INTERVIEW: Yoni femcare launches in the UK – what are you putting between your legs?

Yoni branded tampons on pink background– this post contains gifted products –

Yoooo…it’s your girl Ella, talking about her fanny on the internet again!

Are you surprised? Probably not.

When news of an organic cotton femcare company dropped into my inbox, I couldn’t resist having a look.

Yoni has now launched in the UK and is standing up to break the taboo around periods and asking women to question what products they are using each month.

Yoni was born when its CEO entrepreneur and co-founder Mariah Mansvelt Beck saw a specialist after going through a cervical cancer scare, who advised her to use cotton products. This led her to question, for the first time, her sanitary product choices.

Yoni’s tampons and pads are made from 100% organic cotton, with no chemicals, pesticides, or other synthetic materials added (which sets them apart from the majority of available supermarket brands.) In addition, it’s all recyclable and compostable packaging.

Have you tried the products?

Yes! On first sight, the packaging was lovely. On using the products, although they weren’t worlds away from what I’ve been used to in the past, I did have a sense of clarity that I knew exactly what they were made from and absolutely no guilt, knowing that I wasn’t contributing to plastic waste. I found them to be super absorbent and as good, if not better, than any supermarket brand.

I caught up with Yoni’s CEO entrepreneur and co-founder Mariah to ask some important questions.

How did you come to question the materials that make up our standard menstrual products and set up Yoni?

The seed for Yoni was planted in a personal experience. When I turned 30 in the Netherlands, you’re always asked to come in for a health check-up. I did so and found out a few weeks later that I was developing cervical cancer.

Luckily, I was in the early stages but I had to go in and out of hospital for the next 6 months and have a couple of procedures and operations. I kept asking my doctors, what can I do to further support my health?

One of my doctors advised me to stop using normal tampons and pads and start using organic cotton tampons and pads to prevent further irritation. Immediately, that was enough for me to want to make a change. So I started to look for the products and I couldn’t find them in my normal supermarket, so I had to go to special organic-minded stores.  But sometimes, I couldn’t find these products and was faced with having to use products I no longer wanted to use.

So, one rainy Sunday in Amsterdam, I went and had tea with one of my best friends from university, Wendelien, and we started talking about this and she asked me, well what are my normal products actually made from, aren’t they just made from cotton? So we got out the boxes of products that she had and we looked at the box and that’s really when the lightbulb moment happened. We thought, there’s nothing, there’s no ingredients listed on these products. For such an intimate product, that came as a surprise. I think for any hand soap, detergent, food product, all of these things, cosmetic products, you’ll find the composition of the product on the packaging. But for these products there was nothing.

A couple of months later, we gave up our jobs and set up a tampon company! We took a few months to research what these products are made from, but we had immediately had quite a strong vision of what the brand should be. 

For those who don’t know, what do the word yoni mean?

Yoni is the Sanskrit word for vagina. I knew the word and I needed to spend a weekend thinking about whether I was going to call my company Yoni. But it makes sense, it’s what we want to do.

Do you believe there is a stigma around menstruation – and why has it taken so long to tackle it?

If you look back in history, menstruation has always been a taboo. The word taboo is actually derived from the Polynesian language I believe and means “alongside menstruation” itself.

In all of the religions menstruation was in some way a taboo. I believe that’s because the female body and the female cycle was not understood. Something that is not understood could be seen as great and powerful but could also be potentially very dangerous. Something that is potentially dangerous needs to be kind of kerbed in. So you’ve got these rules or rituals that women needed to stick to or weren’t allowed to participate fully in.

It’s not even that long ago that even in Western culture there was the idea that if you were menstruating that butter wouldn’t churn, or if you touched the flowers that they would wilt!

How eco-friendly are Yoni products? Will they contribute to the one-use plastic problem?

We’ve always said with Yoni, if you really want to have the most, best environmental option that you can use in terms of your femcare products, then I would definitely say, use a reusable product.

However, we’re saying that we’re taking you on a step in the right direction using organic cotton, having cardboard applicators, and packaging that is biodegradable, or at least as much as is possible for right now.

Our products are made from organic cotton, which is an important choice because it’s hypo-allergenic, it breathes, which is what you do not have with a pad that has a plastic layer over the top. All of our products are all certified by the Soil Association. The backing of our pads and panty liners are made from a corn starch, which is biodegradable.

Have you always been so open about female sexuality and menstruation?

No, I don’t feel like I was in particular. I don’t feel like I was overtly private about these issues, but I definitely wasn’t the friend who always wanted to talk about my menstruation, not at all.

