An All-Natural Feminine Wash: A Necessity, a Harmful Trend, or a Marketing Ploy?
Let’s not sugarcoat it – women are bombarded with so-called “feminine hygiene” products daily from traditional media, social media, and everywhere in between. In this haze of claims, theories, and outright marketing tactics, separating fact from fiction is no easy task.
The information you’ll find online (and offline) ranges from those claiming you need nothing but warm water to keep your vulva and vagina clean, to those suggesting elaborate routines with a plethora of specialized products. So, what is the truth?
That’s what Medicine Mama will help you discover.
We’ll look at feminine washes in more detail, discussing whether you need them at all, or should consider them just another step in your daily hygiene routine. By the end, you should have all your questions about intimate washes answered. Let’s start!
Do I Need a Feminine Wash?
First, let’s define female anatomy: The vagina is the internal reproductive canal used in sex, childbirth, and menstruation. The Vulva (often incorrectly confused with the vagina) is an umbrella term for several structures that make up your external genitalia.
If there was only the vagina, the answer would be: no, you don’t need a feminine wash. Why? It’s simple, really. The vagina cleans itself. This self-cleaning machine secretes a natural liquid daily that flushes out harmful bacteria and maintains the right pH balance. Adding any products into the mix can only disrupt this delicate balance and potentially open the doors for various bacterial infections.
The vulva, on the other hand, doesn’t wield the same self-cleaning powers. As such, it can use a helping hand. In other words, you can use a feminine wash to cleanse this structure.
Don’t worry; we haven’t forgotten that the question was, “Do I need a feminine wash?” Technically, you don’t. You can use only warm water to cleanse these intimate areas. But adding a gentle specially formulated feminine wash with all-natural ingredients can help support this delicate skin without disrupting the natural pH balance and biome.
Could I Use Soap or Body Wash Instead?
Let’s say you opt to use a feminine wash as part of your vulvar hygiene, having realized its many benefits. You might start wondering whether this product could be replaced by another, seemingly similar one, like soap or body wash.
The answer is a resounding no!
Though some women swear by the simple soap and warm water combo, this won’t work for everyone. Especially when most soaps are formulated with ingredients that should never go near intimate areas, like fragrances and parabens.
So, washing your vulva solely with a regular harse soap and warm water can sometimes do you more harm than good, leaving you with dry skin, itchiness, and irritation. The same goes for body washes.
With soaps, you can at least find some formulated to replace a gentle feminine wash. Most, if not all, body washes are far too harsh for the sensitive skin of the vulva area.
Why Do I Need a Feminine Wash?
When discussing whether you need to use a feminine wash or not, we’ve mentioned that these products offer multiple benefits to your vulvar hygiene and overall well-being. It’s time to explore these benefits in more detail.
A Feminine Wash Provides Gentle Yet Effective Cleansing of Sensitive Skin
Let’s start with the most obvious one – the right feminine wash will thoroughly clean your vulva without causing dryness, irritation, or pain. But what is this product actually removing? The answer is quite a few things.
You see, women’s intimate areas aren’t particularly fond of foreign substances, external debris, and residual traces. So, things like dirt, sweat, and bacteria can wreak havoc on these sensitive areas. Using a feminine wash daily, can leave this beautiful skin clean, moisturized, and balanced.
A Feminine Wash Can Help Maintain Your Vulva pH-Balance
Suppose you’ve spent some time researching vaginal and vulvar hygiene online. If that's the case, one term should've popped up constantly – pH balance. So, let’s do a quick chemistry lesson.
The pH value, short for the potential of hydrogen, measures the acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a scale from zero (the most acidic) to 14 (the most alkaline). For a liquid to be neutral, it must have a pH value of 7.
When it comes to the vagina, the ideal pH value is in the acidic range, usually between 3.8 and 4.5. Within this range, your vagina can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and yeast, thus preventing infections, broken skin, and general discomfort.
For this reason, high-quality feminine washes are formulated to be mildly acidic (typically around pH 4.5), thus helping maintain the desirable acidic environment in the area. Keeping this area pH balanced means keeping the natural flora in check and bacteria at bay.
A Feminine Wash Can Help Prevent Odor
Don’t let those over-the-top commercials fool you – your vagina isn’t meant to smell like roses, strawberries, or lavender. In fact, scented washes can upset the delicate balance of the vulvar skin (NEVER wash inside the vagina unless directed by your physician–this can lead to unwanted infection or irritation.). Unpleasant odor in your intimate area can result from numerous factors, from menstrual flow and sweat to hormonal changes, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
A feminine wash with gentle, all-natural ingredients can help combat the odor-causing bacteria and maintain healthy vulvar skin and support the natural biome and pH of this delicate region.
