I used tampons from my second cycle, aged nearly twelve, and didn't like them much (dry, uncomfortable, expensive, that horrible string) but stuck with them for years. In my early twenties I heard about reusable products, and started off experimenting with sea sponges. These leaked like mad if I so much as laughed and got ratty quickly, so I sewed myself some cloth pads. Far more comfortable than disposable products and no leaks, but the washing was a bit of a nuisance and on heavy days they could be a bit bulky. I used these for a few years.
Then I discovered menstrual cups and haven't looked back. One purchase that will last me a decade, and once I worked out the correct insertion technique it was practically no trouble at all. There's nothing to see or feel from the outside, I often forget I'm on my period and even have non-penetrative sex with the cup in! Irritation and yeast infections are a thing of the past, the cup is blissfully comfortable and it's wonderfully convenient for travel.