Plastic-Free for the Sea

P2210324 v2“Head Instructions: Please do not put anything down the toilet that has not been passed from one end of a human to the other…This means NO tampons, bad dogs, cardboard, kittens, plastic, dreams, maxi pads, cell phones, or souls.”-Sea Dragon

While aboard the 72 foot sailing vessel, Sea Dragon, with 15 women for the next 15 days, this colorful note that hung above the “head” (also known as toilet for land dwellers) meant serious business! Backing up the “head” on a 15 day-long passage, island hopping through the Caribbean, was a sure way to make instant enemies fast.

Luckily, myself and these 15 other women were not just ordinary women….we were part of the eXXpedition team of female scientists, sailors, artists, moms, students, and journalists from all over the globe that had come together, united in passion, to save what we love: the sea! We were just one of several all-female crews that was helping Sea Dragon sail across every ocean in the world conducting plastic research in order to uncover the unseen and educate local communities about ways they can live plastic free for our sea! In short, we were a motley crew of Diva Cup wearing mermaids, and our “head” thanked us!

In preparation for the trip, I realized that I would be out at sea for 2-3 months before heading back home to San Diego to my own sanctuary,  a 28 ft sailboat called Mi Corazon. That’s 3 menstrual cycles worth of tampons! These are the moments when being a female traveler is a bother. I weighed my menstrual hygiene options:

Option 1: Pack a satchel full of a 3 month supply of tampons. P2220454 v2This option was problematic because waste disposal on a boat is a bit of an issue and second because I was on an expedition to rid the sea of plastic.

Option 2: Pack nothing, save space in my bag, and hope that the islands are stocked with the essentials that I would need when I need them. This option was very risky since feminine hygiene products are not always easy to come by in the Caribbean, especially in Cuba without a ration book.

Option 3: The DivaCup! I had never heard of menstrual cups until my girlfriend explained The DivaCup to me two months prior to my trip over a glass of wine and a cheese platter. I tried not to let my face reveal my instant reaction of “hell no! gross!” as she explained to me what it was in detail. A cup you put in your hoohaa, holding blood?! yuk!! But I guess a cotton tampon stuck up there is just as gross if not even more gross when you really think about it.

About a month before my trip to the Caribbean, I went on a surf trip in Baja with another girlfriend. As we walked along the beach picking up trash, we found that tampon applicators, along  with  plastic bottle caps and straws,  were among the most common plastic trash in our sacks. As women, we feel a special connection to mother earth, pachamama, and we have a persistent calling in our hearts to preserve her beauty. But yet in being women, living in a tampon culture, we also have this seemingly unavoidable plastic footprint that we turn a blind eye to once a month. That’s when it dawned on me: there was hope! The DivaCup! One reusable silicone cup that would not only save me money every month, but more importantly, it would save our seas from plastic applicator waste created from tampon use! Being a woman does not mean we necessarily have to have a larger plastic foot print than our male counterparts. We can truly live a plastic free life for the sea and live in harmony with Mother Nature.

P1300741 v2I have traveled and lived in remote places around the world, and in between my travels I live on a small 28 foot sailboat. All of the places I have traveled to, including life on my boat, can make dealing with my period a struggle. Yet my 3 month trip through the Caribbean was the first time that getting my period was not a hassle or an embarrassment. I have so many stories of trying to ask for tampons over the counter using hand gestures to replace the foreign words I couldn’t remember, or at home walking the dock stealthily with a baggy of used tampons, hoping I don’t run into a fellow boating neighbor red handed. These stories are now stories of the past. With The DivaCup always by my side, I’m ready to continue living my active life style of surfing, climbing, biking, and sailing string free! And most importantly, I have confidence that I am doing my part to save the playground I love by living plastic free for the sea!

 

 

insta hang ten v2Natalie S.

Surfing, sailing, diving, open ocean swimming, kayaking, and even living aboard her 28 ft sailboat Mi Corazon docked in San Diego…. NATALIE sees water as an integral part of her life. Her life and professional goal is to utilize her Marriage and Family Therapy skills plus her love for ocean conservation to engage women in the great outdoors. To help people disconnect from the choas of life in order to re-connect with their truest self, re-connect to their community, and re-connect to nature.  We naturally want to save what we love. Fall in love with the sea with me and lets restore it’s beauty by living plastic-free!!!

 

 

  

Top 6 Tips for Traveling with The DivaCup This Summer: Camping, festivals, and overseas travel!

