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Diaper Test: Crinklz Astronaut and Aquanaut

It’s been a bit of a slump due to materials for reviews not rolling in in time and the summer heat having melted my brain, but now things look much better again and there should be a relatively stable stream of articles in the next few weeks. For today’s review we begin with something that is a bit lighter in terms of the amount of text you may have to read as well as making it a bit easier for me to actually write the article simply because I will be able to cut a few corners and reference the original article on the second-generation Crinklz. To be fair, though, the new Astronaut and Aquanaut flavors offer more than just a different pattern print, so they warrant a somewhat closer look and deeper explanation here and there, regardless.

Crinklz Astronaut, Package

I haven’t bought any of the BetterDry/ Crinklz products in a long time, so this is a welcome opportunity to re-evaluate some aspects that I missed in-between like the minor revisions of the shape, adhesive tapes and a few other things. The reason of course is that ever since I smoothed out issues with my health insurance I get a regular supply of diapers for my medical needs, reducing the necessity of buying extra incontinence supplies on top. That and of course due to testing stuff for my blog I always have something extra to use floating about, no matter what.

Crinklz Aquanaut, Package

With the little furry critters of the original version appealing to all sorts of special interest/ fetish-oriented communities from ABDL to furries and pup players it seems only consequent that those animals would make another appearance, only in differently themed designs. As a result we get two of them, the space-y Astronaut and the underwater Aquanaut. I have a bit of a knack for both subjects, being a big fan of sea creatures, but also nerdy cosmology stuff, so this pushes the right buttons with me. Still, to me the Aquanaut seem a bit more innovative and also slightly better balanced in the overall design, so I went with that for the remainder of the article.

Crinklz Astronaut and Aquanaut, Prints

Trying on the first example of the new batch I felt right at home with what I remember from back then. The foil on this product is still quite thin, which brought back fears of premature ripping or extreme stretching. Thankfully this is not the case and the foil is in fact amazingly stable and resilient. Arguably the only reason this might ever change would be  if they decided to use a thicker, more opaque backing to bring out the prints better. That’s about the only little complaint I would have, if you want to call it that – the side parts are a bit too transparent which depending on how the wings overlap and what color your skin is, making it look a bit iffy at times.

Crinklz Aquanaut, Front

The resilience of the outer shell is most useful with regards to the strong adhesive tapes. The lack of adhesion was one of the weakest spots on the initial production batch and this immediately got remedied in subsequent batches. Oddly enough to me the stickies appear almost too strong for their own good and probably at this point could even be reduced in size and still do their job well enough. I’m not complaining, though, ‘cos as you all know I like things to be very tight and naturally strong tapes make it a lot easier.

Another “fix” that was introduced relatively quickly after the product was brought to market were the extra-deep/ tall side liners/ flow guards. Mind you, they were far from being short and narrow even in the first version, but after the revision they now clock in at a whopping six centimeters, which must make them some of the broadest ones in any incontinence product. If you allow me to put it this way: Your male bits should be firmly enclosed left and right and any sideways leakage should be pretty rare, if not impossible.

Crinklz Aquanaut, Side View

Most of you will likely agree that the best part about the BetterDry and Crinklz was/ is the thick, yet soft absorbent pad. That seems to have changed somewhat. Granted, it’s difficult to judge this based on vague memories, but it seems to me that the pad feels a lot more firm and not quite as soft as I remember it. It definitely takes a moment before it loosens up, meaning it will require at least a bit of wetness to get that old feeling back.

The rest really hasn’t changed much, at least for me. There have allegedly been a few tweaks to the shape of the pad, in particular the tapered section between the legs, after some users thought it was too wide, but since I never have suffered from any of these issues it’s hard to say whether or not this has any effect in practice.

Crinklz Aquanaut, Back

For the most part the Crinklz to me still is what it is (or for that matter the BetterDry) – a well-fitting, very comfortable diaper that I wouldn’t mind wearing all the time if my health insurance would cover the cost, but that otherwise is a nice fun product to literally pamper yourself with from time to time. The new prints spice up things for a while at least and should make it possible to find your favorite theme.

Any negative sides? Sure. With those new editions, prices have gone up once again and with such complex, colorful prints the likelihood of color rubbing off on your clothes is as high as it always has been with the Crinklz, so maybe wear some protective pants before dirtying up your favorite onesie. Still, one can’t deny that this is a pretty perfect diaper if ever there was one and I can recommend it to anyone without feeling bad about it.

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SpecialKids.Company Giveaway closed

Due to the heat the last few weeks have been a bit slow around here, but our little giveaway has proceeded as planned and is now closed. Thanks for all that participated! I’ll contact the winners in the next few days, so keep an eye peeled for those e-mails. ;-)

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Summer Laziness

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and so here I am, telling you once again why you won’t be getting your weekly dose of hacky English and diaper pictures. ;-)

First, of course the usual happened that has happened for a few weeks every year – the weather was too damned hot, so I turned into a sloth. My constant state of exhaustion/ chronic fatigue is bad enough as it is without summer heat  exacerbating it further, but with those sizzling temperatures I just want to lie in bed all day. Aside from my household chores and idling away what little extra time is left time with some LEGO-related stuff I barely get anything else done during such phases.

