I've been collecting vagina cosmetics since Emily and Olivia returned from AVN with the newest in V beauty. Unlike everything else in the beauty closet, for some reason no one wants to try these.
Beauty products for vaginas catch a lot of heat for being sexist, but I'm not here to weigh in on why there's a market for lightening and tightening down under. I'm interested in whether or not these products are safe. Besides, when it comes to shaming of the nether regions, men have it just as bad, don't they? I have a friend who makes her dude wear a penis extension! If that doesn't communicate "you're inadequate" then I don't know what does.
I rounded up some of the best-selling V beauty products available and asked one of xoJane's favorite gynecologists, Dr. Deborah Ottenheimer, to weigh in on the effectiveness and safety of each item.
She's all about vagina acceptance and totally rejects the idea of restoring adult lady bits to those of a child. Dr. Deborah even discourages extreme hair removal, which is understandable considering the number of infections and Brazilian burns she sees at her practice.
I stopped by her office with the V cosmetics and we slathered them all over our hands and talked about what else -- vaginas.
Dr. Pink’s Anal Brightening, $50: Made with glycerin, olive oil, sorbitol and preservatives -- mostly moisturizers -- it promises to lighten "vaginal, penis, underarm, nipple and anal" areas.
"Is it effective? Maybe. But I wouldn’t use it," says Dr. Deborah. "Lightening creams all have astringents or bleaches or dyes. Really tough stuff."
"Remember, if you want to lighten your anus, if you have an allergic reaction, imagine how much it’s going to hurt when you poop."
For the record, Emily still plans to try this herself.
PK24, $60: This formula designed to increase vaginal tightness felt like a sticky exfoliant lip gloss (when I tried it on my hand), which makes sense since it claims to "increase friction."
"If you’re a grown up you’re not going to be tight like you were when you were twelve," says Dr. Deborah. "And you probably don’t want to be because the first time you had sex wasn’t very good anyway."
Fem Tight Antiseptic V-Wash Soap, $2: Emily brought this back from LA a few months ago, although it looks like a souvenir from the 1970s.
"The antiseptic part makes me nervous," said Dr. Deborah. "This causes inflammation and that’s the tightening."
When I unwrapped this scary soap bar, I was hit with a sinus-clearing menthol rush.
KY Liquibeads Vaginal Moisturizer, $17: Walgreens.com has all these reviews by post-menopausal women claiming this stuff changed their sex lives, but hello -- everyone can benefit from lube!
"It’s just lube in a capsule. I love these," says Dr. Deborah. "The only difference between this and regular KY is this isn’t messy. This is a winner and lubes in general are a winner, but no flavors and no colors."
Honey Oil $16: I totally expected this to smell or taste like honey, but it turned out to be plain old water-based glycerin (sugar) free lube. I'm not into cute sex products, but Dr. Deborah gives it her seal of approval.
Intimate Teas...The Tea For Lovers, $25 each: Let's talk about the tea on the right. My Maple Cookie promises to make your V taste like baked goods! Yum, depending upon who's going down there.
"If you eat enough of anything all your secretions are going to taste that way," explains Dr. Deborah. "If you drink enough sweet teas, I’m sure you can change the overall taste of your secretions. These are fine, they’re just tea, but I’m not sure how effective they are."
Dr. Deborah's final thoughts?
If you must tamper with your V, always do a spot test on your arm first to avoid allergic reactions.
Dr. Deborah Ottenheimer and her fantastic practice, Ottenheimer Health Care, can be reached at (212) 366-4765 and at 80 Maiden Lane, NYC, NY 10038.