Archive for the ‘Product Review’ Category

CleanWell Hand Sanitizer: Product Review

I had been looking for an alcohol-free hand sanitizer for some time now that I could use on the go when I would not have access to soap and water, like at the playground, or after changing a diaper in the car (not while in motion) when we are out and about. I knew the alcohol-based ones were not safe for kids. If a child ingested it, they could get alcohol poisoning, so I didn’t even want alcohol-based sanitizers in the house knowing I can’t use it without my toddler begging for some as well. I prefer to avoid the ER.

Also, Triclosan is toxic, so that was out as well. As well as parabens, phthalates, PEG compounds, etc.

So a few weeks ago I stumbled upon CleanWell Hand Sanitizer. It claimed to be all natural, alcohol and triclosan free and kills 99.99% of germs, including MRSA, staph, E. coli, and Salmonella. It is botanically based, and no pesticides or chemicals are used. Plants are also a renewable resource. No petrochemicals or harmful byproducts are created during harvesting or manufacturing.

cleanwell6oz

OK, I gotta be honest here, I LOVE this stuff. It smells great – a nice herbal smell. One or two sprays is all you need. One 1 ounce bottle will yield 225+ sprays, so you get 4 times as many uses as the gel sanitizers.

CleanWell Hand Sanitizer is safe, no parabens, phthalates, alcohol or other ickies. Thymus Vulgaris Oil is the active ingredient (hence the herbal scent). EWG’s cosmetic’s database does not list Clean Well Hand Sanitizer, but I entered the individual ingredients and everything was in the safe (0-2) category except citric acid which was a 4 (it seems mostly for skin sensitivities).

It’s important to note that there are good bacteria and bad bacteria, so using antibacterial products on a regular basis is not good or recommended. In fact, the over use of antibiotics and antibacterial products cases viruses to mutate creating superbugs and strains that are resistant to medication. So while CleanWell is a great product, it, along with other hand sanitizers and antibacterial products, should never be used on a regular basis. It should only be used when hand washing with regular soap and water is not an option (think port-a-potty, wiping noses in the car, etc.)

CleanWell Hand Sanitizer is available in purse/travel size (1 oz) and regular size (6 oz). I’d recommend several to keep in various places – your purse, the diaper bag(s), at work – so you will have it when needed. I have one in each diaper bag (we have 3), in my purse and on the changing table (easy for between kids when I am changing both).

CleanWell has a whole family of products including CleanWell Sanitizing Wipes, CleanWell Foaming Hand Wash and the CleanWell Hand Sanitizer.

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Kiss My Face Hair Care: Product Review

I was looking for a 1, 4 dioxane-free shampoo for my husband and I to try. He has had some skin cancers removed, so anything I discover is a known or probably carcinogen, it’s out the door. I found out that Kiss My Face’s shampoos were dioxane free, so I picked up the Miss Treated Shampoo and conditioner for myself and the Big Body one for my husband. Of course, the line is free from parabens, phthalates, SLS and other yuckies that I wanted to avoid.

The Miss Treated Shampoo I absolutely LOVE. It’s hydrating, smells nice and rinses clean, so there is no residue weighing down my hair.

The Miss Treated Conditioner is FANTASTIC. The first time I used it, my hair felt like silk as I was rinsing it out and was very soft even after using a blow dryer. My hair is long (I am growing it out for Locks of Love), so the ends do get dry. To help this, I will sometimes put a very small dab of the conditioner on my hands and comb through my hair, rubbing a little more on the ends. It helps immensely.

It also lasted a long time – a couple months for 1 bottle and I have very long hair. So I was please with that as it was more expensive than the Whole Foods 365 stuff I had been using. But the end result, no dioxanes and soft hair, is worth it.

The shampoo sells for about $8 at my Whole Foods or $6.42 at Amazon. The conditioner sells for the same.

I give the product an A for delivering results!

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Product Review: Charlie’s Soap Laundry Detergent

I saw Charlie’s Soap on Amazon as an eco-friendly laundry soap. On a trip to Whole Foods, they had some in the store, so I decided to try some since I was in need of laundry detergent anyway.

The soap is intended to clean your clothes without leaving behind any residue. In fact, they recommend running a load with just Charlie’s Soap to clear the washing machine of all detergent residues. I will admit, I did not do this. I did do a small load the first time, though.

The soap cleans well, does not leave residue and is not scented. In fact, the package says “If you want flowers, go pick some.” It works just as it promised to do. It is great for people with sensitive skin. I will say that they do not recommend fabric softener, but I found my clothes still needed it. They were a little stiff without it. I used Seventh Generation’s fabric softener.

In fact, I did not realize the difference until I picked up an article of clothing tht had not yet been washed in Charlie’s Soap and I was surprised how much detergent and fabric softener residue I could feel on the garment. I am not sure how I wore those clothes washed in conventional detergent (sorry Proctor and Gamble).

The best part is it’s economical as well. It’s about $13 from Amazon  for a bag that will do 80 loads so that equates to 16 cents a load (though truth be told, I am pretty sure I got mine from Whole Foods for less than this on sale). And yes, 1 tablespoon of the soap is all that is needed, so that bag is small as well. So it is eco-friendly in that respect too.