We came to this business from a very personal story and at the start I don’t think we were necessarily aware how taboo it was, what we were actually getting ourselves into, so I’ve grown into it.

For me, not everyone has to go on stage and talk about menstruation. Not everyone needs to parade their tampons in the office, but if you’re holding it with real shame and you feel it’s in some way limiting yourself, then that’s something we need to work on.

Yoni promotional image of tampon

Which taboos are you trying to break?

Yoni is looking to break the taboos around menstruation. My whole story of how the femcare industry up until now has really built themselves upon the taboo. It’s a problem, menstruation is a hygienic problem, it needs to be secretive. We have the solution, these are our products.

What we’re doing, using the word period and to have the word vagina on the packaging. To me, these are products for your vagina and therefore your period, so it’s nothing revolutionary. But, to have that on-pack is revolutionary. For some people this may be surprising and off-putting. But the intention is to actually start speaking about something that hasn’t been spoken about. 

Yoni products are available at Sainsbury’s, Planet Organic and the Yoni store – are you hoping to expand the availability of the products across the UK?

Yes, definitely. My aim and my belief is that organic cotton products should be made available on every shelf basically where you find femcare products. At this point in time we intend to get into more pharmacies and into other supermarkets and build it up from there.

What, in your opinion, is the future for femcare and the narrative on menstruation?

There are a number of things I’d like to see change about the femcare industry.

I’d like to see that every product that goes on the shelf should be transparent about the ingredients in the products. That’s something that I think the whole industry should be moving towards and that regulators and policy makers should be also helping the industry to move that way.

I’d like to change the whole narrative of the taboo around menstruation and so that you can have the conversation with your daughters, with your sons, your friends, with your healthcare providers and don’t feel limited in their being because of something that is part of them. 

St Moriz Express Mousse Tan Review and Bridal Prep

– this post contains gifted products –

Stop the actual press, could I have found the tan of my dreams?

I was recently sent the new St Moriz Express Mousse Tan to try. It’s a new water-to-mousse formula and I was excited to try out a water product from such a budget-friendly brand.

Here’s what the brand has to say about the product:

“This moisturising formula has been created to provide you with the perfect tan. The Express Tanning Mousse starts to develop after just one hour and can be left on the skin until you have

reached your desired shade. Once rinsed off, the product will continue to develop, leaving behind a gorgeous glow. With fragrance technology, this mood boosting mousse will leave you feeling tan-tastic!”

Well, I have to say – it’s a yes from me.

Application

I first used the tan on Friday night, ahead of a girly brunch. Fully prepped and primed, I applied the tan using the new St Moriz tanning mitt. I think a lot of brands are really beginning to realise that the tools to apply tan as just as important as the formula itself, and I was suitably impressed by this mitt – it felt thicker and smoother than ones I’ve used before.

Because the water turns to mousse, for me it took the guesswork out of where you’re applying product, as with Tanologist which dries super quickly and doesn’t give you much ‘play time’. The mousse was really, really smooth, with a scent I haven’t encountered with any tan so far. It was clean-smelling, pleasant. The mark of this is that William didn’t call me ‘biscuit tin’ once whilst using this tan. Bonus – the sheets didn’t smell either!

Once applied, the tan is slightly tacky, but I was able to put clothes on about 5-10 minutes later. I also washed my hands an hour in (cos sis, I have learnt my lesson).

Development

I wasn’t blown away by the development of this in the first few hours, but I think it’s because I’ve been used to tanning behemoths such as Skinny Tan’s Pro-Tan Moisture Mousse which you really need to be SO CAREFUL with. However, in the morning, my tan had become this beautiful golden brown colour, which really complimented my hair and eyes – no orange streaks either.

I’d say it’s definitely a tan you need time for, i.e. I’d recommend planning ahead and leaving it overnight. If you needed a quicker result, use St Moriz Insta-Grad Tanning Mousse.

Aftermath

As it’s not a very, very dark tan, the patchiness wasn’t as dramatic, which is a dream when you’re busy in the week. I got a good few days out of the initial Friday tan application and only scrubbed and started again on Wednesday – which is true to the brand claims that the tan give you five days of good colour.

I was so impressed, I used the tan again when we all went to Rugby Sevens the following week, and was complimented on my tan several times. I’d also applied some St Moriz Body Bronzer and Highlighter to add some extra glow.

The downside to this tan? I’m going to run out soon.

Not sure it comes out very well in the pictures, but have some stupid neon ones of us at R7s anyway.

 

What else have I been trying?

Finding the perfect tan has been part of my (very early, I know) bridal prep. In addition to the tan quest, I’ve been using a few other things.