Additionally my plans were thwarted by the endless delays in companies rolling out their new products. It’s funny how some products were announced in January/ February for an April release and only now slowly find their way into the usual online stores for ordering. I’m trying to catch up and will have something for you soon-ish, but things are still going to progress rather slowly, so bear with me.

In the meantime there’s still almost two weeks left on our little giveaway, so if you haven’t already, you can still enter and win one of those gorgeous KayCey Vest onesies.

Diaper Test: Nateen Combi

Back then I always wanted to do a proper test of the Nateen Combi diapers, but then this opportunity was snatched away when the only German distributor closed its doors and shortly thereafter other vendors in Europe also stopped carrying the product line due to the transition from foil to a breathable outer surface (Guess which side those resellers were on when it comes to that preference! ;-) ). As a result, I was ever only able to do a shortened version of a test thanks to some leftover pieces the folks at Diaper Minister sent me.

I never lost sight of “doing it right” and so I patiently waited for my next chance and that arose when I stumbled upon a new supplier called Smartlifetime.com. You gotta hand it to the Belgians – when it comes to the availability of incontinence products they certainly are at the forefront of it, at least here in Europe. Of course that’s easy for them, with some manufacturing and import companies also heaving headquarters and factories in that little country.

Nateen Combi, Packages, Different Absorption Levels

Wanting to be thorough about it, I went the full mile and got all absorption levels and in addition one of them in the two sizes relevant to me, size M and L. First lets explore the absorption part.

Nateen Combi, Packages, Different Absorption Levels

Ranging from the weakest to strongest absorption rating the individual levels are called Soft, Plus, Maxi and Ultra, respectively. Since every pack contains exactly ten pieces you can already get a feel for what to expect just by gauging the package sizes. This becomes even more apparent when you place them directly side by side. The two lowest levels are about equal in package size, but the Maxi and Ultra have each different dimensions. Naturally, these will again be different across sizes, so you might have a bit of a problem when it comes to stacking them up in your garage or whatever you may use as your storage facility if you mix & match different versions.

Nateen Combi, Different Absorption Levels

Taking a specimen from each package and stacking them (flattened out under pressure with a heavy bathroom tile in my case) is somewhat inconclusive with regards to distinguishing the levels just visually. If someone just showed you a picture, you couldn’t really tell how thick each absorption level is. You only get a better impression once you hold each one in your hand and feel how it responds to pressure and how it flip-flops around a bit more or a bit less depending on the actual variant. Part of this problem is the rather inconsistent product appearance. Allow me to elaborate and linger on that a bit.

Nateen Combi, Different Absorption Levels

According to their own website, Nateen have their products manufactured in three different factories in China and it shows unfortunately, not in a good way. Let’s discard the Soft version on the leftmost position in the above image having a foil panel for the time being. Clearly I ended up with a leftover package from the transitional phase and current production runs would look like the other three items.

If you look closely at those, you see that each one is distinctly different in terms of how it is folded, how it got squeezed/ compressed in the package, where the fader-type wetness indicator strips are placed. Even the cellulose fluff has a slightly different coloration in the Plus model. That’s definitely not what I would call consistent branding. Don’t even get me started on how wrinkled some of the diapers are on the inside! You could write this off as my usual niggles, of course, and it shouldn’t affect the usability, should it? Unfortunately it kinda does. Each absorption level seems to give a different user experience based on the mix of components and ingredients. Allow me to tiptoe through each one of them.

The Soft version is basically your “use once (or twice) and then throw away” version as it would most commonly be used in stationary medical care where there’s always someone at hand that can change the diaper. For most people reading this blog it’s therefore probably not the most relevant. Having ended up with the intermediate version, my biggest complaint here would have been that the adhesive tapes were a bit weak, but this could be totally be due to the package having sat in storage for too long. During the short time you would be wearing this the behavior is predictable enough and the product reasonably retains its shape, being that you can only push so far with filling it up.

I used the Plus for those two or three hours in the evening between showering and actually going to bed and whatever one does during that time like watching TV. Things get a bit odd with this one “on the last mile”, as it were. Up to a certain point it behaves pretty much like the Soft and feels comfortable, but beyond this mark it starts to feel more and more mushy with every drop you squeeze into it. I also noticed that a considerable amount of vapor seeped through the outer surface, leaving lots of condensation droplets on my plastic pants. Ergo it would be logical to never go without those, as this moisture would make things very uncomfortable when it goes directly into your onesie or textile underpants.

The Maxi in my opinion is the best balanced of all the versions. As you would expect and as its name implies the amount of liquid it can hold is considerable and I always found it to be more than sufficient even when out of home for a bit longer. In particular I liked that this model never actually feels saggy and in fact somewhat firm as I’m used to from my daily go-to product Attends Slip Regular or others like Tena Slip. It seems to me that this also avoids the issue with the condensed liquid.

