Saturday, July 28, 2007

Organic Cloth Menstrual Pads: E-a-poo's Review

I loved E-a-poo's pads! They are my second favorite pads (tied in second place with the pads from Go with the flo).

I bought two pads from E-a-poo's: a blue royal organic hemp cotton velour top with a woven terry two-ply soaker and a microfleece bottom (a waterproof barrier) AND a scarlet bamboo organic cotton velour layer with a two-ply woven terry soaker and a one-ply coordinating micro fleece (description taken directly from their website, slightly edited). They cost $9.75 each and are both organic AIOs (all-in-ones) with wings. They also make pads in a variety of (non-organic) fabric prints.

Though I loved both pads, I liked the bamboo/cotton pad slightly better than the hemp/cotton because it was ever so slightly softer (but the hemp/cotton one was pretty soft too!). I liked the pads because they stayed in place, absorbed well, didn't bunch, and were very comfortable. The cloth is hand dyed and the colors are very bold and pretty, and the dyes didn't run at all (the blue royal had a dark blue and green top with a light-medium blue back, and the scarlet one had a red and yellow top and a yellow bottom). They were about the same thickness as the ones from GWTF; in other words, much thinner than a regular conventional pad but not as thin as an ultra thin pad. I especially liked how they were cut, they offered superior protection.

Not only were their prices good but shipping was fast and I also received a free sample of soap with my order (vegetarian but not vegan, and nearly all natural; it contains goat milk and fragrance oils). They also sell a number of other items including cloth baby diapers, a few bath products, and nursing pads. They do custom orders. I will definitely buy more pads from them and will probably also try their panty liners in the future :)

Overall, I think I prefer AIO pads over pads with liners or inserts (I'll be reviewing the pads from Lunapads--a pad with liners--and Gladrags--a pad with inserts--shortly).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Organic Cloth Menstrual Pads: Go with the Flo Review

I really loved the pads from Go with the flo. Though Homemade Mama's hemp pad with waterproof backing was my favorite pad out of all the ones I tried, these (along with the pads from E-a-poos; review soon to be posted) were a very close second. I bought two of their AIOs (all in ones): a standard maxi pad and petite maxi pad, both in a tie-dyed multi-colored blue. The pads I got were made with a hemp core, and topped with bamboo velour (organic). Other fabrics they offer are organic cotton velour, hemp velour and hemp fleece, backed with either fleece or wool. They also sell pads with inserts, but I did not try these. All of their pads have wings. They usually also take custom orders, but at this time are not accepting custom orders. First I have to say the colors were bright and among the prettiest of pads that I got. The pads were very, very soft and comfortable to wear (I love bamboo velour, and both bamboo and hemp are super absorbent). The pads were thin (not as thin as the hemp one from HM or a disposable ultra thin pad but much thinner than a conventional regular pad). They also didn't bunch up and stayed in place. There wasn't too much of a difference in the width between the petite and standard maxis but though I have a small frame I actually preferred the standard since it fit my underwear better. They also washed easily, without staining. The only minor qualm I had is that though I prewashed them, in my soak container one of the pads rubbed up against some of my cream colored pads (from other companies) and tinted parts of them a very light bluish-green. It was so strange because the dye from the other pad didn't run. It doesn't really bother me (since the tinting was very slight and kind of pretty) but just thought I'd mention don't mix your cream colored pads in with your colored pads in your soak container (I usually never mix my whites/creams with my colored clothes, but I just didn't think about this with the menstrual cloths). The cost of these pads are pretty good (especially for organic bamboo and hemp). I paid around $10 per pad (I'll post the exact figure a little later, I'm out of town so don't remember the exact price and the style of pads I bought isn't instock so the price isn't on the website). I bought them through the K and F shop; shipping was fast and free (no shipping fee) (so though they were slightly more expensive then the ones from HM, there was no shipping fee so it ended up being about the same price or just slightly more). I originially had wanted to order through the Yinia shop (since they also were selling pads from other companies) but had trouble with their shopping cart, even though I tried several times to buy from them with different browsers (see the GWTF website for links to the different shops that sell them). I also received a lovely free candle with my order (with their business info attached to the label; smart advertising).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Organic Cloth Menstrual Pads: Homemade Mama Review (Women Issues)

Edited to say: I was mistaken; the panty liners I got had a fleece backing. The hemp pad had PUL backing.

