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Self care, down there

By May 10, 2020July 19th, 2020No Comments


Fionnuala Jones road tests some popular vulva beauty treatments, to see if they lived up to their promises, and examines what procuring pillow soft flaps meant for her feminist credentials…


I’ve had limited encounters with vaginas that aren’t my own. Occasionally, I’ve seen them on screen, in various guises – preened, plucked, pearlescent – nothing that resembled my own even slightly. Luckily, I was never fully consumed by the genital shame that porn subconsciously promoted. What did get me, however, was the internet memes. Everyone has seen the infamous ‘fish-with-a-hole in it’ breakdown, right?

For everyone else, a man (undoubtedly) with no medical qualifications (again, undoubtedly) came up with a way to illustrate how a woman’s vagina widens depending on how many sexual partners she’s had. As a result, I was hyper aware of the black hole that was forming between my legs until many a Google search revealed that this was, in actual fact, a load of horseshit.


Similarly, when a ‘meme’ (I’m being generous calling it that) of two ham rolls being compared side-by- side went viral, I had my concerns. If ham rolls weren’t able to make unattainable beauty standards, what chance did my vag stand? Thankfully, women’s media stepped in to let me know that my vag was, and always will be, fine. It takes care of itself. It is not a reflection of my sexual prowess.


For the most part, it will not stop anyone wanting to get into me (and if it does, they are not worth my holy crevice). However, with the explosion of the self-care movement, no area of our lives has been left untouched by pieces of quartz and face-shaped moist towelettes, including our labia. Gone are the days of skirting past the bottles of Femfresh while out grocery shopping – now, it’s hard to think of a beauty product that doesn’t have a vaginal counterpart.

We’re talking sheet masks, highlighters, CBD oil… you name it, you can slap it on your flaps. Skin is skin, right? While normalising the conversation around labia, vulvas and clits (oh my!) can only be welcomed, you’d be forgiven for being deceived by the marketing in the process. No ladies, these lotions and potions are NOT about internalised misogyny but empowerment! Yasssssss queen! Take this time for yourself and your cooch because it’s what you deserve!

Is it though? Don’t we also deserve an area of our lives that doesn’t have to be subjected to a level of maintenance that society deems appropriate? Can’t we simply stick to stupid charcoal masks for our sróns? For the sake of others, I decided to trial some of the most popular vulva beauty treatments on the market at the minute to see if they lived up to their beautification and see if this testing meant giving up my feminist credentials.

The plan was simple – order the products and try them out. I went with two brands that had recently been mentioned in a Guardian article on a similar topic – the Two Lips Charcoal sheet mask and The Tonic Tribe Clit Spritz. I ordered to my place of work, as that’s where I generally spend most of my time. However, when ordering, I wasn’t banking on there being a global pandemic, meaning I would be working from home when the delivery arrived.

You can imagine how I felt emailing the building security asking if they’d come across a package for me containing a sheet mask intended for my crotch. Some wangling and a delivery of bits-for-my-bits later, and we were in business. I was ready – ready to embrace a whole new world from the waist down. First up, the Two L(i)ps Blackout mask which promised “to soothe and treat your vulva”. It comes in seriously bougie looking packaging – fair, given a single mask is $28.

You don’t even need to do the currency conversion to know that that is too much to be spending on a damp crotch cloth. (Some people took less convincing – L(i)ps boasts that 10,000 units of Blackout were sold in the two and a half months after its launch). What you take out of the pack is, essentially, an extremely wet vulva-shaped doily, over a vulva-shaped black mask – not a million miles away from the make-do cake Ross and Rachel created for Emma in Friends.

(Towards the end of my mask time it became clear that the lace was simply decorative and served no purpose other than to stop it look like I was self-censoring myself with the black mask, should any Joe Goldbergs have fancied a peek through the window). It is intimidatingly large, and applies almost like assless knickers, taking up a large amount of your groin This is the point where I started questioning the size of my own vulva, but after reading the packaging like it was the menu for a Chinese, I was reassured that this was normal (well, in the grand scheme of things).

Next comes the application, in which I flex the limited skills I learned from two episodes of Yoga With Adriene to enter some kind of intermediate inverted lotus position on my bed. Immediately, I feel very cool down there. In comparison to your standard face mask self-care routine though, it could hardly be described as relaxing. Lying in bed extremely aware of how wet and cold your crotch is, one leg propped up to keep the show on the road… I read the packaging again. It says to leave it for 15-20 minutes.

FIFTEEN TO TWENTY MINUTES, legs akimbo, with my vagina now experiencing its own climate? Even in a pandemic, that seemed a long time to be forgoing. For the sake of science, I did as I was told.


Time up! How did I feel? Smoother? Detoxified? Like a gender traitor? None of the above? From my own observations, I smelled divine, but simultaneously felt that fragrance on your foof can’t be good for it long term. I was very cold. There was a lot of leftover serum to rub in. I didn’t feel like more or less of a woman. The process wasn’t great, but I was surprisingly happy with the end result – it WAS softer to the touch, at the very least. Two Lips recommend using the masks for five days in a row to see the best results – as I didn’t fancy bankrupting myself, I only bought one, and cannot validate this claim.

It’s suitable for people who want to use it after IPL, laser, waxing or vajuvenation but pregnant people cannot use the mask.

Which brought me to the The Tonic’s CBD Clit Spritz, which… the clue is in the name, really (£30 for 30ml, with 100mg of CBD). It’s supposed to give your clit an “ooo” when you spray it on and massage it in. In normal speak? I was expecting to be stimulated, rejuvenated, and lubricated – essentially, my vulva was going to be Greased Lightnin’. This is a product that is not only capitalising on the wave of wellness products for the female genitalia, but also on the latest beauty buzzword – CBD.

According to The Tonic Tribe, the terpenes from the oil “radiate the most wonderful scents, with natural tones of fresh mint and zesty citrus” meaning I would feel “fresh and fruity in all manner of ways” after use. After all, I’ve always wanted the front door to my reproductive parts to resemble a mojito.

I can say with certainty that it did two of the above: a pleasant “ooo” was felt – not snake venom-tingly but I was aware I had just put something there. The spray was a bit messy but given the practice that you’re using it for, that’s probably something you could get over. I’m not sure my clit felt anymore rejuvenated as she won’t return my WhatsApps, but it was completely inoffensive, nonetheless.

In conclusion, I saw some obvious benefits. I got some nice hands-on time with myself that’s usually confined to quick, sweaty seconds under the sheets. Physically, it all felt a bit softer. I got to lie down for an hour. All pluses. However, there are also certain things that I don’t think we as women should be even thinking about – coronavirus or no coronavirus.

Your worth is not based off how pillow-soft your flaps are. As women, we all have enough to be thinking about without being concerned that the complexion of our vulvas could be considered ‘dull’. Should you want to partake in some downstairs self-care, by all means do. But don’t feel like you HAVE to, as an act of embracing your femininity or sticking it to the man.

Main photo by Marvin Meyer @ Unsplash
Bath photo by
Hanna Postova @ Unsplash


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