Making periods chic, safe and socially responsible with Cora

There are lots of ways for women to add a bit of finesse to their lives -- freshly-polished fingers and toes can give us an air of je ne sais quoi, a new pair of pumps can help us walk with an extra pep in our step. But somehow, our confidence erodes during that time of the month, and if you're anything like me, you find yourself stealthily reaching into your purse, deftly sliding a tampon into your sleeve and gazing at the other faces in the room as you walk to the bathroom as if it's just another "I drank too much water break." Am I right or am I right?

There's a larger statement in here about period shame and how we shouldn't feel embarrassed about managing a natural process, but today we're going to talk about a company that's not only making periods chic, but also safe and socially responsible. This company is called Cora.

One of Cora's founders, Molly, reached out to me about a month ago after noticing Beauty Babble's focus on safe, non-toxic products, and she offered to send me some of her organic, fragrance-free tampons to try. Her timing was great, as I had just wrapped up my period and had tried another brand of organic tampons (called Natracare) that I did NOT enjoy (let's just say they were super long and gave me worse cramps, plus they leaked...no thanks). I was anxious to give another brand a shot, as returning to bleached cotton, perfumed and otherwise non-regulated tampon ingredients was NOT something I was looking forward to (and throwing out underwear every month was not a viable option).

After I gave Molly my address, I knew I was getting tampons in the mail, but when I got my Cora box, I got just as excited as I usually do when there's a Sephora or ULTA box on my stoop.

Cora makes your period feel special -- the packaging is sleek, modern and oh-so-sophisticated. In your "Signature Kit," which comes free with everyone's first order, you not only get your tampon supply, but also a vegan leather carrying case, a black storage box and a handful of "stowaways," which we'll get to in a minute. It's all fit perfectly into this custom box, and really, it feels like some sort of VIP treatment. For the first time in my life, I couldn't wait to get my period, just so I could crack out my fancy tampons. Hey, there's a first for everything, right?

By now you've gotten the point that Cora knows how to market their products and create something you can feel safe putting into your body, but then the company also has a socially-conscious component. For every month's worth of tampons that you buy, Cora donates a month's worth of sustainable pads to a woman in need. We've all heard the sad statistics about how many women and girls miss work/school each month because they don't have access to reliable menstrual products, so Cora's doing their part in making this problem more manageable.

But let's get back to the actual product for a second, because I'm just finishing this month's period and putting these babies to the test was perhaps the most exciting thing that's happened to me in the last 5 days.

Cora tampons come in a softer plastic wrap than your normal Tampax. Are they completely silent? No. But compared to the usual excessive rustling sounds required to remove your tampon from the packaging, there's definitely an improvement. Second, all Cora tampons are those mini, pop-out-the-applicator variety, which means they're much more convenient to carry around and stash in even the smallest of purses. If you recall, I mentioned earlier that Cora members get a "little black clutch" to carry their tampons in, but sometimes you just want to stuff one in a purse and be good to go (and you can!). I found the application to be easy, although I'll admit that on occasion I was too forceful in popping out the applicator and it dislodged from the top -- with some maneuvering I was able to get it put back together and didn't ever waste a tampon, but it's a warning to be gentle.

In terms of absorbency, I was impressed, but also realize that no tampon is perfect. I once forgot to change my regular absorbency one (I got very absorbed in work, no pun intended), so yes, I leaked. And on one particularly heavy evening, I put a pad on in addition to a super tampon, and had some spotting in the morning that the pad had caught. Right now, I don't see that Cora offers super-plus or light absorbency tampons, so you're limited to what the regular and super can do. Generally, I felt confident that these tampons weren't going to leak unnecessarily, and they were easy and comfortable to wear and remove.

Let's hop back to the "stowaways" that I mentioned, because they're cool on multiple levels. Firstly, the packaging (surprise surprise) is chic and sleek. It looks a bit like a lipstick container, only there's a magic tampon surprise inside! If you're still not quite confident enough to whip one out in plain sight, but also don't want to bring the "little black clutch" to the restroom, these stowaways are a great way to hold something incognito in your hand. They're also made of a crush-free cardboard, so even if it's tossed into a giant purse along with your other must-haves, it'll stay in one piece.

Stowaways are also cool, because they're Cora's way of helping you refer your friends to the program. Each one has a little bitty code on it, so when you pass one underneath the stall to a friend and she uses it to sign up, you BOTH get a free month's supply of tampons. Win-win.

Are you sold yet? Because I've got just a few more things to mention.

1) If I didn't make it clear already, Cora is a subscription box. I know, it sounds a bit weird to sign up for period products, but it can also be nice to know that you've always got a supply on its way.

2) The pricing is reasonable. Depending on how many tampons you need each month and your preferred absorbency, the average prices hover around $12-$18 per month (there's a $9 plan but it only gets you 6 tampons per period, which really isn't a lot). If you sign up for a yearly payment plan (rather than monthly), the price knocks down to $9.50-$14 per month. So it's certainly more than buying a box of Tampax, but I also believe you get what you pay for, so paying a little more for something safe for your body can be worth it.

3) My only gripe with Cora is that their product assortment is limited. As I mentioned, they only have regular and super absorbency tampons available, and I tend to prefer having a few lights and super-plus ones in my rotation. I'm also a big believer in pantiliners and sometimes like having some pads for nights or really heavy days when I won't have easy access to a bathroom -- neither of these are available right now. Obviously, this means that the slightly higher prices I'd be paying for period products wouldn't cover all of my period needs. But who knows? Maybe if enough people are interested, they'll expand into these verticals too.

If you think you want to give Cora a try, Molly was kind enough to offer a $5 off coupon code, just for Beauty Babble readers. You can cancel and/or adjust your subscription at any time, so you could give the service a shot for the cost of a box of regular tampons. Just use the code CORA5GABRIELLE at checkout, and you'll be good to go.

If you've tried Cora, I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments below. And if there are other organic period products that you'd say are a go / no-go, please share those thoughts as well. Have a happy period!

*I received a 3-month supply of Cora tampons for consideration, but was not compensated for my review of the product, nor will I be making any money off of sales referred from this post. I simply want to share great products with people to help them live safer, happier, more beautiful lives. :)

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