Edited Jan 4 2010: homemade mama is now called homestead emporium

Well I finally used all of my cloth menstrual pads from several companies. So here is my review for the first of those companies: Homemade mama. I only tried organic pads with wings from each company so will only be reviewing organic pads.

Homemade mama: This was one of the Canadian companies I tried. Peggy, the owner, sells cloth pads in a wide range of fabrics, including organic cotton velour, organic bamboo velour, organic hemp, and also many non-organic fabrics as well. I first heard about this company from a fellow delphi forum poster (thanks Flower!) who recommended the hemp and bamboo pads (she told me that they were much cooler to wear than some of the other fabrics from other companies). I bought a blue organic cotton velour tiny liner, a blue marble organic bamboo velour tiny liner, and a cream colored organic hemp medium pad with waterproof backing. The tiny liners were essentially panty liners and cost $5 each, while the medium pad (which is at least the size of a conventional pad or maybe a little longer) was $7.50. HM is one of the least inexpensive companies I've found, which was surprising since they use a lot of organic fabrics that aren't as easy to acquire as (and are more expensive than) the organic cotton flannel that many companies use.

First I'd like to comment on the great customer service I received from HM. Before I ordered, I emailed Peggy with a bunch of questions (mainly asking which pads were organic, whether the custom/sampler kits were available, and questions about shipping) and she responded to all of them quickly in a very friendly manner. The thing that struck me about her customer service was that several days after she first responded and after I had already ordered and received my pads, she emailed me to let me know that the custom kits were now available (they weren't available when I initially ordered). I wasn't ready to buy more pads yet, but I thought it was great that she had remembered that I had asked about them and then sent me an email about them when she put them on the site (it was nice if her to email me since items on her site go fast when she posts them up--I didn't buy more, but I checked the website twice after she emailed me, and all the custom sets were gone in less than a day).

Anyways, about the pads: first thing I have to say is how well made they are. I liked the fact that they were all-in-ones (AIOs) because AIOs tend to be less bulky than the ones with liners or inserts. Also all of her pads were very soft, especially the bamboo and hemp ones, though the cotton velour was pretty nice too. The colors of the panty liners, while not as bright and intense as some of the other companies I tried, were still very pretty. I also received my order quickly (about a week, though sometimes orders can take up to 2 weeks since it is an international company). And even though I only ordered 2 panty liners and a pad, Peggy included a 10% off coupon for my next order, which is awesome, especially since the prices of her products are already super inexpensive compared to some other companies.

I really liked the hemp pad with PUL waterproof lining. I think it is the pad I liked the most out of all the companies I tried. Many pads from other companies were close seconds but I really loved this one because it was the thinnest pad I tried (only a little thicker than a disposable ultra pad), and since it had a waterproof lining, it had superior leak prevention protection. Now I have to say I didn't leak with any of the pads from any companies I used but I was sure to change them in a timely manner (many of them were made only of fabric except for one other company :) ). But this one I used for several hours longer than other pads and it was so absorbent and stayed in place, yet the waterproof backing was not hot at all, did not irritate my skin, and though the hemp top was cream colored I did not have a problem with staining (be sure to rinse and soak promptly to avoid staining). And did I mention it was soft and comfortable? And thin? And inexpensive?

The panty liners were great as well. They had a fleece backing and they were very effective, extremely soft, and comfortable.

Homemade mama sells many other products, such as baby products and products for nursing mothers, and from time to time they offer sampler kits (free shipping with sampler kits) and custom kits (where the pads are made to order) at great deals. Overall, an excellent company, and I am definitely getting more pads from them :)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mineral Makeup Galore! (All Natural Cosmetics)

More FAQ on mineral makeup (MMU)

Do you have any recommendations for liquid MMU?

Monave makes many excellent liquid MMU foundations. They are all natural and they offer 3 different formulations. I haven't tried them, but did try their base (which you can use to miy) and several of their creams, which are excellent. Their powder mmu foundation is pretty good too.

Real Purity also makes one. I haven't tried this one either but it's gotten many good reviews. But I've tried some of their other products like their shampoos and conditioners and they are very nice.

Miessence makes an organic, all natural one. Their skin care is excellent.

