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Baby Bloodheart
13 October 2011 @ 04:16 pm
Not sure if we've ever had an in-depth explanation about coloured cups, possible health issues in particular, but this mornings news letter from Mooncup goes into some detail about why they never plan to make a coloured cup, thought some might be interested so the following is copied and pasted from Mooncup's newsletter/web site; 

October 2011 "Would you like crushed beetle with your menstrual cup, madam?"
(or Why the Mooncup Will Always be Dye-Free) 

Over the years, we’ve occasionally been asked if we have plans to make the Mooncup in different colours. Our answer has always been ‘no’ – quite simply because dyeing the Mooncup is at odds with the health, ethical and environmental benefits characteristic of the Mooncup and our company. Cathy Marchand, Mooncup Ltd.’s Nurse Advisor and Research Officer, explains why:

Health: a dubious safety record
Since 1918, it has been known that toxins can be absorbed into the blood stream through the vagina. Coloured menstrual cups are either made with the addition of food colouring or pigments.

Food colourings are used to encourage people to buy certain foods over others. They have a chequered safety history, which has led to strict regulations around food additives being developed, as some colourings were found to be carcinogenic and have a systemic effect on the body. Several types of artificial food dyes that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration, USA) had originally approved for use in food have since been banned, as subsequent research determined that these were no longer safe for human consumption.

Standards and regulations on food colourings, including maximum daily limits, vary throughout the world, with some regulations being more stringent than others. In America, for example, ‘F’, ‘D’ and ‘C’ numbers (which generally indicate that the FDA has approved the colourant for use in foods, drugs and cosmetics) are given to approved synthetic food dyes that do not exist in nature, while in the European Union ‘E’ numbers are used for all additives, both synthetic and natural, that are approved in food applications.

The pigments industry is distinct from the dyes industry, which manufactures a separate class of chemicals. Many pigments are not biodegradable and are often made from petroleum products. As with the disposal of any chemicals, there are a variety of environmental concerns associated with the manufacturing and handling of pigments, including how best to dispose of them without polluting fresh water sources

The material we use to make the Mooncup – medical grade silicone – was chosen by us because of its excellent and universal safety record: we do not want to compromise the health of Mooncup users by using unnecessary additives that may have a question mark over their safety now or in the future.

Environment: a commitment to people and animal-friendly practices 
Mooncup Ltd. is proud to have been awarded ‘Ethical Business’ status for its commitment to people and environmentally-friendly practices. Adding another stage to manufacture means more energy is consumed and, when using dyes or pigments, makes the process more complex and less environmentally sensitive.

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; lutein (E161b – deep yellow) from egg yolks 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.

The Mooncup ethos: Less is More 
As consumers, we are constantly encouraged to buy more products and told that those we already own should be replaced by new items. Using the Mooncup offers women an opportunity to ‘step out’ of the cycle of consumerism in at least one aspect of their lives – and this is one of the reasons that so many women love the product. In our opinion, coloured Mooncups would make something beautifully simple into something unnecessarily complicated. We also think the Mooncup looks rather nice just the way it is.

Source; Mooncup UK - http://www.mooncup.co.uk/about-us/news/all-news/coloured-menstrual-cups.html#anchor2?utm_source=Sign-Up.to&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=250329-Autumn+newsletter+11%2F10%2F2011 

Note this is from Mooncup, what this says of other cup companies who do sell coloured cups is up to you to determine. I personally don't think coloured cups are a major issue; they're a bit of fun and can encourage more women to use cups, over products with more questionable safety and less transparancy about manufacturing such as commercial tampons. 
Obsidianpurple_obsidian on October 14th, 2011 01:47 am (UTC)
Yeah, look I think that it's in part true, and in part marketing... But you can't rely on a company that is promoting something, being unbiased. And they are using irrelevant "facts" by a nurse, to make their claims sound better, and to justify why they aren't colouring their cups.

