I interviewed Paige the founder of FLUX who create “period underwear”…
Hi Paige, so tell us a bit about FLUX?
FLUX Undies is underwear designed and built to replace pads and tampons. It’s versatile design and function means it works well for periods, postpartum, and leaks. The underwear features a built-in unique panel that is moisture wicking, absorbent, and leak-proof – breaking it down, this means that the top layer wicks moisture and stays dry, the second layer is super absorbent and holds up to 200x its own weight in water, and the third layer is leak-proof which means no more ‘oops’ moments! There are five different styles: Bikini, Boyshort, High Waist, Thong, and Detachable. Each style holds up to 4 tampons worth and can be worn for up to 12 hours, apart from the Thong which is designed to manage light leaks and replace pantyliners. We are the first line of period-proof underwear to introduce a detachable style of underwear, and this is designed to give those with mobility issues or disabilities some freedom back, as the simple side clasps allow for quick and easy changing in the most inconvenient places, and make it easy to change your undies without stepping foot off the ground! The Detachable style is also great for those of us that are always on-the-go as it allows for easy changing in between meetings, after a sweaty workout, during long journeys, and in tight inconvenient spaces, e.g. in an airplane cubicle!
Who is FLUX aimed at?
We get asked this question quite a lot, and our answer usually takes people by surprise – but FLUX is aimed at everyone! For those that have a period, those that experience light leaks, for people with disabilities or mobility issues that are looking for an easier way to change their underwear, for mums that have just had a baby and looking for comfortable postpartum care, for teens navigating their first period. We believe that inclusivity is the way forward and we’re very passionate about this, which is why we try to make sure that our underwear is as versatile as possible and provides a function for different uses so that it can help and benefit as many people as possible.
What gave you the idea?
I’ve had really heavy periods ever since I started my period, and I’ve had SO many embarrassing moments where I’ve leaked whilst I’m out, as a teenager and as an adult. I remember leaking when out with friends, at school, all the time at home, and even on dates! It got to the point that I’d be worried to leave the house whilst on my period because I’d just always have an accident. With such heavy periods, I was always constantly changing my pads because I’d just leak through them. I tried tampons a few times, but hated the feel of them, and would just constantly worry that I’d forgotten about putting them in, or not remember to take them out. I actually went to A&E on a few occasions because I was so paranoid I’d left one in. I was also really sceptical about disposables and what’s actually in them as something that’s going on our really intimate parts of our bodies. So yeah, I’ve kind of grown up thinking that periods are this awful thing that leaves us housebound once a month and it was only when I got to about 23 that I thought to myself enough is enough, there has to be an easier way. And so I thought to myself, well what if we could just wear our underwear comfortably like normal and not have to worry about leaks – and that was it. From that moment onwards, I was literally on a mission to create underwear that could somehow absorb enough liquid whilst feeling dry (because I hate the feeling of ‘feeling wet’) and making sure leaks are a thing of the past. I went through a million different fabrics, designs, concepts and prototypes, and here we are today, with FLUX.
What is your mission?
As a teenager growing up, periods were never really discussed within my friendship groups or even at home with my parents, to be honest, so I knew from an early age that for some reason, it was just something people didn’t want to speak openly about. For example, I went to an all-girls school but at school, if any of us needed to take a pad to the toilet, we’d put it inside our sleeve so that no one could see what it was. So I’ve always felt that taboo around menstruation, but it was only when I started researching into menstruation in more depth that I realised just how big the problem surrounding it actually is. I mean, so many girls across the globe and right here in the UK do not have access to menstrual products which causes them to miss school for days each month and in third world countries a lot of the time, missing education for five days or so each month eventually leads to girls dropping out, which then leads to child marriage. And so you can see how the cycle is fuelled and continues. And all because of something as natural as a period. There are also a lot of people that suffer from mobility issues or disabilities that make periods an even more tricky time for them when it comes to having to change pads constantly, and also women that can’t use tampons for health reasons. I also learned a lot about what is actually in pads and tampons, and I mean I’m not any sort of qualified health expert or scientist so I won’t comment too much but a quick search on Google brings up really shocking information on the way that disposables are manufactured and what is actually in these things that we put on our most intimate parts, and it’s absolutely shocking that we’re just not told about it on the packet! I also learned a lot about the effect disposables are having on the planet in terms of waste, and learning that one pad can take up to 500 years to decompose just left me absolutely shocked and I felt almost as if I’d been blindsided my whole entire life using disposables.