Top 6 Tips for Travelling with The DivaCup This Summer

As convenient as it is to get 12 hours of leak-free protection… what do you do when you don’t have access to a bathroom or even clean, running water? This is arguably more likely to happen during the summer months when camping, road trips, and music festivals are common scenarios you may find yourself in. As the summer is now upon us, we decided to reflect on all of the scenarios in which a little innovation can go a long way for cleaning our cups when we don’t have access to running water and/or a bathroom.

So, the next time you plan to put on your adventure hat and Bear Grylls it up in the wild, or take a trip to the Amazon for 6 weeks, and your period decides, “yeah, I feel like dropping in right at this very moment,” remember these Diva survival tips!

Tip #1: Always pack potable (i.e. safe to drink) water with you

This is key because The DivaCup needs to be cleaned with clean and safe to drink water. So if you’re camping in the outback, heading to a music festival, or backpacking through rural Cambodia, make sure you pack a (reusable) water bottle to have with you. If you are in a pickle and can’t access running water, use the water from your water bottle to rinse off The DivaCup when you remove it. If you have DivaWash or a mild, oil-free and fragrance-free soap with you, use it to clean the cup. If you don’t, you can just rinse with water and clean the cup with soap as soon as you have access to running water and/or a bathroom. Remember you should do a full cleaning with soap and water at minimum 2-3 times per day.

Top 6 Tips for Travelling with The DivaCup This Summer

Tip #2: Wash your hands!

Whether you’re camping or at a music festival, the first thing you’ll want to do is to wash your hands with clean, soapy water before you start handling your nether regions with your hands. If you’re at a music festival and your only access to anything that resembles a bathroom is a porta-potty, then make sure you wash your hands before you head inside to clean your cup. If you’re heading into a porta-potty, remember to bring your water bottle with you from tip 1 to give your cup a rinse.

Tip #3: If you’re camping, dispose of your flow in a cathole

A cathole is when you dig a hole in the ground to dispose of organic waste and then bury the waste.  If you’re an avid outback camper, then this should be a no brainer. Dispose of the contents of The DivaCup just as you would if you went number 2. And yes, I’m talking about poop. Same rules as making a cat hole for your bowel movements apply here too. Check out this blog for really great step-by-step instructions on how and where to dig a cat hole.

Tip #4: Be prepared before you start your day

If you’re going to be at a music festival all day, or hiking for hours, be sure to prepare prior to heading out. In other words, before you head out for the day, make sure that you wash your cup at your hostel, hotel, campground, etc. This will ensure that your cup is empty and ready to go for a full day’s worth of activities and flow.

DivaWash and The DivaCup

Tip #5: Don’t forget about soap!

So this one is a bit tricky because it will depend on your situation and how long (how many hours/days) you will go without being able to access clean, running water. In other words, if you are at a music festival, chances are you will eventually head back to a hostel, hotel, campground, somewhere with access to a bathroom, at the end of each day. You can just rinse your cup at the festival with the clean, safe to drink water you packed (recall tip #1) and no soap. Then, when you return to your hostel, hotel, camp site, clean your cup with clean water and DivaWash or a mild, oil-free and fragrance-free soap.

If you are camping or backpacking, you may be stuck without potable, running water for days and so you won’t be able to wait to clean The DivaCup with soap. In these cases, make sure that when packing your water bottle that you will use to clean The DivaCup, that you also pack some soap. DivaWash is great for travelling because it can double as a body wash, face wash, and shaving gel, as well as a wash for your cup. But any oil-free and fragrance-free soap will do. Use this every time you empty the contents of your cup (2-3 per day depending on your flow) and rinse with safe-to-drink water from your water bottle.

Tip #6: Don’t forget to pack your Diva cotton draw-string pouch!

The cotton draw-string pouch that comes with The DivaCup is not only an adorable way to store your cup, it is also important for both maintaining the longevity of the cup and keeping it clean! Cotton is a breathable material, which creates the ideal environment for your cup to be kept in. The pouch is not easily substituted because not every material is breathable and this is important. So keep your pouch with you during your travels to keep your cup and your vagina happy!

So there it is Divas, with a little bit of prep work and some creativity, you’ll be travelling with your cup without a worry this summer! What are your best tips for travelling with The DivaCup?

Nina

 

 

Camions of Care

camions of careMy passion for menstrual hygiene began during my family’s experience with homelessness. During this time, I gained both insight and inspiration through conversations with homeless women that I met. In the spring of my sophomore year of high school, when my family saved up enough money for us to move back into our two-bedroom apartment in Portland, I founded Camions of Care. What started as a personal project to use savings to buy and hand out feminine hygiene products to homeless women and women-in-need on my way to school, with the help of an amazing and driven youth team of peers, is now an exponentially growing organization.

