We put each tampon through a fairly unscientific test. The sizes junior, regular, super, and super plus are actually USFDA specifications for how many grams of absorbency a tampon has. However, those are measured in grams, and we measure our tampons as liquid volume, so just use it as a reference. Each brand was steeped in a glass with 60ml of liquid until fully soaked, then we measured how much they absorbed, based on how many ml were left in the glass.
Website: BeGirl sells itself on "We Are Sexy", because that's how every girl feels during her monthly plum rains. The homepage is overloaded with pink and promo shots of party ratchets. They also claim they sell "luxury tampons". Is the applicator gold plated and the tampon spun from unicorn silk? It's like the target customer isn't every woman who's ever opened the elevator doors in The Shining, but only a select number of basic bitches who want to read "11 REASONS MEN LOVE IN RELATIONSHIP" under BeGirl's "Naughty Gossips" column.
But give credit when due -- their FAQ is refreshingly honest. Back in middle school, there was a lot of concern amongst tampon beginners surrounding the fragility of the hymen. Here's BeGirls' response to that.
The rest of the website is super easy to navigate and shop, once you get past cacophony on the home page.
Available Products: They only sell plastic, compact applicator tampons in regular and super. Those come in tins, or VIP monthly subscriptions in a "customized BG-Box from prestigious designers". Which is total bullshit -- they're all the same box and tin every month. Not sure who's qualifying as a "prestigious designer" here.
Update: Apparently the varying tin designs are only for the 12-month VIP subscription, not any VIP subscription, as the website suggests.
Pricing: A tin of 20 regulars or 16 supers is 60rmb. A multipack with 10 regular + 8 super is 58rmb. The best value for money are the VIP plans. The one–month plan has 20 tampons for 56rmb, while the 12 month plan has with 20 tampons for 42rmb a month. These have a choice of 20 regular, 20 super, or half and half.
Payment: They take PayPal, Alipay, and cash on delivery. Tried to use Alipay but got an error message. That led to a drawn out back-and-forth with customer service, with a very slow confirmation that I'd pay cash on delivery. They said the Alipay function should be fixed now. They are also available on Tmall, and in many Lawsons' and Family Marts.
Delivery: Not pink. The kuaidi brought a very anonymous brown box, good for office delivery. They threw in some free Ferrero Rocher to make up for the payment issues. Because naturally, chocolate is the best way to appease a woman during the red parade. Also, they forgot to tell the kuaidi that I was paying cash on delivery. My package came on time, but the poor kuaidi man had to come back the next day to collect my money.
Actual Product: I got the one-month VIP subscription of 20 regular tampons. Turns out, I should've gotten all supers with this brand to surf the crimson wave. The regular is tiny. Use it on light days, otherwise your submarine is going to get some major leakage on your Hunt for Red October. In our test, it took 22ml of liquid. That's still a surprising amount of liquid for its size, but in actual use, it wasn't enough to part the Red Sea.
Also, not a fan of compact applicators. It's cute that you can stick it in your pocket (did anyone else used to sneak tampons up their sleeve?), but the tail end of the applicator often falls out instead of clicking back into place. As compact applicators go, I've had flimsier.
Website: Relatively femme with fuschia, but their main branding is done in a neutral blue. They lean towards a "happy feminine health" image with glamor shots of Chinese girls. Thankfully, they're not trying to be some feminine lifestyle website -- content is focused on your werewolf week. Just wish someone would get real with their promo about what it's like when you get your invitation to the Red Wedding, and show a woman cramped up in fetal position loving on a box of pizza and a chocolate cake.
Their FAQ is much more comprehensive, covering embarrassing questions like, "Can I have a sexual relation while wearing a tampon?". They're a little more delicate in how they answer the same question as BeGirl regarding virginity.
Straightforward navigation, and easy to shop. It's a little annoying that you're not redirected to the product page after clicking "continue shopping", but it seems they're still fixing it up.
