I don't know how else to start this story other than by telling you, flat out, that I recently got a vagina facial. If this admission scandalizes you the same way it did my tablemates at a recent charity dinner (I am... not great with boundaries or filters when it comes to strangers), you'll probably want to X out of this window and head over to some of our more wholesome beauty content about how to perfect the 'I'm cold' makeup trend and why you should stop washing your face in the shower.
But if not! Stay right here, where I'm going to introduce you to an intimate treatment that might just be your secret weapon for getting rid of ingrown hairs and ingrown scarring—and is so easy to recreate at home.
What is a vagina facial?
First thing's first: We say "vagina" facial, but it's really a "vulva" facial. The vagina is the canal and vulva is the name for the genitals outside of the body—when you get a "vagina" facial, you're treating the vulva (exterior) surface—not inserting anything inside (at no point was my actual vagina ever involved when I got my vajacial). With that out of the way, let's talk vagina facials, which are affectionately known in the industry as "vajacials" (a term that I laugh at every. single. time.). They are exactly what you'd expect them to be: Facials for your vagina.
"Vajacials provide the same benefits as facials to the skin of the intimate areas," says Andrea Escoboza, an esthetician at NYC-based women's intimate medspa VSPOT who I have gotten very up-close and personal with (yes, she was the lady who did my vajacial, and yes, I laughed while I typed that). "This means it decongests your skin of dirt and excess oil, conditions your skin to prevent inflammation or ingrowns, and infuses your skin with ingredients that help restore the protective barrier."
The people who can benefit from this type of treatment the most are those who are prone to ingrown hair, acne, and rough textured skin, as all of these issues are addressed within a standard session. Do you absolutely need a vajacial? But is it nice to have if you do get ingrown hairs, acne, and inflammation in the groin area? Yes! And you'll find out what it's like getting one if ya keep scrolling.
What it was like to get a professional vagina facial
I'm going to spare you the dirty details (my former colleague—Hi Rach!—got a similar treatment a few years back and wrote an in-depth review that you can read here), but consider these the
clit Cliff notes.
The process started with a quick cleanse, which was followed by a light acid peel and some gentle exfoliation with an ultrasonic skin-scrubbing device. Together, these steps help get rid of dead skin cells (which are typically responsible for trapping ingrown hairs) and even out scarring and textural issues. Next came LED light therapy with red and yellow lights (which work at different layers of the skin to improve cellular function and fight inflammation) followed by a hydrating sheet mask.
If you're thinking, "Hey! That sounds like a regular facial, but on your vagina (rather, vulva)!" you're absolutely right. Like a regular facial, vajacials can include steaming and extractions, but we skipped this step during my treatment; We also skipped the optional bikini wax.
Now, if you've ever gotten a bikini wax, or been to the gynecologist's office, you're probably intimately (lol) aware of the unique type of discomfort that comes with laying on a table naked from the waist down, Winnie the Pooh style, while a complete stranger works on your down-there parts. Personally, I don't mind it (Andrea and I talked about how I was going to get Taylor Swift tickets while she LED-lighted my crotch), but I get that it's not for everyone. Thankfully, there are ways you can recreate a near-identical treatment at home for your eyes only.
How to give yourself an at-home vagina facial
Admittedly, an at-home vajacial won't have all the same perks as the pro-grade version (that is, unless you've got a vulva steamer and an LED hood on-hand), but it still offers a lot of the same benefits.
"If you are receiving a vajacial at your local waxing salon, you will likely experience more steps, such as hair removal, steaming, extractions, and even LED light therapy, all of which would be done by a professional esthetician," says Rachel Kerr, director of brand and marketing for Bushbalm, an intimate skin care brand. "For an at-home vajacial, some of these steps are often unavailable or require a professional, but you can still experience similar results and relief with take-home products."
Here's how to do it, per the pros.
This step is likely already part of your routine (I mean, I hope it is), but any good at-home vajacial starts with an in-shower cleanse. "The steam and warm water will open up your pores and allow you to get a deeper cleanse," says Escoboza. "Use a pH balanced cleanser and cleanse the vulvar skin very well to prepare for the next steps." She recommends Bushbalm's All Over Feminine Wash ($19) or Sweet Spot Labs Microbiome Balancing Replenishing Full-Body Cleanser ($20), both of which are fragrance-free. As you may have noted from the product names, these formulas are A-Okay to use "all over" your "full body," so feel free to swap them in for your usual body wash.
Next, it's time to get rid of those dead skin cells and clear out your pores. While still in the shower, use a gentle physical or chemical exfoliant (seriously—gentle!!) to slough your skin. Escoboza likes Bushbalm's scrub, which pairs sugar crystals with hydrating oils. However, "If your skin is rough or thickened from past damage, skip the scrubs," she says. "I recommend using a daily chemical exfoliator, like V SPOT's Bye Bye Bumps, and avoiding physical exfoliants that can cause further damage to this skin type." If you're going to remove any body hair, now's also the time to do it.
Before I give you the deets on extractions, I want you to promise that you'll take it easy on your skin—no poking and prodding with needle-nosed tweezers, okay? Cool. Now that your pores are open and clear, superficial ingrowns are primed for removal before you get out of the shower. If an ingrown hair is so close to the surface of your skin that you can see it, and the area doesn't look red or inflamed, go ahead and use a Tweezer to extract it. Once it's out, cleanse the area again to reduce the spread of infections.
But! "If you have an inflamed ingrown, DO NOT attempt to remove it on your own," says Escoboza. "The inflammation can be pushed further into the skin accidentally, and [ingrowns] are prone to infections that can be spread to other hair follicles. These can sometimes be cystic and scar after an improper extraction."
I am happy to report that, yes, sheet masks for your vulva exist, and yes they are the piece de resistance of this entire process. If you want to see what it's like to experience a hydrogel sheet mask on your vagina, something I highly recommend, Escoboza likes Bushbalm’s Hydrogel Vajacial Mask ($49). It combines hyaluronic acid with calming aloe vera and tea tree oil to leave skin hydrated and irritation-free, and is the same one Escoboza used during my pro-grade vajacial. (Yes I laughed again!) Pop it on for 10 minutes and hang out wherever it feels least weird to hang out with a sheet mask on your genitals (Bed? Couch? Bathroom? I really don't know) before moving on to the next step.
Post-mask, you'll want to go ahead and apply any active ingredients—you can think of this as the serum step for your vulva. Bushbalm's Bermuda Dark Spot Oil ($26), which uses a mix of tea tree, lemon peel, grapeseed, and jojoba oils to fade discoloration from scarring, is a great pick.
Just like any good facial, your at-home vajacial finishes with hydration. "Moisturizing... post-extraction or exfoliation provides the skin with essential moisture to properly heal," says Escoboza, who recommends Sweet Spot Labs Hydrate Ever After ($23). "If your skin is very sensitive, use a protective balm like Cerave healing ointment after your choice of moisturizer to increase hydration and skin recovery."
Et Voila: A spa day for your va-jay-jay. Now you, too, can scandalize party guests with tales of vajacials yore! Vajacials! Yes that word is now added to my spellcheck dictionary!
One last thing to keep in mind: "Vajacials at spas utilize professional/medical grade devices and products that aren’t available to the general public because they give us access to deeper layers of the skin," says Escoboza. "The at-home alternatives are very effective, but they cannot treat all skin concerns or provide similar results without a consistent routine and patience. For quick results or certain skin conditions, a professional vajacial is needed."
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