Browsing through AliExpress today, I discovered these cups. While they have tried to disguise the stems, you can see the telltale flower design on the base of the cup. They look to be copies of the Sckoon cup.
Also from Rockbrook (the makers of iCare), called a “Anytime”
A long awaited review 🙂
Way back near the end of 2011, I was sent an e-mail, asking if I would be willing to try their prototype cup to give them my thoughts – but I was sworn to secrecy, so wasn’t allowed to give out any of the details of the cup or the company making it. It turned out to be Sckoon who were making it. A company I’d known for a while, because they make organic cotton pads. Over the next year and a bit, I had a few discussions with them over the design and colours, as they were very keen to try and make the best cup possible. I think it is really great that they took so much time and effort to speak with cup users like myself (other cup reviewers I know also got the prototypes to sample).
Starting out I love the shape! Slightly different to the other cups on the market, and I think it is a lovely shape. I found the stem design originally was a bit too slippery, with the bumps not really adding enough grip. So we discussed that issue and they ended up changing the stem to the smaller one with raised grip lines, and they increased the grip on the base of the cup by raising and thickening the lines and adding an additional line in. You can see the changes in the pic below.
Here’s a photo of the 4 samples I have from them, where you can see the changes made from the first prototype:
- The first (left) shows the first prototype they sent me – a small cup, in a sample (opaque) silicone. The stem on that had small bumps in it.
- The clear one is the second prototype, in a large size. The stem design is slightly different to the original prototype and the pattern on the base is raised and has the brand name in it.
- The Orange one, I can’t remember now if it was another prototype or if it was a finished design (I can’t remember if I got it before or after the clear one – probably before?). The silicone on that one is semi-translucent. Not as transparent as the finished product turquoise one, but not completely opaque like the first green one. It is slightly smaller than the prototype one. You can see that the grip lines on the base of the cup have a slightly whiteish look – it seems like the silicone there is slightly bubbled or something, which it isn’t on the final design large cup. The lines might be a fraction thinner too.
- The last one (right) is the final design in large. The only difference I can see with the final design (coloured) cups and the clear prototype is that the tip of the stem of the prototype is flat, whereas the tip of the final version stem is rounded (also the silicone may be slightly softer in the large final version than it is in the clear).
So, my thoughts.
I found the small size fit well, I had no leaks, it was easy to insert and remove. The large size I found also very comfortable to insert and remove (the lack of the protruding ridge a lot of the cups have, means it feels more comfortable [to me] to insert and remove the cups). I did however have the slight issue that I have had with the other soft large cups – in that they don’t fully open on their own, and I need to press my finger against the vaginal wall to push it out a little, to give the cup room to open out. I put this down the the fact that while I am 35, I had a caesarian delivery, so perhaps my muscle tone is good? 🙂 as it only ever happens with the large cups. I don’t consider it a big problem though, I’d prefer that to a cup that is harder silicone.
I tried both the small and large sizes with my period and I didn’t have any leaking with either of them, even wearing them all day. Though I don’t know how much of a measure that is, as I’ve never had leaking with a cup except when I’ve let a cup overfill on really heavy flow days (where it’s filled above the rim), and when I tried the Diva cup sample – but that had a hole punched in it, presumably affecting the seal.
I find the stem to be very comfortable – I can’t feel it at all. So it’s better feeling than a tube stem (other than the Ladycup stem, all the other tube stems I can feel poking into me), and slightly more comfortable than a tab stem (I can feel the tab stems slightly, but I don’t find them uncomfortable). However I find that it stretches when you pull on it, so its effectiveness is less than a tube or tab stem in that regard as those have enough rigidity to be able to pull the cup down with the stem, whereas these stems stretch rather than allowing the cup to be pulled down – I found this more pronounced in the large cup size than the small (because as I said, the large one seems to fit more snugly than the small).
This is a similar problem to the JuJu which has a similar thin solid stem. The JuJu stem likewise I find stretches and is slippery making it very difficult to use the stem to pull the cup down, so the Sckoon cup has a lot more grip on the stem, but it is still stretchy. However, the Femmecup also has a thin stem a bit like these cups, but theirs is about half the length and more rigid so it doesn’t stretch and can easily pull the cup down.
However, where this cup differs from the Femmecup and JuJu is the base of this cup, which has a good amount of grip. So while I may not be able to use the stem to pull the cup down, I’ve found that I can grip the bottom of the cup and pull it down easily that way. Femmecup has some grip on the base of the cup but not as much as Sckoon. JuJu has a butterfly design on the base of their cup, but it’s barely raised at all so I don’t really consider it adds any grip at all
— Now I know that some cup manufacturers usually say that the stem is not for pulling the cup out with (though realistically, that’s what you do, and they know that – otherwise there wouldn’t be a need for a stem ;)) – but I find because my fingers are short, it’s easier for me if I pull the cup down a bit lower, where I can more easily reach up to break the seal, and I do tend to pull the cups out by the stems. Where cups have a stretchy stem like this, or no stem, I find it slightly more difficult to use because I can’t pull the cup down as easily as I can with a tab or tube stem. But I find most of the tube stems really uncomfortable, so that is why I prefer the tab stems.
