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Flowers Photography by Lina Scheynius

Trying out vaginal skincare

TextOlivia Cassano

Olivia Cassano has gone 25 years without the need for vaginal skincare, but we asked her to test it out all in the name of beauty

Beauty junkies are no strangers to excessive skincare routines. In fact, most of us are accustomed to lotions, serums and toners each specifically targeted for different parts of our face and body, and all with very different functions. But out of the myriad products that your routine might consist of, chances are none of them are designed for your vagina.

The beauty industry has, somewhat unsurprisingly, started catering to the most polarising area of women’s bodies: our fannies. Unlike surgical or cosmetic procedures like labiaplasty and vaginal rejuvenation, vaginal skincare is slightly less drastic and doesn’t promise a designer pussy.

Celebrities like Khloe Kardashian and Emma Watson are big proponents of vaginal skincare routines, so I decided to try them out first hand. I’ve gone 25 years without the need for vaginal skincare, so did using products designed specifically for my pubic area seem excessive? Yes. Was I willing to try them in the name of journalism? Also yes.

I was sceptical at first because the proud feminist in me is highly against promoting companies who cash in on women’s self-doubt, which they instilled in us in the first place. There are far too many brands and treatments designed specifically to make us feel inadequate, monetising on the insecurities we have about our vaginas, and I’d be lying if it didn’t cross my mind that vaginal skincare was exactly that, repackaged in a highly ‘grammable aesthetic. Having said that, the proud feminist in me is also a big advocate of self-care that celebrates female genitals, so the thought of giving my vulva some exclusive TLC was enticing. I had my doubts, but I was open-minded.

I stayed away from any cleansers because, contrary to popular contention, vaginas are self-cleaning. Even doctors agree that the best thing you can do for your vag is to leave it alone, and any product that promises to “balance the pH” of your vagina is trash. Not to mention that vaginal cleansers reinforce the patriarchal notion that our genitals are gross and in need of sanitation. Don’t let anyone tell you your vagina is dirty. So instead I focused on moisturising the area with three different products: The Perfect V “VV Cream”, a “luxurious hydrating cream” that “delivers radiance to the skin”, promising to enhance, renew and improve the beauty of the V. The Perfect V “Shades Of V”, a “special highlighting cream” that brightens and minimises the appearance of skin imperfections, leaving a luminous glow “to add extra prettiness to the V”. And Fur Oil, a 100% natural oil designed to soften your pubes and prevent ingrown hairs.

Aside from a couple of unfortunate bouts of thrush, I’ve never had the need for vag-specific creams. All my life I’ve been very aware of what goes in my vag, but I’ve never thought about what goes on it.

The standout product was hands down the Fur oil. Pubic hair is notoriously prickly, and a lifetime of shaving and waxing means that even though I’ve embraced the bush, ingrown hairs are still common. The oil itself has a strong lemony scent that makes me think I’ve poured a melted Strepsil on my pubes, but luckily you can’t smell it from all the way ~down there~. It was easy to apply, and to my surprise didn’t leave a greasy residue, nor did it stain my knickers.

But the creams? I didn’t find myself reaching for them as much, in fact, more times I completely forgot to use them. I can see how they’d be useful for someone who waxes, shaves, or chafes a lot, so if you’re hairless down there the moisturisers are the best choice for you. I wasn’t a fan of how the Perfect V products infantilised my vagina and told me it’s in need of “perfecting”. The products themselves are actually great, fragrance-free and gentle enough for every skin type, but they still promote the message that your intimates need beautifying. When female genitals are still cut and pruned to seem more appealing, how is a vaginal highlighter helping?

The pube oil (possibly the most unappealing-sounding thing), on the other hand, reclaims one of the most politicised aspects of the female anatomy: body hair. It’s a big “fuck you” to all the messages we were fed growing up telling us our crotch should look prepubescent, a way to reclaim adult womanhood and embrace your mons pubis au naturale.

If you’re on a budget (who isn’t?) dropping £40 on vaginal skincare is utter madness. Regardless, spending an extra 10 minutes post-shower massaging luxury oils and creams onto my vulva made me feel pampered. Paying attention to my intimates, an area women are socialised into being ashamed of, in a way that was neither sexual nor medical felt like the ultimate act of self-care. None of these products are necessary, but neither is getting your nails done twice a month. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it if it makes you feel good.

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