The Ultra should add that extra bit of even more absorption on top, but strangely falls back into Plus territory when it comes how it actually feels. My impression is that just adding more absorbent material to the pad once again doesn’t work and while on many other products of that ilk I have criticized them being too hard and thus screwing up absorbency, here it is the exact opposite. For my taste after a while things got a bit too soggy and saggy, so I tended to change my diaper even if presumably the product could have sustained yet another shot of pee (or more).

Nateen Combi Ultra, Packages, Sizes M and L

The oddities and slight quirks with the appearance continue across different sizes as well as is evident in the picture below. Once again a case of factory A vs. factory B, I suppose. Additionally there’s a confusing disparity with the sizes themselves when compared to other products and established standard measurements.

The size M adheres to those standards pretty well – at about 65 cm panel width and 78 cm transversal length front to back it’s pretty much in the range you would find on a Tena, Attends, etc. product, covering the usual 80 to 110 cm circumference. The size L on the other hand exceeds those standard specs and in fact comes across more like an XL. Its front-to-back length is around 98 cm instead of the more common 90 cm, the panel width 83 cm instead of 78 cm. Those little bits here and there add up.

The good news in all of that is of course that if you are caught in the “gap” between L and XL you might be presented with a chance here to go with the smaller product while still being able to wear it comfortably. These observations also make me wonder what the actual XL version might be like. Perhaps I will buy a pack one day just to satisfy my curiosity.

Nateen Combi Ultra, Sizes M and L

For me wearing the size L is a bit awkward as there is seemingly no way to get it fixated as I would like. Admittedly, though, this could simply be a case of needing more practice, i.e. having to buy a few more packs to figure things out. The biggest issue in my case is that it ends up to high on the waist line and then the old chain of cause and effect kicks in – my belly pushes things out, the diaper slides down and overall there is just too much air in the crotch region to really feel safe.

Nateen Combi Ultra, Package, Size M

As always my primary testing efforts were focused on size M. In addition to what has been said about the absorption levels and sizes already, there are a few more things worth mentioning. The first would be the shape of the absorbent pad. It’s identical across the whole range and thankfully isn’t “over-optimized” with the sideways extensions in the front and back not having trimmed to a strip. I love myself some good bum coverage and this product is therefore highly suitable for people with fecal incontinence issues. There’s a high likelihood everything will stay sealed in beyond your buttocks and not come out left and right of your butt crack.

Nateen Combi Ultra, Front

While the basic shape and fit are just fine, the material of the outer surface is rather thin and tends to wear out after a certain time and amount of liquid in your diaper. This almost inevitably means that you may need to check and re-fasten your tapes at some point, which however then could also damage the surface when you have to tear the tapes off an all too moist product. Hmmm… It’s an imperfect world, but this is not how things should be.

Nateen Combi Ultra, Side View

The tapes are pretty much standard fare, but their being entirely white makes it at times difficult to figure out where to pull in a situation like described above. On a few occasions they also were reluctant to come off their backing foil when first putting on the diaper, so I managed to pull of their socket/ anchoring tape that is supposed to hold them on the shell a couple of times. Because the tapes are also kinda stiff and thick, you sometimes don’t even notice. In any case, you have to be careful.

Nateen Combi Ultra, Back

Overall this is by no means a bad product, but it has issues that can’t be ignored. The inconsistent branding is a minor one, though you still have to ask “Why ?“. Companies like Hartmann or SCA/ Essity (Tena) go out of their way to provide the same experience even when products are produced in different facilities all across the globe, so it seems just weird they can’t manage the same in their factories that are relatively close by one another in China. Quality management, anyone?

The fit and softness of the product are once more a matter of individual preference. I prefer almost harness-like, tight diapers that are not too soft, others may be just the opposite and want things super soft. What cannot be debated, however, are things like possibly having to adjust your tapes halfway through the wearing time. This definitely needs to be addressed. While I still think that something has been lost or gone awry in the transition from a foil-based product to one with a breathable surface, not all is lost.

My personal favorite is the Maxi as it hits all the right beats and simply works. The others are kind of okay-ish. For me, anyway. Your own testing may skew in a different direction and the good part is that you can do so on a modest budget. Since only ten pieces are in every pack, the resulting prices per pack are low enough. You could even throw in one of them just to pad out your purchase and get entitlement for free shipping, should you come up short of whatever value a distributor may have set as the threshold…

Giveaway Time: SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vests

As I wrote in my latest article, here’s another little giveaway for you. Two lucky winners can win one of two available KayCey Vest diaper suits/ special needs garments in size 176 (age 15-16). The contest is open until June 15, 2018 and after that date the winners will be contacted to provide a physical address to have their prizes shipped to them.

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Giveaway

Just fill out the contact form below and indicate which model you would prefer in case of a win. Note that only the two examples are available in the size indicated. No substitutes or alternate prizes, so make sure you would be able to wear the onesies or know someone who might enjoy them. Multiple entries are allowed and prizes will be shipped to wherever you are using the cheapest possible method. Additional charges and fees may apply for non-EU residents. Have fun!