Money is pinched at the moment due to the wedding, and who can honestly be bothered to pay a solid £75 to the hygienist? We’ve been taking care of our teeth with our amazing Oral B electric toothbrushes. We’ve gone the extra mile though with Dentek Easy Brushes and Floss Picks. For me, it just feels extra, extra clean and so much easier than traditional flossing. Visit the website to see the full range.

We’re also being really healthy at the moment. I’m being a whiz in the kitchen and making so many healthier choices. Can’t beat some extra vitamins though, right? We’ve been using Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil. We have both capsule and liquid form and you’re supposed to have a capsule or 15ml with food – to be honest it’s become part of our routine in the evenings. The liquid is lime flavoured and is nice on its own or can be added to food so it makes things very flexible. The capsules have Vitamin K2 MenaQ7 in which is good for your heart – perfect for any pre-wedding stresses!

We double and triple checked whether Will could have this supplement with his epilepsy. It’s a bugger like that, for example, he suffers from hayfever and isn’t allowed antihistamines! Funnily enough, we found LOADS of research and anecdotal evidence that fish oil can be beneficial for epileptics, reducing seizures because it contains docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA. Although these claims aren’t 100% substantiated as fact, we’re taking it and running. Available from wileysfinest.co.uk.

We went to Chernobyl and Pripyat…because of course we did

Couple standing in front of the abandoned ferris wheel in the town of Pripyat

Back in February, Will and I headed to Ukraine to visit Chernobyl and Pripyat.

This was 100% not a surprise to our close friends, as it’s just the type of place we’d go. However, we had so many shocked reactions from people who know us less well, wondering why we’d ever go to a place like that.

Well, this is why. It’s different, it’s interesting, it’s an experience and crucially – it’s IMPORTANT.

A major historic event took place in Chernobyl on 26th April 1986, and it needs to be remembered.

31 people died as a direct result of the Chernobyl blast, not including the fireman who gave their lives helping to contain the radiation.  In addition, untold numbers were affected following the settling of radioactive dust afterwards, its effects still undefined.

I won’t go into the finer details, but you should watch ‘Surviving Disaster‘ on YouTube – it explains everything well without losing the human element. It also stars Ade Edmondson and you can’t go wrong there, really. There is a new series on HBO called Chernobyl too, which people are enjoying – it’s great that more people know about it.

We filmed a fair amount of content whilst we were there, but not everything. Chernobyl and the ghost town Pripyat is a place that needs to be fully appreciated for what it is, rather than filmed non-stop. I’m glad we got some footage, but I’m even more glad we experienced it.

We’ve another video coming up, which includes our time staying in Ukraine and some questionable local spirits…stay tuned!

 

SensatioNail Strip Gel Kit & Luxe Studio Cosmetic Tools Review

SensationNail nail kit

– this post contains gifted products –

I’m absolutely obsessed with my nails. I paint and repaint them an average of three or four times a week in an attempt to use the hundreds of colours I have. Safe to say, my nails aren’t obsessed with ME after all the trauma of harsh chems and filing! I take supplements to keep them growing and condition them to keep them healthy but sadly, they are naturally quite thin.

When we got engaged, I started getting professional Shellac nails. This was a fab idea as it maintained my colour and my natural nails grew well underneath, meaning that in just a couple of weeks, I had a beautiful, long set of nails.

Natural, bare nails and and has an engagement ring
Never had lovely nails like this in my life!

But it’s so EXPENSIVE. Living in London, you’re looking at £25 for a full set with a manicure, or around £15 with just colour (no filing or anything, just the colour plonked on and zapped in the UV light). Then it’s £5-8 to take off and start again. I can’t bear the gap between the colour and nail bed so I was doing this every couple of weeks. I just began to accept I’d either have to pay the premium, or just make good on what I was given and try my best.

A new method

Thankfully, SensatioNail came to my rescue. One of the biggest buggers about gel nails is the removal. You either need to soak them off in acetone, or file them off. I’ve used both of these methods at home – the chemicals make my hands all dry, and although my electric file is good, I’m not a professional and I often catch my skin.

LUCKILY, SensatioNail has introduced a Peel Off Strip Gel Base Coat. I was really intrigued by this – it’s pitched as the perfect base for nail addicts who love to change their polish colour on a regular basis as you can peel it off any time from 48 hours after application. It claims not to change the wear time so you can still wear the gels for up to 2 weeks if preferred.

How did it go?

I first used the Luxe Studio tools to prep. These were really weighty and felt expensive, as well as looking lovely in a rose-gold hue. They did the job perfectly.

Luxe Studio tools including tweezers, scissors and nail clippers

The whole process was pretty easy. You add the base coat, let it air-dry, then add two coats of colour (curing for 30 seconds under the UV lamp each time) and then add a final glossy gel top coat which cures the whole lot.

