I'll Try Anything Once: Cleansing Vagina Wash

The worst possible outcome was a yeast infection. The best possible outcome was ruling an empire!
Publish date:
August 4, 2011
advertising, vaginas, Summer's Eve, Hail to the V

There’s been much talk of this goofy Summer’s Eve ad.

As well as this one and its versions of color (which the company has pulled offline.

I imagine them as simple workaday types who would rather be doing other, more wonderful things besides pimping a silly and unnecessary product. I can’t help but feel bad for these people. There’s no good way to market a floral-scented non-soap cleanser intended for a vulva, is there? I’d hate to be asked.

Last year’s try was in a soft-focused advertorial that tried to say women they could improve their salaries by washing with Summer’s Eve “as part of your usual routine.” And be sure to tuck the companion towelettes into your attache for touch-ups during the day. Nobody wants a busted vulva in the boardroom, right? That stuff stays in the cubicles.This year we have a reversal of sorts. (That “of sorts” is important.) Our accursed stinkpots are now the “cradle of civilization”-- at least when attached to coy or regally silent women throughout history. We can birth babies and curl them photogenically in our forearms! We can rule ancient Egypt! We’re not actually going to use the word “vulva” ever at all for some reason, even though a vulva [NSFW] and a vagina [NSFW] are obviously different parts, and it’s kind of like calling your nose the “central undereye.” But we are big fans of what a bottle of Summer’s Eve Cleansing Wash calls the “external vaginal area.” Just the same, I was in a dangerous place when I watched “Hail to the V.” I’d just been dumped. I felt meek and tiny, as sexy and as helpless against my destiny as a particle of grit trapped in a filter. I was subject to magical thinking. I’ve also mentioned that I have no sense of smell (yes, it is so a thing), so my baseline level of anxiety about controlling my body’s odor is ordinarily high. I can never sniff-check my underwear, ever. Think about it. I kind of have to assume the worst. And so I wondered. Logically, I know there is no reason to use a specially formulated cleanser on a vulva. I use one floral-scented non-soap cleanser to wash my whole darn body, including my hair. But maybe that was the problem! Maybe I was being a girl wrong. Perhaps I could stand to gain somehow by projecting greater confidence in my vulva. Hey, how’s it going! It’s a beautiful day because I am confident in my powerful vulva! Maybe there’s some kind of Overpussy, and even though there are billions of external vaginal areas in the world, we can channel it somehow!

So sue me, I decided to find out. SUNDAYSummer’s Eve Cleansing Wash is priced to move and available in three scents.

You know I pick Delicate Blossom. Since I can’t smell it, I ask my son to sniff it straight from the bottle.“Jasmine,” he pronounces.OK, fair enough. I want to see how drying it is, and I also want to see if it smells different on my person, so I wash my face with the stuff. (Off-label is how I roll.) It has a gel-like texture that’s a little stringy at first and a low to medium lather. Afterward, my son gives my face a sniff. “It’s like grandma,” he says. Maybe not good? Undeterred, I bring the Cleansing Wash into the shower, and it’s on.

Later we run errands. No one at the busy used bookstore seems impressed that I have both cleansed and washed with a Cleansing Wash. I now smell like either the cosmic Overpussy or a retired florist from Houston. Crowds do not part for me. Men do not behold me and joust.

MONDAYMaybe today’s the day. I cleanse and wash and go into work.As I am sitting down for a morning meeting, a colleague sniffs the air. “Who smells good?” he asks. I freeze. Turns out it is a woman two chairs down. Having her smell appreciated in a professional setting seems to make her the opposite of confident. In the afternoon, I go without towelettes to a training session. I am learning a new workplace skill. I feel relieved that my external vaginal area turns out to be out of scope for the discussion. I’ll do my usual boring stuff like listen, take notes and be competent. Again, there will be no jousting.

TUESDAYI’m becoming concerned about the glycerin in the Cleansing Wash. I’m analyzing every twinge below the waist for signs of a yeast infection. My usual body wash has glycerin too, but I apply it to a larger area -- and perhaps less assiduously. I don’t know. Eventually I forget about it entirely.

WEDNESDAYScrew it. This stuff doesn’t do anything.

THURSDAYI decide to reframe the experiment. What else can I do with this floral-scented gel-like non-soap cleanser? It’s okay at removing makeup and doesn’t really sting, but it doesn’t lather enough for shaving or hand-washing.

FRIDAYA discovery: If you have super dry-ass hair and want to wash the funk out without stripping the oils, Summer’s Eve Cleansing Wash has potential for that. But I wouldn’t expect miracles of the Overpussy. And for all I know, it could make you smell like my mom, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, since I can’t actually smell my mom.