If there’s one body part I ignore during my beauty routine, it’s my vagina. It’s not that I mean to, I just never realized it was something I could—or even should—tend to. But then, like most impulse purchases these days, I saw an Instagram ad for Fur Oil, claiming to moisturize skin and soften pubic hair, and I immediately wanted to try it.
While most of us know that products like douches, which have been around for decades, are bad for our lady parts, the latest batch of feminine wellness products is made for a generation of discerning millennial consumers—and, accordingly, has some big claims. In addition to the fancy glass bottles and organic ingredients, these products claim to soften skin, balance pH levels, and banish in-grown hairs. Sounds pretty good so far.
But not every feminine wellness product is safe to use. Some washes, douches, sprays and deodorants contain potentially harmful ingredients, such as parabens, unknown fragrance chemicals, methylisothiazolinone, and others that are linked to endocrine disruption and rashes. That’s why it’s so important to choose feminine wellness products with safe ingredients—if you even choose to use them at all.
“Unlike the skin on the rest of the body, which can benefit from cleaning or rinses, a healthy vagina has an effective self-cleaning function,” reads a 2013 study on the subject. Anything beyond what your body does on its own is unnecessary, but if paying extra attention to your vaginal area makes you feel good, choose products with ingredients that are safe.
So what products can you use, and what’s going to send you to urgent care with a weird infection? I found myself asking this question every time I saw an IG ad for a feminine wellness oil, so I decided to speak with two doctors to get the low-down.
Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, board certified OB/GYN and reproductive endocrinologist, and Dr. Peter Rizk, a women’s health expert for Fairhaven Health, reviewed three popular feminine wellness oils and their ingredients for safety. Our docs agree: these products are generally safe, but with a couple of caveats—they shouldn’t be used during pregnancy, nor should they be applied internally.
With that sign off, I gave them a try myself so you don’t have to. Here’s what I thought, and what our docs said about each product.
I was most excited to try Fur Oil ($44, 75mL), which I had not only heard the most hype about, but also learned that Emma Watson uses. It was either that fact or the shapely glass bottle and dropper that made using Fur Oil so enjoyable. The light yellow liquid is a made up of antiseptic and antimicrobial natural oils and smells like lemon. Fur was created to be used externally on pubic hair and surrounding skin to prevent in-growns and soften hair and skin, but it can also be used anywhere else on the body.
Dr. Rizk told HelloGiggles that while using oils like Fur topically is better than using them inside the vagina, it’s important to be careful. “It tends to be hot and moist down there, and adding oils can set the stage for bacterial imbalance,” Dr. Rizk said.
For this reason, I like to use Fur in the evening before I go to sleep. While I don’t have a problem with in-growns (thank you, laser hair removal), using Fur makes my skin feel soft and taken care of, and it’s a truly unnecessary step in my self-care routine that I do just for me.
Willow Feminine Oil
Willow Feminine Oil ($45, 118mL) is similar to Fur in that it’s an organic, oil-based product, but the exact ingredients and use are different. Willow makes strong claims, saying it will balance your vaginal pH and regulate hormones with essential oils—which Dr. Rizk said is a bit of a stretch; there’s not much evidence to support these claims.
And while Willow states it can be used around the labia, you should not apply it directly on or in your vagina. “This sets the stage for infection, and it could have the exact opposite result than advertised,” Dr. Rizk shared, warning that it could elevate your pH above a healthy range. On the surrounding skin and hair, however, he said Willow is safe to use.
I wasn’t able to try Willow Feminine Oil—it’s been sold out online for months—but like Fur, it comes in a beautiful glass bottle with a dropper. It’s no wonder using these products feels so luxurious.
Queen V Spray Bay Bay
Queen V Spray Bay Bay ($11, 103mL) is the affordable, drugstore-style kid sister to the other two oils on this list. While Fur and Willow feel luxurious and optional, Queen V seems functional. Spray Bay Bay comes in a bright pink metal bottle and sprays out with a fine mist. The resulting liquid is slippery, with an unplaceable, almost unnoticeable scent.
When I tried out Queen V’s intimate moisturizer, I didn’t realize it would be so…wet. That’s when I realized that this product is truly utilitarian—it doubles as a lube, especially since it’s latex-free and safe to use with condoms.
Spray Bay Bay get its all-natural slip from Aloe Vera juice, an ingredient that’s used in some lubes. Dr. Rizk said that because this product does not have FDA clearance, it’s not guaranteed to meet the specified claims, nor is there enough clinical data to support what Queen V says the product does.
Said Dr. Steinberg, “Remember, each woman’s body is different. If you ever have questions about what is safe to use, consult your gynecologist.” And while all of these products can be added to your routine, they aren’t necessary. “A healthy vagina is self-maintaining,” Dr. Steinberg added.