segunda-feira, 10 de junho de 2019

[EN] Charlie Banana Feminine Cloth Pads - Review II

In April I bought some reusable pads from the brand Charlie Banana and at that time I already made  a very complete post about them here in the blog. Despite that, I still hadn't used them and I received several messages with questions and doubts about them. I received messages from people who were interested in how they worked, and others who told me they thought they weren't worth it or they simply thought they wouldn't never want to use them or even try it!

So, this time I'll try to talk about them in topics. I advise everyone who has some interest in reading the first post about them here, although I will probably recapitlate some things.

Most people might not feel the need to try a product like this... For me, there were several reasons that led me to look a product like this. Besides the environmental awareness, because many of the things we use nowadays are unnecessarily disposable and in plastic, I'm allergic to disposable pads, and most of the times I had rash, like babies when using disposable diappers. Also, the smell of disposable pads was always an issue for me, it really bothers me. I could feel their smell when they were even in the package and when using them it was horrible, specially in hot days, I would swear I could smell them all the time when using them.

What led me to look for a product were several reasons. In addition to environmental awareness that many of the things we use today are disposable and unnecessarily plastic is that I make allergy, I was often baked, as with babies with diapers and the smell of disposable sanitary napkins always bothered me a lot . I am very sensitive to odors and I hate the smell of disposable dressings, I have always used Evax, since I took them from the package until its use, on hot days mainly, sometimes it seemed that I smelled the dirty dressing on my nose, even when I just changed them ...

Some of the questions I received were:
- How do we change them when we are out?
"Do they absorb well?"
"Are there no leaks?"
"Are they comfortable?"
"Aren't they very thick, like we are using diapers?"

I also received some comments such as:
"I can't figure out how they are more environmentally friendly since we have to wash them and so waste water and detergent"
"I wouldn't  want to have the worrie of washing them."
"I couldn't handle the blood when I would have to wash them."

First of all I will focus on the environmental issue. Concerning the disposable pads, we have to necessarily buy them every month, so it's a question of math. You can calculate and multiplicate "x" pads a day per "y" days of period plus 12 months a year. If we use three pads a day, we have and average of 5 days with period, we will spend 180 pads a year. There are obviously people that use more, others who use less. Here we are just looking at the waste of the pads itself. Then you have to think abot the packaging where they come, the larger packaging where they ae delivered at the supermarkets, their transport up to the supermarket (the waste and pollution involved), the entire process of manufacturing them in the fabrics (water, electricity, pollution, etc.) and the raw materials used. When we look at a product we can't only see it for itself, we have to think about the whole ecological footprint of it. Some days ago I saw in a video a very interesting observation, the pads we used in our first period, won't possibly be decompesed, not even in the generation of our great-grandchildren.

For those who say to me "they aren't ecologicaly worth it because we have to wash them and spend many water", my question is: "do you eat on plastic plates ???".

When we buy a reusabble pad, we buy a product that is produced once, transported once, and although these contain plastic in some way, because they have a waterproofing layer and aren't made of cotton, they are produced only once and last for many years ( I do hope so). The person who advised to try Charlie Banana's pads, told me she had hers already for eleven years and they are still perfectly white and they have the same effectiveness as in the beginning.

Charlie Banana's pad are made in China, this is a point that I do not like very much but at the moment, unforunfortunately almost everything we buy comes from China . Anyway, for thosr those who want to try a little bit more eco firendly pads, you can always search for someone or some brand that makes them in your area.

Charlie Banana's pads were inspired by reusable baby diapers. These pads are available in four sizes:
- Liner
- Regular
- Super
- Super+
- Combo (a set with four pads, one of each of the ones mencioned above)

These pads are made with three different layers, the under layer that is in contact with the undergarment is waterproof to prevent leakage, the middle layer is absorbent and the top one is  stay dry. 