The airholes are nice and large, so cleaning I have found is easy. Likewise with no lettering or markings on the inside out outside rim, means it’s very easy to clean this cup.
I love that they have brought them out in colours – A lot of cup companies are doing coloured cups now which is great – cups don’t have to then be a medicinal thing and can have a sense of individuality and style 🙂 It’s a shame they didn’t bring out purple *cry*, especially since my poll results that I did for them showed that as being the most popular colour…. but the colours they have brought out are very nice and bright, and appear to have a good level of colour (not too pale).
The silicone feels less soft in the small size than the large (as is usually the case). The small one feels about as squishy as a large Lunette. The large slightly softer. Softer than a Mooncup UK, but not as soft as a Fleurcup. I think it is a good level of softness… You don’t want them too soft or they can have trouble opening, and too hard can be hard to keep folded.
There are some small marks in the silicone of the last 3 samples I received. Which don’t show in the photographs, and are obviously just cosmetic blemishes in the finish of the silicone. The silicone still feels smooth, so it seems to be in the silicone. Almost like flat (non-raised) waterdrops. It’s hard to describe what they look like….. but interestingly the cups have a line near the base where the silicone changes from a sort of frosted look to a slightly shinier (but still frosted) look, and it is in that shinier section where the blemishes are. The inside of the cups are not frosted at all, and are not marked with these blemishes. So I assume it is part of the frosting process causing the blemishes. I have had blemishes in MeLuna cups as well – neither of which are bad as having specks of dirt or something in the MPower cup I got
All in all – I’m impressed. I’m impressed with the effort the company went to while designing it, and I love that they took some of my suggestions on board. I love the fact Sckoon is already a company interested in sustainability and has added this product onto their already successful line of cloth pads (and baby products) – I also discovered recently they do padded underwear, so you can buy undies with a built in pad with leak resistant layer for cup backup, which is a great idea.
So the only negatives I can see are the stems (which I am picky about, moreso than other cup users, as I do like my cups to have tab stems), and the slight blemishes in the silicone – which don’t bother me personally. So if you don’t think the stem issue would be a problem (if you like to cut stems off for example), then I would definitely recommend this cup.
Country of origin: USA
Sizes: 2. “1” and “2”
Dimensions: “1” = 40mm diameter, 70mm long in total, stem length 30mm. “2” = 45mm diameter, 70mm long in total, stem length 20mm.
Capacity: “1” = 23ml, “2” = 30ml
Stem: Thin solid “Stick”
Measuring Lines: No
Cost (RRP): USD$39.95
Been around since: Feb 2013
Unique Design?: Yes (This cup design was created by this brand but appears to have been copied by another brand)
Other Details: Comes in 5 colours (Dark blue, Light blue, Green, Red, Yellow) and clear
Mooncup (UK) recently blogged about why their cup will never be coloured.
“Would you like crushed beetle with your menstrual cup, madam?”
(or Why the Mooncup Will Always be Dye-Free)”
“We are also committed to offering a product that is vegetarian and vegan-friendly. Many natural colourings are animal-derived, such as carmine/cochineal (E120 – red, purple, pink) made from crushed beetles; shellac (E904) from insect secretions; gelatine (orange) made from animal bones and L-Cysteine (E920), sometimes made from hair or feathers.
Call us boring(!), but we’re not willing to compromise our ethical status for a non-essential additive with a dubious health and ethical history.”
(My thoughts about their post are at the bottom of this article)
Which sparked some discussion on the topic here: http://menstrual-cups.livejournal.com/2742047.html, given that part of their reasoning included the use of non-vegan things as food colours (despite the fact cups aren’t consumed and some of their examples aren’t actually used as food colours anyway)
JuJu has the following in their FAQ:
“Does JuJu come in any other colour?
At this point in time, JuJu is only available in a clear/semi-opaque colour. Until such time as we are able to gain an accurate understanding of the effects of the addition of dyes on our bodies, we have chosen to manufacture JuJu without any colour additives.”
But it is an interesting topic.. I have e-mailed some of the the cup companies offering coloured cup (Iriscup, CupLee, Ladycup Lunette, MeLuna, Miacup, and Shecup) to ask them about the colours and see what they have to say on the matter, and I’ll update this post when I’ve heard back from any 🙂 In the meantime, feel free to discuss!
— edit —
I’ve heard back from a couple of the cup companies. MeLuna was the only company who actually sent me any information regarding the safety aspect of the coloured cups.
They of course said the colours are safe 🙂 but sent me several pdf files of their test results to help prove this – which shows the testing of both the colours (first file) and the general cup material. Interestingly, I believe it’s saying that the plastic the cups are made from was tested on animals (presumably as part of checking the plastic is safe for use with people), as is referenced in the last file. I’d never thought about that being a component of testing, and I wonder if the other cups have been likewise tested.