Camions of Care is now a global youth-run nonprofit that strives to manage menstrual hygiene through advocacy, education, and service—through the global distribution of feminine hygiene products and development of youth leadership through campus chapters. In the last year and a half, our network of 1,900 volunteers has distributed over 16,000 care packages of feminine hygiene products to 38 nonprofit partners in 12 different states and 9 different countries, and has expanded our chapter network to 34 established chapters at university and high school campuses around the US. Each care package is worth under two dollars and provides enough for one menstrual cycle. These care packages contain 9 tampons, 4 maxi-pads, and 5 panty liners, providing all of the products a woman may need for her average five-day period.

Camions of Care strives to develop youth engagement through our campus chapters. We continue to expand our network of 34 campus chapters at universities and high schools around the United States. Our chapters (nationwide at various high school and university campuses) work to support Camions of Care through advocacy and education. Some of our larger Tier 3 chapters also distribute feminine hygiene products to their own local partners. Every weekend, a volunteer team travels along our designated routes making deliveries to some of our (38+) nonprofit partner organizations and directly to homeless women-in-need.

In addition to the feminine hygiene products that Camions of Care purchases, we also obtain donations from local businesses, community centers, and nonprofit organizations. These feminine hygiene products are then directly distributed or put together into care packages through our community care packaging events.

Camions of Care helps women feel dignified and clean during their periods by giving them feminine hygiene products. The women that we serve are low income or homeless, and generally would not spend the little money they have on menstrual hygiene. Our services thereby give these women the materials to take care of their natural needs, which they otherwise would lack easy access to. Psychologically, having control over one’s own body is a step towards self-confidence and feeling in control of one’s life. This ability to care for immediate needs is an early step in helping women get off the street or to bounce back from a difficult situation. Additionally, most reproductive diseases are caused by poor menstrual hygiene. By distributing feminine hygiene products, we help women stay healthier.

In the fall of 2015, Diva International established an ongoing partnership with Camions of Care. However, while menstrual cups may seem like a great solution for some women-in-need, limited access to clean water and health care services pose a serious health concern as the cup cannot be properly cleaned. As such, Camions of Care has partnered with Dress for Success Oregon’s HOPE program to distribute The DivaCup to women recently released from prison and who are living in transitional housing. To date, Diva has donated over 100 cups, and I am excited to see how this partnership will develop in the months and years to come!

Camions of Care is always striving to find sustainable solutions and we are continuing our efforts of securing reusable products like menstrual cups and fabric pads that provide more long term solutions. Camions of Care works to empower women and youth, period.

 

 

Nadya

Nadya Okamoto is an 18-year-old from Portland, Oregon. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Camions of Care–a global nonprofit organization that strives to address the natural needs of women through advocacy, education, and service. Nadya founded Camions of Care after her family experienced a degree of homelessness, during which she discovered the unaddressed need of menstrual hygiene. Nadya wants people to understand that everyone deserves to have their natural needs met so they feel ready to achieve their full potential. She is also the Youth Director of Social Venture Partners Youth, is on the board of the Women’s Foundation of Oregon PLAN International USA, and is involved in many other school activities around law practice, politics, and gender equality.

Periods and Exercise

iStock_000069644637_MediumIt’s time to get yourself moving Divas!

Exercise is a very important part of achieving good health. Not only is it great for your body, but it can help to relieve stress as well… but did you know that exercise may also help to strengthen your fertility and reproductive health? Regular exercise is helpful with regulating your hormonal levels and increasing your metabolism. An hour of exercise at least three times a week is all you may need. To do this you do not need a gym membership as there are plenty of exercises that can be done at home or by taking a class. Some exercises that are great for your reproductive health can include cardio exercises like walking or swimming. I personally enjoy the gym as it allows for a wide variety of workout choices so I don’t get bored of doing the same thing. I also prefer the gym because it allows me to do both cardio exercises and weight training; in fact, I find the best results come from a mixture of both cardio and weight training.

Cardio is a great way to help increase your blood flow throughout your body, including your reproductive system, while weight training will aid your body in getting stronger and help to boost your metabolism. If you’re a beginner when it comes to exercising and find the gym to be a bit intimidating, there are countless other ways to get exercise, such as group activities, sports, fitness classes or even just a daily walk with a friend. For many, exercise is much easier when you have someone to help keep you motivated.