I don't disagree with their stance, but this post has tarnished my view of them somewhat..

Yes, synthetic food colouring isn't particularly good for you (ingesting synthetic chemicals? who'd have thunk it!)... and yes cochineal is from a beetle.. but that's irrelevant. I'm sure natural food colouring can't be used in tinting silicone, it would be horrendously expensive to do so, and you're not eating it anyway. It's a different kettle of fish.

I've never heard of shellac as a colourant - though it is used in some consumable applications because it makes things shiny (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shellac#Uses), gelatine also isn't used as a colourant (anyone who has used gelatine can attest, it's virtually clear, and the slight "colour" it produces isn't exactly appealing)... A google of cysteine shows it's not used as a colourant, (http://www.food-info.net/uk/e/e920.htm). So really.... mentioning those just seems like a grab at finding examples of hidden edible things that aren't vegan.

There are plenty of natural colours you can get that are vegan.. they probably picked out only the ones that aren't. (I only know of one other, purple dye used to be obtained from the inside of a shell) Even red you can get from other sources. So citing the non-veganness of using cochineal and a bunch of other things that aren't actually used as colourants anyway, as a reason not to colour the cups seems a little selective/redundant really.. Infact I almost find it somewhat insulting to my intelligence. As well as making me wonder why a nurse is giving me information on food colourings (that aren't really food colourings), when we're supposed to be talking about colourings in cups.

It's science-washing. Put in there because it's said by a nurse, so we're supposed to believe that it's more credible then than if a regular person said it (because nurses naturally know all about chemicals, industrial processes of a cup manufacturing facility and the ins and outs of food colourings)... and because it's talking about a bunch of scary chemicals and using poor animals for colouring our foods.. that must mean all colouring is bad, so it's a good thing that their cups aren't coloured.

I'm not sure how much, if any of a colourant would be absorbed by the body in a coloured cup, but I will grant them that - it is probably something of a slight concern... it's only going to be a problem if the colourant they used was dangerous and if it was able to be absorbed by the body. Silicone itself is made from a synthetic compound... so I can't really see how adding a synthetic colourant to that (provided it's been classified as "safe") is going to make much difference in terms of lessening environmental impact and being more natural and good for you. You're already talking about a product that is man made... Do we actually know how safe the silicone is? Is the silicone itself safer than the colourants? It's not a cupcake made with fresh organic ingredients and someone putting synthetic food colouring in to it. But, as I said... I don't dispute their claim that synthetic colours may be harmful.

However, if you wear anything other than naturally dyed organic cotton, and use the vast array of cleaning products and makeup and hairdye etc. you're already absorbing a bunch of chemicals. There's likely to be far more danger in that than using a coloured cup. I'll bet there is synthetic colourants in the coloured ribbons they use for the bags... are their bags organic cotton? likewise in all the printed materials they use. :Þ

Personally, if they are so concerned about the environment that they won't use synthetic colourants because of environmental concerns, I'd also like to see them using unprinted, unbleached organic cotton pouches with undyed organic cotton drawstrings, to print all materials with plant-based inks on recycled paper (or wheat based paper and other eco-alternatives) and limit printed materials to only those which are absolutely necessary.
Obsidianpurple_obsidian on October 14th, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
and.. (because my post was too long lol)

But looking at it from their point of view.... we have companies who are heavily promoting coloured cups.... JuJu when it came out also made a similar statement about not making coloured cups (which I also thought somewhat hypocritical given they use heavily dyed satin pouches with a very elaborate packaging box) .... so by posting that "reason", they are addressing why they aren't coming out with coloured cups like other brands are.... they are basically saying it's not because they are lazy or frugal, they are using the "environmental/health conscious" angle. So it's in their best interests to make coloured cups sound unsafe, because they have no plans to make coloured ones, and want people to buy their clear ones instead of other brands coloured ones.