Burts Bees makes a tinted moisturizer, however, it only comes in four colors. I used to use it and from what I remember of it, it was pretty moisturizing. I really liked it as a daily use cream but the color wasn't a perfect match.

To MIY: add a small amount of your favorite (powder) mineral makeup foundation to either aloe gel or your favorite all natural cream. Note: Be sure to use an all natural aloe vera (versus the synthetic green stuff a lot of companies sell) like from Aubrey Organics, Garden of Wisdom, or Mountain Rose Herbs. Apply with finger tips, a taklon foundation brush, or a flocked sponge.

What can I use as a setting spray for MMU?

It depends on your skin type. You can use hydrosols, toners, or aloe (juice or diluted gel). Hydrosols are very moisturizing and also have herbal properties similar to essential oils (but are gentler). They are all astringent (to various degrees) but are non-drying. Some (but not all) toners may contain alcohol, witch hazel extract (not the hydrosol) or apple cider vinegar, which would be great for oily skin but may be drying for dry skin. Aloe juice is good for all skin types especially with blemishes, but some people find it drying. Plain water is great too! (Make sure it is distilled or spring).

I tried MMU foundation. It made my skin look chalky and dry, and settled into my lines. Is that supposed to happen?

Mineral makeup is not cakey at all! It creates a very smooth finish. I have pretty good skin but it makes it look flawless. I have dehydrated skin and many brands do not dry out my skin (but a couple brands of the heavier brands do). I don't have any lines so can't say if it settles in lines or not, but it shouldn't since mineral makeup is usually very light weight (though some companies provide heavy coverage formulas).

Five reasons why MMU may look cakey:

The main reason MMU looks cakey is that people apply way too much product. You only need to apply a small amount, a lot less than what most people are used to (compared to conventional powders). For example, most companies that provide samples, provide sample baggies or 3 to 5 gram jars containing about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of product. I apply with a very light hand (1 very, very light layer), and samples last me around a month and a half or two. Most people find they like to apply 2 to 3 light to heavy layers, so samples usually only lasts them 2 to 3 weeks. During application, be sure to use only a very small amount of MMU (much less than you think. When I first started using MMU I used what I thought was a small amount (I had always used a small amount to apply conventional loose powder), but it looked very chalky and emphasized my pores (which are small, so I was shocked!)). After experimenting, I reduced what I was using to literally a few grains, and it blended beautifully into my skin.

The second reason is that the color may be wrong. If the color is too light, it may look chalky. And if it's too dark, your skin will look muddy. Also using the wrong color can emphasize pores and fine lines, etc.

The third reason is that some companies provide heavier formulas than other companies, and the formulation may be too heavy for your skin. For example, I have tried about eleven or so different foundation formulas (from five companies). My skin tends to do well with formulas that are light or light-medium coverage, but I can not seem to wear the heavier or concealer foundation formulas. They seem to be way too dense for my skin, and it looks cakey on me (though many other women do not have this problem). My suggestion is to sample like crazy before buying full size. Some people seem to think once you've tried one mineral makeup company, you've tried them all. This is simply not true; though many companies use similar ingredients, formulas from one company vary greatly to the next (it's like making chocolate cookies, or any recipe really. You may start out with the same ingredients, but the end product varies greatly from one recipe to the next).

Another reason is that your skin may be dry or dehydrated. Your skin may be naturally dry or dehydrated, your skin care may be stripping your skin too much of its natural oils, or sometimes using minerals made with certain ingredients can dry out your skin. If the 'canvas' of your skin is no longer as smooth as you think, the minerals will get caught on flakey skin. Be sure to moisturize really well before applying MMU. I personally prefer all natural serums or creams (made with carrier oils) which has really balanced my dry, flaky but oily skin. It may sound ironic but giving your skin some natural oils can actually help balance your skin. After cleansing and before moisturizing spray your skin liberally with a setting spray to help reduce dryness. Also make sure to exfoliate. A gentle and great way to exfoliate is to use a brown sugar scrub, an almond scrub, or an oatmeal scrub. (Just add a carrier oil or aloe vera to either brown sugar, almond, oatmeal or all three, and maybe a few drops of essential oil). Many people also like to use microfiber.

