New menstrual product concepts launched by Bristol product designers

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Bristol product development agency Kinneir Dufort, which launched XXEquals, the women-led collective last year has just released ideas for a range of new menstrual product concepts to raise awareness of the need for support for people who menstruate throughout their monthly cycle, not just for the week-long bleed.

XXEquals’ own research revealed that there are currently no products on the market in the UK which holistically support menstrual health. Consumer products only support premenstrual syndrome or menstruation. These product ideas aim to help people with periods prepare for, rather than simply react to, cyclical phases and fluctuations, and in some cases significantly boosting quality of life.

These product ideas fit with plans for women’s healthcare; according to the Vision for the Women’s Health Strategy for England (published on Thursday 23 December 2021), the government plans to improve awareness for, care of and treatment of menstrual health.

Produced in a recent hackathon, which was held remotely, XXEquals has developed the concepts to inspire healthcare brands to invest in menstrual products, and to fill the gap in healthcare and wellness for women.

●       Mood Mix – Nutrients in a delicious powder form that support women’s health throughout her cycle, which can be mixed into drinks, smoothies, baked goods and daily meals. Different mixes of nutrients are adapted for all four phases: menstrual chapter, follicular chapter, ovulation chapter and premenstrual chapter. For instance, the menstrual powder contains iron, magnesium, vitamins B, C and D, omega 3, pineapple, ginger, kale and spinach.

0-05_Blended__CLOSE UP_Grad●       Blended – Serums which are blended to suit a person’s skin issues; they help tackle dry, dull skin during week one, maintain skin health in week two, remove oil from clogged pores in week three, and prevent hormonal breakouts in week four.

●       In Sync – The nutrients women need varies across their menstrual cycle, so taking the same vitamins everyday may not always be sufficient. These patches are placed on the skin which allow the body to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, across three stages of the cycle.

o  During the period, menstruators can use the ‘Go with the Flow’ patch, which offers a top up of iron and vitamin C to compensate for the lost levels when bleeding and to combat dizziness. This patch also provides additional magnesium to help relaxation, vitamin B to help combat fatigue and omega 3 which is an anti-inflammatory. vitamin D helps brighten sometimes dull skin at this stage, and can also regulate hormones.

o  The ‘Ovary Reaction’ patch is used during ovulation and contains zinc to regulate ovulation, vitamin B6 to improve dopamine and serotonin production, and magnesium to make up for this mineral which is excreted due to stress.

o  When approaching the period, the ‘Cramping my Style’ patch gives the body zinc to ease cramps and regulate routine, omega 3 to sooth, vitamin E to help with skin breakouts and to reduce cramping, and mood-boosting vitamins B1, 2, 6, 12.

From a design perspective, the team wanted people who menstruate to feel confident using menstrual care more openly and at their convenience. Therefore, they have been designed as lifestyle products, which fit within life.

Merle Hall, CEO of KD and XXEquals, is an industry leader and champion for equality. She says: “It’s very clear that apart from the reactive actions needed as a result of a period, there is little available in the way of education, knowledge or solutions to support the changes in the body that a menstrual cycle creates. We believe by viewing menstrual health in a more holistic and proactive way everyone can benefit.”

The female innovators who designed the product concepts based some of the research on lived experience.

An XXEquals designer, Alex Dodl, said: “Dealing with severe menstrual cramps on day one of my period is such a pain. What makes it worse is that there are limited solutions that help to prevent cramp onset. I hate having to take tablets to relieve pain, and having to endure the pain while waiting for cramps to kick in. Therefore, solutions like the In Sync Cramping My Style patch would be great – I could apply it the day before and prevent my cramps before they’ve even started.

Another XXEquals designer, Charlotte Davis, adds: “My skin really suffers throughout my cycle, and it quite literally is a vicious cycle of experiencing a rollercoaster of dull, dry, acne-filled or glowing and clear skin. Its turbulence makes it hard to match what products I should be using, so having just one for each phase of my cycle would make it much easier and would give me reassurance that I’m using the right product at the right time.”

Being product concepts, the designs have not been through the product development process and regulatory processes.