BLOG: Scented Sanitary Towels: Manufacturers Couldn’t Care Less

You might remember a few weeks ago, I had a bit of a rant about Always scented sanitary towels. In particular, I was irritated for three main reasons. Firstly, I was irritated that the concept of scented pads insinuates to women that they smell offensive when they’re on their periods, and that we should use chemicals to cover this up.

Secondly, I was irritated about the fact that the scent on a lot of these products is being described as “fresh” or “clean” scent on the front of the packet. Imagine being 14 and gingerly creeping over to the sanitary products in your local supermarket, being made to feel like you’re the opposite of clean and fresh when you’re on your period.

It’s not ok for teenage girls to be made to feel like that about something very natural and very normal.

And finally, I was irritated by the fact that the scented sanitary towels I bought were not labelled as such.

No mention of scent. No information. Just an assumption. An assumption that I need “scent” to mask my own smell. An assumption by a global conglomerate that I smell when I’m on my period and so definitely want scented pads. An assumption that I feel like this, and so don’t need to be given a choice about how I manage my period.

And so I went to twitter, to have a chat with Always themselves, and to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake and missed the small-print on the packet.

And I’ll be honest, it didn’t go too well.

Below is the pathetic and frankly patronising conversation I had, over the space of over a week, with Always:

I started off by being rather polite…

scented sanitary towels always rant

And received this response…

scented sanitary towels always rant

Hmmmm. Interesting. I was pretty certain this wasn’t the case, and they’d dismissively missed the entire point of my gripe. I decided to push them a little further.

scented sanitary towels always rant

They replied. And it was pretty patronising (remember here, I’d copied them into my rant and they would have clearly seen a photo of the offending packet I had issue with, if they’d have bothered to look)…

scented sanitary towels always rant

scented sanitary towels always rant

Is it just me, or have you never seen these either? And do they look even one jot like the packet I originally approached them with?

Still managing to be pretty polite considering I was pretty annoyed at this point.

Then…. nothing. I suppose they just couldn’t help me with my particular packet? Or my issue? So, best to just ignore me. I mean, that’s what big companies do, right? They don’t need to answer me, they’ll just carry on unwittingly forcing millions of other women to absorb chemicals that they hadn’t intended to, by failing to label their scented products.

I decided to try again after being blanked.

scented sanitary towels always rant

Nope, you’re not going to fob me off that easily. You were willing to engage in conversation with me until I started asking a question you couldn’t bother to answer. So I continued.

scented sanitary towels always rant

And they ignored me. They’d already told me to call a number. Apparently that’s their obligation met.

So I continued to ask, to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake, and to make them take some damn accountability on a public forum.

scented sanitary towels always rant

And then, 6 days after I started asking… they decided to let me in on a little info they hadn’t been bothered to previously…

scented sanitary towels always rant

I was unimpressed at the complete sloppiness of their publicly visible customer service platform. It’s made their “Like a Girl” campaign feel like a cheap marketing stunt if they don’t actually seem to care too much about engaging with and solving the issues of the girls buying their products.

I thought I’d give them one more try. So this is the US account. Fair enough. Let’s speak to the UK then? I gave it a go:

No response.

I did a little research. Apparently, Always products are owned by Proctor and Gamble. Turns out they make a LOT of stuff. Stuff like shampoo, washing up liquid, nappies and also TAMPAX (was it just me who didn’t know Tampax & Always were the same company?!)

Have a read of the advice page about Always… ugh. After my episode with them and their lack of care about women unwittingly introducing their bodies to abnormal scented chemicals, due to Proctor & Gamble’s lazy, deficient labelling, the whole advice and tips thing on their website feels horrendously fake.
Anyway, before I decided to publish this, and seeing as Always ignored me when I requested a UK twitter account to speak to, I thought I better give the parent company itself a chance to reply. I kept it pretty succinct over 5 tweets:

Scented sanitary towel rant

You guessed it, my friends. No response.

And so before I go ahead and look into both the chemicals that make up scented products like this (which I can’t on my pack obviously because THERE IS NO LABEL ABOUT SCENT), and also the legalities of failing to label products correctly, I’d like to say this: If you’re reading this Always, or indeed Proctor and Gamble, then please can you once and for all confirm that the picture I sent you is in fact not labelled as scented?

Because if it is, then I apologise for my ignorance, but please take this episode as a plea to make this information bigger on future packets.

And if you sold me scented sanitary products that weren’t labelled as such, then I think you’ve probably worked out how I, and lots of other women, feel about that. The message that infers to millions of women is really not ok. And you need to change this. Quickly.

And in the meantime P&G, I’d quite like a replacement pack while you’re at it. My knicker toiletry draw currently smells like cheap airfreshener thanks to your mislabelled, offensively chemical pads.

What do you think, ladies? I’m assuming that personal choice is the thing we want most when deciging how we wish to manage our periods? Am I getting ratty over nothing? Or do you feel as miffed as I do about the failure to label scented sanitary towels as such?

4 thoughts on “BLOG: Scented Sanitary Towels: Manufacturers Couldn’t Care Less

  1. I’m so pleased to have read this – thank you for posting it. I too have been outraged to find this – I have also bought sanitary towels which were not labelled as scented but which were. It isn’t just Always either – last month in fact I bought some Always towels, which didn’t say scented but were, so the next day bought some bodyform ones – same. Exasperated I bought some Boots own brand ones – you guessed it, so were they! I checked the packages very carefully, none of them advertised this. I am horrified for the reasons you list in your blog, as well as because it is established medical fact that perfume in this area encourages thrush. So it is offensive and bad for our health – and as you say, we seem to be robbed of choice in the matter! There must be something we can do – are others as upset about this?


    • Thanks for your comment and I am glad it’s not just me who’s annoyed! My initial blog post especially about this got some very interesting responses, it seems like a lot of us feel similarly. I’d say share this post as much as you can because the more women start to make a noise about this, the more this lazy, assumptive manufacturing is going to become unacceptable. I’ve got a bit of a plan up my sleeve about how we might get this issue tackled… Will see how I get on with responses from these companies and if nothing, watch this space….


  2. Hi, I stumbled on your article while looking up why it is so difficult to find sanitary towels that don’t have scent. I get an irritated urethra when I use them so it’s really important. Bodyform Ultra seem okay so maybe worth a try? I currently have four different types of Always but can’t use them! Drives me nuts.


    • Hiya Shelley! Glad you stumbled on the blog! Scented sanitary towels – especially those that aren’t flippin’ labelled, MAKE ME SO MAD!!! The implications of making them scented, and the choice that’s taken away from women by not labelling them as scented – ARGH!!!!!


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