Meluna_Masterbatches_Safety sheet – Info on the colours – they are food safe (though that doesn’t mean they are “food colours” like you’d use to make a cake blue)
THERMOLAST_M_englisch – Information on the plastic material the cups are made from (from the manufacturer I presume)
TM4MED_ISO10993-5 -Seems to be a certificate of a testing where the material was left in contact with the equivalent of human tissue and checked to see if it was reactive (it shows no reaction, whereas latex showed reactions).
TM4MED_USP661 – Information on a few tests that were run (I admit, I don’t really understand most of it heh)
TM4MED_USPVI – Test result certificate
Said they would get back to me in a few days. Never did.
Said they will issue a public statement on it (not sure if they did at the time, but they have posted on facebook to say what I’ve quoted below), and that they would contact me again in a few days – which they did, saying they have forwarded my e-mail to their head office. They say they realise it’s an important issue, so they are gathering information from their experts and will get back to me. (But they never got back to me)
However, their website says this about the coloured cups:
Yes, colored Lunette menstrual cups are safe to use. The dye we use in our colored cups is FDA approved for medical and food use. The colors don’t contain heavy metals (e.g. lead, chromium VI, cadmium, mercury) or phatalats. Lunette menstrual cups contain only small amounts of colorpaste. The type of dye used in Lunette menstrual cups are inside the silicone so it’s not possible for the color to leach like with some cheaper dyes which are also used in menstrual cups.”
They also say that their coloured cups are FDA approved, but not TGA approved: (Link)
“The colored Lunette cups are not TGA approved. TGA listing is a very long and costly process, and all of our colored cups are limited edition products.”
However I contacted the TGA, who told me that because the coloured versions are still the same product (only difference being the colour), they are covered under the same TGA approval that the clear ones are. So the coloured cups are TGA approved too.
Said that as far as they know, the colours they were polling people on (see this post) plus clear and grey are the only colours that are already tested and approved by FDA… and that other colours (like purples and whatnot) would need to go through the process of testing and approval.
I believe (from talking to a well respected cup retailer) that while the clear Sckoon cup has FDA approval, the individual coloured cups are made with FDA approved silicone, but those cups are not actually individually FDA approved.
Now, I don’t know the safety aspects of having colourants in cups – which is why I asked the cup companies, and frankly, the fact that so few of them responded, makes me think that nobody is really sure other than a “FDA approves them so therefore they must be safe” type thought. Which may be comforting for some people, it may not help others.
When I was looking up the Animal testing info for medical grade silicone, I did see a chart from one of the companies that showed the colours that the silicone could be made in, and I think they were considered food-safe colours.
There definitely is merit to the argument that a clear cup is safer for you and better for the environment – absolutely.
Be aware though that there is a “white” pigment, so a cup with a more “whitish” appearance than “clear” may actually have a white colour added. Cups from companies who don’t do coloured cups are unlikely to add a white pigment, but companies who offer colours including a “white” may be adding the white pigment.
I’d like to address 2 points of Mooncup’s statements.
Firstly, yes some synthetic food colours can and have been shown to have adverse effects on the human body. However there is a difference in how things are absorbed and processed by the body when they are ingested compared to skin exposure. We’re not eating our menstrual cups, so comparing food and coloured cups isn’t quite the same thing.
I’m not saying that food colours are completely safe when used in a cup, but it isn’t the same as directly eating them. The same sort of argument could also be had for coloured plastic lunchboxes and other products we use regularly. People talk about the dangers of BPA etc. but what about other things in there like whatever colours them?
The safety issue with coloured cups is whether or not any of those coloured pigments can cause any health problems? can they have an effect when added to the silicone and made into cups? and if those colours are properly embedded into the silicone and can’t leech out?
— that is something I don’t have the answer to 😦
But Mooncup mentions natural colourants too…. basically saying that their product is vegan-friendly so they would not use natural colourant either.
Which some people have interpreted as implying that other coloured cups may contain “crushed beetle” and other animal derived natural colourants.
But the thing is, natural colourants are horrendously expensive compared to synthetic ones. (Cochineal, which is derived from beetles, is quite expensive, much more so than plant based red colourants). They are also not as vibrant (so you need more of them), and aren’t always as colourfast (can fade/degrade over time).
They simply are a more expensive and far less practical source of colourant than synthetic ones. It is unlikely that anyone would use a natural colourant when a more stable and far cheaper synthetic one exists, unless it’s for food or something where the natural aspect actually matters more than expense and durability.
Silicone may have natural elements, but it is not a “natural” product and is manufactured in a lab. I highly doubt that as they are pouring chemicals into a vat, they go “ohh, we better add some natural colourant, so our product can be more natural” 😛 Even if they wanted to, it’s going to add more expense, more variance (batch to batch wouldn’t necessarily have the exact same result) and isn’t going to produce something that is as good as if they used the synthetic colourant. They just wouldn’t do that.
Yes, the coloured cups may (should be) be using “Food-Safe” colourants. But there’s not going to be any crushed beetle in your cups!
— Having said that, there is one cup that claims to use natural colouring. Pinkcopa. As you can see though, the colour is unusual. I did ask what they used as colourant, but they didn’t tell me.