These pads are available in black and white and in plenty of other colorful and feminine patterns. The exterior varies in color but the interior is always white, made in a fleece that is extremely soft to the touch, it is so pleasant that makes you want it just for pleasure! Obviously with the washes the fleece becomes to look more "used". According to what I have been researching, they are made in polyester and nylon fiber and not in cotton because the cotton does not have the same absorption capacity and would leave you feeling the period moist and uncomfortable. Anyway the cotton would only be advisable because of the material respirability and if it was organic, since in cotton's crops are usually used tons of herbicides and pesticides.

From left to right: Peony Blossom, White, Floriana and Black

When I bought these pads, I asked my sister if she would want to try them too, and although she was not very convinced, she eventually was convinced and converted to them. Initially we bought three Combo packs and we split between them the two of us and then I just felt the need to have more and I got two more packs, one of Regular (blank ones that initially was not in stock) and another in size Super. I'm already in the third cycle using them and I'm very satisfied.

Aren't they too thick like we are using diapers?
I used to use Evax, compared to them yes, they are thicker, initially I could feel a difference, I felt almost like I was wearing pads for the first time. But let's be honest, there are in the market disposable pads as thick or thicker than these ones and there are people who use them. After a few days we get used to them and we only feel it if we are thinking about it, otherwise I do not even remembered that I've put it on. You certainly remember to wear feminine pads for the first time, the initial feeling with these is more or less the same. Where I could feel the most the thickness was in the back, like I had a little cushion. In most clothes you will not notice anything, obviously if you wear a bigger size and a very tight and very light or transparent pants it will probably be noticed but this is the same thing as you wouldn't wear panties with flowers while wearing pants with more transparency.

Are they comfortable?
Yes, they are very comfortable, the most pleasant aspect is that they are very soft. I just feel that they could be a bit narrower because they tend to bend slightly, it's like a U-shape and the period instead of going to the middle tends to get accumulated more on the sides

Do they absorb well?
Yes, they absorb better than a disposable pad and that was the point that surprised me the most. With the disposable ones, when they are dirty, no matter how little, I could always feel a dampness and always had a stickiness on the surface which made me want to change the pad no matter how much fluid they might have in them. One of these days, using the Charlie Banana's, I thought, "What the hell, if I had not come to the bathroom, things would have gone badly ..." I hade some period on the pad and I did not even noticed it, I felt the pad completely dry. It is therefore undoubtedly what has pleased me most about them, the feeling of being dry and clean.

Don't they slide?
It depends ... with me not even once! The brand advises that you wear an underwear that isn't much narrower than the pad to unsure that it doesn't slide. My sister although has some narrow panties and complained that when using them the pad turned around during the night, so this is a point to keep in mind. The snaps on the pads guarantee that they stay perfecty attached to the underwear. Concerning they sliding back and forth the bigger the pad is less it slides. Sometimes it slightly slips back with the smaller sizes but we easily put it back in place.

Aren't there any leaks?
At this point they work like any disposable pad, if you change them with the necessary frequency there are no leaks, in fact I feel that they are much more absorbent than a disposable one and we must also agree, disposable ones aren't  also free of accidents and leaks. I already had some accidents and leaks, more than once with disposable pads.

How do we change when we are not at home?
Like any normal pad, the difference is that we have to fold them and bring them home in a purse. Each pack of three pads comes with a waterproof pouch, I walk with two in the wallet, in different colors to distinguish them, one is for the dirty ones, the other for the clean ones. The way they are designed allows them to be folded with the dirty side inside and they stay closed with the snaps. When we get home we wash them. If you prefer, if you have a private washbasin on hand, you can give them a pre-wash with water, squeeze them well and then put it in the bag but it will not be such a practical option. I confess that in these three cycles I didn't need to change them a single time when away from home, because when I know that I will be out I use a tampon also. This will depend a lot on the habits of each one. Maybe if I had a lot of flow, If I spent all day out and just wear pads this option might not be very viable because I could not see myself walking with five or six dirty pads inside my wallet and so many clean others to change.