I was worried that the colours weren’t curing, but when you add the top coat, the entire thing seals dry. As for longevity…hmm I’m not 100% sure about a two-week wear. Don’t get me wrong, they looked great and lasted better than normal varnish, but at day four, my thumb nail began to peel and I can’t bear that, so I got rid of it all and redid them. Alternatively, you can just redo one nail if the rest are fine.

I was worried about damage but it feels incredibly gentle, with no pulling of the natural nail layers. Always make sure to use a cuticle oil or conditioner afterwards, though.

Honestly, this is a great product for someone like me who changes their look all the time, but if you need the guarantee that your gels are going to stick around, I’d either go professional OR just use this kit with a normal gel base coat, it’s really versatile.

You can take a look at the rest of the SensatioNail range here.

Skinny Tan Pro-Tan Moisture Mousse Review

Pair of legs on a pink background wearing pink socks– this post contains gifted products –

I absolutely love having a tan. It makes me feel healthier, more in shape and gives me an overall glow. Sods Law then that I’ve been cursed with skin that goes slightly pink, before returning to its milky-white standard. Pretty unfair, I love the sun and would LOVE to rock a natural tan. Unfortunately though, without burning myself to a crisp and risking skin cancer on regular sunbeds, or actually injecting myself with drugs, there’s not much I can do about it.

For me, my sun comes in a bottle. I’ve tried huuuunndreds over the years. From the classic Rimmel Shimmer Tan using the ‘rub it in everywhere with bare hands and hope for the best’ method in sixth-form to professional spray-tans, I’ve used every brand, consistency and been every shade you can imagine. You can check out my reviews of Madame LA LA and the St Moriz 2018 Collection here.

Currently, I’m using Tanologist Tanning Water in Dark and am still getting to grips with its development time, although I love the formula – lightweight, non-greasy, doesn’t smell. However, I was recently sent Skinny Tan’s brand new Pro-Tan Moisture Mousse to review. Never one to shy away from a new product, I gave it a crack – here’s what I thought.

Exfoliating Mitt

Gotta say, I absolutely love this mitt (£5.99). I generally use a coarse scrub in the shower ahead of tanning but sometimes don’t feel like I do the job properly. This mitt has two sides – orange for exfoliating in the shower, and brown for rubbing off excess tan. It also has an elasticated cuff which I LOVE as it prevents the mitt slipping off under the water. It actually works – I used it to get some old tan off before starting with Skinny Tan and it didn’t hurt or take a lot of effort. Definitely a winner.

Dual-sided Tanning Mitt

I was a little sceptical when I saw and felt this mitt. It’s practically FLUFFY (£5.99). Made of true velvet, it’s dual-sided and glides the product onto the skin. Because it’s so fluffy, I’m not sure how much of the product was lost to the mitt, but it didn’t come out patchy and that’s all the matters in the world of tan.

Pro-Tan Moisturising Mousse

Here is how the new tan (£27.99) is described:

“Pro-Tan luxury whipped moisture mousse glides on fast and develops to a tanned glow in up to 60 minutes. Prefer a darker shade? Simply leave Pro-Tan on for up to 3 hours to achieve a medium tan. Leave on for up to 6 hours for a deeper bronze or leave it overnight to achieve your deepest, natural looking SkinnyTan™ ever. No orange, no streaking, no nasty smell and achieves all the SkinnyTan™ professional results at any shade!”

Like the Tanologist Tanning-Water, I get a little confused by the tan development times, as it involves timing and working out when to shower. If you’re working 9-5 or don’t have much free time, you might be a little bit screwed.

In all fairness, I didn’t time it as I wanted to see how dark it would go. I applied the tan and slept in it overnight. The consistency is a mousse and you can see exactly where it’s going on your body. It doesn’t dry instantly so you have a little bit of playtime before you need to worry about streaks or lines – the mitt helps with this.

The smell isn’t too overpowering, a little like chocolate and not as biscuity as some on the market. I washed it off in the morning and had a lovely, deep golden tan, which was actually quite dark. The shade perfect for the night out I was planning that night, but maybe a bit much for day-to-day.

The tan does cling for days which can be a good or bad thing depending on what you’re going for – all you need is the exfoliation mitt though, and you can go back to your base colour!

Overall, a really nice tanning product – the tanning tools also really help to create a smooth, long-lasting tan. The tan is SUPER deep, so definitely time yourself and make sure to wash your hands after an hour, because I didn’t and…regrets.

The new products are available from the Superdrug website, along with the rest of the range.