Does your bikini area really need its own regimen? We report.
The V-zone is the new T-zone, with a raft of innovative brands offering everything from moisturisers to mists to – ready or not – high lighters, each promising to clean, hydrate, and beautify down below. While a multistep Korean-beauty level regimen may be taking things too far, experts do say that we can all beneﬁt from a little more love in the region. Here, simple maintenance for staying in good shape and holding undesirables such as ingrown hairs at bay.
A CASE FOR CARE
Most of the new products for the vaginal area are geareds toward keeping the skin smooth and healthy overall. There’s New York–based Fur (a chic line that softens pubic hair and is beloved by Emma Watson), Sweden’s DeoDoc, and local brand Two Lips, to name a few. Two Lips is a luxury sulphate-, paraben- and petrochemical- free intimate care line created by the Spa Esprit Group. Founder Cynthia Chua says: “The intimate part of the female body is an asset that needs to be cared for and nourished with the same love and attention we give to the rest of our body. There’s absolutely no need to be shy about this topic anymore.” All the bikini-speciﬁc brands popping up are dermatologist and gynecologist tested to ensure efficacy and safety. This is the best argument for bikini-zone beautiﬁers, according to dermatologist Doris Day. “For those with sensitive skin in this area, it is helpful to know that the products have been tested,” she says. “They’re much less likely to cause a problem.” Put simply, “Skin is skin. You really shouldn’t neglect any of it,” says US-based dermatologist Mona Gohara.
YOUR BASIC ROUTINE
The key thing to understand is that the skin down there is different from the skin on your face because it has fewer sebaceous glands (those that produce oil). Still, it can beneﬁt from a wash exfoliate-moisturise regimen. Regular soap, though, should be a no-go in your vagina, since pH maintenance is paramount. Try an Lactacyd Feminine Hygiene Protecting Daily Feminine Wash ($13.90 for 250ml, Guardian), which is formulated to support the vagina’s slightly acidic natural pH range of 3.8 to 4.5. It’s also important to be mindful of potential irritants, such as fragrance. “Whenever a patient says she is itchy, red, or irritated in that area, the ﬁrst thing I’ll ask is, ‘What kind of cleanser are you using?’” Dr Gohara says. “Nine times out of 10 the problem is a sensitivity to perfumed cleansers.”
If you’re planning to shave your bikini area, you’ll exfoliate next. Getting rid of dead-skin cells will help reduce the bumps and hyperpigmentation that shaving can cause, Dr Gohara says. The Perfect V Gentle Exfoliator (US$34, theperfectv.com) uses an alpha hydroxy acid buffered with jojoba oil. Then follow with a hydrating formula: Vagisil Daily Moisturising Fluid ($16.90 for 60ml, Guardian) soothes skin with chamomile, aloe vera, and vitamin E. For the more aesthetically inclined, there’s also the Two Lips Blackout Mask ($110 for ﬁve sheets, Strip), a moisturising and brightening sheet mask for your vulva. “Make sure any oils and lotions you apply are absorbed before getting dressed, and avoid putting them on before a workout,” says Dr Gohara, who also cautions that your favorite spandex leggings might exacerbate irritation, especially with excess moisture. “Rubbing from tight clothes can leave inﬂamed follicles in the groin,” she says. “When that happens, I recommend an over the-counter benzoyl peroxide wash – used only externally – to settle things down.”
Hyperpigmentation and ingrown hairs, the two biggest bikini-line banes, are typically a result of hair removal. “Hair wasn’t meant to be removed, so it causes some trauma when we do it,” Dr Gohara says. “The skin reacts to shaving or waxing by inﬂating – each follicle creates a bubble to try to protect the hair.” If you’re prone to these issues and you shave, try using Gillette Venus Spa Women’s Razor ($17.40, Guardian) that comes with three blades for a close shave. It has moisture bars that glide on your skin effortlessly to minimise irritation. “Go with the grain of the hair, and use a shaving cream or an oil, not a bar soap, to help ease the hair out of the follicle,” Dr Gohara says. If you wax, “try using a benzoyl peroxide wash for a few days beforehand to decrease inﬂammation causing bacteria in the area and a little over-the-counter cortisone right afterward to decrease redness and irritation,” Dr Day says. But if ingrown hairs are a major problem for you, know that waxing is probably the worst option. “It removes the hair from the follicle, and when it grows back, it can come in at an angle, leading to an ingrown,” Dr Day says. Opt for laser hair removal; at a doctor’s office, you’ll need about six treatments. Or try an at-home laser, like Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X ($509, www.shopee.sg).