This bit:
"Using the Mooncup offers women an opportunity to ‘step out’ of the cycle of consumerism in at least one aspect of their lives – and this is one of the reasons that so many women love the product. In our opinion, coloured Mooncups would make something beautifully simple into something unnecessarily complicated. We also think the Mooncup looks rather nice just the way it is."

Also urks me... a coloured cup is really no less likely to let people be non-consumerist... they are using a reusable cup over disposable tampons - the fact they chose that cup to be coloured, really, makes little difference. And just because they consider a coloured cup to be "unnecessarily complicated" and that they like the cup the way it is, doesn't stop the fact that there are hundreds/thousands of people out there who would buy a coloured mooncup if it was offered, and who will shop elsewhere because colour does sway some people. Again, it just sounds like they are trying to think up excuses.

Personally I think they should have just stuck with saying they believe the colourants are not guaranteed safe and that because of that, and their desire to bring you something they fully stand behind, they have chosen not to colour their cups. That's all they needed to say, and I'd have respected them for that.
ohletmeteluohletmetelu on October 14th, 2011 04:21 am (UTC)
Well said! I love reading your posts :)

The non-consumerist part is quite annoying but I also think they may be referring to buying the whole collection of colors from a specific brand that offers them vs just 1 clear cup that any menstruating person really needs. (I justify my 'collection' because I use them to educate/advocate and often give them away.)

I wonder if any of the companies that offer colored cups will respond to this or similar comments questioning the coloring process. They definitely don't need to respond specifically to this particular newsletter but it would be interesting to see what they say about the coloring (how much they reveal about the process). I think there may be some truth to the clear cups being "safer" but with all of the chemicals, radiation, wifi signals, preservatives, etc that our bodies are bombarded with daily, I highly doubt it makes much of a difference. Although, the mucous membranes in the vagina makes the absorption of chemicals much higher than anywhere else.. so who knows.
juliiie87juliiie87 on October 14th, 2011 11:28 am (UTC)
Impressed at your post.
It definitely felt like they are trying to guilt-trip colored-cups lovers for the sake of their own marketing...
Also I feel that maybe, being (one of) the first silicone cup companies, they have to stand their ground and defend their image as "the" basic cup, the plainest, most ecological / healthiest one, against all the fancy, colored, consumerist new brands...

But on the contrary, I'm pretty sure I've read some kind of scientific explanation on the Ladycup website, saying how it was all so safe because there's no way the dyes can come out of the silicone... we'll just have to trust them until we know better.
Serpentserpent_849 on October 14th, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC)
great post.
i think it's kinda sad that companies resort to these "we're better" statements... they could've instead made a huge point of switching to softer silicone: "if you tried a mooncup and found it stiff, try our new one, it's much softer"... ideally the companies should admit cups are not one-two-even four size(s) fit(s) all, and point out things like "if you tried another brand and the cup seemed to be too long, try ours!"

or even in this case, "we're not going to trick you into buying more cups by making more colours, but beware: cups are different. so if you need a backup cup, we recommend to just get one more mooncup as you already know it works for you."

frankly, while of course it's very individual and if it works well for you, it doesn't matter if it works for other people, i kinda consider other cups superior to the mooncup by default. in fact i'm fairly sure the mooncup is less popular not only compared to coloured cups, but also to many clear ones - with this talk, they forgot that practically all cups come in clear!!! even if someone does feel guilty after reading their article, i really doubt it'll make them more likely to get a mooncup - especially if they come here and figure out that the right question is not "which cup is the best?" but "which cup will fit me?"

i guess nowadays it's mostly those who can get them locally that get mooncups... there are so many ones with a higher capacity now and a less intimidating rim! i've seen so few people mention this shape fits them better than the lunette/fleurcup one, even just at some parts of the cycle.

so basically i think it's not good enough and they gotta either orient at those who still don't know about cups (make them even more widely available, advertise) or make changes to compete with other brands (like the meluna company did when they realized quite many preferred the fleurcup or yuuki purely because of the capacity). in fact i think if they were attacking any particular brand it must be the meluna. cheaper than others, many colours, classic and soft... and even the different stem types probably make it "too complicated" by their definition.
juliiie87juliiie87 on October 14th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC)
And the sad part is when you get to learn a little more about cups, like anyone who gets to read more info on here, you'll realise "more complicated" is not just about colors, it's actually about fitting and pleasing more people (with the different shapes, softness, colors and stem styles) !

