From Vajazzles to Yoni Massages to the latest trend du jour of Vagina Facials (aka ‘Vagacials’)… pampering one’s nether regions is a hot topic. But do we really need more products and regimens that feed upon our insecurities? Aren’t our lady bits perfect just the way they are? Kea questions if a skincare routine for our vaginas is really necessary…
One of many disconcerting trends to have tailed us out of 2018 is *drumroll* vaginal skincare, with a vagina exfoliator (yes, really), a highlighter (I don’t know where to start) and a detoxifying, clarifying sheet mask (sigh…) topping the list of wacky ‘innovations’ in feminine care. While it can be agreed that opening the dialogue around women’s intimate care is generally positive, compared with enforcing the age-old taboo surrounding our ‘bits’, this feels like a step in the wrong direction. Do we really need more products for women that feed upon our insecurities? Especially those asserting the impression that our vulvas are unclean, or need to be ‘beautified’?
“They’re still trying to tell you that there is something wrong with you. You’re never perfect and, whatever you do, it’s never enough,” says Oliwia Drymuchowska, founder of intimate wellbeing range Womanology, created to inspire women in strengthening their relationship with their bodies. It was a painful eight-year saga of undiagnosed vaginismus, vulvodynia, vestibulodynia, clitorynia, pudendal neuralgia, interstitial cystitis and pelvic floor dysfunction that inspired Oliwia to turn to herbal remedies and begin making botanical intimate care, at first for her own personal use.
“I feel like if we experience any trauma we really disconnect from our body,” Oliwia tells me over tea at her North London studio, where she makes all of her products by hand. The birth of her daughter was the biggest inspiring force, pushing Oliwia to forge a deeper connection with her body and her womanhood, then launch Womanology to encourage other women to do the same.
Discovering she was pregnant with a baby girl was difficult for Oliwia to come to terms with, following a tumultuous relationship with her own mother and other key women in her life, leaving her feeling as though she had never learned about being a woman in a positive way.
“I grew up with shame around the female body, I don’t want my daughter growing up feeling like there’s something wrong with her. So even if I just change her life, that’s already good enough for me.”
The new wave of products promising to ‘detox’ and ‘rejuvenate’ your vulva left women questioning not only the moral principle around encouraging these damaging, jurassic attitudes towards women’s bodies, but the safety. The vaginal canal is known to be self-cleansing, and attempting to ‘clean’ or exposing it to chemicals can have a disruptive impact on the natural pH level of the vulva. So, I asked Oliwia, what was the need for her Intimate Cleansing Oil? “Oil is naturally acidic, so it doesn’t disturb your pH. It actually supports it. It’s made with very nourishing, soothing oils.”
“It has lavender; which is microbial, chamomile; which is really calming, and geranium; which is super feminine. Then macadamia oil, which absorbs really well so it leaves you feeling really nice and silky, plus avocado and rosehip, which are both good for strengthening skin. If there is any irritation or discomfort; whether it’s in the summer when it’s really hot, or after sex – or for whatever reason, this is really good because it’s super soothing and super healing.”
However, Oliwia asserts, the range has been developed to enable women to strengthen their relationship with their bodies.
“After struggling for so many years with pelvic pain, I just didn’t want to touch my body at all. Even when I was giving birth I was unable to touch myself, to feel my daughters head. It really creeped me out. My connection to my body was really not present. I created this to encourage touching yourself daily. It’s important to know your body.”
The Self Love Potion, is made with the same philosophy of getting to know your body intimately, and eliminating the shame attached to female exploration. The velvety, oil-based balm, which melts into the skin, is packed with atmosphere-setting aphrodisiac extracts of Jasmine, Vanilla, and Cardamom.
“This product is about inspiring women to step into their sensuality and sexuality. I think there is a lot of power in that and I feel it is an important part of reclaiming womanhood. There is a lot of taboo around female sensuality and sexuality.” It can be used in masturbation, or sensual meditation, but also as a body balm or perfume which provides “sensual medicine”.
The final product in the three part range is the Prepare/Repair Elixir (complete with a perineal massage guide written by women’s health physiotherapist Megan Vickers), which is a pre and postnatal treatment. The blend of reparative oils, argan oil, gotu-kola and sea buckthorn, encourage skin elasticity which is key to minimising rips and tears in vaginal labour. The ingredients are also great for scars – both intimate tearing and, advises Oliwia, c-section scarring. “If the skin gets too tight, then you could experience pain for the rest of your life,” massaging the scar, while scar tissue is forming, can aid in preventing this tightness.
“Of course it will help with scars, because those are wonderful oils. but it’s also about touching the scar. Connecting to the scar, giving it love and attention, not just trying to forget about it, I think that can be really powerful in transforming the relationship with the body.”
In May, Womanology will add six new products to their range including a new Self Love Potion created for period pains, with warming oils – like pepper and cypress – to relieve cramps when massaged into the abdomen. Oliwia encourages introducing the ritual of abdominal massage on the first day of the period, describing it as a grounding way to show the body love.
“I think it’s a power source for women if we own our wombs, our vulvas, our blood. We begin feeling really powerful and so [the products] are just a tool. Because, of course, you can do all this without them. Womanology is ultimately about supporting and empowering women, and inspiring them to love and reclaim their bodies. Encouraging them not to listen to what society, which is essentially the voice of men, tells women about their bodies, about womanhood, birth, periods, the menopause. And to dance to their own music, you know, to step in and change the narrative.”
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