Clean Beauty, Product Highlight

Meow Meow Tweet! Shampoo Bar Review and then Some

I may have found my new favorite way to wash my hair. If you remember my DIY shampoo tutorial, I said I was willing to try some natural shampoo products and review it. One form of shampooing your hair I was fearful of was a shampoo bar. I knew about shampoo bars from Lush and I was uninterested because Lush was the only company I knew that had shampoo bars and I was skeptical if it was all natural (Lush has been called out for not being 100% all natural). As I discovered more about “zero waste” and using natural beauty products, a shampoo bar was playing in my head a little more. Then one day I finally decided to buy the shampoo bar that was being sold at PackageFreeShop.com- Meow Meow Tweet Rosemary Avocado shampoo bar.

What is Meow Meow Tweet mission?

Meow Meow Tweet values creating their goodies as safe and natural as possible to help individuals and the environment’s health. They use a lot of organic and safe ingredients and some of which are actually Fair Trade. If you buy their products from their website, they use as little plastic and packaging as possible. They also donate to a good number of organizations that are helping the environment, which you can look up on their website.

What’s in their shampoo bar?

The Ingredients List:

  • Aqua (water)
  • Cocosnifra oil (Coconut oil that is Fair Trade certified :)!!!)
  • Ole
  • Europea Fruit Oil (Olives)
  • Ricinus Communis Seed Oil (Castor)
  • Persia Gratissima Oil (Avocado)
  • Citrus Sinensis Peel Oil (Orange)
  • Rosmarinus Officinalis Oil (Rosemary)
  • Aloe Barbadersis Lead (Aloe Vera)
  • Humulus Lupulus Flower (Hop)
  • Sodium Hydroxide

The only ingredient worth looking up was sodium hydroxide. So what is sodium hydroxide?

Sodium hydroxide (some know as lye) is an ingredient that creates the foaminess and is found in most cleansing products such as liquid face powders, soaps, shampoos, shaving soaps, and creams.

Is it safe?

As long as you are not eating it than for the most part, yes. One side effect of sodium hydroxide is dermatitis of the scape. If you inhale it, it can cause lung damage and getting sodium hydroxide into your eyes can cause blindness (I’m just summarizing my research. I’m no scientist on this blog). The EU did calm that only professionals should use this ingredient.

Should I risk using this shampoo then?

The good news is that after writing down the ingredient list from PackFreeShop.com, and being informed by a couple of soap makers, there isn’t any sodium hydroxide in the final product of soap. All soap is made with lye (sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide) and with the oils from the shampoo bar, the process of saponification happens to create the final product being soap! There is no lye in the soap itself and according to my helpful app ThinkDirty, it gave sodium hydroxide a rating of 2!

(Couldn’t find the exact shampoo bar I reviewed but Meow Meow Tweet products were getting an average rating of 2)

Straight up sodium hydroxide is harmful, and soap makers advice using gloves when handling it. When I did dig deeper on this ingredient and how soap makers use it, I discovered it safe and really, soap without lye is impossible.

So how do you use a shampoo bar?

Some may think it is a silly question to ask how do you use a shampoo bar but I was thinking the same thing before I got a shampoo bar. Lauren Singer (Trash is for Tossers blogger; the lady with the 5 years worth of trash in one mason jar) said in a video the way to use a shampoo bar is to rub the bar on your scalp and as it becomes foamy to just rub the rest of it in your hair.

Best way to use the shampoo bar

I tried the method Singer suggested and it was only good if I had a lot of conditioner in my hair before washing it off.

FYI: using no condition will also dry out your hair. My first use of the bar proved that.

The best way to use the shampoo bar is to have some conditioner in your hair and rub some of the shampoo in your hands and then to apply it to your hair. Using conditioner before shampoo is also known as washing your hair backward.

What is washing your hair backward?

The first time I heard about washing your hair backward was from No More Dirty Looks, written by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt. I started to do this and it has made a difference in my hair softness. Think about putting lotion on your hands that are not dry. Your hands will feel greasy and after washing your hands they are clean and feel soft, same concept with washing your hair backward.

Overall experience

After some thought into using a shampoo bar, I was excited to try my first shampoo bar that was promoted by a zero-waste fellow and I would recommand the product to anyone who is looking for a more natural product and/or someone who is looking to find a beauty product that is waste free.