How do we wash them?
They are as easy to wash as any other garment. We can cold wash them in the machine, without bleach or softener. What I do is, at the end of the day I put them in water and the next day I wash them all in the bath. I put them on the base of the bathtub to get them soaked while I take a shower and then I put a few drops of detergent and wash them by hand, do not even feel the need to wash them in the machine. Now I have in the tub the a blottle Dr. Bronners' citrus gel and that's what I  use to wash them. It may seem a bit crazy but I had a little beach bucket that someone offered with my name on it and as I don't use it and don't have kids, that's what I use to clean them. I have it the bathroom, I fill it with water and leave there the pads soaking, while I don't wash them. If you prefer you can put them directly in the laundry machine or at the end of the cycle wash them all in the machine. One plus point is that they dry relatively quickly, if it is a warm weather they take a day or two to dry, so they can be used again. It's a very simple thing to do, it takes only five minutes to wash them, anyone who says that wouldn't be able to do it is just pure commodity, the same commodity of those persons who buy eggs cooked and peeled in the supermarket.

"I could not handle the blood while washing them!"
Well, you won't meet a person who deals worse with blood than I do, I'm thirty years old and I cry everytime I need to do blood tests, I have a huge phobia but in terms of the period it's something different and I don't face it the same way. Blood from period is something that we have to get used to since and we are very young and if you can't wash a pad, I can't understand I you would even be able to just clean yourself with toilet paper ... In the case of these pads, the blood is so well absorbed that you won't even notice it that much. It's just like a dirty, dry stain. You can simply soak them and toss them to the next laundry machine. Simple!

What is the cost of these pads?
This may be the only "snag"! Ok, they are not cheap! A pack of three pads costs around  20 and a pack with four different ones costs around  25. How many you will need to get really depends on your flow, days of menstruation and how many times a day you change the pad. The brand recommends that you purchase a combo pack, a Regular pack and a Super pack. But let's be honest, disposable pads aren't cheap too. I made the calcules and with the amount of pads I use, the reusable ones are paid at the end of a year. Well, if tyou use them for five years (surely they will last longer), it's like not having to pay pads for four years.

Size compared to disposable pads
In another post I put a picture on the size Super  and a regular sized Evax with flaps that was what I used to use. When I bought these, I took an Evax from my bag, in the store and compared them, the size was similar, so I though the sizer super would be the one I would use most. I was wrong. These pads are thicker and as they don't stick (don't have glue) to our underwear we can place them in the place we want, so it stays put right in the middel of the panties so I felt the regular size was short for me at the front in the days with more flow. So the size I use most and feel more comfortable with is Super. I use the regular one in the beginning and at the end of the period and then I have Super+ if I need extra protection while sleeping and liner to use as a salvaslip.

Do they feel hot?
I read somewhere that the pads on warmer days become a bit uncomfortable. I still can not comment on this, we had some hot days here but I experiencied one day or another and I did not feel anything. Maybe if I used them several days over 30º maybe I would feel it but I also never felt good with the disposable ones at this point, I always felt everything sweaty and with rash!

Conclusion, I am quite satisfied with these pads, if I could change anything in them I would only make them slightly thinner but maybe it is a necessary thing to ensure  their optimal absorption. Perhaps they wouldn't just be a good option when travelling by plane because it involves tacking them and bringring them back in the suitcase and eventually they wouldn't dry in time to bring them all cleaned and dry. 

I like to keep them folded in the drawer and I realized that if you have them in different sizes it's better to have them in differente colors and keep them in mind, otherwise it's a little difficuld to identify them. Well, I quickly solved this problem, I picked up a line and needle and on the label that says Charlie Banana I embroidered their sizes as S, M, L, XL, so I quickly realize which is which.

Personally I feel a lot more comfortable and dry with these pads than with the disposables ones.

Any questions about them, or anything I forgot to mention, feel free to ask!

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