Thank Us Later: Kotex Lightdays Will Change Your Life

When it comes to period-related products, there’s very little I haven’t tried on the basis of professional curiosity (that profession being having a vagina). Pads were instantly annoying, and immediately discarded. I became so proficient with tampons at an early age, I once coached a fellow eighth grader on how to use one for the first time in the bathroom of a Planet Hollywood on a class trip to Washington, D.C. I’ve publicly discussed my attempt to use menstrual cups, IUDs, and applicator-free tampons, and floated the phrase “My vagina is a funhouse,” so yeah, it takes a lot to scare me off. But the greatest product I’ve ever used? It’s the one I resisted using for almost 14 years of menses: Kotex Lightdays panty liners.

My mother has been using these since longer than I’ve been alive, every single day, and has implored my sister and I to use them daily as well, a request I now realize had everything to do with the fact that she did our laundry for 18 years, and nothing to do with the fact that we assumed ineffectual scare tactics were her favorite method of parenting (see also: “If you don’t take off your bra at night, your boobs won’t grow,” in place of “When you’re in your 20s, this will feel better than doing heroin,” and “If you fall asleep hugging your knees to your chest, your legs will turn blue forever,” over “You can’t sleep in my bed because of nightmares and dig your knees into my back, Beejoli”). While I resisted her dogged commitment to sneaking them into my bathroom during my teenage years, consider Jenny Slate’s opening monologue in “Obvious Child”:

“I used to hide what my vagina did to my underpants, and by the way, what all vaginas do to all underpants. There is no woman who ends her day with a clean pair of underpants that look like they’ve ever even come from the store. They look like little bags that have fallen face down in a tub of cream cheese and commando crawled their way out and then carabiner-ed their way up into a crotch. They’re not items for anyone to see.”

So yeah, your underwear is gross ladies. Maybe you don’t mind gross underwear! I didn’t until I was 27, because such is the beauty of life, vaginas, and people who were willing to drive home every other weekend to have their laundry done. But imagine a world in which your underwear still felt just like your underwear, and your underwear was also never, ever gross. Wouldn’t you want to live in that world? I know I would. Enter Kotex Lightdays.

I get it. Pads suck. I ditched those fuckers within six months of getting my period at age 11 (the only cool thing to happen to me in my entire adolescence). I started using Lightdays full time when I got an IUD a few months ago, mainly due to the fact that I still have no idea when my period might show up, if at all, and quickly fell in love so hard I upgraded them to daily use — an honor I hadn’t even reserved for the six years I was taking birth control pills or vitamins. I say this without any hyperbole whatsoever: they have changed my life.

To be clear, I am not advocating for any old panty liner. I’m out here solely for Kotex Lightdays, which are superior to all other pads and panty liners for two primary reasons. First of all, they’re razor thin. While you might think that every panty liner is just as thin, you would be mistaken, as I was when I purchased Always brand panty liners under great duress in New Zealand. Other panty liners, like Always, tend to be more cushioned, which leads to the dreaded “bunching” effect. Kotex Lightdays, on the other hand, are so thin that you legitimately cannot feel them once they’re in. They’re so thin that my best friend’s only complaint about them is that she sometimes forgets to take them out on non-period weeks, because it doesn’t even occur to her that they’re in there, which is gross in a lot of ways but also a sign of a damn good panty liner.

But even more important than their slender design is their greatest asset of all: their stickiness. Lightdays are so tacky, that when they adhere to your underwear, they really adhere. Cotton, poly blend, sateen, silk – no matter what fibers you throw at them, they’ll stay, without getting bunched up, without somehow getting stuck to the delicate goose down on your upper thighs, without coming loose midway through the day and negating their efficacy entirely. Insofar as application and ease of use goes, they’re a real joy. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, they also flush down the toilet without clogging pipes and cost pennies on the dollar. What more could you want?

But let’s say you’re not convinced. They’re frivolous. Who needs two types of pads? They’re another thing to think about  on the toilet when you’re just trying to beat Level 572 of Candy Crush before your pee stream ends. I hear you. But panty liners give more than just the gift of clean underwear, they give the gift of a clean life. If you’re like me, and your laundry basket is 15% clothes you actually wore to the point of needing laundering, and 85% clothes you tried on once, discarded onto your bed, and then quickly shoved off your bed because there’s a chance you might shack up with an ill-advised hook up later in the night, the last thing you want is your one good going out top to smell like three-day old vagina, just because it was hanging out alongside your crusty undies. Not only will your colleagues and friends thank you for not smelling like the inside of a basset hound’s stomach, your clothes will thank you for not being over-washed.

They also come with a myriad of non-vaginal uses! Their soft cotton-like fibers are excellent at effectively picking up dust in your home, instead of just shuffling it from Point A to Point B like a normal feather duster might, and for far cheaper and dryer than any antibacterial wipe. I wipe down my surfaces and television with Lightdays all the time. They also make for great quick-use floor cleaners if you stick one to the soles of your feet – which I’m aware sounds like I’m joking, but dust-related allergies are nothing to joke about. I’m not saying I make a specific habit out of it, given that I own a Swiffer, but at least once a week I’ll peel-and-stick a pair on and skate around my bedroom while living out my Tonya Harding ice skating fantasies.

Past general house cleaning, they are excellent armpit shields in your clothing for days you feel extra-sweaty (and can easily be snipped to any sleeve shape), and excellent when put in the soles of your shoes to keep them from smelling like your super-stinky feet as quickly as they normally might. I’ve also heard they’re great in lieu of medical gauze (liner side facing you, taped on with medical tape), but I’m a hypochondriac who cherishes her doctors visits, so I can’t speak to off-brand medical treatments that don’t count against your deductible. They are insanely cheap, effective in a host of non-vaginal ways, and might be the best thing my mom has ever forced me into using.

Go forth and enjoy your clean panties and clean homes, and thank me later. Just don’t send photos.