<Contest closed and contact form removed to prevent abuse>

Privacy Info: By participating in the contest you agree to allow storing and processing your contact info until such time the winners have been successfully contacted and the prizes have been sent out. After this date the data will be immediately deleted. Your info will be kept private and not be shared with any third parties. You may request deletion of your data at any point before the deadline if you change your mind.

Diaper Accessories: The big Onesie Shootout – Part 14 – SpecialKids.Company

The search for the perfect onesie at times feels like the “Iron Triangle”. You know, that thing where if in an equilateral triangle the center represents the ideal state and the sides are rigidly constrained, the more you move one of the corners towards the center, the more the others move further away. It’s on a general level most often used as a good way to visualize the relationship of cost vs. quality vs. price.

Translated to the world of diaper suits/ bodysuits this can be applied in a multitude of ways. At one time a poor fit might nullify other positive aspects of a product, other times simple sloppy manufacturing may make the best intentions go for naught and yet another time excessive pricing may prevent strong market penetration and a path to glory.

For me personally one of the biggest hiccups always is color choice and acceptable sizing for grown-ups, so I was more than looking forward to getting my hands on the KayCey Vests from SpecialKids.Company after someone casually mentioned them on a forum and I started investigating. Let’s see what they have in store for us.

Colors and Patterns

Despite my not minding flamboyant colors and colorful patterns most of the time even when I’m exposed e.g. during physical therapy, we all have those moments where we need to take a more serious approach to the matter. That is the case for people who might not think it’s that cute at all when elderly ladies benevolently smile at your printed onesie peeking out from under your sweater, but it’s also important for kids to minimize the risk of being victims of bullying or being ridiculed.

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, T-Shirt Version, Colors

The SpecialKids.Company suits fill that requirement quite well. To begin with, all colors are slightly subdued, so they don’t pop that much. This in particular applies to the pink and sky blue variants, of course. They both lean towards a warm color interpretation, which makes them appear less aggressive while at the same time avoiding the “baby pastels” trap by not being too pale, either.

The sky blue in addition is matched to the typical color of British school uniforms’ polo shirts and together with the white version by choosing the respective polo type shape can be used as full substitutes for their regular counterparts on those uniforms. Other styles like the sleeveless variant may also be relevant any other standardized, unified clothing the school may require, e.g. sports.

For us adults the most relevant colors beyond white are likely the dark navy (blue) and grey versions. The latter variant features the mottled structure that is typical of grey sweat pants or for that matter other products using similar textiles, most often based on polyester. This should once more make it easy to combine the bodysuits with other apparel without anyone noticing right away.

The navy color for my taste is a bit too dark and has a slight cyan tinge, meaning it appears almost black most of the time. That’s not a terrible issue, it just may not match your blue jeans as well as you may have hoped or look too dark in contrast to some other pieces of clothing you intend to wear. Yupp, the curse of being fashion-conscious. ;-) On that note, I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing more colors or even something like the dual colored versions featured in SpecialKids.Company‘s older Wonsie product line such as  a grey suit with black sleeves or vice versa. Perhaps they’ll revive those color schemes.

Size and Fit

I admit I’ll never fully understand the British age-based size system. It’s imprecise and open to individual interpretation by the vendors and thus just as confusing as the American letter-based  system trying to categorize everything into S to XL. I much prefer the French/ German system based on genuine body height in centimeters. Therefore for this review I went with the largest available size targeted at ages 15-16 or size 176, respectively, just to be on the safe side.

This decision turned out to be about right, though admittedly I might in fact try one size smaller next time. I’ve always preferred a very tight fit and the KayCey Vests are shaped very spaciously even for a chubby boy like me. That is of course totally subjective and a matter of individual tastes.

First and foremost these products are made for children with special needs in mind. Those kiddos might prefer things not to be so snug and want greater freedom of movement; wheelchair-bound people may need those extra centimeters to cover their skin, users with feeding tubes conversely may need some space to shove their clothes aside for easy access to their stomach region and ultimately stretching out a polo style onesie too much might look totally iffy, after all. ;-)

Given the size I chose, there’s enough room left to feel comfortable and not bump into issues like the snappers zapping away because of too much tension. At my 1.80 meters height and a slightly stocky figure there are no issues whatsoever. Even moving my arms during physical therapy has no ill effects unlike with some other products that are a tad too short when it comes to upper body length.

In my opinion the sleeve length of the short could be a bit longer. I get that you may not want things to get too lofty, especially when people need assistance for dressing and things could tangle up, but slightly more extended sleeves would be more convincing for the onesies to pass as conventional T-shirts. It’s literally just that one inch…

The lower section is designed to cover your behind and extend down to the upper thighs. This ensures that any incontinence products you may be wearing are fully covered and hidden and of course it keeps you warm. The images may give an exaggerated “big butt” impression because the diaper suit tapers out, but it’s really not that. When wearing the product, it follows your contours naturally.

