Trace is the first farm-to-body period care made from Hemp Fiber and Climate Beneficial (™) cotton, traceable all the way back to farm level. One of our core values is “Heal Self”: We believe in autonomy as a pillar of healing. Until now, the period care industry has not allowed the consumer to have fully empowered decision-making; and we’re out to change that. We collaborate with our supply chain in all decision-making, from what seeds our farmers plant, to the way the fibers are processed, to the way we distribute products. This allows us to be intimately familiar with each material in our products, and have full dedication to traceability and transparency. We pass that knowledge directly to the consumer so they can make educated decisions on what to put in their bodies. This is how we are shaping the future of period care.
Did you know that up until laws passed in CA and NY last year, menstrual care brands have never had to disclose what ingredients are in their tampons?
Or that they don’t even mention deeper details, such as where their materials are sourced from, what methods and/or chemicals are used in the manufacturing process, and what safety testing/ precautions they have taken?
While other topical/cosmetic products are required to list ingredients, period care has remained behind a veil of secrecy. Tampons, which touch the vaginal mucosa (one of the most absorbent parts of the human body) for up to 8 hours at a time, have not been required to even tell you what’s in them–something the public is only just becoming aware of.
It’s time to restore full transparency.
Legal requirements for tampon ingredient disclosure are just the first step.
It was only in 2020 that laws were passed requiring tampon companies to list all ingredients on their packaging. Even after that, companies are not fully disclosing/explaining what their ingredients are, or even worse: They are trying to find ways to hide behind manipulated language and terms created to purposely confuse you as the buyer. Even companies using organic cotton cannot trace their cotton back all the way to on-farm level, therefore counterfeit organic cotton is a huge issue hiding the consumer from the truth about their products. If companies can’t actually verify their supply chain through traceable materials back to farm level, how can they know what is actually in their product? Can they guarantee the organic tampons they are selling are actually organic?
And if they can’t actually know what’s in their product, are they really giving consumers the autonomy to make educated decisions on what period care to buy?
Trace has a revolutionary plan to address these issues through radical transparency.
Radical transparency empowers tampon consumers to make informed decisions.
We believe people deserve to know exactly what is in their tampon and how it was made. Period. We know that we can be more transparent with you as a consumer than ever before about:
- how tampons are made
- why they are made that way
- and what each piece of the puzzle actually means
There must be a balance between conscious procurement, manufacturing, and marketing that keeps our company accountable as well as allows us to innovate. We can create a brand new tampon, keeping ourselves safe and successful as a small startup company, while also stepping out bravely to set the standard for a paradigm shift in period care transparency! Here’s how we do it.
4 Ways Trace is Setting a New Standard in Period Care:
1) Radical Tampon Ingredient Transparency
Trace’s founders are a women’s health nurse practitioner, a physician, and an absorbent hygiene products engineer. This team makes us uniquely capable of understanding the importance of how to make an effective natural absorbent hygiene product from hemp fiber and regeneratively grown cotton, as well as disclosing health issues in very clear terms. Trace will have our full ingredient list right on the box, as well as online. No marketing jargon or confusing language—just the real ingredients and what they do. On our website, we will also include videos and glossaries explaining what is in our tampons both in scientific and layman’s terms, so there is complete clarification of ingredients that you can easily access and understand.
2) Meticulous Material Sourcing for the Best Product
Trace has specialized ways to track our cotton exactly to the field it came from, where it was ginned, what processes were used, and what chemicals were/were not used all the way from the field to the finished product. We do the same for hemp; we know exactly the cultivars and the fields as well as those that tended those fields, how it was processed and stored, and finally incorporated into the final tampon.
We are directly involved with every step, rather than outsourcing to those we don’t know. Without this personal approach, it is impossible to claim full traceability; especially after the Covid-19 pandemic limited audits and inspections, leaving other companies to rely on the manufacturer’s word or third-party verifications for traceability and supply chain management.
We are also working with universities and non-profits to measure the environmental claims we are making, to ensure we can back our claims with real science. These will be published both by us personally as well as through our cotton consortium, the California Climate and Cotton Coalition. We will include as much of this information as possible directly to the consumer while protecting Trace’s own supply chain we have worked hard to build.
3) Clear Manufacturing + Processing Methods for Period Care Items
This ties back to ingredient disclosure: We will not only be transparent with the final product, but will be as open as possible about the processing and chemicals used to manufacture our tampons, and how they are made!
Did you know most tampons have “veils” made of plastic to keep the fibers from shedding inside your vagina (yes, even a lot of organic cotton ones)? Or that a tea bag designed tampon may absorb blood less evenly than a circumferentially-opening pledget? NO? We didn’t either until we got into the tampon business! You should be able to look these things up easily because you deserve to know how and why your products are made a certain way.
Now that we’ve been in the period care space for a few years, we’ve learned a thing or two–Trace knows the exact steps in each phase of our cotton and hemp processing. Beyond knowing everything from what fertilizers and herbicides were/were not used on our crops, we know the chemicals used in fiber optimization and the treatments and materials used for sterilization, packaging, and storage of the final product. We will have online videos, blog posts, and other resources for you as the consumer to easily find and understand. No hiding behind walls.
4) Tampon Safety Measures and Testing that Exceed FDA Clearance
Currently, tampon companies use their FDA clearance alone as proof that their tampons are safe enough for human use. While, of course, as a physician and nurse practitioner we definitely will get that FDA approval, we will go much beyond that, not just behind closed doors, but directly forward-facing to you as our customer.
We use variable methods such as gamma-ray sterilization to ensure no microorganisms are left on our tampons and further reduce the risk of toxic shock syndrome. Moving forward, we plan to continue to employ innovative testing beyond the baseline (such as heavy metal testing, several microbiological contaminants, pesticide/herbicide residues, and chemical/fiber verification) to ensure quality. We will be forthcoming to the consumer about our methods so you can be further assured.
The first step in innovating the way tampons are currently made and sold is to revolutionize the materials, processing, and supply chain.
The second step is educating the consumer in how we are doing this in a radically honest way.
“As healthcare providers, we believe education, transparency, and radical truth-telling are all imperative to empowering consumers to make informed choices and restore full autonomy to menstruators in period care decision making.”
We cannot continue to tolerate the greenwashing, false, or unbackable claims that permeate the period care industry today. Trace employs innovative methods to manufacture our tampons and we translate these directly to the consumer, allowing you– for the first time– to make a truly informed consent to use tampons.
For further reading, we recommend this excellent article by Women’s Voices for the Earth, a non-profit driving action toward a future free from the impacts of toxic chemicals.