A Feminine Wash Can Soothe Irritation
Feminine washes are often formulated with soothing natural ingredients that can help relieve you of itching, redness, and irritation in the vulvar area. Once you eliminate the initial unpleasant symptoms, continuing the daily use of these products should minimize the risk of them coming back.
A Feminine Wash Can Aid Menstrual Hygiene
Residual menstrual flow can create discomfort and make us feel less fresh. Having a specially formulated feminine vulva wash to gently wash this area can help relieve these feelings.
When Should I Use a Feminine Wash?
With all the talk about the sensitive skin of the vulvar area, you might wonder when (and how often) you can use feminine washes. Let’s address these important questions.
Using Feminine Washes Daily
When it comes to vaginal and vulvar hygiene, one rule is abundantly clear – less is more. Going overboard with the cleaning (both in terms of products used and frequency) can only do you more harm than good, going as far as causing specific conditions like bacterial vaginosis instead of preventing them.
So, can you use an intimate wash daily? The answer is yes, provided you find a gentle specially formulated wash with all-natural ingredients that won’t cause any side effects even with daily use.
Using Feminine Washes Post-Workout
Excessive washing of the vulva can lead to irritation, dryness, or even infection. You may find that your vulvar area feels especially sweaty and damp after a workout. Choosing to use a feminine wash post-workout will help you get rid of this uncomfortable feeling and may help prevent bacterial overgrowth.
Using Feminine Washes Pre- and Post-Intimacy
Another great moment to break out your intimate wash is before or after sexual intercourse. Doing it before can help you feel fresh, comfortable, and, thus, more relaxed going in. Doing it after will assist in removing potential traces of bodily fluids, lubricants, or contraceptives, helping prevent discomfort, odor, and irritation.
The choice is up to you. Of course, we’re talking solely about using a feminine wash for your vulvar area.
Using Feminine Washes During Periods
During menstruation, your vulva can become extremely dry and sensitive. Throw the use of pads and tampons into the mix, and you can end up with a buildup of blood residue, bacteria overgrowth, and general discomfort. An intimate wash can help alleviate most of these symptoms by keeping your vulva clean and moisturized. If the dryness particularly irritating, consider adding a vulvar moisturizer to your daily cleaning routine.
What Kind of Feminine Washes Should I Use?
Now that you know why you should use a feminine wash and when you should use it, it’s time to address the most important issue – what kind of intimate wash should you use? After all, you can’t put just any product onto the sensitive skin of this area.
Here’s what to expect from the best feminine washes for your vulvar area.
A Feminine Wash Should Only Feature Mild Ingredients
The formulation of a feminine wash isn’t the place to employ an extensive list of harsh chemicals. It’s quite the opposite, really. You want as few ingredients as possible, all mild and gentle to the sensitive skin of the vulvar area. Choose a natural wash which has been specially formulated for the vulva.
A Feminine Wash Should Be Free From Irritating Chemicals
After reading the previous section, this requirement is a given. But considering how important it is, it doesn’t hurt to reiterate this point – your chosen intimate wash mustn’t contain any irritating chemicals.
Besides causing redness, irritation, and even allergic reaction in the vulvar area, products with these ingredients can harm the vaginal area as well. Though made for external use, these products can reach the vagina during cleaning, as the vaginal opening is right in the middle of the vulva. Choose a chemical-free formula, and you ensure nothing bad happens, even if accidental contact with the vaginal opening occurs.
A Feminine Wash Should Be Fragrance-Free
There’s a lengthy list of ingredients that should stay far away from your vulvar and vaginal areas. Fragrances are arguably on top. Introducing fragrances into feminine hygiene can do nothing good. It will only disrupt the vagina’s delicate flora and potentially mask symptoms that might point to an underlying health issue.
A Feminine Wash Should Be Dermatologist-Tested
Given how sensitive the vulvar skin is, you’ll only want dermatologist-tested products to go near it. These products have been extensively tested to ensure they’re safe to use on such delicate skin, minimizing the risk of adverse reactions.
A Feminine Wash Should Be Gynecologist-Recommended
When it comes to vaginal and vulvar care, no one knows more than gynecologists. So, if these medical experts say that a product is safe and effective, you can trust it to preserve your intimate health.
Feminine Wash Ingredients: Hall of Shame
There have been quite a few mentions of harmful ingredients in feminine washes throughout this article. Since our goal is to fully educate you and help you make informed decisions regarding feminine hygiene, it’s time to get a bit more specific. Here, you can find a list of common ingredients in feminine hygiene products that have no business being there. Spot any of these on your desired product’s label, and you’ll know it’s best to reconsider your choice.