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Polo Version, Front

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Polo Version, Back

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Polo Version, Neck

As an alternative to my preferred T-shirt style there are the already heavily mentioned polo style and a sleeveless/ tank top version. SpecialKids.Company were kind enough to include some examples for this article in my order and you lucky people can win them in a little giveaway (see the separate follow-up post).

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Tank Top Version, Front

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Tank Top Version, Front

I tried them on briefly, but they are not really my thing. I just can’t see myself wearing a polo suit all the time, no matter what the color. I also think if I were to use the tank top, I would like the arm holes to actually be larger, i.e. start lower instead of directly in the armpits. The rationale here of course is to make it more difficult for the kids to inadvertently undress themselves. Still, I think that for adults it may be useful to allow some more leeway and a looser fit, all my critical views and personal preference aside.

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Tank Top Version, Neck

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Tank Top Version, Arm

As a final note: All types of KayCey Vests are also available with a dedicated tube access window as a means of controlling PEG / tube access on people who are dependent on such stuff. In addition to standard use cases like feeding tubes or those pesky cables of electronic monitoring devices, this possibly could also be handy for treatments like peritoneal dialysis and so on. The mere mention of these words makes me shudder, though, so I’m just as glad I’m not dependent on any of this yet and won’t elaborate on it too deeply. I’ll just mention that it’s available for the sake of painting the full picture.

Diaper Fixation

I’m always a bit skeptical with those almost romper-like suits and their protruding legs. There’s always the chance the buttons may be placed less than ideally and this could have bad consequences like the snappers being a nightmare to button up or them sliding on each other and getting caught, only to then tear open inadvertently at the most inconvenient time. This isn’t the case here.

I suppose the likelihood of these incidents is a matter of a) how far down the leg pieces actually reach, b) the number and placement of the buttons and c) their strength.

With the leg extensions actually not being this massively long and the coverage being more equal to conventional short “tighty whitey” briefs, case a) is probably taken care of already. The buttons will still end up as a single straight row in your crotch area. At worst, the outermost snappers could end up buried in your groins and feel a bit uncomfortable.

With regards to b), five buttons should sufficiently take care of the matter. As I found out over the course over this article series, this seems to be some kind of sweet spot, anyway. Three is definitely not enough, four often lead to strange warping down there and only five, placed relatively close together, seem to provide enough strength to keep things smooth and reliably sealed up.

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Buttons

Odd numbers also have the advantage of being able to start in the middle and not mess up the order. As much as I like my Sanetta onesies for instance, I occasionally still misalign the front and back rows and then end up only closing three buttons with an unused half element on either side being left. You guessed it – you have to start over then.

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Colored Buttons Contrast

In addition to this simple intuitive logic of odd vs. even numbers SpecialKids.Company are trying to facilitate this even further by having the central locating popper in a different color. Currently this is their corporate purple, but since on some color combinations it is difficult to recognize, I would love to see alternative colors for better contrast in future production runs. It may be difficult to accommodate depending on actual production numbers and cost efficiency, but one can dream. To illustrate this, I have mocked up an image showing how it could look.

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Colored Buttons Simulation

If you are fully able to dress yourself it may of course not be that relevant. I personally rely on my fingertip sensors mostly and don’t stand in front of a mirror or bend forward like crazy just to see the buttons. On the other hand I can see how it might make things a little easier for parents, nurses, kindergarten teachers and so on when they help the little ones get dressed.

Returning to point c) of our little hypothesis, this can easily be answered in a positive way as well. The buttons here are extremely strong, even if they are “just” of the 7 mm type where others use the larger 9 mm ones. In fact it’s a good thing the area where they are fixated has an extra liner tissue sandwiched in. It’s also beneficial that this area is a separate appendage and unlike elsewhere the buttons are not just hammered into the regular leg seams. One can only hope this never happens, but in case you really rip out a button, this would make it much easier to repair things, including possibly sewing on a new strip if you really shredded the original one for good.

Where there’s lots of light, there inevitably is some shadow at least and that comes in the form of the cloth perhaps being a bit too soft to truly hold up a larger adult diaper on its own. It’s quite likely all fine up to a certain size and a specific thickness/ weight, but in particular for the ages 12 and up I could well see that some extra strength being needed. The extended leg parts take a bit off that burden with their friction acting as a “stopper”, but they can’t compensate everything. This is also the reason why I definitely want to try a smaller size to get a tighter fit with more resilience that may counter this issue.

In the long run, though, I think this needs a proper solution, at least for those people not wanting to wear extra fixation garments underneath. Perhaps this means sewing in an extra textile strip to act as a belt, perhaps it means double-layering the cloth, perhaps it means branching out into a completely new product line for adolescents and grown-ups. I don’t know. In any case, this is more or less again one of those adult niggles, not an inherent flaw in the product. You know, different needs and those diapers getting proportionately heavier on larger people…

Materials and Manufacturing Quality

Potential issues with insufficient diaper load-bearing notwithstanding, the supple cloth is otherwise something to love. It’s a textile similar to the one used by Onesies Downunder, consisting of a mix of 95% cotton with the remaining percentage being Elastane. The obvious benefits are a high adaptability to different body proportions and good shape retention (unless you really ruin things by washing or ironing too hot ;-) ).

