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The 'vagina facial:' What is it and is it safe?

Lisa Fogarty

by

Lisa Fogarty

Lisa Fogarty has written numerous articles for USA Today, The Stir, Opposing Views and other publications. She has covered everything from red carpet events to the discovery of toxic PCBs on school windows. She lives on Long Island, N.Y....

Experts explain how the vagina 'facial' works and whether it's safe or totally crazy

Even the most vigilant waxers/shavers, those of us who will not stand for a single pubic hair to plant its unwanted flag on our nether regions, experience the nightmare that is three days post-wax/shave: the day when we wake up and find a red, bumpy road of ingrown hairs and pimples have threatened our well-paved skin. The injustice is maddening. We put ourselves through painful torture and spend big bucks to get rid of body hair, only to then deal with a bikini line that looks like it is stuck in perpetual puberty. Never fear, the "vagina facial" spa treatment is here and will make your vagina look as fresh and pretty as a daisy.

For those who don't live in the City of $900 heels, allow me to explain. The popular Manhattan-based waxers J Sisters are among just a few spas offering a treatment called "Gommage Therapy." The "vajaycial," as it has been humorously referred to in the New York Post, is a deep cleansing and exfoliating treatment for the inner thigh and around the bikini area so that, after you spend your time and money on that painful wax, you can rest easy knowing it won't suddenly turn on you.

The treatment is recommended for women two to three weeks after a waxing and involves extracting ingrown hairs and exfoliating the area in order to prevent pimples, says Mazzie Santos, who is the manager at J Sisters.

If you're like me, visions of your vagina being attacked by chemicals that could strip paint off of a car just marched through your head and swiftly shut down this entire operation. But Santos says this is not a worry.

"We use organic ingredients," Santos said. "No strong chemicals. We don't go inside the vagina. And it's a very soft product and not the same kind used for the face."

Still not convinced? Well, even doctors seem to be a-OK with it. According to Dr. Eric C. Rottenberg, a board certified urologist from New York City, the "facial" is safe, as long as you aren't cray-cray enough to request an inner labia treatment.

"I don't think there is any danger to it, assuming that it is on the keratinized squamous epithelium (the thick skin on the outside)," Rottenberg said. "If they're applying chemicals to the delicate layer on the inside, that's a completely different story, with a whole lot of possible trouble. Think of it as how facials are OK as long as you pay special attention to the eyelids and skin around the eyes. This is because the skin is very thin. The vaginal layer is even more delicate because it has no keratinization (which eyelids do), which offers a layer of protection."

And Dr. Oscar A. Aguirre, a pelvic surgeon who has performed numerous Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation treatments, says he actually encourages gommage therapy.

"I would encourage the treatment like I would encourage personal hygiene. It's just another step to it," Aguirre said.

Women should pay close attention to how their skin is reacting to the products used so that they can determine if they are allergic to anything, Aguirre said, and they should not seek a spa treatment to help with bumps and rashes on the vulva that require medical attention. They should also be realistic about their expectations, he said: It's one thing to go into your spa expecting to have your ingrown hairs removed, and quite another to believe you're going to emerge with a vagina that is 10 times tighter than the one you had before giving birth.

For better or worse, Santos says the treatment has been offered at J Sisters for the past two years and has grown in popularity with its clientele, which includes many celebrities. One session, which takes between 45 minutes to one hour, costs $155. Other spas are also offering gommage therapy, she says, though the treatment is still rare.

I've always believed a woman should spend as much money as her budget allows in order to make herself feel her very best — I mean, you know, tend to your mortgage and electricity bills first and your vagina second, obviously. But I don't see the difference between waxing down there and attending to it with a little help from some luxurious organic creams and exfoliants. If it makes you feel more confident, which could increase your sexual confidence and pleasure, by all means, scrub a dub dub down there.

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