Seeing parabens on this list comes as no surprise to anyone who’s looked into the safety of personal care products. These synthetic preservatives can wreak havoc on any skin, let alone the sensitive skin of the vulvar area. Their detrimental effects can be partially explained through their production process, which involves alcohol.
Using products containing parabens on your skin can irritate the skin, lead to allergic reactions, and even trigger severe skin conditions (e.g., eczema and psoriasis). You’ll recognize these ingredients on the label quickly, as they usually end with “paraben.”
We’ve already established that a fragrance-free feminine wash is the way to go. But how will you know that your chosen product is fragrance-free? Luckily, the answer is simple. These ingredients must be marked on the label precisely by this word – “fragrance.” Though you might not know which fragrances are used (this is considered a trade secret), seeing this word is enough to deter you from using that feminine wash.
Essential oils are considered by some to be natural fragrances. But this time, even the word “natural” won’t spear them from the Hall of Shame of feminine wash ingredients. Why? They might start naturally, but they certainly don’t end this way. During the manufacturing process, essential oils are mixed with chemicals to enhance their stability. The result? Skin irritation and a myriad of other adverse effects.
Feminine Wash Ingredients: Hall of Fame
Enough with the negativity! Let’s see which ingredients you should look forward to on feminine hygiene product labels.
Since one of the purposes of these products is to help maintain the vaginal pH balance (which is slightly acidic), it’s no wonder that acids top the list of favorable ingredients for intimate washes. Besides helping establish a healthy environment, these ingredients exfoliate the skin, thus helping remove dead skin cells.
The lactic acid and the citric acid are the most beneficial acids in feminine hygiene products. The former is rather gentle, making it perfect for the sensitive vulva skin. The latter excels at keeping the skin moisturized and exfoliated.
Prebiotics are nutrients promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in our bodies. As such, they can do wonders for the vaginal and vulvar area. You can introduce them through nutrition by consuming prebiotic-rich foods like yogurt and garlic. Or, you can look for feminine washes with these ingredients. Do both, and you’re one step closer to a healthy and balanced vaginal microbiome.
Mix fresh or dried herbs with solvents, and you get herbal extracts. These ingredients are beloved in personal care products due to their antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. Some of the most popular herbal extracts are as follows:
- Witch hazel
- Aloe vera
- Green tea
- Tea tree oil
- Hemp seed
- Ginger root
Tips on Buying the Perfect Feminine Wash
Slowly but surely, you’re becoming fully equipped to use and purchase natural feminine washes. The next (and final) step is giving you a few tips on purchasing the perfect product for your needs and preferences.
Always Check the Label
Armed with our list of beneficial and harmful ingredients, you’re now ready to scrutinize the label of any natural feminine wash product. If you encounter unfamiliar ingredients, make sure to google them or consult a healthcare provider about potential risks or benefits. Only with this approach will you be able to find a genuinely all-natural product.
Don’t Get Deceived by Buzz Words
We’ve already described the ideal feminine wash a few rows above. Fragrance-free, all-natural, dermatologist-tested, gynecologist-recommended, and pH-balanced are just some of the words you want to see describing your desired product. But be careful. In the end, these are just that – words.
Don’t believe everything you see in ads straight away. Instead, read the labels and conduct your own research to determine whether the product in question is truly organic, natural, and clean.
Only Turn to Trusted Brands
Let’s be honest – choosing intimate hygiene products isn’t the best time to experiment with up-and-coming brands. Save the experimentation for stuff like fashion, makeup, and accessories. But in the feminine hygiene department, stick with trusted and established brands known for their quality and safety, like Medicine Mama’s Apothecary.
Shopping with our brand means purchasing products approved by gynecologists and dermatologists, ensuring you make an informed choice for your intimate hygiene.
Don’t Hesitate to Consult a Healthcare Professional
Even after reading this article and conducting your own research, it’s perfectly understandable to have concerns about choosing the perfect intimate wash. After all, you aren’t a professional (and no one expects you to be one!). So, don’t hesitate to consult a healthcare professional before committing to a purchase. This consultation can help you find products specifically tailored to your needs and potential concerns.
Think of the Practical Implications
The final tip has less to do with health and safety and more with ease of use. Though not necessarily a priority, this consideration will make it easy for you to stick to your vaginal and vulvar hygiene routine wherever you are.
These considerations include the product’s packaging, size, and ease of use. For instance, products that also come in travel-friendly sizes can ensure those often on the road have no trouble taking care of their feminine hygiene.
Also, when using the product, stick to its instructions. Sure, using something as simple and natural as a feminine wash isn’t exactly rocket science, but you still want to give instructions a read and follow them for optimal results.
What Else Can I Do to Maintain Good Feminine Hygiene?
