Let me be frank, here: Although I’ve written about how to maintain a full bush, what to know about vagina beauty products, and why the pH level of your privates is important, I’m not someone who pays much attention to my vag. I don’t ignore it in the shower, and I shave it, but I don’t give it any particular TLC, despite knowing a lot about it. Until one day, when I was invited to get a “vagacial”—AKA a vagina facial or a spa treatment that’s catered exclusively to the nether regions.
Mind you, I’ve never even gotten a bikini wax, but somehow, I found myself lying naked on a treatment table at New York City’s Daphne spa—with merely a small towel modestly covering my breasts and torso—waiting for an esthetician to tend to my vagina in a treatment mysteriously called the Lotus (which runs for $85). Natalia Aleksandrova, my esthetician, first instructed me to put the soles of my feet against each other and to open my knees wide. For, you know, easy access to the star of the show. She then put a bright light right on it to examine its state, in a way that kind of made me feel like I was at my gynecologist’s office.
“You don’t have any ingrown hairs,” she said after glancing my vagina over. This is something I knew, but then I realized that this treatment is mostly targeted towards those dealing with ingrowns and hyperpigmentation in the area. “So what will you do, then?” Aleksandrova told me she’d just be exfoliating and hydrating, then—which something she says everyone should be doing to their vagina on the reg (whoops).
“With exposure of the vulva—the skin around your vagina—to hair removal such as waxing, shaving, or laser treatments, you’re more prone to irritation, hair bumps, and allergic reactions in the area,” says Omnia M. Samra-Latif Estefan, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist of Nelly De Vuyst‘s BioFemme line. Despite this, Dr. Estefan doesn’t necessarily back up a treatment for the vagina, because it’s kind of a self-cleaning oven and the rules of the face don’t necessarily apply to the vulva. Her advice? “A women’s best bet is gentle cleansing and not scrubbing or using harsh soaps,” she says. “After washing, pat dry and use non-fragranced products that can be used to protect the thin and sensitive skin down there.”
On the other hand, Aleksandrova says it’s important to exfoliate down there because it helps to prevent ingrown hairs, and that hydration is also essential (it is skin, after all). “You should use a sugar scrub two to three times a week—either all over the body or just the bikini line, because it helps prevent ingrown hairs,” she tells me.
Like a regular facial, the vagacial begins with a cleanse—she massages a gentle, milky cleanser onto my southern region, and uses a hot towel to wipe it off. Then, she slathers on a toner, followed by an exfoliating powder, after which she lets my vagina sit under a steamer. You’d think this would feel as fabulous as it does on your face, but in reality, that humid heat just made me feel like I was on the verge of peeing.
After my vag was properly steamed and exfoliated, it was time for the mud-like mask. Aleksandrova slathered it all over my bikini area, then left me in the room for a few minutes for the hydrating and detoxifying ingredients to do their job. Once the mask was finally cleansed off, the treatment ended with a layer of moisturizer on my private parts. The whole thing took about 30 minutes and ended with my vagina feeling pretty much the same, but I suppose cleaner and more hydrated.
Instead of, I don’t know, having sex with my newfound freshness, I went to the gym instead, which probably defeated the whole purpose. Regardless, I’m sure that getting a vagacial is helpful if you are prone to ingrown hairs. Me, on the other hand? I’ll leave the steaming to the shower, the massaging to my boyfriend, and keep the face masking above my décolletage. To each their own, though.
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