Last but not least, sometimes using a different application tool helps. Most people prefer using a kabuki or a flat top brush, but some people also like using flocked sponges to apply MMU, and others like to use a liquid MMU. I like using a synthetic kabuki brush. Not only are they soft, don't shed, and pick up minerals better, but they are truly cruelty-free!

How do I wear intense, highly pigmented shades? They look too intense.

For intense shades, I like using them on my lids (but then again I like intense shades). If they are too pigmented for you, try applying less to the lid, apply a little over lighter colors to tone them down a little, or apply to just the crease. I also love using them as eyeliners. They make my eyes pop without making me look too made up. Or you could add mix in a little serecite (uncolored mica) to lighten the color a bit.

I am Asian/Asian-American (or African American, Latino/Latino American, etc) but have trouble finding foundation colors that match my skin. Help!

If you are a women of color, MMU is your friend :). While few mainstream/conventional companies have colors for women of color, most MMU companies have yellow and golden toned shades, olive, and dark deep tones (as well as the usual pink and peach, and every shade in between).

I know how hard it can be to find a good match (I'm Chinese American with light-medium skin), so here is a list of what I use :) (yellow/golden based) I have also listed suggestions for other skin colors too.

Everyday Minerals: I currently use 'light winged butter' which is a perfect match. EDM comes in 3 different formulas, and you can get free samples on their site (just pay shipping).

Meow Cosmetics: To my knowledge, their assortment is the largest currently on the market. They have so many different shades, in three different formulas. I wear their abyssinian (yellow beige), angora (golden yellow), and korat (beige yellow) breeds in the light/frisky shade. I like abyssinian the best. Some asian/asian americans also like the breeds manx (yellow peach) or chartreux (peach yellow). (Each 'breed' has many different tones/shades). Note to vegetarians: some of their other products have carmine in them, be sure to read ingredients carefully (Their foundations are carmine free).

Jlynne Cosmetics: I used to wear 1.5 ivory golden. But my skin has become more drier in the last year so it's been drying me out a bit. It used to be my holy grail. I also think it's a tad too golden for my skin now.

Monave: I can wear either the colors caroline or hyeyeon but these are only available in the concealer formula (so is a tad too heavy for my skin).

If you are African American, Monave has many great colors (half their customers are African American). There is also this company called Ada Cosmetics which is a line specifically created for African Americans. Ada Cosmetics is from Botanical Skin Works. Meow also has many colors for deep, dark skin tones.

Latino/Latino Americans probably want to try olive based shades. Meow has an olive/beige breed called Ocicat. Sevi Cosmetics also sells several olive shades, and Monave sells 2 or 3 colors.

Alima Cosmetics also has a wide selection of colors.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Eco-friendly Menstrual Products: Organic Menstrual Pads (Women Issues)

This is a bit of a personal subject, but as I've never had qualms about discussing my period, I decided to post about eco-friendly menstrual products :) . I am finally making the switch to using cloth menstrual pads :) I've been using more eco-friendly products for the last few years (disposable, oxygen bleached, organic pads), but recently decided to take the plunge into reusable products.

First more about disposable organic menstrual products. They are a much better, healthier, and environmental friendly product than conventional pads. Not only are most conventional products bleached with chlorine (which produces the by-product dioxin, an environmental toxin that can greatly affect health since it bio-accumulates. Many scientific studies have linked dioxins to cancer, immune system suppression, endometriosis, etc), pesticides (cotton is extensively sprayed with pesticides, so be sure to buy organic :) ), but some contain synthetic chemicals that draw the blood away from the body and cause the blood to form a gel in the pad (to better prevent leaks) or for odor control. On the plus side, since using disposable organic products my moon cycle has been regular and my flow is much lighter, and I no longer itch! (My cycle was irregular and very heavy up through my mid twenties, and didn't become regular/lighter until I switched). Though organic, eco-friendly products look like they are more expensive, I spend about the same amount each month as I did on conventional pads since I bleed a lot less. And I've heard you can compost some brands since they are biodegradable (though most people don't).

Quick reviews on brands:

Natracare: I really like this brand. I prefer the ultra thin with wings to the regular non-wing pads, which I've found tend to bunch up. I like that they are very cottony soft and are much cooler than conventional pads (some of natracare products have a backing and some don't, but their backing is not made with plastic like conventional pads). They seem to absorb just as well as the conventional pads. I also like their panty liners. I like that their products come in a cardboard box instead of plastic packaging, so I can recycle it (where I live they recycle cardboard, not all places do though). (Some pads and the panty liners are packaged only in the box, but the ultra thins are packaged in a box but are individually wrapped). They also make organic tampons for those that prefer tampons.