On the subject of washing – color stability and durability of the cloth are just what you would expect. Those fine cloths tend to be much more robust than one gives them credit for and since here they are a full dye, solid color, this is even less of an issue. If you follow washing instructions you should not run into any problems. I can’t vouch for extreme situations, though, since I tend to not spill ketchup  that might necessitate aggressive high-temperature washing. Rather the opposite – I always have to be careful to not let my pieces turn grey too much when I use washing agents all too sparingly at low temperatures.

No matter which approach to laundry you prefer, it’s more likely that the hot foil print on the inside will come off long before the products have reached their end of life. In addition to containing the pertinent size and manufacturing information this part also has an area where you can fill in your name with a textile marker. This would be useful to avoid mix-ups in cloakrooms at schools with uniforms or residential care homes with multiple people having their laundry done by “someone in charge” and where it would help to sort the pieces after laundry.

The finely knit textile is very gentle to the skin and shouldn’t become a burdensome, itchy mess at any point. There are other measures in place to deal with this exact problem as well. Firstly there are totally no sewn-in clothing tags, which I find a very smart decision. There just never is a good place to put them and after a while they either look totally shabby or drive you bonkers with their sharp edges scratching on your skin (especially with the plastic-y type). Anyone who has ever bought some piece of apparel from a big international brand knows how outrageously tough it can be to get rid of those stacks of tags in like twenty languages even if you have shaved them down to a thin strip and removed them almost completely.

This leaves us with the seams, which if not done right can be just as much a pain – quite literally. We all have those days where we wake up in the morning and have those annoying pressure marks, whether it’s from conventional pajamas or your favorite unicorn onesie. Now imagine how that may feel if you are (partially) immobilized and can’t simply change position or need to wear specific medical braces,  harnesses, casts and so on. SpecialKids.Company tackle this by keeping the seams as flat as possible.

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Inside Seams

To that end two strategies are employed: The stitching is applied in a horizontal way using flat-locked seams (which, BTW also looks very decorative and pleasing) and where that is not possible, converging edges like the rims of the neck hole are placed in such a way that the thick parts are mostly on the outside and the inner seams are also cleaned up with flat stitching. Of course there are limits to how far this can be taken and in some places you can see that this is also hard on the seamstresses who put the pieces together.

While the overall quality is good, you occasionally notice minor glitches and inaccuracies, especially in areas where multiple seams meet and you wonder if this couldn’t have been done differently. I’m not going to go out on a limb here, though, since I’m not rocking the sewing machine and can only judge this in an abstract “How would I do it?” sense.

Pricing and Availability

Despite being a bespoke/ specially designed special needs garment, the pricing for the KayCey Vests is more than reasonable. Pricing is tiered and relates to the size/ age denomination and begins at around 15 GPB (17 Euros) for the small sizes up to 21 GBP (24  Euros) for the largest ones. With foreign currencies the values fluctuate based on daily exchange rates and with the Brexit looming nobody knows where the journey goes, but that is to say it’s not unaffordable or super-expensive.

Availability is generally not much of an issue. SpecialKids.Company always appear to have a sufficient supply in stock based on my irregular checks of their online store and following them on Facebook. Actual delivery on the other hand gave me a bit of a head scratch.

Being outside the UK can end up confusing due to international shipping agents/ intermediary logistics companies getting involved. SpecialKids.Company send their packages through Hermes, which seems simple enough. At the same time, though, despite the same name, the British version seems to have very little to do with the one based here in Germany, so I ended up getting confusing mails from one of those aforementioned service companies (whose name totally eludes me now) that were not much use for actually keeping track of where the package was. Sentences like “Your package has been processed at the destination parcel center.” don’t really mean much, so unsurprisingly the delivery driver rang the doorbell when I didn’t quite expect it. Yes, I’m one of those people who keep watching out for those colorful trucks and ideally love to know the delivery time down to the minute. ;-)

All of this is not SpecialKids.Company‘s fault, though. Things could be just fine now and all issues smoothed out with this merely being an unexpected hiccup in the system. Still, perhaps they will offer an alternative shipping method via DHL or another big player one day to make this more predictable for us impatient people.

Summary

Compared to many so-so entries in my article series, this is downright bliss. The KayCey Vests are not completely perfect, either (if there is even such a thing), but considerable thought has gone into the design and manufacturing and it carries through to the final product. What’s left is to optimize the larger sizes more for adults and expand the product range with more variants, other colors and all that good stuff.

I’m also hoping that this will develop into a reliable source for these products here in Europe, even if the current state of affairs in Great Britain and its future has a big question mark next to it. There’s plenty of ways to find and get these products – directly via their own web shop, by following the links on their Facebook pages or on Amazon (including the German platform). All that said, you should definitely put these products on your “Wanted” list and give them a try. Your chance to do just that totally for free is just around the corner in our little contest…

Diaper Basics: Another Look at Incontinence Skincare – Part 6 – Tena

With some considerable ground already covered and several of the “big players” in the field of incontinence related products already having had their due, the next one in line is Tena.

