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We continue our vital work to empower and support women on every day of the month.
As part of our transformation at Essity Feminine Care from a women’s hygiene brand to a V-Zone* expert, and as we roll out our biggest ever global feminine care rebrand at Essity, Senior Scientist, Shabira Abbas and Lead Product Developer, Magdalena Hörle, share how they are helping bring to life our brand’s purpose to instil V-Zone* confidence in women, so they can live without restriction!
Tragically we are in the midst of a global pandemic and a challenging time for the whole world but our commitment to breaking down the taboos that hold women back is ever strong. We as a company have been supporting the fight against COVID-19 - details of which can be found on the Essity website HERE - but even during these challenging times our purpose remains at the heart of what we do.
Magdalena: It’s my job to ensure our products are well constructed. I look at user experience, ergonomics, product design and functionality. A lot of what I do each day involves learning about women’s intimate area needs and then using the information we gather to create our products and keep improving them.
Shabira: I work closely with the wider product development team and Magdalena to ensure our products are so comfortable on women’s skin that they almost forget they’re wearing them.
Magdalena: A big part of the Essity feminine care DNA is to make products that really fit women’s contours; this hasn’t changed. Now we’re digging even deeper into women’s thoughts and feelings about their intimate area through our ongoing global V-Zone taboo research, the results of which we feed into our product development to create products that go beyond absorption and truly help women. As always, we’re working on upgrading and redesigning our products, and developing new V-Zone solutions. But I can only say so much about this, since secrecy is always a part of new development and innovation!
Shabira: We’re always looking into the science behind our products and into women’s intimate area skin and how it changes at different stages of a woman’s life. Now, we’re working even closer with our innovation team who are investigating things such as hair removal patterns among women today, and bringing all the information together to look at how women’s intimate area habits are changing and what this means for the products we develop.
Shabira: It’s usually more sensitive than other areas of the body and shaving makes it even more so. As we age, our skin barrier becomes thinner. It also changes with our hormones, especially from the age of 50 onwards. So we look into the V-Zone skin barrier and its permeability at all life stages, including after giving birth and before and after the menopause, as they all affect which materials we use and how comfortable they feel on the skin.
Magdalena: Women of all ages tend to lead quite active lifestyles, often even more so in their teens and 20s, both socially and in terms of exercise. So we need to design our products to cope with all types of movement. Mothers’ needs vary a lot — from the time (or phase to describe the postpartum period) straight after giving birth to when they start menstruating again. Many women experience a heavier flow after giving birth so absorbency can become even more important, along with softness and ensuring a good fit. During the menopause and for women 50 years and older, we know comfort and a fresh feeling are some of the most important properties they look for.
Magdalena: There are some things that we can only learn about our products from real women such as how comfortable they are. We work with women at all life stages, through small consumer panel tests to workshops and large quantitative studies to gain feedback, generate products ideas and understand gaps in our product offer and what’s important to women. We then interpret our findings into product concepts and new product features.
Shabira: We don’t just test capacity and absorption; we also conduct tests with real women to see how our solutions affect their skin. We also test the softness and effectiveness of different materials.
Magdalena: The work we’re doing as a brand to break down taboos and support women every day of the month is so inspiring. As a product developer, I get to keep learning every day and love knowing that we’re getting even closer to the women we design products for. We’re bringing women’s health, hygiene and well-being into focus around the world and this can only be a good thing.
Shabira: I’m very much a feminist, so I feel so proud to be a part of something that’s breaking taboos for women! When I think about how women in their 50s, like me, are affected by issues like vaginal dryness, I’m really proud knowing I get to help them feel that they’re not alone. Because, nothing should stop us – not our periods, not the menopause, or any taboo.
* A woman’s V-Zone includes the vagina, vulva and v-shaped front one can see.