It seems to me that, with this kind of statement, they're trying to hold back to that time where there were only a couple brands available, and they had to fit all customers by default, and so few people even knew about cups, that you had to be a true hardcore ecology-geek (or possibly TSS phobic) and not have any other (petty) concern, such as shape, capacity or color !

They simply don't want to acknowledge the market has changed.
Serpentserpent_849 on October 14th, 2011 05:37 pm (UTC)
yes i totally agree with it. if they came out now, i don't think they'd be popular at all.
however this "we're better" is something practically every brand is guilty of :S saying you're better because you offer so many options also sucks. even meluna's four sizes are no guarantee that one will fit everyone. especially now when you still can't be sure whether you'll get one with the old or new dimensions. they used to have that poll "why did you choose a meluna" and there was no option like "because it has the right size/dimensions for me"! wtf! i didn't choose to get a meluna because it comes in three sizes, i chose it because they produced a 45x45 cup! i'm sure those that made an "educated guess" (and are satisfied) would get the very same cup if it was the only size produced by the company.
Quitteriequitterie on July 13th, 2015 02:20 pm (UTC)
Hey ;D
.. "especially now when you still can't be sure whether you'll get one with the old or new dimensions."

For the sake of remembrance lol, so at some earlier point, the dimensions changed ?
(Oh, maybe this is about the S and M becoming more of a U shape - Added to the conical Mini ones ?)
Serpent: neutralserpent_849 on July 14th, 2015 12:34 am (UTC)
hehe :)
yes that's when they attempted to discontinue the 40x40 and 45x45 melunas for the first time. i got a "new" S myself too, but it was too narrow and it made me feel like i need to poop.
you could still get the old ones while supplies lasted, and many rushed to buy them so they decided not to stop producing them and to call them mini.
Serpentserpent_849 on October 14th, 2011 05:53 pm (UTC)
for example right now i almost wish meluna didn't offer various stems. most resellers don't stock the basic anyway, and i'm actually getting one with a ball just because that's what is available, even though i'll probably have to cut off the ball.
and there are some people for whom the classic melunas are too stiff and the soft are too soft.
m03m on October 14th, 2011 06:26 pm (UTC)
Is there a specific reason why you don't order directly? It's likely to be cheaper too...
Serpentserpent_849 on October 14th, 2011 07:47 pm (UTC)
i don't rely on our post at all and i hate going to the post office and i'm not sure but i think i'd have to go to the "international post office" god knows where... and i'd have to ask my dad for his credit card :S basically i don't need the new small meluna THAT much.
oh and shipping to russia is always expensive like whoa.
Serpentserpent_849 on October 14th, 2011 07:52 pm (UTC)
there's also hope that i won't have to cut off the ball stem hehe. and the new ball stem is seemingly as easy to cut off as the traditional one. i was going to just wait till a site offers the right one but i couldn't resist :D
m03m on October 14th, 2011 08:10 pm (UTC)
I see... 16 euros! That's a lot.

To be honest, I'm not sure how Fleurcup manages to send their cups around the world for a (low) flat fee.

Doesn't flat mail get delivered to your house where you are? My Fleurcup came in an envelope, not a package.
(no subject) - serpent_849 on October 14th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
tearsandhoneytearsandhoney on October 17th, 2011 05:14 pm (UTC)
I always love reading comments by you Obsidian. That is a very intelligent response and I agree with you. I know I have to avoid gelatin in things like icecream but I know it is not a colourant so it would be ridiculous if used in cups.