General Observations

Like it has been the case with other skincare product series, Tena‘s offering is equally uneven and sort of incomplete. Things seem never to come together in one place, or in this case from a single vendor, respectively. You always have to mix and match. The part that Tena brings to the table are some paper-based products that aren’t that bad and perhaps an interesting barrier product. We’ll find out more on that later.

As far as commonalities between the products go, the most noticeable is a lemongrass scent which depending on the situation and specific product can be anything from okay to pretty annoying. Its intensity depends a lot on how long stays on your skin, so it’s more bearable when it quickly dissipates after a shower and in turn much less acceptable when your entire body smells of it, at least for me. Depending on your preference it may be just fine, but I’m hyper-sensitive to odours and get easily aggravated over them.

The package designs are contemporary and almost stylish, yet the color coding at times feels a bit unnecessary, given the limited selection of items. It’s not too much of a stretch of imagination to envision them all being just blue, even more so since the differentiation in some areas is limited, to say the least. Imagine a care nurse under stress taking a shampoo cap from the storage room instead of wet washing gloves and only realising the mistake in the patient’s room after a long walk! ;-)

Cleaning Products

Tena Skincare, Shower GelThe water-based cleaning department is represented by a single product – a combined shampoo and shower gel. Matching the color of the sticker on the bottle and the pump at the top it has been tinted green, but that’s pretty much all there is. I found it easy enough to use and it’s economical, lasting for quite a bit of time, but it has no specific hidden powers or secret ingredients that would e.g. make it easier to get rid of zinc cream.

 

 

 

Waterless cleaning features the same products commonly employed by pretty much everyone – a wet wipes, variations on the theme with wet washing gloves, foam spray and an emulsion. The latter comes in two package sizes, one as a 250 ml tube and the other as a 500 ml dispenser bottle. The wash cream is pretty “neutral” in the sense that it is neither particularly oily nor very water-y, providing a good middle-ground for most of these tasks. It is also very mild, so there is no risk of skin irritations should you not get it off right away. Sometimes this happens when I get a phone call at inconvenient times and then wander around my flat half-naked with these products still on my skin.

Tena Skincare, Waterless Cleaning Products

The foam is a different matter, and to be brutally honest, I found it mostly useless. It is extremely unstable, barely leaving you a blink-of-an-eye moment to apply it correctly. Its bubbles begin to collapse immediately as soon as they hit the skin, leaving you with a wet puddle. This behavior also makes it impossible to apply the product indirectly via your fingers – that dab of foam literally melts on your fingertips. To make matters worse the spray can again is of the stand-on-your-head variety as opposed to what would be a more useful perpendicular nozzle. Still, even if it were, getting the foam where you need it would require some practice and experience. As it is currently, this product needs some major attention and is clearly a candidate for a major overhaul.

Tena Skincare, Wet Wipes

The wet wipes are a bit of an oddity as they feel a bit “dry” when taken out of the package even though they actually aren’t. Of course I’m not complaining about this, as I’m not friends with soaking wet wipes. So arguably I should perhaps just shut up about it and accept things as they are. I’ll be the first to admit that. ;-) One advantage of this perceived dryness is the need to really proactively rub the wipes on the skin instead of just letting the cloth slide. Therefore the actual cleansing effect should in fact be even better. The downside could be that for people with very thin or sensitive skin this could already be too much and they could experience painful abrasions or their coarse skin cracking open. This is really a “your mileage may vary” thing in the end.

Tena Skincare, Wet Gloves

The wet wash gloves are an extension of the previous item and where Hartmann ask you to use up to eight of these things, Tena only require five of them by ways of a somewhat convoluted, or if you will elaborate, scheme of using the front and back sides of a single glove. Which is better is for the practitioners to decide since naturally for our purpose of cleaning the intimate regions inbetween diaper changes just one glove will do just fine most of the time. Here you even get to pick between the standard scent and an odourless variant.

Tena Skincare, Shampoo Cap

Finally, there’s the shampoo cap mentioned earlier. Since I have very short, cropped hair I haven’t found a good excuse to actually use it, so I can’t offer any first-hand experience. This is by all means intended as a hair fresh-up for bedridden or otherwise immobilized people who may be too weak to make it to the bathroom. I would imagine, though, that in a pinch it could be used when you’re stuck camping out in nature or on a summer festival and access to water is limited. The product can be used both warmed up in a microwave or cold fresh out of the bag.

Complementary Paper Products

This section is one of the more unique things about Tena‘s portfolio that so far I like a lot. Okay, granted, you can find these paper products from other manufacturers, too, but typically they are more marketed for medical use than homecare/ incontinence care and they may not be available in retail, but only in bulk/ large quantities e.g. for hospitals. What also makes this particular product line stand out is that they come in boxes. Yes, you heard me right, plain old cardboard boxes with die-cut tear-open fronts that make it easy to take out an item even if you only pincer it with your oily, dirty fingers. No awkward foil bags, no nonsense. You really will appreciate what a godsend this can be when you are in a situation where you just want to reach for that dry wipe without contaminating something else. The only real downside is the bulkiness, but I’m sure you can make place on your shelf or bedstand.

