep your period private.
  • Shorter and narrower than other brands making them a great fit for teens.
  • UK brand can be challenging to find.

This Popular UK brand tampon is a hit with teens, because it was designed with teens in mind. It is shorter and narrower, making them super comfortable. They have slim plastic applicators, which are compact, so they don’t take up space.

The wrappers are crinkle free, so no one knows what they are up to. Also, this brand has 6 absorbency sizes, so teens can really customize and get a few sizes that work with their flow.

Also, the tampon expands outward, in a circle shape, instead of expanding lengthwise, so the tampon does not get longer as it absorbs fluid.

Best Tampons for Swimming

If you plan to go swimming while using a tampon try to change your tampon before you get in the pool and immediately after you get out reducing any leaking.

A well-fitting and short tampon is a good choice too. The tampon should be a good fit for your body, which is your first line of defense against leaks.

If you swim frequently you might also consider trying a menstrual cup, which is a silicone cup that fits securely inside your vagina and collects the fluid, preventing it from escaping or leaking. Many female athletes, including swimmers, use a menstrual cup because it is the most discreet method of period management.

</p> <h4>o.b. Applicator Free Digital Tampons</h4> <p>

o.b. Applicator Free Digital Tampons

  • Short tampons, less likely to come in contact with pool water.
  • Budget price.
  • The multi pack has several sizes to adjust to you flow day by day.
  • Small, fits easily just about anywhere.
  • Environmentally friendly, with no applicator to remove.
  • No applicator, must be comfortable with using your finger to insert.

This is the most discreet tampon you will find. It is simply a tampon, wrapped in cellophane; it could be stored anywhere, even that super small pocket in a pair of jeans. They are eco friendly because there is no applicator to throw away.

What makes them one of the best tampons for swimming is the length. They are shorter than other brands, so the water is less likely to come in contact with them. Plus they expand outwards, not downwards, providing great leak protection.

Not so many people know about this brand, but it is a really great tampon.

</p> <h4>U by Kotex Security Tampons</h4> <p>

U by Kotex Security Tampons

  • Soft flexible plastic applicator is regular style so no need to assemble.
  • Easy and comfortable to insert.
  • Leak proof and secure.
  • More expensive brand.

The name says it all; these Kotex Security tampons have you covered at the pool or beach. Plus the applicator is flexible and soft ensuring you get the tampon positioned correctly, which is critical to avoid leaks.

Best Tampons for Heavy Flow

Many women suffer from a continual heavy flow while others have to deal with it one or two days during their period, but no one likes it.

One thing you should have ready for the heavy flow days is super absorbency tampons. You won’t use these every day on your period but it is a good idea to have a box, or buy a box with multiple sizes.

The super absorbency tampons hold 9 to 12 grams of fluid, so you should get at least two or three hours of protection. If you find you only get one or two hours, try a super plus which holds 12-15 grams or even an ultra absorbency that holds 15 to 18.

Just be sure not to leave the tampon in for longer than 8 hours.

</p> <h4>Tampax Cardboard Applicator Tampons, Super Absorbency</h4> <p>

Tampax Cardboard Applicator Tampons, Super Absorbency

  • Super absorbency.
  • Classic cardboard applicator is better for the environment.
  • Trusted brand.
  • Secure, will not leak.
  • Easy to use.
  • A classic.
  • The applicator comes apart, be careful when opening.

This classic tampon is a staple product for many women with a heavy flow. It can be trusted to keep you secure and stop leaks.

Some like the cardboard applicator because it is biodegradable, while others prefer the plastic applicator. Overall, this is one of the best tampons for heavy flow.

</p> <h4>U by Kotex Security Tampons, Super Plus, Unscented</h4> <p>

U by Kotex Security Tampons, Super Plus, Unscented

  • Large size to cover heavy flow.
  • Super comfortable plastic applicator, moves smoothly and is easy to insert.
  • A little more expensive.

This well designed tampon and applicator are large enough to have you covered on heavy flow days, but are surprisingly comfortable at the same time.

Kotex pays attention to the little details, and that makes their tampons worth the extra cost.

Best Tampons for Sports

Tampons are great for sports and many active women and teens use them while working out or being active. In fact, staying active during your period is a great way to cope with some of the unpleasant effects of that time of the month.

The endorphins released during exercise can lift your mood and brighten your day, and alleviate PMS symptoms.

Tampons are a great option while exercising because they are designed to stay inside you and move with you. They can not be seen through workout pants, leotards, cheer and dance outfits or swimsuits, like a pad might be.

So what are you waiting for? Use a tampon and get back in the game!

</p> <h4>Playtex Sport Tampons with Flex-Fit Technology</h4> <p>

Playtex Sport Tampons with Flex-Fit Technology

  • Flex fit tampon, opens like a flower, catching the flow and preventing leaks.
  • Comfortable contoured plastic applicator, regular style.
  • They discontinued the “lites” which are the lowest absorbency.

Playtex Sport is one of the best tampons for sports. It has a flexible applicator to get the tampon positioned and the length is not too long.

</p> <h4>Tampax Pearl Active</h4> <p>

Tampax Pearl Active

  • Water resistant wrapper so the tampon won’t get destroyed in your gym bag or purse.
  • Lite absorbency, great for low flow days.
  • Comfortable applicator for easy insertion.
  • The lites are also shorter, 1.75 Inches.
  • Only 18 come in the box of lites.
  • Hard to find.

These Tampax Active lites are great for active teens and women during their low flow days. They are smaller and shorter than the higher absorbency, plus they have a noise free durable wrapper that helps you stay discreet, and keeps the tampon safe in your bag.

Best Organic Tampons

Most tampons are manufactured with at least a small amount of synthetic material, and some believe this leads to yeast and bacterial infections, as well as UTI infections. If you suffer from these problems frequently, you may want to try a tampon made with organic 100 percent cotton.

In addition to being a healthier choice for your body, organic tampons are better for the environment due to the fact that cotton farmed organically uses no pesticides and is better for the environment.

</p> <h4>Maxim Organic Non Applicator Tampon</h4> <p>

Maxim Organic Non Applicator Tampon

  • Organic, chlorine free, non applicator tampon with a shorter stature than other tampons.
  • Expands evenly all around, not lengthwise.
  • No applicator, but also less to throw away.

Not only are these tampons organic, which is great for your body and the environment, but they are designed well.

They have no applicator, so there is less waste, plus they expand outward for comfort and protection, instead of getting longer, which can be uncomfortable. These are one of the best organic tampons.

</p> <h4>Seventh Generation Organic Cotton Tampons</h4> <p>

Seventh Generation Organic Cotton Tampons

  • 100% cotton, chemical free.
  • No applicator.
  • Expands outward, not lengthwise, offering protection and comfort.
  • No applicator, but less waste too.

This is a great organic tampon from a well known eco friendly manufacturer. The tampon expands outward and offers good leak protection. There is no applicator, so you should be comfortable with your body before using these as you need to use your finger to insert them.

They have a pretty humorous video they call a vajingle on YouTube, advertising the tampon.

Well that’s all ladies for our choice of best tampons to use; we hope you have found this guide useful in finding the perfect tampon for you and answered the question “what are the best tampons?”.