Overall I give this product an A. I would go ahead and try without fabric softeners as they recommend, and if you find you do need one, I would recommend Seventh Generation’s fabric softener, I personally like the blue eucalyptus

Also available in liquid form
This review refers to the powder form.

Britax Car Seat sale

Amazon is having a rare sale on Britax car seats, which are touted as being among the best/safest car seats available. I have one and LOVE it. Yes they are a little bigger and heavier than most, but they have performed better than other car seats in crash tests.

The sale is for one week only, so don’t delay! It looks like all Britax seats will also receive free shipping! When I purchased my Britax, all prices were very similar, so free shipping was important to me. But now there is a sale AND free shipping! Can’t beat that!

Britax offers a wide variety of car seats — convertibles, boosters — and in different models with different features. I have the Boulevard, which offers true side impact protection. I have a Civic, so that was an important feature to me. It also had a knob on the side allowing you to adjust the straps to where YOU want them all without having to remove the straps or the seat.

Another thing to watch for is weight limits. The Boulevard is rear-facing up to 35 lbs and forward facing up to 65 pounds. The Roundabout is rear-facing also to 35 lbs, but only forward facing to 40 lbs.

The most important thing about car seats it to make sure they are properly installed!! I NEVER install my own seats. There is a technician at one of the fire stations here who is recommended by Children’s Hospital. He is certified and does hundreds of installations every year. The fact is, death from improper use or installation of car seats is the leading cause of death in infants and children. It’s so not worth it — get it professionally installed fire stations will do this for free, so cost is not an excuse, just takes a few minutes. Your child is worth it!

Other tips for safe car seats and usage:

1. Make sure the seat fits your car and fits your child

2. Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. This has nothing to do with age or how long your child’s legs are. Rear-facing is the safest position up to the weight limit of the seat or until his head reaches the top of the seat.

3. Use the seat every time! NEVER go anywhere without your child properly restrained in an approved car seat.

4. Watch for recalls, especially important if you are using a second-hand seat.

5. Lifetime of a seat is about 6 years because the plastic starts to breakdown. Again, especially important if you are using a second hand seat.

6. Use a 5 point harrness, LATCH system and tethers.

7. Inspect the seat regularly to ensure it is still secured properly (ideally you would do this each time before putting the child in the seat)

8. Make sure the straps are tight and secure each time you buckle up your child

9. Children up to 80 pounds, 4’9″ and 8-10 years old need to be in some restraint system

Other resources:

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/

http://www.aap.org/family/carseatguide.htm

http://car-seat.org/

California Baby Line: Products Review

OK, so I kept running into California Baby in my research and for some reason it was not my first, but second choice in a baby product for my daughter. I saw the products at Target and Whole Foods, and the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic database had all products listed as either a 1, 2, or 3. The contain no parabens, phthalates, SLS, synthetic fragrances, and they use organic ingredients whenever possible. They also ensure none of their oils are processed in a facility that also processes nuts. They are very stringent with guidelines and only use the best ingredients.

So, for my first go round, I tried the California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo & Body Wash, which the EWG rated a 1 out of 10, so low hazard. It’s unscented, as in it is not only fragrance-free, but there really is no scent. My sensitive husband likes this. It’s also an all-in-one shampoo and body wash, which I love! And it’s tear-free, which is another great thing!

The Super Sensitive Body Lotion is very soft and smooth. It also does not have a scent.

Now if you want a scented product, California Baby does have several wonderful options. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Calming Shampoo & Body Wash, Hair Conditioner, and Diaper Area Wash. There is a face and body lotion, Diaper Rash Cream, Baby Powder, Massage Oil, Bubble Bath, and Hair Detangler all also in the Calming scent. Did I mention I love this scent? It really is very calming and I wish I could smell like this all the time.

The Non-Burning and Calming Diaper Area Wash is becoming one of my favorite products. My daughter (2.5 years) actually asks for this now. She had a little redness last night so I spritzed this on her and this morning it was fine! I even used it on her lightly skinned knees to help cleans the area.

There are many other products in the California Baby line. I also really loved the California Baby Mineral Sunscreen. Price wise, California Baby is not the cheapest of the safe stuff, but certainly not the most expensive. And the great thing is you can purchase the shampoo and body wash in a larger version as well which will help save a little money!

I give California Baby and A+!

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Aubrey Organics Kids Line: Product Review
California Baby Sunscreen: Product Review

Aubrey Organics Kids Line: Product Review

I picked up some Aubrey Organics Kids shampoo, bath soap (liquid) and lotion at Whole Foods in my quest to replace my Arbonne Baby Line with safer products. Aubrey Organics is free of parabens, phthalates, PEGs, dioxanes and sodium laurel sulfate.  My first place of reference in deciding which products to try was the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Database. The Aubrey Organics line was rated a 2 out of 10, considered a low hazard.

I like the scent of the shampoo and body wash and it lathers nicely. In a nutshell, it gets the job done.

I did not like that these products were not tear-free. I also prefer an all-in-one shampoo and body wash, but it was not a big deal.