Now that we know a bit about how exercising affects our reproductive healthiStock_49000820_XXLARGE v2, what about the effects of exercising during our periods? Is it healthy?

The short answer is yes, you can exercise on your period, but most often a less rigorous workout is the best route to take. Your body is already hard at work as your hormone levels are in flux and your body works to shed its uterine lining. It is really important to know your limitations too. During the first day of my period, I made a rule for myself that I don’t work out and if I do, I’ll only participate in light activity such as swimming or yoga, which doesn’t put too much pressure on the body. Some women actually find that working out on their periods helps with period symptoms like cramps and heavy flow.

Remember to listen to your body. If your body feels sore, bloated or tired, it is telling you it needs rest. That being said, if you are on your period and feeling unmotivated, just think of Kiran Gandhi who recently ran the London Marathon while free bleeding! If Kiran could run 26.2 miles bleeding freely, then we can handle an hour at the gym or a yoga class, right? Yes! Some menstruating people find that they feel a bit more comfortable when they get moving.

menstrual-cupNot feeling the free bleeding idea? No worries! The DivaCup is an amazing option for working out on your period. Not only does it offer 12 hours of leak-free protection, but it is also extremely comfortable. You can feel completely at ease when running on the treadmill or biking in your spin class, and not have to worry about leaks or uncomfortable chafing.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not just about exercise, it is also about eating nutritiously. What we eat greatly affects our bodies, our periods, and how we feel.. There are certain foods we can eat to help our period symptoms and maintain a healthy lifestyle! Learn more about how what you eat is affecting your period in our How is What you Eat Affecting Your Period?  blog post.

Remember that prior to making any lifestyle changes including those related to diet and to exercise, it is best to consult with your doctor and always be sure that you are keeping the intensity of your exercise routine within your own ability level.

Also if you are interested in reading more about exercise and your menstrual cycle, you may be interested in this great article from our friends at the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research.

Let’s get active, eat right and have a better period experience!

 

Alyssa-Signature

 

 

 

 

 

“Skinvestigation”: Understanding Your Skin

iStock_61783082_LARGE v2Skin is the largest organ of your body, but did you know that the skin on your face is more sensitive than other areas on your body? This means that the skin on your face may require a little extra attention compared to the rest of your body. So, what is the best way to care for our skin? Well that will depend on our skin type. Let me explain!

While skincare companies only target the six main skin types, there are actually dozens of skin types and combinations.  The best way to know your exact skin type and what works best for you is to see your dermatologist or someone who specializes in skin.  Let’s discuss the main six skin types.

Skin Types:

1) Normal: Normal skin is generally firm, oil-free and doesn’t react to outside elements!  This skin type is most often seen in children.  Normal skin is very rare in adults, and is identified as having no oil or dryness, normal sized pores, minimal fine lines, and even skin tone.

Recommendations: This skin type should use a gentle moisturizing cleanser and a moisturizer that is water based.  When doing facials, use a clay mask to remove any impurities.

2) Dry/Dehydrated: Your skin has many layers and most of the time, problems that occur within the skin come from the lower layers.  Dry skin occurs when water from the lower layers of the skin evaporates, leaving a dry texture that can often flake or itch due to a lack of lubrication.  You can tell you have this skin type by a dry texture, scaly/flakey patches and/or premature fine lines.

Recommendations: For cleansing, use a water based cleansing milk. In the evening, use a cream that is water-based with 10% collagen.  Collagen adds elasticity to the skin, which is low in dryer skin.  Use a mask for sensitive skin but that has collagen (this can be clay, mint or mud).  Facial massages are also great for this skin type, as it stimulates the oil glands to produce more lubrication.

iStock_75067607_LARGE v2 3) Sensitive: This skin type is often very similar to dry skin; however, the skin is impacted by many factors such as sensitivity to products and the environment. Most people who have this skin type are aware of it, as they have probably experienced a reaction to multiple products.

Recommendations: The best recommendation for this skin type is to know your allergies and sensitivities! This will help when treating your skin.  For example, if you are allergic to wool, you’ll want to avoid products with lanolin.  Other than that, this skin is treated similarly to dry/dehydrated skin.  Remember to use water based products and to use products targeted for sensitive skin.

4) Oily: Recognizable from its shiny surface, this skin type is thick and prone to blemishes.  Oily skin may even cause makeup to change color throughout the day.  Oily skin is most often caused by oil glands that are found under the skin.  These glands are over stimulated causing extra oil production.  Opposite to dry skin, oily skin has too much oil lubrication so the skin can become clogged.