Seventh Generation: I tried the ultra thin ones with wings once, but didn't like them as much as the Natracare pads, because their backing was very hot (I'm not sure but they may be made of plastic, since their backing seemed similar to conventional pads, but I could be wrong). I also did not like the fact that these pads are packaged in plastic not cardboard. They work great though, so some people may like them more than I do. Like Natracare, they also sell tampons too, are organic, and are chlorine/dioxin free :) Seventh Generation is a well known natural brand that also sell natural detergents and dish washing soaps, and most of their products are pretty good.

Though I am pretty happy with using my natracare pads, the environmentalist in me is always on the look for better and more eco-friendly alternatives. Now I was a bit hesitant about using cloth resuables--not because of the 'gross factor' that many people seem to have when they hear about cloth menstrual products--but because of budget concerns. Like many eco-friendly solutions they are very expensive initially, but in the long run they are cheaper, not to mention better for you and the environment! So I decided to forgo buying more herbal products (to craft with) this month, and instead use my extra cash to buy my first few pads, and I am really glad I did! In the future, when I am traveling (and don't have a place to clean my pads), I'll probably sometimes still use disposable pads, but for the most part I am switching!

List of reasons why cloth menstrual pads are better for you and the environment!:

In addition to the same reasons as organic disposables (no dioxin or weird chemicals, and may decrease menstrual/pms problems like irregular cycle, heavy flow, or itching), they are the ultimate environmental friendly solution! Since they are reusable there is no waste, so less trash in the landfills! I've read on most sites that sell them that they last for 5 years at least, and some people have been using the same pads for the last 10 years. Many sites have statistics on how many pads/tampons women throw away, and if you think about it, using non-disposable products makes sense: if women menstruate for roughly 30 years, and each month every woman uses a couple packages of pads or tampons, you do the math--that's a lot of trash! Also many online stores sell organic pads (in cotton such as flannel, bamboo, hemp, and the various velours made from these materials), which support good farming practices, are even more eco-friendly, and are good products for women with sensitive skin to use.

Many people are also concerned about sanitation and believe that they are not sanitary. First many parents use cloth diapers on their babies, and no one questions the sanitation of cloth diapers, so why the stigma? Why are people questioning the sanitation of cloth menstrual pads? In addition to using natural detergent and oxyclean (a non-bleach stain remover) to wash mine, I plan to add some essential oils in the cleaning process, so sanitation is not an issue! (nearly all essential oils are antiseptic, some are antifungal and antiviral as well).

A lot of women may also be initially grossed out with the idea of washing them, and dealing with cleaning their menstrual blood from the cloths. To me, the idea of cleaning cloth pads is empowering because I know I am not only doing something that's good for myself but that I am doing something that's better for the planet too. I think it's time to put the sacredness back into the idea of menstruation :)

One thing I've noticed is how soft the pads are, especially the hemp and bamboo ones I got, so they look very comfortable. Though some are from very small companies (made by women who have home businesses) all of them are well sewn and quite pretty too! You can buy them in many colors and patterns. None of them are too bulky (I ordered all three designs: AIO (all in one pads), a pad with inserts, and pads with replaceable liners). The pads were thicker than disposable ultra thin pads but much thinner than regular conventional pads. The thickness of most of them are somewhere in the middle of an ultra pad and a natracare regular pad (which is thinner than most conventional pads).

Some women cite the inconvenience (of washing them and also dealing with used ones when not at home) but I don't think that they would be that inconvenient. When you are not at home, it's recommended that you place used pads in a plastic bag or a specially designed 'wet bag' that many companies carry (it doesn't take up too much room in a purse or bag). When you get home, soak them in a container of water and then put them in the wash to clean. Some women hand wash them too.

I brought pads from several different companies to compare different materials and pad styles and will be sure to post a full review once I try them all. I purchased only organic pads so will only be reviewing companies that carry organic products.

Note:If you aren't a pad woman, then many of these companies also make natural sponges and various cups (subs for tampons). I'll mention them in my next post on the subject, as well as forums, resources, etc.