Available Products: Plastic, compact applicator tampons in mini, regular, and super, plus a "lingette" -- the official term for this is a "vaginal wipe." It's basically an individually wrapped baby wipe, including the light scent. Gets you all fresh down there when Ayi Flo is in town. They say they'll soon be adding digital tampons (no applicators) and panty liners to the list.
Pricing: Boxes of 16 tampons, any size, are 38rmb. They get cheaper when you buy a pack of two or three boxes at a time. Lingettes start at 11rmb for a box of 16 wipes, and go up to 43rmb for six boxes. Really reasonable prices.
Payment: Right now, their website is only set up for cash on delivery, with free delivery to most of Shanghai. Soon, they'll add PayPal and Alipay options. Wishu is also on Epermarket, YiHaoDian and Taobao.
Delivery: Got an email confirmation and a text from the manager letting me know when the delivery would arrive. For downtown Shanghai, they send it same day. Their office happened to be close to the delivery address, so the manager hand delivered them in a cute little Wishu shopping bag. She said that a messenger would deliver to farther locations. So, not as anonymous of a delivery package, but the bag doesn't specifically say "feminine products" or something.
Actual Product: Tried the mini sized tampon, and one box of lingettes. The mini looked about the right size, and a little bigger than the BeGirl regular. But soak test says it's smaller, soaking up 17.5ml, or 4.5ml less than BeGirl's regular.
The compact applicator was a little flimsier, and about 50% of the time, came apart instead of clicking into place. Had to shimmy the string back in and try and turn it back into a usable applicator.
The lingettes were nice, not too wet (yea yea, that's what she said, right?), and I'm told they're getting an upgrade soon to be fresher and more "Western." No idea what that means with regards to a wet wipe.
Website: Totally refreshing, and not a shade of pink to be found. Sure, the logo is a daisy, but I'll chalk that up to the nature aspect, and not that feminism is losing the battle of breaking free of all the stereotypes and stigma in the Red Tent (#10, even though that's straight up literature, not a euphemism). All of their products are made of organic cotton with no chlorine, plastic, or toxins, and many products are compostable. Feel-good, tree hugging vibes without being too in your face about saving the Earth.
Unfortunately, you can't order delivery directly from their English website, but have to click around until you get to this page. Then you can choose to buy from their Tmall, JD, Yihaodian, or Suning online shop. They also have an FAQ, but they don't bother with beginner questions, and instead focus on why you should use all-natural, biodegradable products.
Available Products: Digital and applicator tampons, pads, liners, and wipes. The international site also has incontinence pads and something I just learned about called nursing pads. Their China outlets, however, mostly carry products to load your bloody cannon.
Pricing: Pads start at 14 for 46rmb, panty liners at 30 for 46rmb, applicator tampons at 16 for 67rmb, and digital tampons at 10 for 43rmb. So, they're a little more expensive than the others, but you're paying for the organic aspect.
Payment: All of their e-commerce outlets take Alipay and online banking.
Delivery: Super anonymous brown box. For a company that's all about lessening their eco-footprint, a lot of unnecessary packing material came to carry a small box of tampons. I'm guessing that's up to the e-commerce retailer though. Also, the delivery is fast since they work with local retailers. I ordered through YiHaoDian and it arrived the next day.
Actual Product: I got one box of the regulars, which looks like a regular from the West. Soak test agrees, with 34ml soaked, 12ml more than the same size from BeGirl. It's also got a paper wrapper, cardboard applicator, and biodegradable tampon, which means everything can be flushed if the plumbing is strong enough. I'm personally more partial to plastic applicators for their smoothness and dome tip for easier insertion, but I'm all for a cardboard applicator if it helps the earth. A little discomfort is just part of dressing up as Carrie at the prom.
From top to bottom: BeGirl regular, Wishu mini, NatraCare regular.
If I had to do it again, I'd go with NatraCare, all the way. More options, Western-sized regulars, and eco-friendly. I'd be remiss if I didn't add that the most eco-friendly option is to switch to a silicone cup, so maybe I'll try that next time I shower at the Bates Motel.