The lotion was also nice and smooth. You do have to shake well before each use and the scent of the lotion was very strong. My husband cannot tolerate it its so strong. And in my first trimester with baby number two, the smell got to me at times too.

The price was in line with most similar products, about $9 for an 8oz bottle.

All in all, it’s a good product line, but could be better. I give it a B- for not being tear-free or an all-in-one wash and for the strongly scented lotion.

Cloth baby wipes showdown

A couple weeks ago, I made the horrifying discovery that my favorite baby wipes, Kirkland Premium Baby Wipes (from Costco), contained an extremely hazardous ingredient and vowed to switch to cloth wipes. Well, we made the switch and so glad I did for many reasons.

I researched to find the most economical, yet efficient cloth wipes and selected 3 to try (granted there are oodles of cloth wipes out there). I only considered unbleached cotton or bamboo. Two of the wipes I selected were all cotton, one terry and one flannel, and the third was bamboo.

Kissaluvs are my favorite. They are thick, unbleached, undyed, terry cotton with two sides. One side is burley terry loops, perfect for cleaning up bigger messes and the other side is smooth for the final touches. They are soft, effective and not to thick, yet not to thin. But if you are used to a thin baby wipe and prefer something very thin, you may not like these as well. I however, had no problems going from a thin baby wipe to these. Kissaluvs wipes hold a lot of mess too, even with a pretty messy diaper, I only needed 2 wipes and in less messy occurrences, only one wipe was needed to do the job. They also washed very well and though we’ve only used them a couple weeks, they seem like they will be the most durable of the bunch. They are affordable to at $1 per wipe. I give them an A.

BumGenius’ bamboo wipes were also excellent. They were very soft, made of bamboo and a touch of polyester. Bamboo is more environmentally friendly in that it grows quickly and does not require the use of pesticides like cotton traditionally has. They are thinner than the Kissaluvs, but still have a two-sided texture, though more of the two-sidedness of a cheap Gerber baby washcloth, which they reminded me of, though the BumGenius bamboo wipes were certainly much, much softer. These wipes are a tad thicker than a disposable baby wipe, so those looking for a thinner wipe may prefer these. The also did the job well and did I mention they were soft? These would also make great washcloths for baby’s delicate skin. They are a little more pricey averaging $12.95 for 8 wipes. I give these an A-.

The unbleached cotton flannel wipes were also nice. These were the thinnest of the bunch, about the same as a disposable wipe. They were great for smaller messes and were fairly soft. However, you will need to use a few more of these than you would the Kissaluvs, which would mean more washing. They also did not wash as well for me – the ends were rolling after 1 washing, which is not a huge issue, but my concern was they would not be as durable as the other 2 wipes. I did like the fact that they were made of unbleached cotton. But if you prefer a thinner, no frills wipe, then you will certainly like this one. The flannel wipes are also the most affordable at 15 wipes for $9 for the ivory version. I give them a B (To be fair, I may have given them an A- if I didn’t like the Kissaluvs so much! The minus would be for the ends curling.)

As for how I used these wipes, I got a #5 plastic squeezable water bottle from Target and filled it up. All the wipes were roughly the same size and folded in half they fit in a regular wipe container. When I needed a wipe, I squirted one with water and wiped away. I keep (or try to) a small bowl in the closet by the changing table to dump the dirty wipes into. When the job is finished I take the wipes to the laundry room where I have a bucket of water to dump these in. Come wash time, I wring them out, toss ‘em in the washer and that’s it. A little more work than a disposable, but surprisingly, it’s not as much effort than I thought it would be. I work full time, so it’s not like I am looking for things to fill my “spare time” up with. 

How many will you need? That really depends on how often you do washing. If you cloth diaper, it would be easy to toss these in the wash and you could get by with less. Since I planned on 1 time a week and my daughter is 2, I figured I could get by with a few less, but baby #2 will be here in 15 or so weeks, so I also considered that. I got 20 of the Kissaluvs, 8 of the BumGenius and 15 of the flannel wipes (counting individual wipes). I probably go through half this in a week with the 2 year old, but I know the new baby will require much more! Probably starting with 20 is reasonable, more if you have a younger baby (who poops more) and plan to wash only once as week.

Care is also very easy. I received a little “instruction” manual with the wipes. It was recommended that they be washed and dried 3 times before use to help remove the natural oils. This was probably the most painstaking part. I washed and dried them with towels, then with bed sheets, then with more towels… But soon we were up and running.

Again, I am glad I made the switch. I feel like this is a win-win-win. I feel good that these are gentle on my daughter’s bottom, both in softness and lack of chemicals being “applied” at each wipe. I feel good that I am not adding to landfills, and these are being washed with items that I wash weekly anyway, so I am not using extra water or electricity to wash the wipes. We will still use disposable wipes for on the go, but I will make sure they are unbleached, chemical-free and safe, like Seventh Generation or Tushies wipes . As a last resort we will use Pampers Sensitive wipes since they are more readily available, though they do contain parabens, so will not be my first choice, but who does not run out of wipes on the go? Happens to the best of us…

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