A period care brand that stands for more than just profit.
Many of us dread that time of the month, but periods don’t have to be as bad as we’re conditioned to think they are. Here to make period care healthier for our bodies and the planet (as well as more accessible to our sisters in need!) is LUÜNA naturals – Asia’s first female-led social impact period care brand.
For this month’s Sassy Supports, we spoke to LUÜNA Founder and CEO Olivia Cotes-James about why she felt the need to start her own period care brand and how it has been changing the way people think and feel about periods. Read on to find out how you can join the menstrual movement and help tackle the stigma attached to having periods.
Read more: Where To Buy Period Products In Hong Kong
Tell us about LUÜNA naturals.
Do you know what your period care is made of? Is it harmful to your body or the planet? What are the values of your period care brand of choice, and do they stand for more than just profit? Before I started LUÜNA, I couldn’t answer any of these questions, and our research reveals I am not alone, with over 90% of people we asked not knowing what their tampons or pads are made of. This was, in part, the reason for my starting the brand.
The research into what would become LUÜNA began in 2015 when, after growing frustrated at the lack of choice and transparency in the period care industry, I began talking to friends in Hong Kong and Shanghai about menstruation. Through our discussions, I came to understand how deeply menstrual stigma affects society today – uniting us in the same fear, shame and confusion around our bodies.
I also came to learn that a number of big brand products, including the tampons I was using, contain materials that cause untold harm to the earth and are linked to health issues such as endocrine hormone disruption. I stopped using synthetic products and the infections and discomfort I’d suffered for years during my period instantly stopped.
Speaking to healthcare professionals, I realised that so many pad and tampon users blame negative period symptoms like odours, irritations and discomfort on our bodies, when they are often caused by poor quality period care. We are conditioned to believe periods are inherently negative, but this is a false narrative spurred on by lack of education, misleading marketing and low quality materials. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Knowing we deserve better, I decided to create a brand driven by purpose, built by people who actually have periods. Fast forward to 2019, after years of research, sourcing, development and fundraising, I launched LUÜNA. We are a purpose-driven period care company built in Asia by a 100% female leadership team. Our mission is to make periods better through conscious products & programmes that tackle menstrual stigma.
Our line of award-winning period care uses materials which are healthier for our bodies and preferred by Mother Nature too. Beyond this, we are shifting policy around menstrual health, and every purchase of our products provides period care to local communities in need.
Since launching, we have reached a number of important milestones. In January 2021, we launched in selected Watsons stores in Hong Kong, meaning no more suitcases full of period products from abroad. Through our unique dispenser system we are now providing free tampons and pads in the bathrooms of offices and schools across Asia, signalling a huge shift towards more responsible policies around menstrual health. Moreover, we have donated thousands of organic cotton pads and menstrual cups to communities in need right here in Hong Kong and across the region.
What issues are LUÜNA naturals tackling?
Our brand mainly tackles gender inequality, plastic waste and wellbeing.
Consider for a moment that we use 11,000 disposable period care products in our lifetimes and that traditional products, both tampons and pads, can take upwards of 200 years to degrade. Not only do these products create vast amounts of dangerous plastic waste (200,000 tonnes of plastic period waste reach landfills in the UK alone), using them can cause negative period symptoms and long-term health issues.
LUÜNA provides eco-friendly alternatives that are made from skin-loving and highly-certified materials. We currently carry a line of organic cotton tampons, pads and liners, alongside our reusable menstrual cup.
Moreover, the link to menstrual stigma and gender inequality is far-reaching. This stigma is present in our homes, offices and schools, leading to shame and embarrassment about our bodies’ natural processes. Our A BETTER PERIOD initiative distributes healthy pads and tampons to staff and students through our custom-designed dispenser system, and we support employee well-being by providing menstrual health education to all genders.
Within vulnerable communities, this same stigma sees women and girls regularly miss life-changing opportunities like work or school, simply because they don’t have access to period care. In South East Asia, at least one in three girls miss school because they menstruate. In the UK, this figure is one in 10. Many don’t believe period poverty exists in Hong Kong, but the situation here is also serious. It is our job, as empowered people, to support those in need.
How can we help?
By knowing exactly what we are exposing our bodies to every month, we can vastly improve our relationship with our periods, our bodies and ourselves. Putting self-care and your own well-being first is one of the greatest acts of empowerment, not just for ourselves, but for the entire menstrual movement.
Furthermore, as we use a portion of profits from every purchase to fund donations of products to vulnerable communities here in Hong Kong, you can be sure that by using LUÜNA period care you are not only improving your own menstrual experience, but making it better for women and girls across the city.
Lastly, if you work somewhere that doesn’t currently provide period products, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be able to get in touch with your place of work to help them implement our A BETTER PERIOD initiative, providing healthy products for all and educational content that tackles menstrual stigma in the workplace.
Images courtesy of LUÜNA naturals.