I grew up believing that douche was a bad word. I was forbidden to use it as an insult when some boy in junior high was being, well, a douche. And I was warned against using a douche to cleanse my nether regions; my mother being of the mindset that water and a bar of soap was all one’s V really needed. That upbringing has meant that other than semi-regular appointments with my razor and pre-vacation bikini waxes, my pubic area has pretty much been left to live a relatively natural life.
Recently though, I spotted an online ad for VV Cream, a beautifying lotion for your lady bits. Made by Denmark-based company The Perfect V, the cream is designed to be used on the small V-shaped triangle of skin above the vagina (otherwise known as part of the vulva) and is just one step in the brand’s multi-faceted down-there skincare regimen.
Their Shades of V Very V Luminzer is meant to even out skin tone while their VV Serum claims to help with rejuvenation. Adorably, they’ve named this vag-care system the “vanicure,” based on their belief that women should pamper their lady bits with the same attention they give to their fingers and toes.
But besides being totally silly and completely uneccessary, is this level of vag maintenance even safe?
“When it comes to your vagina, vulva and the complete area down there, less is more”
I asked Dr. Yolanda Kirkham, an obstetrician-gynecologist who works at Women’s College Hospital and St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto. In short, her answer is no. When it comes to your vagina, vulva and the complete area down there, less is more, says the doctor. “That area is self-caring and self-cleaning.” Washing with water, ditching your underwear overnight and avoiding long-term use of panty liners (the chemicals can be an irritant to the skin) are really all you need to do for your delicate V skin, says Dr. Kirkham.
So, OK. But it’s hard to deny the appeal of hydrating and skin tone-balancing products for waxing and shaving enthusiasts looking to minimize or cover up irritation and folliculitis (those pesky red bumps). But if you do feel the need to give your lady bits some extra TLC, Kirkham recommends approaching with caution: “Test new products in a small area first to make sure you don’t get a rash, and avoid using them right after shaving when the skin is at its most vulnerable.” She also warns to take care in preventing products from dripping lower down the vaginal area, which can result in some unpleasant burning sensations.
Who are these V-beautifying rituals even for?
Vanicures (like their spa-administered cousin the vagina facial, aka vajacial) are evidence of a growing trend in pop culture and companies trying to convince us that we need to dress up our Vs. Sex and the City kicked it off with Samantha’s lightening bolt-shaved pubes; then came vajazzling, the art of bedazzling one’s genitals in sparkly crystals, which had its moment a few years back. 2015 marked the first World’s Most Beautiful Vagina contest. Glitter bombs and vaginal steaming are now part of our lexicon. And labiaplasty, also known as female genital rejuvenation surgery, is the second-fastest growing cosmetic procedure in the U.S, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. (Canada doesn’t keep statistics on cosmetic procedures.)
Some are likening this growing obsession to the breast augmentation craze of the 1980s. And Dr. Kirkham brings up the astute question of who are we even doing all of this for? “We don’t see men putting cosmetics and creams in that area,” she notes. “There is a double standard.”
Personally, I have to wonder who even has the time or energy to add yet another step to our self-care regimen? But, here’s the thing: if contouring your vagina and keeping the skin as subtle and smooth as possible makes you feel awesome, then vanicure-away. But if you’re doing it to please someone else or to achieve some ideal standard of beauty, keep in mind that there is no such thing as the perfect V and that no two vulvas are the same. (Just look at the 400 Vs that make up The Great Wall of Vagina sculpture).
Most of all, if you’re going to do it, make sure the products you’re using are safe. Add to that, it turns out mothers really do know best—according to Dr. Kirkham, douching should be avoided at all costs.
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