When creating FLUX, I also always knew that I wanted it to be accessible to as many people as possible and represent truth and relatability through our campaigns, which is why we use ‘everyday’ people in our photoshoots. We don’t edit any of our photos, and we use the raw unedited footage to represent and give a true image of how beautiful our bodies are in their natural state. We also represent every religion, skin colour, size, ability, and shape and that’s why when people ask who is FLUX for, we answer with ‘everyone’. We don’t believe in labelling people and deciding who can and who can’t wear our underwear. It’s simply functional underwear and it’s made for anyone that wants to use it and will benefit from it. After creating FLUX, we literally heard from so many different people on how underwear like ours could benefit them. We spoke to people from ‘Scope: The Disability’ about our Detachable style and how it benefits those that find it hard to change their underwear and actually gives them back some freedom because you can simply unclip it at the sides and easily slip them off. We also spoke with WEN which is Women’s Environmental Network who campaign and fight to end period poverty and to make disposable products more safe for our bodies, about an eco-friendly future and how our underwear can stop hundreds and thousands of disposables from going to landfill and plastic ending up in our oceans. We spoke with some transsexual men who opened our eyes even further to the fact that actually it’s not just ‘women’ that have periods and use our products and actually trans men use it whilst going through their transition stage, and we’re honoured to be a part of that and allow them to feel comfortable in our unisex style Boyshort. We also heard from lots of pregnant women about using them for postpartum care, and so ultimately all of this combined with my own experiences is what led me to create FLUX and what keeps me going day to day. The things I’ve learned and the people that I’ve spoken to took me from wanting to create something that would just make me feel a bit more comfortable and keep me leak-free on my period, to set out on a mission to completely revolutionise the way in which we experience periods, to break the taboo around menstruation, give back to girls across the globe and right here at home to make sure they can stay in education, help those that are less able, represent everyone, and ditch the disposables. We speak openly on ‘taboo subjects’ and have uncomfortable conversations because this is the only way to make those uncomfortable conversations, a little bit less uncomfortable the next time, and the time after that, and hopefully, we will get to a point that things like menstruation are normalised. Aside from being a brand of period-proof underwear, we want to be a hub for women and people across the globe – somewhere that they can go to find out useful information, speak openly and be heard and listened to. And so that’s where we are now. On this crazy but exciting mission.
What has the reaction been so far?
The reaction overall has been very positive. People are really excited that there is a new product around that is revolutionising periods! You do get some people that question the idea of ‘bleeding freely’, and you get some people that might feel a bit uncomfortable with the topics that we speak about or the images that we post of menstrual blood etc, but we’re hoping that with more and more people on board talking about these ‘taboo topics’ and sharing their thoughts, we’ll get to a space where actually people are no longer scared or sceptical of talking about things that matter openly and honestly. We’ve had some people that have questioned our ‘By You, For Her’ giving back scheme and asked us why there is a need to give reusable pads to girls because they were unaware that period poverty was even a thing. It’s great to be behind a brand that is not just about a product, but also about opening peoples minds and educating them on things that have not been spoken about much, and so people know little about. But yeah, overall we have had a really good reaction and people have been really excited to finally try something different after years of the same period products.
Are some people put off by the idea? What would you say to encourage them..?
I wouldn’t say that people are put off by the idea, but a lot of people are definitely sceptical. We get a lot of people asking us how they work, if it feels like sitting in your own blood all day, if its hygienic and so on, and these are all questions that are totally valid and understandable because people are just so used to using conventional products like disposable pads and tampons, and so it is a product that people do not really understand and find it hard to believe that you can actually just put on a pair of normal looking underwear and bleed freely all day with no leaks. People tend to worry that because you are bleeding freely into them, they might feel wet or not be hygienic. But actually, the way in which they are designed means that the top layer is moisture wicking which allows the blood through to the absorbent layer where it is absorbed super quickly and then interlocked, leaving the top layer completely dry, and the bottom layer prevents leaks. The material is also antibacterial which prevents any bacteria from building up in the underwear, which in turn prevents any odour.
I would encourage people to just give it a go. Wear a pair at home so you don’t feel anxious and you can really get a feel of how they work. The underwear is a comfortable alternative period product – it really is just like wearing normal underwear and being able to do the things you would normally do on your period, but with no need to keep changing pads/tampons and no worries about leaking. We’ve had customers send us emails telling us that they can’t believe how well they work, and they will never go back to disposables now, and it’s the greatest feeling to be a part of their journey and to have helped them achieve a comfortable, eco-friendly, and leak-free period! Often disposables can feel sweaty as the chemicals in them tend to dry out the vagina excessively and draw moisture into the pad and can even increase period pain because of this, so a lot of women get back to us letting us know that actually their pain lessened with wearing the underwear. We totally get that this is a new product and something that people might be a bit sceptical of, but we can promise you, once you give them a go you will be so shocked at how well they work and how comfortable they are, and never go back to disposables. We’ve had women that suffer from cystic fibroids and extremely heavy periods wearing them on a heavy day of their period from 10 pm to 8 am with no other period products, and waking up absolutely leak free. No, they don’t feel wet, they’re not gross, and they don’t smell!
They’re just normal undies, but with some added magic haha! I’d just say give them a go, what have you got to lose!?