Clean Demand: Tampons & Toothbrushes

Published in
3 min readMar 6, 2019


I wanted safe products for my children. After all, you shouldn’t have to choose between what works and what’s good for you. While that statement could be made by any parent, Jessica Alba has built a business around it.

Once the purview of niche brands, the emergence of clean labels in the mainstream is transforming consumer categories and demand. The value of the clean labels market is projected to hit USD 47.10 billion by 2022. Brands like The Honest Company and Drunk Elephant are no longer perceived as niche, but necessary.

What are the emerging trends in this vast clean label market? We analysed of global search data across five categories (Clothing, Baby, Personal Care, Beauty, Household Care).


Perhaps the most prosaic, unsexy personal care products after toilet paper and cotton buds, search data reveals that tampons and toothbrushes have in fact been undergoing their own revolution, becoming more environmentally-conscious, and better-for-you.

Both products are among the top five most searched for products under the clean labels of Eco-friendly, Biodegradable, Sustainable, and Recyclable.

A wider look at global search trends show that searches for clean-labelled tampons and toothbrushes have consistently grown over the last five years, mirroring the search trends for environmental issues around plastic waste and waste pollution.

Toothbrushes go green

In particular, for disposable plastic toothbrushes, higher awareness of chronic plastic pollution has driven consumers toward bamboo toothbrushes. Global average monthly searches for the eco-friendly, biodegradable bamboo toothbrush is a whopping 21,686 searches. In comparison there are only 1,600 average monthly searches for “eco-friendly toothbrush”, indicating that consumer knowledge in this space is well-developed. The variety of brands like Humble Brush, Wowe, and Baboo with stylish and affordable offerings makes changing consumption habits even easier.

Tampons are top

What’s most interesting however, is that Organic tampons are the second most searched clean-labelled product globally. Together with the searches for Organic pads, the monthly global average 16,606 searches for Organic tampons and pads, exceeds the 14,800 searches for Organic shampoo, the single most searched for product.

In recent years, start-up feminine hygiene brands and services (mostly female-led), such as Lola, Callaly, Dame, and Thinx have emerged to provide transparency, integrity, and greater consumer empathy. Coming up against established femcare brands who aren’t required to disclose their ingredients and often use bleaches and synthetic fibres, the use of organic cotton has become emblematic of responsible, kinder consumption that’s better for both consumers and the environment.

This search result is telling that the disruption in the femcare category has sparked a global revolution in consumer expectations and intent. Considering the humble sanitary product — still often spoken about in furtive tones — such a result might also have a promising trickle-down effect into other personal care products over time.

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