As important as a good feminine wash is to your hygiene, it’s not all there is to it. Taking proper care of your vagina and vulva is a holistic approach that includes several things, from what goes in your body to what goes on it. Keep your intimate parts in mind during any action or decision involving them (sex, going to the bathroom, etc.), and you’ll ensure their overall well-being with ease.
Avoid Unnecessary and Harmful Products
If we haven’t made it clear by now – warm water and a natural feminine wash are all you need to keep your vulvar area clean and healthy. This means that there’s no place in your intimate hygiene routine for products like the following:
- Scented (and colored) soap
- Bubble bath
- Bath oil
- Talcum powder
- Vaginal deodorant
Douching refers to using personal care products inside the vagina, usually with some handheld pump (douche). These products can include over-the-counter cleansers and even homemade water and vinegar solutions. But it doesn’t matter what products are used for douching; it’s all wrong.
It’s time for a friendly reminder – your vagina needs no help cleaning itself. Any attempts to assist it will surely backfire, disrupting your vagina’s natural balance and leading to potential health problems. So, no matter what you hear and see (or convince yourself), put that douche down!
Suppose you already have an infection like bacterial vaginosis. In that case, douching will just force the bacteria deeper inside and worsen your symptoms. If you don’t have an official diagnosis but have noticed your vagina acquiring a particular smell or changing the color or texture of its discharge, speak to a healthcare provider.
In other words, go get an official diagnosis (and treatment) instead of reaching for a douche and making your condition a lot worse.
Think of Your Vulva and Vagina at All Times
OK, so we don’t mean at all times. You don’t need to think of your vulva and vagina every second of the day. But you should every time you do something that involves this region. By “something,” we primarily refer to menstruating, having sex, and going to the bathroom. Here are a few helpful tips on how to ensure proper feminine hygiene at these times:
- Always use protection during sex to reduce the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STI) and other infections.
- If you want to use a lubricant, check its ingredient list beforehand. Seeing ingredients like glycerin and fragrance is a huge red flag. Make sure the lubricant is condemn compatible.
- Always pee after sex. This will help flush out any bacteria that might’ve reached your urethra during sex, helping you minimize the risk of a urinary tract infection (UTI).
- When finishing in the bathroom, always wipe your vulva separately.
- Don’t forget to wipe front to back to avoid transferring any bacteria from the anal region to your vulva and, thus, the urethra.
- Avoid using scented or colored toilet paper.
- Frequently change your tampons or sanitary pads during menstruation.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
Sure, a feminine wash can remove oil, moisture, and sweat from your vulva with ease. But you can also help collect less of these by choosing your clothing wisely. By clothing, we primarily refer to your underwear.
Always go for light and breathable materials that make it difficult for moisture to build up in your vulvar area. This means saying yes to materials like cotton and a big no to materials like polyester and nylon. Other than that, keep these tips in mind:
- Avoid wearing underwear at night to reduce the sweat trapped around your vulva.
- Regularly change your underwear. (At least once a day, twice if you experience heavy vaginal discharge.)
- Avoid using panty liners.
- Don’t wear underwear (or clothes) that are too tight on your vulva, thus holding in the heat and moisture.
While discussing your clothing choices for good feminine hygiene, it’s also worth mentioning your detergent choices. When washing your underwear, avoid using any harsh detergents or scented fabric softeners, as these can cause irritation to your vulvar and vaginal area.
Drink Enough Water
Everything you put into your body can affect your vaginal and vulvar hygiene in one way or another. Water is no exception. Drink enough water, and you’ll stay properly hydrated. This reduces the risk of your vagina developing a strong smell due to dehydration.
Let Us Help You Help Your Vulva
Looking for the right intimate wash in the sea of marketing ploys and harmful ingredients can be time-consuming and often frustrating. To spare you from any negative feelings surrounding your vulvar hygiene, we’ll save you time and effort and recommend one of the best feminine washes on the market right here.
This feminine wash for external use checks all the boxes for the perfect feminine hygiene product. Let’s round them all here:
No harmful chemicals? Check!
Dermatologist-tested and gynecologist-recommended? Double check!
Throw cruelty-free and hormone-free into the mix, and you get the perfect product all around.
This gentle cleanser will help you clean, nourish, moisturize, and rejuvenate your vulvar skin and support the natural pH value of this area. Use this product daily to make the most out of these incredible benefits. How? Dispense a little product from the bottle into your clean hands (or a soft sponge) and gently work it into your vulvar skin. Rinse the area with warm water, and you’re good to go!
Buy this product as a one-time purchase or subscribe to monthly deliveries for a lower price and an easier way to keep up with your vulva-cleaning routine.