Reference:

Our Story
https://meowmeowtweet.com/pages/about-us

Zero Waste Hair Care

A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetics Ingredients By Ruth Winter

No More Diry Looks by Siobhan O’Connor & Alexandra Spunt

Lush Bath Bomb Are Not What You Think
https://foodbabe.com/lush-bath-bombs-not-think/

Cheat Sheet | The Chemistry of Soap

https://meowmeowtweet.com/blogs/blog/16497564-the-chemistry-of-soap

Product Highlight, Uncategorized

Farmers First Coffee: Their Vision, Their Mission.

Do you ever think about the process of coffee being grown? Do you ever think about the people who grow the coffee and harvest it? Do you?  I haven’t for most of coffee drinking life. For anyone who knows me, knows they cannot help but associate me with coffee. As I learned more about the importance of ethical products and being mindful of my purchases, coffee was one of the things I made sure I bought ethically. I was always looking for the Fair Trade logo on the coffee bag and would ask coffee shops if they had Fair Trade coffee. One coffee company I discovered that stood out to me was Farmers First.

One thing to notice is that Farmers First doesn’t have a Fair Trade label. Not every ethically sourced coffee has the Fair Trade label; the label just means the company chose to go through the requirements to receive the label. Farmers First Coffee is a company that highlights and exposes the individual people who grow the coffee and harvest them. I was interested to learn more about their mission and I asked to do a phone interview with one of the founders Matt Hohler.

“So I asked Matt “How is your coffee different than other Fair Trade coffee?” “Good question,” Matt responded. “The biggest difference is that Fair Trade coffee is not good enough. Most companies buy fair-trade products which get certified by a third party and groups will certify the farmers and cooperatives, allowing them to sell their coffee under the fair-trade label. The money does not end up back into the hands of the farmers. We pay our farmers a direct bonus, which is about four times higher than the fair-trade bonus.”

I was surprised and saddened to hear that the Fair Trade label was not living up to its name. Matt reminded me that a company’s original intent was always in the right place. “Starbucks, for example, has done good but when a company becomes bigger, things do slip through the cracks. I and my business partner own our roaster. We also do not have specific names for the roast but instead, we recognize the farmers by roast (there are three farmers: Daniel, Rosa, and Emiliano). We listen to the families and pay them well. We are really interested in putting our farmers first.” If you haven’t gotten it by this point, that was the inspiration for naming the company’s name.

Regarding the problems producing coffee can have on the environment Matt, said that was a difficult issue. He pointed out that the first thing that someone needs to think about is “what would you do to support a family?” Farmers First are organic farmers. They are not USDA certified yet but the farmers are respecting the environment the best they can.”

My last question for Matt was if he had any coffee experience and to my surprise, he said, “No. I’ve done non-profit work for over 10 years. My business partner moved to Honduras in 2009 to work for students helping Honduras. He later bought an eco-lodge and has been running that and I was volunteering and teaching English in 2012. We both did some research and discovered we wanted to see coffee farmers succeed.”

I decided to do some further research and discovered that Fair Trade label coffee is not what we think. Like Matt said, farmers do not get paid more for selling their coffee under fair trade. It does cost 20-30 cents more per pound to sell coffee under a Fair Trade logo and companies do have to pay extra for the label as well. The Fair Trade label does guarantee workers are making minimum wage and there is no child labor behind the coffee, but minimum wage is not enough to for small farmers and most of the farmers are  immigrants who do not have access to the land they are growing coffee on.

Does that mean that coffee is not an ethically sourced product? No.

The mission of Fair Trade organization to help end poverty and to empower small family farmers. The thing Matt and his business partner question is not “Is their coffee is Fair Trade?” but, “Who are the farmers? How much are they getting paid?” All three farmers are from Peru and after the coffee is harvested, Matt roasts the coffee in North Carolina. When you order from Farmers First, you get to pick the roast and if you want the beans whole or grounded (and how finely ground you want it).

When I ordered my Farmers First Coffee, I ordered the Rosa bag of dark roast. Rosa is a 42-year-old mother of 3 children (two sons and one daughter). Some of the issues she faces as a coffee farmer are weather, labor and some the things she struggles with daily are health care a lack of childhood nutrition and poverty in her community. Her hope as a worker is to provide for her family and she is encouraged by her children because they believe the world can become a better place.

I wanted to support Rosa and know that my purchase is going to support her and her family. Farmers First is a company worth looking into and I highly recommend buying some of their coffee not only for the taste but for their mission. Matt and Robert both had the vision to help small-scale farmers and so far they have done their part. Now we as consumers should do ours to support this mission of putting farmers first.

References:

https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_problem_with_fair_trade_coffee

https://www.farmersfirstcoffee.com/pages/rosa