SKIN­CARE DOWN THERE

Just like the face, the vagi­nal area needs its own TLC.

Shape (Singapore) - - November 2018 -

TThe V-zone is the new T-zone, with a raft of in­no­va­tive brands of­fer­ing ev­ery­thing from mois­turis­ers to mists to – ready or not – high­lighters, each promis­ing to clean, hy­drate, and beau­tify down be­low. While a mul­ti­step Korean-beautylevel 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 washex­fo­li­ate-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 over­the-counter ben­zoyl per­ox­ide wash – used only ex­ter­nally – to set­tle things down.”

THE DE-FUZZING

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 in­flam­ma­tion­caus­ing 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).

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