Steaming. Bedazzling. Misting. Luminizing. Exfoliating. Plumping. Tightening. Lightening. Waxing with 24-karat gold. No, these aren’t beauty treatments designed for your face, but they are geared toward beautifying your lady bits.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a woman in 2018 who doesn’t do some kind of maintenance down there, whether it be scheduling monthly waxes, using a hygienic wash, or simply shaving. Even women who opt to go au natural might use an elixir of some sort, like Fur’s wildly popular pubic hair oil, which Emma Watson claims works just as well on brows and split-ends as it does on pubic hair. The sheer number of vaginal creams, serums, exfoliants, and mists—skincare for your vagina, if you will—that have hit the market within the past several years has been something of a trend. Why are so many women giving TLC to a region that has been otherwise overlooked, and to what do we owe this spurt in vaginal wellness?
Blame it on three things, according to Maria Sophocles, a gynecologist in Princeton, New Jersey. First off, the sexual revolution in the ’70s, the launch of Sex and the City in the ‘90s (“the show opened up women’s eyes to having a healthy, robust libido,” she said), and the internet—namely, porn. “More women are looking at porn sites than ever before,” explained Sophocles. “They want to see what the women look like. Do they have pubic hair? Do they not? What does the labia look like? Do they have nipple piercings or clitoral piercings? I think this is actually driving the genital cosmetics trends.”
Sophocles said she’s seen a rise in labiaplasty procedures, which reduces the length of the folds of skin on the vulva, but that it’s typically more common in “wealthier, more liberal” communities, which is the same case for the class of women using, say, a $54 elderflower and licorice root extract serum to “firm, radiate, and tone” their vaginas or a $43 highlighter that claims to “minimize imperfections” and add “some extra prettiness to the V.” (These products and more recently launched from a luxury Scandinavian brand called “The Perfect V.”) “It’s very socio-cultural,” Sophocles said.
Like other medical professionals, Sophocles is skeptical of vaginal products’ claims. “It’s a huge marketing opportunity,” she said. “They all claim they are blessed by medical professionals, and I hate to crap on my own colleagues, but I don’t think it’s that hard to get an MD to be on your own board and pay them a thousand dollars a month to say the product is fine. That’s all they do. It doesn’t mean the product works or that you need it or that it’s healthy or safe or good for you.”