It seems plucked right off the pages of Gwyneth Paltrow’s diary, but VMagic Feminine Lips Stick is a real and unnecessary product that promises to keep your vulva “balanced, moisturized and purified.”
The product is really more like a chapstick ― “Because your other lips get chapped, too!” is an actual tagline ― and it’s made with organic avocado oil and honey. It claims to treat things like itch and discomfort, skin dryness, “odor causing bacteria” and ingrown hairs.
This puts “vagina lipstick” in the pantheon of insane and unnecessary health products marketed to prey on women’s insecurities about their own bodies. It’s on par with vaginal facials and insertable jade eggs, both of those were deemed questionable by medical professionals. And acccording to Dr. Maria Isabel Rodriguez, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health and Science University, you really shouldn’t use this, either.
“At first glance, the idea of vulvar lipstick sounds like a joke, or another harmless beauty product,” Rodriguez told The Huffington Post, but she listed a few very real reasons it may not be harmless at all.
Despite the fact that the balm boasts a natural bill of ingredients, Rodriguez pointed out “vulvar skin is very sensitive, and generally does best without any special soaps or shampoos.”
“If symptoms are so bothersome that women need treatment, they should absolutely discuss this with their gynecologist,” she said. Issues like itching or pain or symptoms from vaginal atrophy should be handled by professionals, she added, not vulvar lipstick. It worries her that women may use Lips Stick to treat symptoms, she said.
“While symptoms may be caused by yeast or hormonal changes, it is essential they be evaluated to rule out any chronic skin conditions like lichen sclerosus [patches of thin, white skin] or even vulvar cancer,” she said.
Both Rodriguez and the VMagic website point out that the balm is for external use only.
“The lipstick should never be used internally,” Rodriguez said. “That could cause a change in pH, vaginal infections and all kinds of misery. It concerns me that products like these perpetuate the idea that there is something inherently wrong with women’s reproductive organs ― that they need a balm, a shampoo or perfume.”
Unless you’re dealing with an actual medical condition, your genitals are self-sufficient as they are. The vagina is virtually self-cleaning, it’s supposed to smell, and symptoms like itching, discomfort and unusual odors can be signs of a health issue that needs professional attention. Although the balm can also be used for things like chafing, rash and ingrown hairs, Rodriguez said those can be remedied by using a warm compresses and gentle exfoliation and not picking at your skin.
For now, please keep your love of lipstick on your face, thank-you-very-much.