Pros: No leaks
Cons: Plastic applicator, low absorption
For more than 20 years, Playtex tampons have been my backup for Tampax tampons when use is required once a month. I preferred Tampax simply because of the biodegradable wrapping and applicator; I found the Playtex applicator much more comfortable to use, but I did not like the thought of leaving so much plastic behind.
When Tampax recently changed their product's design in an unacceptable way (see the reviews at http://www99.epinions.com/Tampax_Cardboard/display_~reviews), I decided to make the switch to Playtex until I found another alternative with a cardboard applicator. I am dismayed to learn that Playtex has also recently redesigned their product line. Also the company has been purchased by Energizer, which seems to be a very strange move for a company known for their batteries. More changes may be ahead in the tampon industry (please, will a female health reporter look into this and get to the bottom of the recent changes?).
I am writing this review in early January 2008, so things are likely to change if you read this in later months. If you search for Playtex tampons, you will find that most of the product line has been discontinued and it can be difficult to find them. I purchased the last box of unscented regular absorbency tampons at my grocery store and noticed that the Playtex line now only has one small row of shelf space, for about 4 product options. You can find the new "Sport" line, which are priced higher for boxes in smaller quantities (for example, an 16-count box of Sport tampons is the same price as an 18-count box of regular). There is no difference between the Sport products and the regular, that I can tell, absent the quieter wrapper. No one will hear you unwrapping them in the bathroom, but who is really that self conscious?
According to the product description on the Playtex box, this latest design is their "best protection," providing a "new unique double layer, cross-pad" that "protects against leaks." The protection is trademarked as "360 degree protection design." Supposedly it opens up, similar to a flower, and will "conform to your body." I have used ten of these tampons so far and when removed, there is no evidence that they are expanding inside to absorb fluid. Instead, they stay closed up and small, and there is much unused fiber in the center of the tampon; therefore, lots of fluid ends up on the string and elsewhere.
I placed a tampon in a glass of water, and immediately it opened up and absorbed the water. It was very interesting to watch it expand so quickly, like magic. If Playtex tested these tampons on water and similar fluids alone, I'm sure they would assume that their products would work wonders to absorb the monthly flow. However, as the saying goes, blood is thicker than water.
I am finding that these tampons do not do a very good job of absorbing what they should, and what I expect of them. They have not yet leaked, as the new Tampax design did. But, when they are removed, I get a gush of what I'm expecting them to collect, which makes for unexpected cleanup. I have a relatively light flow; I don't think those who need the Super or Super Plus would be very happy with these tampons. I used an old model Tampax super for overnight and the absorption was just amazing. Why did these two companies decide to change their products?
The tampon itself feels a little different, not as smooth and less cottony, as if it contains less natural fibers. I have no evidence to support this, as I have none of the older versions on hand.
As they have not leaked on me yet, I will continue to use these tampons, in spite of the design changes. Meanwhile, I have ordered different brands with biodegradable applicators from drugstore.com and I promise to post reviews of my experiences with them.