Free UK shipping when you spend over £20

What are superabsorbent polymers?

Periods 101
Written By

Share with others

What are superabsorbent polymers?

Wondering what superabsorbent polymers are and what they’re doing in your period care? Well, you’re in the right place. Here you’ll find out everything there is to know about why some brands are using superabsorbent polymers in their period care. Spoiler alert: we’re not one of them. 

What are superabsorbent polymers?

Superabsorbent polymers are tiny artificial beads designed to absorb up to 300 times their weight in fluid. Commonly composed of sodium polyacrylate, a synthetic substance that absolutely never biodegrades, that means it’s living in landfill forever. 

They look like tiny baubles and when they make contact with liquid and begin absorbing they take on a slushy/frogspawn appearance. Pretty gross huh?

Why are superabsorbent polymers used in period care?

Superabsorbent polymers are often used in period care that claims to be sustainable as well as the mainstream brands. In particular, period care made from bamboo includes SAPs because bamboo is not absorbent enough on its own to absorb menstrual fluid. Kind of cancels out the sustainability factor of bamboo, right?

Long story short: if a brand claims to be sustainable but includes SAPs in their products, they’re greenwashing. 

Why are superabsorbent polymers bad for the environment?

  • First things first: superabsorbent polymers never, ever biodegrade. They’re here forever. So, even if the period care in question is made from bamboo or other “sustainable” materials, the SAPs are staying in landfill. 
  • Some SAPs can release chemicals such as acrylamide (a suspected carcinogen) into the environment, this is called chemical leaching. When these chemicals are released into soil or water, they can harm plants, animals & humans.
  • As superabsorbent polymers are designed to absorb liquid, this means they can also prevent water from reaching plant roots or natural water sources, this can have hugely negative impacts on ecosystems and water availability.

All in all, superabsorbent polymers are not good for our planet. 


organic cotton period care

Why are superabsorbent polymers bad for your health?

Not only a danger to the environment, superabsorbent polymers are known to cause rashes, irritations & even toxic shock syndrome (SAPs were banned from tampons in the 1980s due to a link to TSS). Here’s a few reasons why superabsorbent polymers why are bad for your health:

  • Superabsorbent polymers can cause skin irritations or allergic reactions, particularly if you already suffer from sensitive skin or pre-existing skin conditions. 
  • Workers involved in manufacturing SAPs are potentially exposed to inhaling dangerous chemicals.
  • There’s been reports of small children ingesting SAPs from nappies or similar products, which can cause digestive problems such as intestinal obstruction and choking hazards. 
  • Superabsorbent polymers contain chemicals that may be toxic to humans, such as formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, and other hazardous substances. 

These chemicals are dangerous and we believe they shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near your vagina or anywhere else for that matter.

What can be used instead of superabsorbent polymers?

Nothing. We’re serious.

You won’t find any superabsorbent polymers in our period care (which is actually twice as absorptive than other brands) so we believe SAPs aren’t needed. At all. The below picture shows what's in our period care... nothing but organic cotton!

&SISTERS organic cotton pad

So, when it comes to choosing your period care our advice is to always opt for products that include zero SAPs (like our organic cotton range!) If you have any more questions about ingredients that shouldn’t be in your period care, please drop us a message at

Learn more with our blogs

Read All

Your basket

Your basket is empty

Continue Shopping
Spend £0.00 more and receive FREE Shipping!
Congrats! You qualify for free shipping!
Subtotal £0.00