Tried and Tested Skincare Products
Products for Intimate Health and Hygiene
Is natural skincare ever more important than when it’s used in the most intimate area of your body? Hazel Davis bravely puts some feminine hygiene and related products to the test.
As far as makeup is concerned, I will splash out for toxin-laden putty if it means my face looks a few years younger. I’ll gladly slather oil on my hair that comes from I know not where but when it comes to my delicate lady parts, frankly, I want to know exactly what’s going up there. And I’m probably not alone in this.
Vaginal itching or discomfort can be one of the most embarrassing things a woman endures so it stands to reason that we should be very careful with what products we tend our flowers with. Despite my fondness for perfume and scented soaps, I have always been reluctant to use anything too strong Down There and, let’s face it, the others I have invited to that area don’t really like to be faced with Chanel No 5 either. So it’s always a treat to find products which leave you fresh-smelling and feeling but won’t suffocate the window-cleaner.
A national and widely-read skincare website is probably the best medium to announce that I occasionally suffer from an itchy vagina. That’s why Salcura’s Topida Intimate Hygiene Spray (£9.99, 50ml) is a product after my own heart. Gorgeous smelling, it feels like it’s doing good. I had reason to use it a few weeks ago (form an orderly queue, boys) and within seconds of applying, I could feel something happening. It didn’t feel like a placebo. My discomfort definitely subsided and I was left feeling fresh and itch-free for the rest of the night. The ingredients of sandalwood oil, manuka oil, lavender oil, swamp bark oil and others really make for a fantastic aroma and compared with other mainstream itch treatments I have used in the past, it’s a reassuring and refreshing alternative. And it makes the bathroom smell so gorgeous, I have been known to spritz it a bit after a visit.
Keeping one’s lady-garden free from unwelcome intruders (that’s germs, reader) can be a day-long operation. But there are plenty of wipes on the market, small and discreet enough to have with you at all times. I tried Natracare Organic Cotton Wipes (£2.19, 12), Cadum Intimate Cleansing Wipes (£2.99, 20) and Organyc Wet Wipes (£2.99, 20).
Of the three, the Cadum certainly smelled the sweetest. With organic sweet almond oil, cranberry and aloe vera, I can honestly say I would use these on my face. Organyc is next best, with its organic wet wipes with extract of camomile and calendula. The Natracare wipes (with camomile and calendula) felt nice and moist but the fragrance is not as sweet as that of the others.
When you start menstruation at a tender age, it’s very easy to fall into buying whatever your mother or sister or other women in your life uses. So I have spent most of my life, like most people, using Tampax or Always. In the last few years I have realised that there are plenty of natural and greener alternatives.
Organyc’s Organic Cotton Menstrual Pads (£3.49 for 10) are good, though with their green credentials I am not sure warrant the extra and, to my mind, unnecessary layer of packaging inside the box. But they felt lovely and soft on my parts and had wings (which you don’t always see on the green ones). The absorption was OK, not great compared with the less natural brands, but OK. Overall they compare unfavourably with the Natracare Ultra Pads Long (with Wings) (£2.29, 10) in terms of absorption and I felt more comfortable with the Natracare packaging as it feels less faffy (though the layer is entirely organic – made from biodegradable cornstarch), though the Organyc box looks nicer on the shelf.
I tried both regular (£3.09, 16) and super (£3.19, 16) Natracare tampons with applicators, and as far as I can determine, they perform exactly as well as my usual (generic) brand and I would have no hesitation in replacing them as they are 100% cotton, chlorine-free and perfume free.So that’s menstruation taken care of, but what of the times when you really need to have nice soft things next to your bits? DermaSilk Intimo’s “therapeutic” underwear is specially designed to protect against bacterial and fungal contamination by allowing the skin to breathe (it’s made of sericin-free fibroin silk). The Slip (£35.95) and Mini Slip (£34.95) were as soft as anything I’ve ever worn and while I was wearing them I definitely felt like I was being cushioned. There was no riding up either and they (brace yourselves) didn’t have much of an odour at the end of a busy day.
For general area hygiene, Melvita’s Intimate Hygiene Gel (£13, 225ml) went down a treat. With mallow, cranberry and hibiscus, it was good enough to use on my face (yes I really did) and I liked the simple but “warm” looking packaging too. Their whole range is free from parabens, silicones and artificial colours and fragrances – and it’s one I like a lot.
Cadum’s Intimate Wash And Body Shower Cream (£4.99, 400ml) went down less well, its perfume being a bit 1980s Llandudno for me (supposedly soothing orange blossom and sweet almond oil but more redolent of my nan) and the pink packaging put me off a bit. But it did feel nice when on (if very soapy) and my skin felt soft afterwards.
However, Cadum’s “lipid-enriched” Intimate Wash (£2.99, 200ml) smelt much nicer (sweet almond oil and shea butter, so I’m blaming the orange blossom). Again, however, the overly pink packaging is too strong a reminder of Where It Goes.
As my partner helpfully pointed out on our first attempt, I, er, don’t need much help in the lubricant department (sorry) but, you know, now and again it’s nice to have something to hand. What better than YES’s extraordinarily beautiful (if such things can be) range of water-based and oil-based lubricants (from £4.99). Prettily packaged in bright turquoise and with a dainty gift bag, the simple turquoise and gold bottles are sleek, discreet and classy. I could feel little difference in effect between the oil and water-based but in texture, quite obviously, the oil-based is a bit more oily and if you sniff too hard you can detect the base so the water-based wins on scent. I really liked the clear ‘free from’ properties too – no parabens, glycerin, hormones, silicones, skin irritants, perfume or petroleum products.
Despite being fragrance-free, Higher Nature’s V Gel (£12.95, 75ml) wins on scent and feel with its aloe vera, marigold, vitamins and zinc (no I don’t know either) but the packaging’s not as nice as YES’s and looks a bit like something from the eighties and certainly doesn’t reflect
Again, the packaging for Sylk Lubricant (£9.99, 40g) is a bit old-fashioned, though clean-looking (maybe a bit medical) but the water-based and parabens-free lubricant feels nice and is non-sticky. With kiwi-fruit and citrus plant extract, it’s a reassuring thing for your most intimate areas, and is available free on prescription for women over 60.
For more intimate skincare product ranges, see our dedicated feminine hygiene and intimate skincare directory.