Nazarian continues, “Although the risk of absorption of chemicals and toxicity isn’t a major issue, since it’s not being applied to the mucosa or inside the vaginal area, it’s somewhat similar to applying the products to your armpits: The skin is thin, delicate, sensitive to ingredients, and typically experiences mild chaffing from sweat and rubbing that make it more easily irritated from application of topicals. The area of the groin and vulva also harbors a natural colonization of bacteria—disrupting this balance, and the natural pH of the area, risks skin breakdown and infection.” She adds, “Avoid retinols, glycolic acid, lactic acid, and anything scented or perfumed. There are exceptions where medications may need to be applied to the vaginal area to treat certain skin conditions—but your dermatologist will explain how to use them to minimize risk of irritation and offer safe options for short periods of time. Ingredients that calm and improve the skin barrier, such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and heparan sulfate are a better option. Products such as Vaseline, Aquaphor, and petrolatum are also somewhat safe to apply to the outer tissue and offer a much lesser risk or irritation.”
The dissonance in their answers leads me to believe that if you are thoughtful, careful, and well-informed about applying products to the external skin on your vagina, you’ll most likely be fine. But I realized I wasn’t entirely willing to take the risk and the peels, serums, and moisturizers I was applying were not entirely free from irritation. So rather than continue using my regular skincare products as my new vagina-care products, I invested in a few options made specifically for the area—tested by dermatologists, approved by gynecologists. Below, find my favorites.