Recommendations: Use a cleanser that specifically targets oily skin (which is most often displayed on the container).  Use a 20% alcohol based toner with rose water, which will help cut back some of the oil.  A misconception of oily skin is that you don’t need to moisturize because the skin produces enough lubrication – but this is incorrect. Not using moisturizer will make the surface of the skin dry, but the oil will still be underneath and unable to breathe. Use a moisturizer that is targeted to oily skin.  Scrub twice a week to help remove dirt and keep pores open to breathe.

5) Combination:  Usually this skin type is dry/dehydrated on the cheeks and oily in the “T-zone” (the area across your forehead going down your nose to your chin, which creates a “T” shape on your face).  However, any time skin shows signs of two or more skin types it is considered combination skin.

Recommendations: This skin type can be difficult to work with because there are two (or more) issues to treat.  Because different areas of your skin have different skin types, you need to use products for those skin types.  For example, if you are oily in your T-zone and dry on your cheeks, use products for oily skin on your T-zone and iStock_92194943_LARGE v2products for dry skin on your cheeks.  This way, you are treating each particular area according to its skin type.

6) Aging: Aging skin is similar to dry skin, since it is lacking oil and moisture. Oil production begins to lessen after a certain age, causing skin to wrinkle and become more dry.

Recommendations: Similar to dry skin, cleansing milks are useful for aging skin; however, some may need a more oil based product.  Try avoiding alcohol in all products as this dehydrates the skin even more.  Use cream containing collagen.  When massaging the face, you will need to provide more stimulation, so massage briskly.  Anything that stimulates the skin and any oil production is helpful!

So how do you know what skin type you have?  While seeing a dermatologist is the best way to determine your exact skin type, the above information may help you analyze your skin.  This will further your “skinvestigation” and help you choose the right products for your skin.

Period Skin:

When your hormone levels change, so can your oil production levels.  This is why many people experience more breakouts when on their period.  The same can be said about dryness.  Sometimes the hormone levels can dry out areas of your skin.  Make sure you are listening to what your skin is telling you around your period and adjust your skincare routine accordingly.

Skin tips:

While everyone skin is different, there are things that everyone can do to improve their skin quality:

  • Stubborn Sun:  everyone loves the glow they receive from the sun, but it can have a dramatic impact on your skin.  Sun can cause your skin to dry out, age prematurely, and in the worst cases, can cause skin cancer.  It is important to wear sun protection and limit how much time you are in direct sunlight.  Talk to your dermatologist if you have any questions or concerns about your skin and the sun.
  • Hydration Station:  Water is one of the most important things for your skin.  If you aren’t drinking enough water, you will notice your under eyes become darker, your skin becomes duller, and you may develop flakey, dry skin.  Make sure you are drinking your daily recommended amount of water (normally 8 glasses a day for women) to ensure that your skin stays hydrated and plump.
  • Inside Out:  It is true when they say you are what you eat.  Everything you digest internally makes a difference on how you look externally.  Make sure you are getting all of the right vitamins and minerals for your body, and avoid sugars and salts as much as possible.
  • Primer:  When applying makeup, always use a primer before applying foundation.  This creates a barrier between your skin and the makeup to prevent it from being absorbed by your skin and clogging your pores.
  • Taking off your makeupDid you know that leaving your makeup on overnight ages your skin?  It can also cause acne.  If you are someone who always forgets to take off your makeup and wash your face at night, keep a pack of cleansing cloths beside your bed.  This way, you can remove at least the first layer of makeup (although it is always best to wash your face, as makeup can sit under the skin’s surface after a long day.)

Dermatology:iStock_63530539_LARGE v2
Now, I want to give a disclaimer.  I have been saying the term “dermatologist” a lot in this post.  A dermatologist is medical expert who should be consulted if you have any major issues with your skin.  While all of this information provided is from a makeup artist, some skin needs extra attention.  If you are having issues with your skin, such as chronic acne, rashes, or any other abnormalities, please contact your local dermatologist to receive proper treatment.  It is always best to consult a medical expert if you’re struggling significantly.  However, if you are just trying to improve your skin quality, this information will help you along the path to radiant skin.

The important thing to remember is that you are beautiful, no matter what your skin type is!  Just listen to your skin and take care of it, because you deserve it!  What are your favorite skincare routines, Divas? We would love to hear from you! Share your skincare tips and tricks with us!

Victoria-Signature