This cycle I gave the DAME reusable tampon applicator a review. Trying this product meant breaking my 5+ year streak of not using any tampons. The DAME reusable tampon applicator is exactly what it sounds like – a device to insert tampons that can be washed and reused. Many period-havers need to use an applicator tampon because it’s easier for them to insert with their disability, their size, or other reasons. The attitude of “just use your fingers” leaves out an entire segment of the population who would love a no-plastic waste tampon option, but need the applicator and can’t use cups or discs.
Why A Reusable Tampon Applicator?
My first view of the product when it launched a few years ago was from the POV of a cup user with no mobility or access issues – I didn’t understand why this product needed to exist. I am not afraid to touch my own body and blood, I use a cup, but that wasn’t always the case. When I switched to a cup it was an adjustment as a lifelong applicator tampon user. In the US virtually all of the tampons sold come with a cardboard or plastic applicator. I’d wager if you’re an American you may just be learning that most countries around the world don’t use an applicator to insert their tampons; they insert with a finger. Many users require an applicator and can’t use a menstrual cup or disc. An applicator can provide reach and access plus it is usable with one hand.
The DAME reusable tampon applicator and similar designs aren’t designed for me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see their value and place in the world. I am always learning and working on my outlook. The eco-friendly lens often forgets that many products we see as “wasteful” are vital for those with disabilities. A reusable alternative makes sense, more so than simply insisting people go without!
How The DAME Tampon Applicator Works
The concept is pretty simple. The DAME has three total pieces. A cover, the open cylinder where the tampon is inserted, and the “plunger” that will push the tampon through the opening just like a disposable plastic tampon applicator. This product is not a “no-waste” product. Each DAME tampon is wrapped in clear plastic and the tampon itself will be thrown away after use (tampons are not flushable and do not magically dissolve in water.)
DAME’s applicator is a larger diameter than all disposable plastic tampon applicators but it is still completely usable. The tip has some flexibility for comfort and to allow the tampon to exit the tip of the applicator. With a disposable applicator, the plunger “locks” into place and can’t fall out. This is not the case with the DAME applicator and I actually dropped it, then had to re-load and re-assemble.
In practice, the DAME works exactly like any other disposable tampon applicator except that you load your tampon manually and have to wash it after. I do believe you can assemble and insert with one hand if needed, but it is harder to use than pre-loaded disposable applicator tampons due to the assembly. I can see how the plunger not locking into place may make it harder to use in some cases as well.
How to Clean Your DAME Applicator
DAME says you only need to rinse the applicator off after use, and that you need to dry it before closing the case and putting away. DAME boasts a Self-Sanitising™ technology that helps keep it clean for 12,000 uses. The applicator is made of Mediprene® (BPA free) by UK medical engineers. Their starter kit includes a zippered pouch to place the applicator in alongside your extra tampons. While the brand sells tampon refills it should work with most brands of no applicator tampons. Similar to cleaning menstrual cups in public, packing cleaning wipes or a squirt bottle to rinse the applicator could be done in place of washing in the sink.
DAME is the first brand to design and sell a reusable tampon applicator. The brand is based in the UK but they ship worldwide. For a starter kit with their applicator, 6 tampons, metal storage case, and a zippered pouch – shipped to the US – I paid $46 total. The other reusable tampon applicator available is from THINX and for just the applicator it sells for $60. I have not tried this option but the DAME is the more affordable of the two.
There is no place for period-product shaming. I am ALL FOR reusable period products and advocate for them. A reusable tampon applicator means less plastic waste for those who need help inserting the product. That’s a win!