Tena Skincare, Wash Gloves

The first, and at this point having become mundane, item are the washing gloves. They are available as a foil-lined version and one without. Just look at those huge numbers! Used sparingly, a single box could last you half a year. From a practical standpoint, Tena‘s gloves feel a bit stiff so even if you only want to (mis-)use them as a dry wipe, ever so slightly moisturising them with just a drop of water will make them more comfortable to use.

Tena Skincare, Wash Gloves

On to the next – so far easily one of my favorite products in this series – the dry Soft Wipes. These are universally usable wipes for all kinds of things. They can be used dry, but just as well soaking wet. Their texture is much denser and firmer than Seni‘s Air-Laid tissues, yet they are almost as soft and gentle. I often use them as a way of getting rid of excess moisture after having used wet wipes or after having had to do a thorough wet cleaning after messy accidents in the posterior regions. The smaller version of the product is way sufficient, but you can of course indulge and get the larger flavor just as well.

Tena Skincare, Soft Wipes

Tena Skincare, Soft Wipes

The other significant product is Cellduk, a more conventional multi-layered paper product akin to napkins, Tempos/ paper hankies or the similar tissues of this sort used in the medical business e.g. as sterile swabs after blood tests to stop the bleeding once the needle has been pulled out. As such the product shares the rather coarse and rough feel of this product and while it’s possible I would not necessarily use it dry. Similar to the wash gloves this works much better if it is a bit damp. It becomes more malleable, allowing you to literally get better into every (butt-)crack. Due to its layered nature it has also a pretty good absorbency, making it an ideal candidate for wiping away all kinds of splotches and stains, which of course can include mundane household stuff like wine or ketchup as well.

Tena Skincare, Cellduk

Tena Skincare, Cellduk

Truth be told, none of these paper products are admittedly essential and there’s nothing wrong with holding on to your cheap household paper towels, but I find especially the Soft Wipes a nice alternative when dealing with my poopy problems. It’s more efficient to have a single large, stable piece rather than using up endless sheets of toilet paper or being afraid to poke holes into cheap paper towels, if you get my meaning. As such I’d be ready to buy this product again every time. On some level even the price would balance itself out, depending on how much toilet paper/ kitchen towels you actually use/ have to use. To me it sometimes feels like I buy a family pack of this stuff every week…

Skincare Products

The skincare department is as sparsely populated as pretty much every other area and only features two items – a lotion and a thicker cream. Neither of the two were particularly suitable for my skin type. Understandably the cream is aimed at people older than me, but even so I found it unnecessarily greasy. I have serious doubts that it would easily get absorbed even into the most dry and brittle elderly skin. On the other hand the lotion feels a bit too dry and sticky for its own good. It just doesn’t flow nicely on the skin and I inevitably ended up using an extra dab here and there to cover up spots that I didn’t catch right away. The advantage here is of course that it doesn’t feel sweaty like with some other products, so I’m a bit torn whether that’s all fine and good or if it needs to be changed.

Tena Skincare, Cream and Lotion

Skin Protection

The protective products are going to be a bit of a walk of shame for me because I honestly totally forgot about the zinc cream. At the time when I received my samples it wasn’t available anywhere and as I went along with my testing efforts, shooting the photos and other preparations for the article I lost sight of the matter. It only re-entered my conscious thoughts when I sat down for writing the text. I would argue, though, that you can’t really do much wrong with a zinc ointment, so unless I’m missing something fundamental, it probably will not be worth worrying about it too much. Still, there’s always a chance for those follow-up articles, of course.

Tena Skincare, Barrier Creams

As a saving grace (and also saving my deriere for this article), the alternative transparent barrier cream is actually pretty good. I was a bit skeptical, since it is as thick as honey on the verge of crystallizing and also looks like that – a rich golden color. As a catch, this also requires quite a bit of strength to squeeze it out of the tube. Once you have successfully managed to get a portion on your fingers it will begin to melt nicely, though, so actually applying it to the regions you want to isn’t a problem. This goes to show how finely tuned the liquifying point is to the body temperature. Once in place, the film it creates is more or less a somewhat dull/ matte layer, which is neither particularly sticky nor very slide-y like with some other products. I actually quite like it, even more so since it stays put for extended durations without requiring to be renewed. It survives multiple diaper changes if you don’t do excessive cleaning inbetween and completely rub it off.

Summary

My overall impression with the Tena skincare line is quite similar to the one from Attends – if one thing is missing, it’s a consistent user experience and some products are almost unusable. At least I consider the cleaning foam spray a total dud. Thankfully the cellulose-based products and the barrier cream make more than up for it, but still – this shouldn’t happen with such a big brand. Once again this is quite a mixed bag.

Thanks to SCA/ Essity for providing the product samples for this article.

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