Whether it’s installing a filtered showerhead or purchasing a gua sha for some lymphatic draining, we're always open to trying new things with our beauty routines, but when we heard about vajacials—the buzzy new self-care treatment for ‘down there’—we were hesitant to jump on board. With mixed reviews from our friends at Bustle and Refinery29, we wanted to get to the bottom of this rising trend for ourselves before booking an appointment. So we tapped a dermatologist and OB/GYN to answer our most burning questions about vajacials, starting with: Does it burn? Spoiler: It should not.
We Ask a Derm: What Is a Vajacial? And Is It *Really* Safe to Use Skincare Products Down There?
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What Are Vajacials?
Vajacials are exactly what they sound like: a facial for your vagina. Well, sort of anyway. “The term, vajacial, is actually a misnomer because it has nothing to do with the vagina itself,” says Dr. Jacobson. “Vajacials focus on the skin on and around the hair-bearing areas of the vulva, which include the pubic area, i.e., below the bikini line and the outer labia or labia majora.”
Dr. Clay breaks it down further, noting that a vajacial may include any of the following treatments: steaming, extractions of blackheads or whiteheads, plucking or tweezing ingrown hairs, hydration and moisturization with topical products and mini chemical peels to address discoloration.
What Are the Benefits of Vajacials?
When it comes down to it, our two health experts are divided on the topic—though both agree that vajacials are not an essential treatment for upkeep. If you want a self-care day or hope to fade discoloration and hyperpigmentation in your bikini area, a vajacial might be worth trying after you fully consider all the risks. But, as Dr. Clay says, “think of vajacials as a luxury, not a necessity.”
What Are the Downsides of Getting Vajacials?
Overall, our OB/GYN gives this treatment a thumbs down, while our dermatologist gives it a cautious thumbs up. “I recommend that all females at birth stay away from vajacials, particularly those who have a history of skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, sensitive skin and people with a history of hidradenitis suppurativa. Medical conditions like these can flare up after a vajacial,” warns Dr. Jacobson.
Though they’re not meant to be painful (minus the extractions) and can be quite lovely, some risks they reportedly pose include skin irritation, itching, inflammation and infection. Additionally, Dr. Clay suggests that those with a history of allergies to products may want to steer clear. “Also definitely avoid getting a vajacial if you are currently on isotretinoin (aka Accutane) because your skin is very fragile and sensitive while on the medication,” she adds.
And if you recently got a vajacial and are itching (not literally) to show it off or break a sweat at the gym, proceed with caution. “Sexual activity and exercising after a vajacial may increase irritation due to the friction in the area, either from skin-to-skin contact or from clothing and sweat rubbing on the area,” warns Dr. Clay. “I recommend waiting at least a day to resume normal activities and being gentle with the skin. Also, showering immediately after sexual activity or exercising will help minimize possible infection or folliculitis from developing.”
What Are the Steps of a Vajacial?
When it comes to in-office appointments with professionally trained aestheticians, step-by-step processes will vary. We suggest you do your research on the aesthetician prior to scheduling your treatment and ask thorough questions to ensure that you’re comfortable before proceeding. For the DIY vajacial, some brands are now offering mask sets specifically formulated for your bikini area. So, if you’re looking to give your hoo-ha some extra lovin’ at home, here are a few of Dr. Clay’s steps to follow:
- Set aside time to relax. Remember, this is your time, so light some candles and let your body unwind.
- Prep the skin. For best results when using a store-bought mask, you’ll want to prep the cooch. Use an “exfoliating scrub in the shower or after a warm bath” to lift skin and rid the area of any buildup, dead cells and other gunk that may be in the way.
- Apply the mask and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes. Follow the instructions on the back of your vajacial mask. Note: Most at-home vajacial masks shouldn’t be left on for longer than 15 minutes. Just get a bikini wax or laser hair removal? Dr. Clay recommends waiting a day before using a mask in these areas.
- Apply an ingrown hair serum and oil. While this is an optional step, serums and oils are great add ons for preventing those pesky ingrown hairs from resurfacing. Plus, an oil works to seal the moisture barrier and restore lipids to the skin.
Should I Get a Vajacial?
Three words: Proceed with caution. Vajacials aren’t necessary for keeping your bikini area clean and clear, but if you’re intrigued by them, make sure to assess your skin type (is it dry, sensitive, prone to infection, etc.) and whether you have any skin conditions before giving them a go.
Whatever you decide, viva la vulva.
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